Toronto Star

Daughter isolated by husband

- Ellie

Our daughter is married to a controllin­g man who’s caused her to change her attitude toward us. Once married and expecting their first child, they moved away for “better opportunit­ies.”

But I now believe it was also his plan to get distance from our influence. My husband and I have had a happy marriage with equal decision-making about anything important. When we visit our daughter, she seems tense and is often on her own because it’s said to be his “busy period.” I think that’s his excuse for avoiding us. She doesn’t seem to have many close friends, just a nanny she relies on a lot. She sleeps half the day.

Everything in their life is explained as being how he wants it to be.

I don’t think she’s physically afraid of him, but she’s certainly not crossing him.

She’s even forbidden my bringing any gifts for my grandsons (ages 7 and 4) other than what he thinks is appropriat­e. How can my husband and I best handle our relationsh­ip with our daughter? Kept at Distance It’s a delicate situation. Even though being manipulate­d can be seen as emotional abuse, she could counter that she agrees with his ways and prevent your visits, if you appear critical.

So staying in touch, listening rather than asking too many questions, staying alert to whatever you see and hear, are crucial for maintainin­g access to her and your grandchild­ren.

The youngsters will sense your warmth and caring, no matter what gifts you bring.

Your daughter saw your egalitaria­n marriage and may one day be fed up with what she’s accepting from her husband for now.

Meanwhile, her sleeping through half the day may be signalling a growing unhappines­s, which could lead to depression.

So maintainin­g the relationsh­ip now is essential.

If you sense her withdrawin­g in other ways — non-communicat­ive, bouts of crying, etc. — be prepared to get to her side, insist that she see a doctor, and consider treatment.

Her husband may need some of his own medicine by your being as strong-minded as he is, when necessary, to protect your daughter and the children. My husband and I are a civilpartn­ered gay couple in Ireland. My husband’s brother moved far away a short time after we started dating.

As far as I can tell, they’ve never had a good relationsh­ip. But now that same-sex marriage has been legalized, we want to renew our vows and want my brother-in-law to stand with us. However, he and my husband had a falling out last Christmas and they’re not speaking. I really want my husband to be happy and have a relationsh­ip with his younger brother. Frustrated Spouse Talk to your husband and ask if the reason for the falling out is as significan­t to him as the vow-renewal ceremony.

It’s unlikely that he’ll say yes, but there may be deeper sibling issues at play. If he resists approachin­g his brother, draw him out.

Perhaps there were earlier rivalries, or previous non-acceptance of his sexual identity, or something else you don’t know about their past.

Don’t approach his brother yourself. Your loyalty is to your husband, and if he’s adamant on not contacting him, that’s his choice.

Similarly, if he reaches out and his brother rejects him, don’t interfere.

The most important relationsh­ip regarding this event is between you two as a married couple.

Enjoy the meaning of the ceremony, especially in light of its new historic legal significan­ce. Tip of the Day Try to maintain contact with an adult child who’s living with a controllin­g partner, and may later need support. Ellie chats at noon Wednesdays, at thestar.com/elliechat. Follow @ellieadvic­e. Email ellie@thestar.ca.

There may be something well-meaning spouse doesn’t know about husband’s past with his estranged brother

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