Request for Help: What Advice Do You Have for a Father Whose Son Is About to Marry an Emotionally Abusive, Controlling Possibly BPD and/or NPD Woman?
Jon posted a question on my blog a few days ago regarding his son who is engaged to marry a woman whom, by his description, is at the very least controlling and emotionally abusive and quite possibly narcissistic and/or borderline personality disordered.
I’ve posted his story and question below. This father is in a position that many of the men who read this blog family’s have been in; poised to watch their grown son or brother make a disastrous mistake that will harm him, alienate him from his family and possibly harm any children he may have.
Please read his story and keep the following questions in mind:
- What do you wish your friends and family would’ve said to you before marrying or otherwise committing yourself to your emotionally abusive, BPD/NPD wife, ex-wife, girlfriend or ex-girlfriend?
- Is there anything they could’ve said or done at the time that would have caused you to reconsider the relationship or marriage?
- What advice can you give to Jon to help him preserve his relationship with his son?
- What advice do you have should the worst case scenario happen and his potential daughter-in-law effectively cut him off from his son and future grandchildren?
If you can make the time to reach out to Jon with any advice or support, please post your comments below and thank you in advance for your generosity.
I’ve been looking for an explanation for why my 25 yr old son, professional, University graduate etc. has changed since becoming engaged less than a year ago. His fiancee is permanently infuriated by my wife and I for not giving in to her every whim regarding the forthcoming wedding. The latest is that she (and aparrently our son) only want parents and siblings at the wedding ceremony. When we objected, because relatives from overseas who love our son would like to come over, she threw a fit and said we weren’t welcome either – what I couldn’t understand is why our son keeps silent during her rants, and when I ask him what he thinks he just says that its what they both want. She only very reluctantly allows us to speak in private to our son, saying that she had to defend her future husband from us – his parents. He seems oblivious to how he has become alienated from us and his sisters who love him dearly – it seems to us that he has been captured by her and her family who seem to also live in fear of her – were they trying to get her off their hands?
As he’s only been with her for about a year (quick engagement and rapid wedding plans) what is the best way of trying to get him to come to his senses?
My heart goes out to you and your family. It appears that your daughter-in-law to be is your average NPD/BPD nightmare. What you’re describing is a fairly common occurrence. She’s isolating your son from his family, the people who really care about him, so that she can assume total, unchallenged control over him.
Don’t dismiss her indefensible behaviors as pre-wedding jitters; they’re not. I’ve read numerous stories similar to yours and know people personally and professionally who have had this happen to their sons. In fact, my dearest friend’s family went through something very similar prior to her brother’s wedding. Now, he’s married with two children and his wife basically denies his parents access to their grandchildren unless they come bearing expensive gifts and pay her homage during every visit. . . My friend has had barely any contact with her brother for the last 5 years and describes it this way, “It’s like my brother died. I don’t know who this person is. . .”
The cruel irony is that your son’s fiancee is probably alienating him against his own family by portraying you as controlling, selfish, etc., which, in reality, is how she’s behaving. Why does he go along with it? Because if he doesn’t, he’s probably subjected to verbal and emotional abuse, shouting, tears and heaven knows what else. At least when she’s raging at you, she’s not yelling at him, so he keeps his mouth shut.
These women are masterful when it comes to getting a man to marry them. They close the deal fast before the worst of their behavior comes out. Although, sometimes they expose their true monstrous selves prior to the ceremony and men still marry them. It’s astounding.
Have you spoken with your son’s friends about his fiancee? What do they think of her? Unfortunately, he may not be able to hear any of your warnings or pleas to reconsider what I can guarantee you will be a disaster, especially when they begin having children. There’s a risk in telling him what you really think and feel. If he repeats it to her, she’ll use it to further cut you off from your son. If you could speak with his friends about intervening that might be a good first step.
If you talk to your son, I’d avoid saying anything bad about his fiancee because he’ll probably become defensive. You need to frame it in such a way that you’re able to express that he doesn’t seem like himself, you don’t understand why his fiance is becoming upset, you don’t want to put him in the middle, that you love him and support him no matter what, but that you are concerned because a wedding should be a happy time and it’s been the opposite.
Dear Dr Tara,
Thank you for your reply. It helps to know we are not alone – and reassuring to confirm that we aren’t crazy or unreasonable. Having an explanation for our future daugher-in-law’s behaviour provides some basis for trying to work out a strategy for rescuing our son before it’s too late – i.e. before the wedding in 5 months time!
Having read some of the papers and blogs on this site it is obvious to me now that our son tells her everything that we speak to him about, and she uses this ruthlessly against us – twisting the most innocent things to make us appear inconsiderate of his future happiness and well-being. She is the only person on the planet who’s sole mission in life is to make him happy!
The articles you have produced on how to tell if you are in an abusive relationship etc. seem more targetted at those tragic long-term sufferers. What I would really like is something I can use to help my son see for himself that he is dangerously close to making the biggest mistake of his life. I have pleaded with him to postpone the wedding and just continue living together – but he is adamant and insists if they could marry tomorrow they would.
Of course I could be deluding myself – he shared a flat with her at University for 3 years before they ever got together, although I suspect he was her shoulder to cry on and “rock” between a succession of failed relationships taking place right under his nose. So maybe he is already a long way down the road to perdition.
If, as seems feasible, I’m going to lose my son anyway, I would prefer to do so as a result of my active attempts to get him out of this relationship, rather than watching the train-wreck just happen in front of my eyes.
I am working on contacting his close friends, though these have dwindled and may not be as close as before. I feel like picking him up and shaking him – what other things can you suggest, or any other correspondents out there who have had or are having similar experiences.
By the way – here’s an almost unbelieveable irony – they are both medical doctors and she wants to specialise in psychiatry!
The above questions and comments were originally posted on the Contact page.
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Private Consultation and Coaching
I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.
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Kicking and screaming cake topper at bride.