Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Parental Alienation, relationships > 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?

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?

kicking-and-screaming-1Jon 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:

  1. 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?
  2. Is there anything they could’ve said or done at the time that would have caused you to reconsider the relationship or marriage?
  3. What advice can you give to Jon to help him preserve his relationship with his son?
  4. 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 reply:

Hi Jon,

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.

Jon’s reply:

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.

Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to shrink4men@gmail.com.

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Photo credit:

Kicking and screaming cake topper at bride.

  1. November 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Dear Tara,
    There are so many parallels here that relate exactly to my son’s marriage and I don’t know where to begin regarding off-loading all my concerns for my beloved son.
    He has been married for over 4 years now after having lived with his girlfriend for several years before that. She is THE most manipulative,controlling,selfish, dislikeable, devious, cunning and emotionally disturbed woman (the adjectives could go on and on)I have ever met and she has succeeded in alienating most of my family from him. He is totally under her submission and we believe she is physically abusive towards him too. He knew what she was like before he married her because he would sometimes phone me in tears , really upset because of her behaviour towards him. His Dad and I tried many times to warn him of the dangers of marrying her but to no avail. Their ‘tiffs’ always resulted in a reconciliation. Indeed once he actually said to me during one of his tearful phone calls that he did not think he loved her any more, yet he still married her. The latest falling out was 4 weeks before their wedding and he phoned us up saying it was definitely over that time and they had seen a solicitor to arrange splitting their assets. You can imagine our joy when we heard him say that. But of course 2 days later the wedding was on again.
    I recently went to stay with them in Australia where they are living at present. (Yes we even think she may have manipulated him to go there to put a huge distance between us.) It was the most miserable experience for me as she undermined me in many subtle ways to make me feel extremely uncomfortable. I felt unwanted and in the way. My son noticed her behaviour many times but did nothing about it ever.
    Six days after my return to UK I had the most hurtful and malicious email from him (or was it her)which broke my heart. He and I used to be so close and our relationship was very good from the day he was born.
    I am not an interfering Mother-in-law,never have been and never will be. I am not controlling in any way and I have tried exceptionally hard to be friends with my daughter-in-law but without success. This email was the last straw and I do not know where to go from here. I have not responded to the email as I am still hurt and angry about its contents which were so damaging. I want to wait before replying until the anger and some of the hurt has diminished somewhat, so I can send a considered and not so critical reply.
    For the record, my son is a Doctor and one might say that he should know how to deal with this situation. But it is an abusive relationship and things have gone too far. He is trapped; he is also too scared of her to fight back.
    I would love any advice on how I am to deal with this nightmarish situation and also how to respond to the email.
    A very hurt and depressed Mum

    • August 3, 2014 at 3:23 am

      I can relate to so much of your story…the tearful calls, the this time it’s over…but each time he would go back. The manipulation from her was intense. I was blamed for all their problems. Never her behavior! Once I “turned the other cheek” and became accepting of her, as best I could, and showed nothing but love and support for my son and to let him know we would always be there for him no matter what… ( while it was killing me inside to even look at such an abusive person) that is when he started seeing that their problems in the relationship had nothing to do with me. When she would try to blame me he would actually stick up for me. He started to see all the other things happening to him that had nothing to do with me. I also stopped letting him vent to me. Because we were so close he would begin venting about the incidences, I would stop him and nicely say…sorry sweetheart but I can’t hear anymore about your problems with her. If you don’t like how she is treating you, you know what you need to do. It’s not my life, it’s yours. I personally wouldn’t put up with what you are, but I’m not you. You need to figure out what is acceptable and what behavior is never acceptable. You need to decide if you deserve better or the treatment you are getting from her is not deserving then do something about it for you, son. I’d say…Your choice. Your happiness. Your life.

  2. rhythm28
    May 11, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Hey Jon, just wondering how it all turned out.

  3. jane alexander
    February 28, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Dear Jon!Please,DO NOT LET YOUR SON GET MARRIED! If you have to kidnap him,take him to the end of the world,we are leaving tru this nightmare for 5 long years finaly last year our son so the light and filed for divorce and now she showed her real face and by the way she is a doctor a gynecologist who got pregnant by accident twice and would not alow us to see our grandchildren.So her is my advice to you put your life on the line dont let your son get married because once he will it will be a long time for him to see the life or maybe never.We never gave up,we called our son we went to see him any time we could i wish this web would exist 5 years ago.

  4. November 18, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Jon Loving parent is giving you the best advise possible.

    “People often then remain in the abusive and controlling relationship due to fear of harm to their family or their reputation. While such fears are unrealistic as “The Loser” is only interested in controlling you, those fears feel very real when combined with the other characteristics of “The Loser”.”


    You need to keep the lines of communication open so when your son is ready then you will be there for him and our children who get involved with these type of relationship need all the support they can get

  5. loving parent
    November 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Jon,

    I just found this website yesterday. I can tell you how my husband and I handled our son’s 14 year marriage to his narcissistic wife. We had very few signs of her disorder before the wedding. She began to act selfish a few weeks before the wedding but we chalked it up to Bridezilla syndrome. As soon as they got back from the honeymoon she began to start fights with our son about us and tried to create a wedge. We realized something was not normal with her so our response was to never give her a reason to be mad at us. We responded to her bizarre behavior with love and kindness, pandered to her ego, sucked up frustration and anger when we were around her. In hindsight I realize that we were fulfilling her narcissistic supply. We supported the marriage in order to keep contact with our son and grandson. Our son never knew that we saw anything abnormal in the relationship. Over the years, as he began to realize that she treated us unfairly when we never did anything to deserve it, it began to open his eyes. He could see that her response to us was irrational and he also began to realize that his relationship with us was not as close as he would like it to be because of her. There was never a time when we were visiting or they were visiting us that she didn’t go into a rage about something. Our goal was always to not be the cause of the rage. There were plenty of other people around who attracted the rage… usually her mother. Sometimes, sadly, it was our son or grandson. Over time our son recognized the craziness for himself. I’m not sure what the turning point was but one day 2 years ago I got a call from him… I’m getting a divorce. I told him that I was sorry that he was in so much pain and asked him what we could do to support him. When we were able to discuss her behavior with each other, that’s when we discovered that she is narcissistic. I don’t think he would have been ready to believe it before then. The last 2 years have been difficult ones but we have been there to support, encourage and pull him out of the abyss. Bottom line: Do whatever you have to do to keep the relationship open. Suck up to her. Give her everything she wants with a loving smile. Your son needs to discover for himself who she really is. When he does, you will be there for him. He will have a safe place to land.

    My heart goes out to you. I wish you the best… Mary

    • August 3, 2014 at 3:32 am

      This advise is spot on!! Be kind nice, bite your tongue, so you are not the brunt of the rages from her. Excellent advise. That’s what has worked for me.

  6. db
    November 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm


    I have only found this website today and I appreciate that the wedding may have already happened. However I think that what I have to say may help you and other parents facing the same difficulties. Looking back my parents faced the same torment as you do and despite my wife being extremely rude to them and slamming doors in their home when we visited them making it quite clear that they weren’t welcome to visit us despite my wanting them to i.e. making it so uncomfortable for them that they chose not to, they did not express their fears to me. A friend tried to do so but I did not listen. It is like being brain-washed and there is little you can do except to be there to support your children when the inevitable happens and in the meantime record every example of your daughter-in-law’s conduct towards you as it may help your son in a future divorce. I feel ashamed that I have let my wife treat my family and friends in such a terrible way and if you remain open to him I am sure he will come to you for support when he realises what he has done.

  7. Jon
    October 1, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks Q,

    I did think, and reached the same conclusion as you – what’s stopping me? So I did send the site address to my son, along with selected extracts from some of the articles on here – i.e. on recognising the signs and symptoms of this type of woman/relationship.

    I know he’s read the message because we’ve discussed it – and he’s evasive, not really wanting to talk about my views and the classic evidence everyone but him recognises in her behaviour – but I suspect he hasn’t ventured into the site although I urged him to challenge himself to do so. He is a medical doctor after all and probably thinks he knows far more than his Dad regarding personality disorders. As we say in my county of origin “there’s none so blind as them that won’t see”,

    • jham123
      October 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm


      Once you get all this info…the reality of what to do with it takes a while to settle in.

      I, now, know what is occuring between me and the wife….I just haven’t the guts to do anything about it just yet.

      BUT!!! the bright side is, My mind is at ease. I’ve been able to fully get control of my emotions and the “why” along with self doubt has completely dissipated.

      I’m telling you this so that you may take comfort in the fact that your Son may be reaching the same peaceful place that I have.

      I’ve always been analytical about everything, I am a physicist….I must know why and then act to “fix” what ever the problem may be. This is the way I am with my Cars, My house, my job……and I used to be this way with my Marriage. I admit, the “why” put a lot of strain on her and myself. The fact that I am empowered with this knowledge seems to have cooled down everything around here.

      Your Son is a Doctor, He may choose to deal with this on his own. But if he is reading this…….He, now, has the tools he needs to deal with it.

      How He deals with it will soon be revealed.

    • StillRecovering
      October 7, 2009 at 6:41 pm


      I hope for the sake of your son, and the sake of your family, he reads the articles on this site and takes them to heart. I have gone through this same scenario, and it has been extremely painful. She acted in exactly the ways you describe, although she was much more covert and subdued in her attacks, and was not prone to screaming rages.

      She pursued me in earnest at the beginning of the relationship, and within two months, she was ready to be engaged. Five months into our relationship, the engagement happened, and the wedding planning began. At first, she was open to taking help from my family, until they began to disagree with her over some of the wedding details. She sent out an email to my mother, which I was not aware of at the time, stating that the next time my mother argued with her, to “remember that I’m going to be the mother of your grandchildren.” She was very good at making these kinds of veiled threats, and she did so often. As a result of her hostile attitude, she took complete control of the wedding planning, and made everyone furious in the process. I was blind to what was happening, and tried to keep the peace, defending my ex at the expense of family members.

      I thought that after the wedding, everything would calm down and she would be normal, but that never happened. The fact is, this type of woman must be in control of everything, at every moment, or they are not happy. In May of this year, I finally stood up for myself, and she would have none of it. She claimed that I abused her, that I was cruel and hateful, and that I damaged her. The truth of the matter is that she was damaged long before I met her. She was unfaithful to me (something she denies despite a mountain of evidence and openly admitting to it on a web site board post), and lying comes second nature to her. I have been deeply hurt by my divorce, which I am in the final stages of, and angry with myself at the fact that I was duped by this woman into thinking she was something she wasn’t. I hope your son comes to his senses soon.


  8. Q
    September 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Jon, if you did consider showing your son this blog but didn’t, what’s stopping you?? What logical reason is there to NOT show this to him?

    I was just putting myself in your son’s situation and thought that if my dad knew about this blog for an extended period but didn’t show me, I’d be damn pissed off at him if I found out.

    That’s if your son is looking at his situation the way I’m looking at mine.

  9. Jon
    September 19, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Kev – thanks for your advice, this is what we know we must be prepared for – in the meantime we just want to know he is OK and that his future wife’s abuse does not turn physical.

    A recent update – my wife called him yesterday to find out about our offered meeting with him, fiance and in-laws – he told her that the fiance had to work shifts at all for the next few weeks so it would not be convenient, so they had not bothered to pass the invitation on to the in-laws – QED!


    • Kit
      September 20, 2009 at 1:24 am

      My husband and I have been dealing with this sad situation for 2 1/2 years. We have watched our son alienate his dearest, best friends due to lies she has told. We used to talk to each other 3-4 times a week now he is speaking to us like we are strangers, maybe once a week, if that. We had an amazing relationship with our son before he got married. #10 of 10 Signs Your Girlfriend/Wife is an Emotional Bully is what seems to be happening (as are some of the others). I’ve wanted to send this site to him also but he is so deeply in love and would not believe it………..we are trying to set up a meeting and are waiting to hear if she will agree………….how sad, three of us are willing to sit down and work at a solution and the one causing most of the issues is refusing to do so. Hopefully someday he will open his eyes and we will be there for him, as Kev said, when he needs us.

      • August 3, 2014 at 3:43 am

        I feel for you. These stories told by all these loving caring parents are all so similar it’s uncanny. I can relate to all I’ve read so far. How sad.

  10. Jon
    September 16, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Hi Tara,

    Many thanks for posting the summary questions about my son’s impending wedding and to all the people who have contributed their similar experiences, suggestions and advice – this has been very supportive and I can’t than you all enough.

    Now the Summer has been and gone and the wedding is still set for early October both my wife and I feel that our emotional energies have been completely drained and that the fiance has won.

    What I have found out however is that the fiance is also playing a game of information manipulation with her own parents, and presumably our son.

    They have recently set up home together close to their new jobs – they are both junior doctors. A couple of weeks ago I got a most bizarre letter from her Father telling me what a great 4-day break he and his wife had enjoyed with the two of them – and that we would never know the joy we are missing by having cut ourselves off from them – it went on and on in the same vein – hw much we are missing, how pathetic we are etc. and basically saying we should reconsider and go to the wedding. I phoned him to say that we actually had been told by the fiance not to bother coming to the wedding months ago – my family have not received invitations either. He became very emotional and full of grief and sadness, but no animosity,

    This was news to him, but quickly backed off and said he was unable to extend an invitation because he was in the dog house with his daughter and wife for having written to me. They only found out he had done so because I contacted my son and read him the letter – he was furious and phoned the future father in law.

    After my call to father in law my wife and I offered to meet up with all of them and I extended that suggestion through my son – that was 2 weeks ago and so far there has been no response at all.

    I suspect that fiance is in the final throes of keeping everything as she wants it, clinging on until the wedding day. I think my son has enough on his plate without me continuing to stress him out – but its so frustrating when I speak to him, he just goes silent , agrees with most of what I say, but is powerless to act on any of it.

    This chapter will soon be over for us – we have already decided to go overseas at Christmas to avoid any remote chance of having to get together – I’m tempted to send him this blog….


    • Kev
      September 16, 2009 at 4:44 am


      My heart goes out to you and your wife, and your son, and your soon-to-be in-laws. Unfortunately, there’s not really much I can say other than this, and please, please, PLEASE be there to help your son pick up the pieces when this does finally implode (and it will implode).

      If he needs a safe-haven, give it to him. If he needs financial assistance when it’s all over, please be there or him as best you can afford.

      He will continue to be silent, and possibly even say things to you that sound harsh, and make no sense. Forgive him. He is succumbing to another person’s reality.

      I wish there was a magic rescue squad for these kinds of things, but there isn’t. He has to find his own way out.

      Just be there waiting for him, and give him the love and support he will desperately need when he finally sees the light.

      Best to you, and good luck.


      • August 3, 2014 at 3:46 am

        Excellent advise!! So true. Be there unconditionally.

  11. Jennifer Bax
    September 5, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I got cut off!!

    Anyways, the next event in the craziness with my brother was when my son got very sick. He contracted meningoccal meningitis and was laying on his death bed. I cannot even begin to tell you how this changed everything about me and the way you look at life. So I am now going through the toughest thing that I can even begin to imagine and I am so scared that I am going to loose my 3 year old that is now laying in a bed in ICU with doctors telling me all we can do is pray! But, don’t worry my brother’s girlfriend decides that this would be a good time for us to be alone and work things out, the last thing on my mind is her and the last person on earth that I want to see at this point is her. I was so upset I told my Mom to keep her away from me. So my Mom confronted my brother about it and of course I turned out to be the bad guy. Which was fine as long as she was not near me or my baby!! He is fine by the way :-) thank God, he is fine!!

    That Christmas is the first time she was violent with my Mom she wanted to meet her for dinner and my Mom thinks she is doing the right thing for my brother by meeting her. So when she got to dinner and she had a list of rules for my Mom to follow, she decided it would probably just be best to leave before a scene broke out in a public place! So my Mom walks to the car and somehow Holly made it to the car first and pinned her up against the car. My Mom got away and decided to just calmly walk around to the passengers door and crawl through and drive away, well as soon as she is about to back up, she looks in the rear view mirror and who is it, Holly is sitting in the backseat. My Mom calls me freaking out and I didn’t know what to do, I said call 911. She of course wouldn’t do that, and my brother was out of town and unable to be reached. This went on for a couple of hours, finally she wanted to return to her car and got out like things were perfectly fine.

    So things have just continued to go from bad to worse. We have done everything that we know how. We have even been to counseling over the last few months and that doesn’t seem to help, my brother cannot hear the counselor tell him that this relationship is not good for him.

    This girl has completely torn our family apart. My Mom is a wreck and my Dad is just so heartbroken he can hardly function. This week we found out that they will be getting married on October 17, 2009. We just do not know what to do!! Do you have any advice!

    I am truly scared for all of us as to what may happen!

    Please Please Please….any thoughts would be great…we are willing to do anything to help save my brother!!!

    Thank you,
    Jennifer Bax

    • shrink4men
      September 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’m so sorry to read about what’s going on with your brother and how he and his fiance have hurt your entire family. Unfortunately, based on what you’ve written, I don’t think there’s much you can do except to protect yourselves from Holly. She appears to be dangerous and you’re lucky that no one’s been physically harmed yet.

      There’s no question that you really love your brother. If you didn’t love him I’m sure you would have cut him and that wingnut out of your lives long ago. If your brother really loved his family, he wouldn’t demand that you accept Holly and her crazy abusive behaviors nor would he continue to put you in harm’s way and issue emotional ultimatums.

      This has gone on for 6 years and your brother seems to be falling deeper and deeper under this woman’s spell. Although I know this is painful to consider, I recommend you adopt a tough love attitude just as if your brother was a drug addict. You love him and probably have fond memories of being children together, but since he’s been under the influence of Holly, he’s not the same person. If it were my family, I’d reach a group decision and say, “We love you very much and we want you to be in our lives. However, Holly has attacked mom and treated all of us with the utmost disrespect and cruelty. It’s painful to see how she treats you and equally painful that you’ve made your relationship with your family contingent upon us accepting Holly’s crazy, abusive and dangerous behaviors. Please know that we love you and will always be here for you, but not if Holly is in your life. If you ever want our support because you want to end the relationship and need help, we’ll be here for you. If you want to see us without Holly, of course we want to see you, but we can no longer put ourselves at risk because of her.”

      Unless and until your brother sees that there’s a problem with this woman I don’t think there’s anything you can do to save him. I’m truly very sorry your family is in this mess. These women can cause so much collateral damage. The other alternative is to dance to her crazy tune and walk on eggshells for the rest of your life, but you shouldn’t have to live in fear of this woman.

      Furthermore, if she continues to harass or threaten you, get a restraining order. This kind of documentation may come in handy later on if your brother decides to leave her. It will establish a pattern of behavior for the courts should she turn on your brother.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  12. Jennifer Bax
    September 5, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Dear Dr. Tara,

    So we just do not know what to do! My brother is about to get married. He has been in a horrible relationship for the last six years. In the begining his girlfriend was just kind of different, she never seemed scary or controlling just different. Over the last six years she has gone from controlling to down right frightening!

    The first time that I felt uncomfortable around her was when I tried to include her with my friends and we all went to lunch and she informed us all that her friends were expired and that is why she didn’t have any. We are 21 years old so we were scared to death, who is 21 years old and every friend they have has died, something just doesn’t seem right there, to me or my friends anyway. So from that day on I decided that I would just continue to be nice, but maybe not bring her one on one around my friends. I certainly didn’t want to loose my friends due to her strange behaviors.

    Things from that day on continued to get more and more off! My brother and her lived in the garage apartment at my house. I had just recently gotten married and we had our first baby. Over the next year she had told many crazy stories, I can remember going to my Mom’s house and she being there and my Mom asking me to leave, something didn’t seem right. I left and called ever so often waiting to hear if things were okay. She had told my Mom that her Father abused her as a child. Horrifying news, if it were true, well come to find out she made that up. She said she made it up and she had told her Father that she had done this and he was fine with, he understood that she was just looking for attention.

    The next time I remember something completely off the wall happening with me was in March that year. By this time I was pregnant with my second child. My first son, Riley and I had been in LA for a week and got home very late the night before. He had been very sick when we were in LA, he was put in the hospital, he was dehydrated, and I am pregnant on top of everything so I wasn’t feeling well either. So mind was completely on Riley not thinking about anything but making sure he is okay and getting home! Well we flew in on a late flight, woke up the next morning, I can remember it perfectly I was feeding Riley watching Regis and Kelly and the Progress Energy man walked through the yard and boom there were no more lights and no more Regis and Kelly. I immediately ran outside to see what was going on, I had forgotten to pay the bill! I tried to pay it right there to get it turned back on, but he said it would be atleast 8 hours. So I packed Riley up and went to my Mom’s. Not thinking that my brother’s girlfriend was sleeping in the garage apartment. But, by the time I got to my Mom’s I though about it and she didn’t usually wake up until around 2 or 3pm anyway, so really what was the point in waking her up. Well, my Mom, Riley, and I were going to go out to lunch, I can plan as day remember walking out the door at my Mom’s house and her being there standing in the driveway and loosing it with me, because I had turned the power off on purpose and not told her. It was awful and stupid, it was an honest mistake, the last thing I wanted to do that morning was pack up me and my baby and go to my Mom’s to get dressed! Anyways, to let you know how crazy this, she is still to this day not over this.

    I could go on and on with these crazy stories, like the power bill. But, the major turning point for me when I just decided I needed to stay away from all of this craziness was two years ago. I had just been through a tough divorce and gettin used to being a single Mom, just going through a rough time in life, one of those times when family and friends are so important. Well, I had decided to go back and finish school, so I remember leaving class and my phone ringing. It was my brother, he told me that if I loved him that I needed to come to his house and talk things out with Holly. I was completely floored, I didn’t even know there was an issue. I had just been doing my best to be nice and ever get to close. Well little did I know all of the things I had been doing wrong. So of course I am going to go when you keep sayin if you love me you will do this. So I get to his house, I’m not sure if she had been drinking, but he had definitely been. They made me sit at the kitchen table and she was holding a large wooden walking stick, she kept yelling at me and banging the stick, and my brother just sat there and let her talk to me in this horrible degrading manner, I didn’t know who I was madder at, all I knew was I didn’t need to be a part of this. I had to many other things to live for and deal with and this was not one of them. I have never been so scared in my life! It was nearly midnight when they finally let me leave, I immediately went to my Mom and Dad’s, where my boys were, but when I got there I was so scared for myself and for my brother that I woke up my Dad (and he is one of those Dad’s you don’t wake up unless it is something bad!) The next day was the

  13. C.C.
    August 21, 2009 at 2:04 am

    Wow – we have invited and invited and invited and been shut out. They NEVER invite us to their house and finally my parents have started to invite themselves every 3 months or so. The problem for us is that when my brother married his wife none of us had any idea. It was a slow isolation. My husband and I hung out with the two of them every weekend before having our children. It took 3 years of excuses and a therapist for me to finally figure out what has happened. My brother seems depressed, she will only communicate on email, she has expressed that she doesn’t want me to invite anymore, she will initiate (yeah right.) I am so glad to have found this thread. Help us all who have lost a loved one under our noses to abuse – at least with substance abuse you can do an intervention. I am only hopeful because I have never said anything negative about her. I do not think she is a yeller but more passive aggresive. I, too, want to shake him!

  14. Mr. E.
    July 21, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    “my wife will argue that they never come see us, so why should we go see them. ”

    Jeez, they really do all use the same tricks. I’ve heard this one a lot. Fell for it for a while, too.

  15. Princess's father
    July 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm


    I’ve more or less been there, done that.

    1) Don’t – repeat DON’T – get kids. As wonderful as your beloved child will be, it will be hell trying to sort things out after that.

    2) Get your finances in order, move money to single person accounts or whatever so that she can’t lay her hands on everything. Take memorabilia, pictures, personal presents in boxes to your friend’s garage.

    3) Sign off all bills etc that are written on you, discontinue the phone, paper, water etc.

    4) Get yourself a good lawyer, hand in the divorce papers.

    5) Move out.

    Steps 1-2 can be done bit by bit, steps 3-4 need to be done pretty swiftly. But forget about the “trying to work it out” strategy (unless you have children) because you are just prolongning things. If you are going to chop the tail off a dog, do you do it all at once or in slices?

    • shrink4men
      July 24, 2009 at 12:09 am

      Hi Princess’s father,

      Thanks for reading and sharing your advice. I agree with you 100%. I believe in ripping the band-aid off all at once rather than hair by painful hair. Plus, the less you drag things out, the sooner it will be over and done with.

      I can’t recommend strongly enough that you do due diligence before telling your wife you want out. Find an attorney who specializes in divorces with high conflict personalities and privately speak to your family to give them a head’s up about possible rage filled accusations, outbursts and attacks right before you tell your wife it’s over.

      Best Wishes,
      Dr Tara

  16. James
    June 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I can identify to this story because I am going through the same thing; only its my wife that is similar. Though my family and friends support our marriage, it is only because they have to. My father is very shy and quiet, but when he told me that “I need a down to earth country girl” I think that was his way of saying “what the hell are you doing?” My sister and I are close and honest with each other and she has told me several times that I need to get out. She couldn’t hold back at all to the point where the morning of our wedding, she broke down into tears and almost begged me to re-consider this. Obviously she feels bad for doing it , but she could not help it.

    I found out after talking to one of my closest friends who was in my wedding party that the consent for them going to the wedding as well as my bachelor party was that they didn’t support it, but were there for me regardless. We have been married for over a year and I am more isolated from my family then ever. I used to go see them regularly and that is now down to about 4 times a year. I have 3 young nephews growing up without me around.

    Even on holidays my wife will argue that they never come see us, so why should we go see them. This is despite the fact my sister has 3 young kids, my dad had surgery two years ago on his spine/ back and that we only have to transport the two of us, but my family is supposed to come to us.

    She picked a fight with me on the night of our wedding while everyone else was partying, we were in our hotel room and she was yelling at me about my sister and calling her a bitch. Reason, because my wife was not going to take my last name though it meant the world to me, but on the day of the wedding she told me at the altar she is going to take my last name. My sister thanked her, since it meant so much to all of us cause I am the only son, and my wife said that my sister pressured her into taking it.

    On an unrelated note, my wife withdrew her promise to me 2 months after the wedding, is not taking my last name and wants to give our children her last name and says that I don’t have a say in it since she is sacrificing her body.

    Anyway, long story short it is a tough situation and it is best to support your son and let him learn for himself, though as you see, she sounds crazy just like my wife. He will eventually feel isolated, trapped and hoping that his wife will fill the void, but she won’t.

    Be there for him now and be there for him if it doesn’t work out, cause he will need you the most then. I am trying to work it out, but it is a struggle.

  17. Laura
    June 22, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    I’d leave any inheritance to the grandchildren to inherit when they’re in their 40s…or older.

    Journals sound great, but if she finds them and reads them, there’d be hell to pay. But that idea really struck me as a good one. Likely worth the risk.

    I’d say, as the parent…Always be the cushy soft place for your son to land. Keep the harmony with him. Nod knowingly and wisely when listening. Stay strong and silent. Keep the home inviting and warm and keep extending invitations to connect. If there’s a father-son activity that you’ve always shared, keep that going.

    My Dad used to say to me (especially when I was in relationships that he didn’t like—but wouldn’t tell me until well after I had healed from them) that one has to feel their way through life and it can get tough, but you’ll know who’s really there for you in the end. You’ll always seek out the ones who were quiet and listen when you’re ready. I always went to my Dad for relationship advice after hearing that.

    It may take years, but eventually he’ll need that soft place to land and will think of you first. He won’t be able to deny that you were always there and always loved and tolerated him.

    • shrink4men
      June 23, 2009 at 2:21 am

      Great advice, Laura. Your father sounds very wise and loving. Good point about keeping the journals in a safe place. Instead of keeping written records, you could write them as emails to yourself to a free, password protected account such as yahoo or gmail.

  18. shrink4men
    June 20, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Hi Trip N. Fell,

    This is excellent advice. The only thing I would add is that for your son’s safety, I’d consider putting stipulations on his inheritance, which you don’t need to tell him about now as it would jeopardize your relationship.

    You can’t control him. If he wants to marry her he will. Here’s some advice I received from a friend with a sizable fortune and a 23-year old daughter who wanted to marry a man of whom he didn’t approve. He knew he couldn’t stop her from marrying him. All he could do was prevent the ne’er do well fiance from getting his hands on his money and subsequent daughter’s inheritance

    He knew that, statistically, there’s a 50% likelihood his daughter would be divorced by the age of 30. Armed with this statistical knowledge, he structured his will so that his daughter didn’t inherit until after she was 40 years old (in the event he passed away before then).

    I don’t know if this is a concern or not, but Trip N Fell’s advice reminded me of this.

    Dr T

  19. Trip N. Fell
    June 20, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Unfortunately, Jon’s situation seems too familiar to me.

    Before I answer his questions, I want to offer Jon a piece of advice: If he goes to war with the fiancée, he’s going to lose not only the conflict, but his son and potential grandchildren.

    1) What to say–I’m glad my friends and family said little or nothing before the marriage, though some hinted. I would have defended my fiancée and withdrawn from the commenter, making it harder for me to re-connect when everything went from bad to worse.

    What I appreciate now is the seemingly neutral financial advice that has made the property settlement easier (e.g., no joint credit cards, separate banks accounts with a joint bank account for household expenses–my soon-to-be ex used shopping therapy when yelling and belittling me wasn’t enough). And b/c they both want to be doctors (with considerable debt and future income), a pre-nuptial agreement may be a good idea regardless.

    Also, you may suggest to him that he keep a journal–I know once I started writing down what happened, I realized how awful and how wrong things were. And that I wasn’t crazy. Plus, the detailed records were very useful in the divorce proceedings. Once she knew that I had a detailed record of all the things she did and said to me, the divorce proceedings became easier–I guess sometimes you can use their narcissism to your advantage.

    2) Caused me to reconsider–Not a thing. After I proposed, her parents joked nervously to me about her temper and said I was the only person calm enough to handle her. Her temper didn’t faze me–I “knew” I could handle her temper; hadn’t I kept dating for another year the girl who found it amusing to come home drunk and put out her cigarette on my arms? In fact, my soon-to-be ex-es arbitrary tantrums made the realationship seem exciting. And familiar.

    3) Preserve relationship–Be there for him. Listen to him. Don’t pry. Don’t judge. Tell him you always love him. And maybe keep a journal for yourself; your future daughter-in-law will change the facts when it is convenient to her. Trust she’ll remember every fact convenient to her.

    Be careful when he asks a question about his beloved or their relationship. After the tantrum, things will become normal, and he may view–despite his solicitation of your opinion–your words as interference in their relationship. I know I did.

    4) Worst case scenario–Let him know that you’ll always be there for him. No conditions, no judgments. Mr. E’s comment about the I told you so is spot on.

    And start now to prevent that–schedule a regular lunch or coffee or a sporting event that’s just you and him. Don’t talk about his fiancée. And make it a convenient for him, but also try to make it a tradition, so she can’t easily dismiss.

    • August 3, 2014 at 3:55 am

      Love your advise. Very good…Been there.

  20. Mr. E.
    June 19, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    What a mess! I hope you’re able to talk some sense into him before he makes a huge mistake.

    That said, here are my answers to the questions:

    “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? “

    They should have all said, repeatedly, at high volume, “For the love of God, man, don’t marry her. Run to Alaska and hide! We’ll call when the coast is clear.”

    I would not have listened, however. My parents hinted around about it, and I was convinced they were trying to come between us. Oops.

    “Is there anything they could’ve said or done at the time that would have caused you to reconsider the relationship or marriage? “

    Nope. They were wrong. The love of my life had some problems, sure, but that was just because she was insecure, and after I loved her enough she’d be just fine.

    What a sucker I was…

    “What advice can you give to Jon to help him preserve his relationship with his son? “

    Tell him you’re concerned, and why. Let him know you’ll always be there for him.

    There is a common perception, reinforced by all the advice columnists, that the guy needs to be on the side of HIS WIFE, and not his parents. This is true if the parents are jerks. However, when the WIFE is a jerk, the guy still feels like he has to be on HER SIDE. Especially because he might not realize she’s the jerk.

    “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? “

    Make sure he knows you support him and won’t say “I told you so.” The last part is extra important. I don’t want to talk to my parents about her behavior because of the looming “I told you so.”

    • shrink4men
      June 19, 2009 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks a lot, Mr E for coming through with some solid advice. I appreciate you taking the time to do so. Unfortunately, it seems like most of the time, we have to learn from our mistakes by actually making them. Although, making the mistake is no guarantee that a person will learn from it. How many people do we all know that make the same mistakes over and over again, stuck in an endless loop of pain?

      Thanks again, Mr E, for sharing your experiences.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • TK
      November 18, 2009 at 8:03 am

      While I agree with the spirit of what you’ve said, there’re more useful things to say than just ‘run’. If I could go back in time and tell my dad what to say two years ago, I would tell him to say this: “Son, you know that she has some emotional problems. But I don’t think you understand quite how severe and how permanent they are. I want to ask you to delay the wedding for a year. During that year, I want you to read everything you can find on cluster B personality disorders. I also want you to commit to at least three sessions of pre-marital counselling with a well-qualified psychologist. If after doing both these things, you still want to proceed with the wedding, at least you will know what you’re getting in to.”

      I had no idea what I was really up against until I’d been married six months and her HPD behaviour was back in full swing. Forewarned is forearmed.

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