Posted by: Celeste | 2004/11/10


I am desperately trying to cope with a situation which is sinking my marriage. Any advise from the forum will be welcomed.

My brother-in-law moved in with us about 10 months ago. At that stage he had no income and was on the verge of living on the streets. My husband and I discussed this beforehand, and decided to help him get back on his feet.

After about 4 months I realised that he wasn't even looking for a job, so I gave him a choice - either get a job asap, or move out. He then got a job and is currently earning around R2200 pm, which isn't a lot of money, but definately enough to stay alive.

He pays boarding and lodging of R600 pm (after I again almost blew my top about him living of our backs). The amount he pays isn't what worries me, since we are financially comfortable. Also he tries his best to do his share as far as housework is concerned, so I can't complain about that. What bothers me is his drinking - he drinks heavily every weekend, to the extend that he passes out most Friday and Saturday nights. I am too embarressed to invite friends over because of this. We have an unspoken rule in the house that we do not drink/entertain on Sundays, yet he even has a few after he gets up on Sunday mornings.

I have a 15 year old son and is 4 months pregnant with my second child. I do not want to raise my children in such circumstances! Whenever I try to speak to my husband about this, he goes absolutely ballistic, accusing me of trying to "throw his brother to the wolves" and of being cruel and heartless. He also says that if I should attempt to throw him out, he would leave with him or worse, throw me and my son out on the street (which I honestly believe he will do).

I don't know what else to do. The situation is causing a lot of strain in my house and between my family members. I am on the verge of packing my bags and moving out, though I realise it will not solve the problem. Please, please, does anybody out there have a solution??

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Our expert says:
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Well, your last two experiences of putting your foot down, seem to have helped you all, a lot. Maybe do it again. If he didn';t drink so much, he could work towards a better job, and could afford to save enough to be able to afford a modest place of his own. Your husband is being ridiculously protective of his drunken brother, and may be forgetting several important things. he is married to you, and not to his brother, and if he tried to push you and the child out, you could sue him heavily, which his brother could not do. And he needs to realize that he is NOT helping his brother by being so absurdly indulgent towards him. I agree with lulu here.

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Our users say:
Posted by: lulu | 2004/11/10

Celeste, your husband needs to catch a wake-up... How can he condone what his brother is doing to his marriage? To threaten to throw you and the children out, I mean really!!

You have every right to be frustrated with the situation.

My advice: Talk to your husband and explain to him that you are not happy with his brother's conduct in your home. Decide before the talk what YOU want out of this and stick to your guns. Also, I would suggest an expiry date for his "getting on his feet". He's in a comfort zone and will do the minimum to stay there. He will not be able to live on R2200 a month on his own, so he has to get something better paying in order for him to live on his own again. You agreed to help him get his life in order, not to support him till he dies.

Once you have agreed with hubby what you can live with in the mean time, the brother must be told what the two of you decided. How ever hard it seems to your husband, he'll be helping his brother more by not letting him leach of you for the rest of his life.

Good luck!

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