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Is this cultural?

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  • Is this cultural?

    I'm writing trying to understand what is going on with my sister-in-law. I'm extremely worried for my brother and niece and nephews but wanting to make sure I'm not seeing this through a biased cultural lens. Background is : my brother is a mining engineer who worked in East Kalimantan in the late 1990's. She was also working for the same company as a statistician. Her family is what would be described as middle class here in Australia but are what I would describe as extremist Christian. (Dad is a retired army general). They fell in love, married and have 3 children together - 14yo boy, 10yr old boy and 5 yo girl. They moved back here (Australia) in 2006 at her insistence (she was accusing him of having multiple affairs at work as a result of some of the women in the office cheering him during a social soccer match organised at his work). Seemed at little bit of an extreme reaction to me but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Since then, things have gotten out of control fast.

    There are several issues in the marriage:

    1) He is constantly accused of cheating if he goes into work. The expectation in Australia is generally that when you have a job, you must attend it or you will quickly find yourself unemployed. She insists that the only reason he would go into his job is to have an affair and is now insisting he find a job where he doesn't have to go away from the house. (completely unrealistic in Australia)

    2) Constant complaints that unless he buys her a new house and car every 2 years he must not love her. His income would be in the top 1% in the country (300k+AUD/yr) They have a million dollar house, she drives a brand new SUV, sports car as well, you name it, he has bought it for her. This has developed gradually over time until even on his large salary, he cannot afford to shell out any more. But because her SUV is now 2 years old, I am told by her 'my husband cannot afford to provide for me properly' It's very hard to not stare at her with my mouth hanging open when she says this.

    3)She contributes nothing to the household. And I mean literally nothing. He goes to work, pays all the bills, does all the housework (meals, laundry, dishes cleaning - everything) does everything to do with the kids. He gets to work late every day because she refuses to get the children to school at a reasonable time (school was asking questions as to why the kids were 2-3 hours late every single day, so, like everything else, he took it over). His day involves getting the kids up, getting them breakfast, bathing and dressing the younger ones, doing the dishes, taking them to school, goes to work, picks the kids up, gets dinner, oversees homework, bathing and bedtime routines, then cleaning up after his and the 3 kid's dinner. Her contribution involves draping herself on the couch with her phone all day and waiting until everyone else is in bed at 10.30pm, then using every pot and pan in the house to make an elaborate dinner for herself to photograph for facebook. Which of course, my brother gets to clean up after. Oh- and constant criticism and accusations, which she puts quite a bit of energy into. The kids get to witness her screaming tirades, blinds ripped down, pot plants thrown at his head, threats to abandon the boys and kidnap my niece to Indonesia, etc.

    4) The neglect of the children. For example, until recently there was never a time we saw my niece without extremely matted hair. If my brother tried to do her hair for her, my sister-in-law would accuse of sexual abuse. She's started school now though and my brother has put his foot down and brushes her hair. Figures he's going to be accused anyway and doesn't want his daughter looking like no one owns her. It used to be the same with the housework. My brother put his foot down and took it over after they lived for a month without access to any bathing because she'd had friends over and instead of doing the dishes, loaded one their their baths with dirty dishes and the other with all the rotting vegetables she had stored in the kitchen sink and wouldn't allow him to throw out . Even though he tries to keep up with it all, there are hygiene issues he is not allowed to deal with. For example, he is forced to keep all of the stinking rubbish in the kitchen for a week at a time because she won't allow him to put it in the outside bin because 'our neighbours will think our rubbish bin smells' So instead, their kitchen smells like a rubbish tip. It's bizarre. Think opulent squalor.

    So - my question is - is this cultural? Is the expectation in Indonesia that men do all of the earning, all the housework and all of the parenting? Is domestic violence by women on men the norm over there? Is it normal to horde rotting food in your kitchen because what the neighbours think is more important than your kids health? Do people brush their kids' hair? Do men keep jobs without attending them? Or does my sister-in-law has some sort of mental health issue (which is how it looks to me through an Australian cultural lens). My brother is basically stuck right now because if they separated, she'd have the kids on her own some of the time and he basically doesn't trust her to feed them, bathe them or get them to school
    Last edited by whitecrane; 20-02-16, 10:17.

  • #2
    None of this is normal behavior. She has serious mental health issues. I would advice your brother to extricate himself and the kids from this situation. They are lucky that they are currently in Australia, and he should seek help right away. He must document this behavior, the abuse and her endangering of the kids, and should try to get full custody of the kids. If she was to decide one day to follow through with the kidnapping threats and makes it to Indonesia, the situation will get much more complicated for him.

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    • #3
      Agreed with Dafluff, your sister in law, most likely need help with psychiatrist.

      Best Regards,

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      • #4
        Agree with the above 2 posts. You could probably start with some research into Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder ..... Your brother basically needs to; as we say "Harden The Fuck Up"
        The answer is 42 .... any questions? .

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        • #5
          Originally posted by macvert View Post
          Agree with the above 2 posts. You could probably start with some research into Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder ..... Your brother basically needs to; as we say "Harden The Fuck Up"
          Harden the fuck up? That's a bit harsh.

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          • #6
            Yep, sounds harsh I agree, but I think you will find that people with Personality Disorders such as have been described deliberately although at the same time unwittlingly, see out weak people.

            I am not saying the brother is not a good man.
            Last edited by macvert; 20-02-16, 18:12.
            The answer is 42 .... any questions? .

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            • #7
              Originally posted by dafluff View Post
              None of this is normal behavior. She has serious mental health issues. I would advice your brother to extricate himself and the kids from this situation. They are lucky that they are currently in Australia, and he should seek help right away. He must document this behavior, the abuse and her endangering of the kids, and should try to get full custody of the kids. If she was to decide one day to follow through with the kidnapping threats and makes it to Indonesia, the situation will get much more complicated for him.
              Could you say a bit more about the documentation? Are we talking diary or video or what? Would video from a hidden camera be usable in court, for example?

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              • #8
                It will take diagnosis by a trained & reputable mental health professional, the hardest part will be getting her there to be diagnosed.
                The answer is 42 .... any questions? .

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                • #9
                  once the diagnosis is accepted by the patient, about the only hope of recovery is CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) which I believe does not have a high success rate.
                  The answer is 42 .... any questions? .

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Happyman View Post
                    Could you say a bit more about the documentation? Are we talking diary or video or what? Would video from a hidden camera be usable in court, for example?
                    For example, calling the cops when abuse is taking place and getting a report filed. I don't know about hidden camera evidence, I would consult a lawyer about this. I would also consult a divorce lawyer to see what else can be done to maximize the chances for full custody of the kids.

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                    • #11
                      As dafluff said, it is very lucky that this is happening in Australia.

                      There are systems in place to deal with this sort of situations. I would start with the school since they seem to have witnessed some of the mother's behavior (kid's hair, tardiness, etc), and they would know how to approach this/where to direct the dad.

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                      • #12
                        If it were my brother, I would recommend he discreetly visit a good divorce lawyer and seek council of how to properly document the situation before proceeding with legal actions.

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                        • #13
                          My take is that because her father is a retired army general she was probably raised in a certain way - most likely not raised at all. She may be accustomed to being sucked up to by everyone, and got everything she wanted. She may not know any other way.

                          That could play a big part in her behavior and expectations now.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by R Cameron View Post
                            If it were my brother, I would recommend he discreetly visit a good divorce lawyer and seek council of how to properly document the situation before proceeding with legal actions.
                            Yep. that wife is beyond psychiatric help (like many kids of the Nuveau riches or powerful government folks) . Aside from the divorce lawyer, maybe get restraining order and possibly custody of the children.

                            Maybe the husband is afraid the dad might do something.

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                            • #15
                              Gotta say, OP, even if it were cultural, would still be ruining his life. Forget about the cultural aspect, and any worries of "seeing this through a lens". When someone hurts the people you care about, it's time for that person to change or leave. Doesn't matter what their story or excuse is, they can shape up or ship out.

                              Course... you aren't really in the driver's seat here. Question is what your brother wants to do about it.

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