Ask Kari: How can I make my sister see she’s in a controlling relationship with her boyfriend?

Dear Kari,

My sister is in a controlling relationship with her boyfriend. He won’t even let her go out with me to the mall without her having to check in with him every hour. He emails and texts her constantly. Our father was overbearing like this with our mother. Now she says that she loves him and wants to get married. I worry that she will end up in an abusive marriage. How can I make her see that he is no good for her before it’s too late?

--A Sister’s Love

Dear A Sister’s Love,

It is troubling that you and your sister grew up in a home where your mother was dominated and controlled by your father, and now your sister has a similar relationship with her current boyfriend. Unfortunately, bad family patterns and choices get carried on from one generation to the next, often without people even recognizing it is happening. This seems to be the case with your sister. Because your sister has recently expressed a desire to marry her boyfriend, I suggest that you pick a peaceful and private time to express your true feelings and concerns to her. Your sister will then have to decide what she does with that information. Whatever she decides, continue to love and support her. Your sister needs someone who accepts and respects her while she figures out what a good relationship is.


As published in the October 2013 issue of Connections.

About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

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