My brother and I have always been very close and I love him very much. He is my only sibling. I am worried about his recent engagement and not sure how to discuss it with him. He asked his girlfriend of three months to get married last week and they are planning to have the ceremony on New Year’s Eve.
Our parents died when we were in high school and left us a somewhat significant amount of money. Up until recently it was managed by a trustee, but now we are in charge and able to withdraw funds for whatever we want. He purchased her a very expensive ring and just made an offer on a house for them to live in.
This isn’t just about money. I am very against him getting married to someone he doesn’t even know. I’ve only met her twice and she seems fine, I guess, but what is the rush? I think she may be interested in him for his bank account and not who he is as a person.
Any advice, besides what my husband tells me? He says I should mind my own business, LOL.
Dear Twin Sis:
Thank you for your email and the lengthy follow-up conversation we had. Some points for the readers’ edification:
1. Your brother is 35 years old (as are you, duh) and has never been married;
2. The woman in question is a 32-year-old professional;
3. You fell in love with your husband (to whom you have been happily married for 12 years) within a month, although you didn’t marry for two years; and
4. Your parents died in a car wreck when you were 16, both were only children and all your grandparents are dead.
Listen sister, you’ve got a lot going on here and almost none of it is based upon a legitimate concern about your brother marrying this woman. I am running really late today so I’m going to break it down for you in numbers:
1. You and your brother had to essentially raise yourselves from the age of 16 which has created a parental dynamic between you both. When we chatted you told me you have always been very protective of one another. That’s a wonderful and normal reaction to being orphaned and ending up with almost no other family in the world.
However, he was very supportive of your marriage and is an integral member of your family, enjoying a very close relationship with your husband and children. He often speaks of wanting a family and after all this time he has found someone he is ready to share his life with. Stop being so parental and open your eyes to his loneliness and his need for his sister to embrace his happiness and his new partner.
2. I understand the fear of a gold-digger sniffing around your brother and trying to take advantage of him, but this woman does not meet that description at all. She put herself through graduate school, earns a good living and has told him she intends to keep working after they have kids, which they want to do right away.
3. Any fears you have of your brother losing his money to this woman can be drafted around, and by that I mean handled by a tight pre-nup. While I think it would be wrong for you to lecture your brother about the speedy timeline of this meet/get married scenario, I think it is not only appropriate but also imperative that you remind him to protect himself.
Getting married these days without a pre-nup is like going nuts in a Thai brothel without wearing a condom, so feel free to tell him he needs one. If she refuses to sign, that’s a clear indicator that she may be interested in him for all the wrong reasons. Besides, she’s got money of her own to protect.
4. You told me you knew you wanted to marry your husband by the end of the first month you were dating, but that you waited to marry because you wanted to finish college first. Spin that around in your head and explain to me how your brother’s situation is any different – I dare you!
While I believe people should spend a good amount of time considering taking this big step, that amount of time can depend upon a variety of variables. Your brother has been looking for the right woman for many years, so I suggest you suspend your suspicions and embrace the possibility that this marriage is both timely and a very positive thing for your bro.
Bottom line: have the tough conversation with your brother about how easy it is to lose everything in a divorce and send him my way so I can share some stories with him and get him lined up with a lawyer to draft his pre-nup.
Stop eyeing his purchases with disdain and assuming the worst about this woman. Instead, celebrate the fact that your sole immediate family member is growing a little family of his own. Don’t you want more people in your family to love? Don’t you want your children to have a more diverse family tree than the 2-by-4 you and your brother share?
Finally, take a look at your deepest motivations here. I think you may feel threatened and displaced by this woman, because up until now your brother has really only relied on you. While it isn’t surprising these emotions would arise given your unique and unfortunate family history, it would serve you both well if you stopped trying to parent each other and settled into your natural roles of brother and sister.