Dilemma: my daughter married a bully

Jo Brand / 20 March 2017

A reader contacts agony aunt Jo Brand to find out what she should do about her daughter's bullying husband.



Dilemma: my daughter's husband is a bully

I fear that my daughter has married a bully, but she refuses to acknowledge it. 

He does nothing around the house and is always undermining her. I’ve tried to talk to her, but she just gets cross and tells me to mind my own business. I couldn’t listen to The Archers’ ‘coercive-control’ storyline for worrying it described her life.

Jo Brand's advice

I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s very difficult to see your child struggle in any way without wanting to get involved and sort it out. However, without the full facts, you have to consider these alternatives:

1. You are right, she is married to a lazy bully. In this case you have to consider why she might be denying it. It may well be that, like Helen in The Archers, she has become so depressed and/or scared that she is unable to see it or deal with it.

Alternatively, because she loves him, she may feel his shortcomings are bearable and sees the level of his negative behaviour as acceptable and you as interfering.

Do you have any evidence you could put to your daughter? Has her behaviour changed? What has he done to demonstrate that your fears are valid?

2. On the other hand, you could be wrong. Do you like your son-in-law? Perhaps dislike of him has led you to believe things about him that are not true. 

You don’t mention your own partner. What does he think? Are/were you married to a bully, which to some extent may explain why your daughter has chosen a similar partner? Do you have other children who could throw light on the situation?

It is a sad fact that many relatives are forced to stand by and witness awful things happening to a member of the family because of domestic violence. But unless that person is prepared to seek help, there is very little they can do. 

A good starting point is to contact a charity such as Refuge, which deals with domestic abuse, and discuss it with them. 

Then perhaps you and another relative who agrees with you can go back to your daughter and express your concerns in a way that isn’t accusatory – which may also be making her angry.

refuge.org.uk; 24-hour helpline 0808 200 0247



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