Dh is Consumed with his families problems, help!

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2002
Dh is Consumed with his families problems, help!
Tue, 06-17-2014 - 11:27pm


I will make this short.  I'm sure someone has some great advice that I am overlooking.

My husband has always been a little bit on the "depressed" side, or a negative thinker.  He's had highs and lows with money stress (it is slow where he works and his hours got cut a bit, exc.)....he has stress, so I hate to see him get so upset about all his family members problems.   Quick background:  he is close with his brother Tom.  That is great!  Tom is a pretty decent guy.  Tom calls my husband every night, they are close, that's great.

Tom's wife (my sister in law) is most likely a hyperchondriac and won't leave the house,  so Tom calls my husband about that and my husband worries.  I do too, I like my sister in law....so, I have sympathy.  HERE is my problem.  My husband and Tom have another brother who REAPPEARED in their lives after disappearing for 20 years -- no joke.  So "Charlie:" disappeared from the family from age 45 to age 64 and just reappeared 1 year ago.  

We think he "left the family"; after the family got angry at him that he didn't come to town for his own mother's funeral.   So.....Charlie reappeared 1 year ago and lately *Every Night*  Tom (my pleasant brother in law) calls my husband and states he thinks Charlie is on drugs, that Charlie will call my brother-in-law Tom's house rambling, that Charlie's girlfriend thinks Charlies has post-traumatic stress disorder, exc exc.   So my husband and Tom were going to "Baker Act" him one weekend and they changed their minds.  Charlie started acting coherant/ok.       But **Every Night**  Tom calls my husband and they get each other stressed out about "is something wrong with Charlie" and "is Charlie maybe taking drugs"......even Charlie's girlfriend (she is a 65 year old lady, Charlies is also 65) will call the 2 brothers saying he seems cranky.   They all worry about Charlie a lot.  It seems to have *Depressed* my husband.  Yes, they do occasionally confront Charlie (they ask him does he want to see a doctor, he seems incoherent, exc.  He always says he's fine)    Charlie has not actually done anything to warrant any type of intervention or anything.....so my husband gives me updates every night "Today, Charlie seemed ok on the phone"  or my husband will say "Tom thinks Charlie was acting funny today".      Final straw -- tonight my husband sat me down and gave me a 20 minutes speech on how Charlie is......that he thinks Charlie's girlfriend only likes Charlie for his money.......does Charlie maybe take drugs, exc exc exc. 

Then, I nicely gave my opinion, that Dh can't really protect Charlie, Charlie is a grown man and he gets to pick who he dates exc exc.  Dh yelled that dh is "Done talking about it, stop talking"...... So DH gets so worried/stressed about Charlie (a brother who deserted him for 20 years and barely knows my husband's 17 year old son, Charlies nephew)that dh yells at me out of stress.  I don't get it?   One more thing.....Charlie moved 1 street away from Tom.  So Tom calls my dh each night with stories about "what is going on with Charlie, is he on drugs? Is his girlfriend a bad influence..." and Tom and my Dh get all gossipy and obsessed with Charlie.  I miss the days when they worried about Tom's wife, the one who won't leave the house.....at least she was a loyal member of the family.  This Charlie, he moved back to town, is kind of cold to everyone, talks poorly about my dh's deceased mother, exc exc exc.......and worrying about him has kind of depressed my husband.  I don't get it.   One time my 12 year old son was in the car when DH was talking to Tom on phone about "is charlie using drugs exc exc"  And I finally told dh, please don't talk about stuff like that in front of my son it may upset my son (talk of "Baker-acting": charlie, exc)

Dh and Tom, his brother, used to talk about fun stuff sometimes, like sports.  Now every night they talk about Charlie, and then my Dh frowns all night and seems stressed.  The family is a bit drama prone, based on past things....

My thought is this -- Charlie is a 65 year old man who was gone for 20 years...we can't babysit him.   It's his choice who he dates or if he takes drugs or not, why should my dh be all worried every single night?  My dad found out tonight he is indeed having back surgery as he thought, and when I told my dh he didn't even hear me.  I mean, there are other people in our lives besides Charlie (to talk about).  If I suggest my dh go to a counselor, he won't go (dh did say tongiht he hasn't been happy in a long time because of his job and money issues)....what would you do?


Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Wed, 06-18-2014 - 12:14am

Your husband is a grown man.  He is fully capable of putting the phone on the answering machine, and screening his calls.  He WANTS the nightly soap opera with his brother.  He is obsessed with it.  He is probably thrilled that there is something NEW to talk about, since how much is there to say, EVERY SINGLE DAY, about someone who never leaves the house??

What would *I* do?  Get a job and contribute to the family income, so my husband would not be so stressed, and so I could support my children and myself if my husband uncorks. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2002
Wed, 06-18-2014 - 4:15pm
Thanks - i do have a job, i work 50 hours a week. The reason dh is stressed about money is he and his wife went to a lot of concerts, trips, exc. and he built up debt before i met him...i pay for all home repairs, groceries, i am the breadwinner. His money stress Is. Because they cut back on work hours at his place of employment. Thank you for your reply
Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 06-19-2014 - 1:36pm

Isally, so good to see you!!!

I am getting stressed just reading your post.  Every night?  I would go frickin' batty.  You can't control your BIL calling your DH, and although you can't control your DH either, you can share your concerns with his obsession with Charlie and therefore LACK of attention to his immediately family - you and your child/children.  You know, the people he actually lives with?  

With that said, you still can't control your DH.  If your DH really can't see how gossip, worry and all that is a waste of energy, all you can then do is disconnect yourself from it.  Make it clear that as much as you have empathy for the situation, you don't need a daily update on Charlie and really don't feel it is any of your business.  Unless it is big, like "Charlie is in the hospital," you don't really need to know.  

Just remember to still be empathetic.  I am sure if you thought your own brother was in a bad situation, you would be concerned, also.  

I don't know, maybe throw out a scenario you DH may understand.  "Would you really want a daily update on my all of parents aches, pains, doctor appointments, etc. etc."   "Really honey, would you truly want to hear about my parents every single night how mom sounded sad, dad sounded like he was in pain today.  Seriously, do you realize you do this every night?"  

Just my two cents on it.  I hope you get some helpful ideas here.  Hugs.....


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2002
Thu, 06-19-2014 - 3:20pm
Hi serenity, good to see you! You are such an asset to these boards, as usual. I had a nice talk with dh and reminded him (kindly) that he deserves to be happy, and he deserves to have some "light hearted" moments sometimes.....dj's 16 year old son is out of town at a baseball tournament, and I think he misses him. I also nicely told him... That his brother is 65 years old and honestly, can take care of himself... We can't babysit grown relatives and follow them around to ensure they don't take painkillers, exc. he seemed to think about it...I just hate to see him take on other people's stress (last year, he worried if his 24 year old nephew was taking drugs... The nephew moved away and dh is calm) I told dh he can be a good role model for his nephew, exc. but he can't control what his 65 yr. old brother does. Your advice was Awesome, thanks very. Very much!!! :-)
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Wed, 06-25-2014 - 3:40pm

Hi Sally--

It seems like your DH simply *needs* (or *seeks*) something to worry about---and, if it's not one thing (or one relative), ....it will be another.

My SO is 65 also, and he is forever "mentioning" his latest ache or pain---and when that one disappears,....have no fear...There will be another one to keep telling me about! (MEANWHILE....he will tell me how "old people just complain about their health all of the time".....hah...go figure..)

ANYHOW....not sure what else to suggest except:

CHANGE THE SUBJECT...........find some other things to do in the evening and try to interest DH in them also.......(sign), accept the behavior and just tune out alot of the time (seems to work for me....)..........


I think mostly finding other interests for yourself, etc, so you can just focus on that stuff, and ignore the rest-----lol, ..kind of like the "soaps" in TV---you could miss a whole week of them, then turn it on, ...and,...huh, ya really didnt miss too much----