My wife's older sister has no kids, has never been married and never lived with anyone. From overhearing conversations between the two sisters I know that my wife often gets relationship advice from her sister. I also get relationship advice from friends and family but stay clear of those who have no relationship or are scarred from one. I would like my wife to do the same, but know that she has a natural politeness toward her older sister. How do I convey this message to my wife without coming across as 'a controlling husband' ?
closed as primarily opinion-based by Randolph Carter, Alina Cretu, Spagirl, Bananenaffe, Anne Daunted Feb 12 '18 at 14:29
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Unfortunately one of the textbook behaviors of a controlling partner is isolating your partner from the advice of their friends and family. Psychology Today lists isolation from friends and family as one of the top warning signs of a controlling relationship. Your wife is talking to her older sister for advice. This is a relationship she has had for her entire life, far longer than her relationship with you. Telling her to not talk to her sister about her relationships is a red flag for an abusive relationship.
If you don't want to be an controlling husband, don't control who your wife seeks advice from.
From overhearing conversations between the two sisters...
You seem worried that the advice she gives would be bad, and that your wife would follow the bad advice. I agree with sphennings that convincing your wife to ignore her sister's advice is controlling:
- It assumes the advice would be bad (maybe it isn't, but you're not sure).
- More important, it denies your wife the agency to choose for herself.
A good compromise would be to ask your wife about what her sister said. This is simply curiosity. You can also ask what your wife thinks about the advice. Generally it seems like a good idea to be interested in what your wife thinks ;)
Note about Stephen's comments: the idea is not to pry or sound controlling, rather to calm your anxiety by removing doubts about the contents of their conversation. So maybe ask "how's your sister, is she worried about us?" or something like that. Better communicate your worry and maybe look like an idiot than sit on a grudge.
Perhaps these conversations aren't really the sister trying to influence your wife, but rather the sister feeling lonely and simply wanting to talk about relationships. In this case, there is no problem at all...
Your wife talking to her sister is not the problem here. Poor relationship behavior is.
You shouldn't - in any way, shape, or form - try to get between your wife and her sister. At least not without clear evidence of some sort of malicious intent on the sister's part.
Instead, you should be addressing anything which may be bothering you in the relationship the same way you've presumably always done so: by speaking to your wife about it.
Let's suppose for a second that your wife gets some poor advice from her sister, and she starts behaving in a way in which she never has before, and which bugs you. Sit down with her, and very calmly discuss the situation. Don't express any suspicions and that this behavior may have been influenced by her sister. Don't point fingers. Simply seek to express your dissatisfaction, and try to reach a solution:
Hey honey, for the past couple of weeks I've noticed [behavior here]. It's a new development, and it makes me uncomfortable because [reason here]. Could we talk about it?
Over time, if her sister's advice is consistently leading her to these talks, your wife will realize that she's getting poor advice.