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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

FAMILY: Brother-In-Law Stealing From Me
Letter #: 392919
Category: Other

Original Letter

Hello my name is Matthew and for probably just over a year my brother in law has been stealing my property from my bedroom, it is only blu ray films and playstation 4 games but over time this has incurred a considerable cost to myself, it's a bit of a difficult situation currently as me and my wife are living with her parents where he too is also living, in the past he has had a drug problem but I am not sure if he still has one and is selling my things to fuel his habit, I am reluctant to get the police involved as in my eyes it seems like a petty argument to complain over some films and some games, I have considered buying a motion sensored camera for my bedroom but with my reluctance to go to the police it seems pointless, I've told the parents but they do not do anything about it except confront him and then that's that. I get no reimbursement for this and worse no apology I'm close to breaking point now and feel I may react extremely if I don't find a solution soon any advice you could give me would be hugely appreciated, thank you for taking the time to read this

Elder Response

Matthew, I’m glad you wrote. Personally I consider this a serious situation. In my mind, your wife and her parents are enabling this young man (her brother) by not stopping him.  I think you are right. I think he is still using and will continue to do so as long as he can support his habit. Unfortunately it is not your place right now to intercede. I believe in my mind that it is the primary responsibility of your wife and, if she is abdicating that responsibility she is further abdicating her responsibility to you as well.

I don’t know the situation under which you have been placed in a position as a married man where you must live with your wife’s family. It sounds like both you and your wife would be far better off being independent. That would remove you from the company of this drug addict. Frankly, he could present further dangers in the future and taking your property in my opinion is the least of your concerns. Unless or until you can orchestrate removing yourself and your wife from this danger, I think you will have to keep a watchful eye on what is going on, but in the end you can do nothing other than speak to your wife about this. I think you should remind her that her primary responsibility is now to you and she should deal with this in an effective way that keeps everyone safe.

It is very difficult when we must choose between our family and our beloved. I’ve been in that situation. Your wife has to recognize that she is married and must sacrifice for you first and foremost. A marriage without total commitment can’t endure. Perhaps there is a way for the two of you to orchestrate living away from her parents and her brother. When I first married we lived for a short time with my in-laws. It didn’t work out. Our first apartment we rented was entirely dismal. In fact, I’d say it was at first unlivable. Yet, it was ours. It was all we could afford, but it allowed our marriage to prosper. I don’t think we made a bad decision by asserting our independence.

Please understand that if your wife refuses to move out with you, what she is saying is that she has accepted this theft as a kind of “rent” for living with her parents. Perhaps it isn’t as much as the cost of an apartment, so if you view it as such, perhaps you are living “on the cheap” after all. Yet, I consider it a terrible way to pay rent.

I think your reaction must remain calm. I understand your concerns, but if they aren’t being properly addressed, you have few options. However, I would point out that the anger you feel may ultimately become misdirected toward your wife and she has to be prepared for that, if she continues to ignore this situation. In my mind the cost of living with in-laws far exceeds the cost of living alone with your wife. Perhaps it is comfortable for your wife to live with her parents. She has to start to understand that it is not comfortable for you. She has chosen to be your wife, so she has to accept that it is time for the two of you to remove yourself from her parents and live together independently as a couple. A year is long enough. In my opinion, this situation can’t continue because it is ultimately affecting your mental health and your relationship with your wife. Frankly, personally, I would have opted to “dig ditches” rather than live with my in-laws. Sacrifice on behalf of a union is paramount toward a lasting relationship. With that mutual respect also helps the relationship to prosper. By ignoring your needs, in a way, your wife is disrespecting your wishes and that is wrong.

I do hope you can extricate yourself and your wife from this situation. I think once that happens, perhaps she will be able to more effectively deal with the habits of her brother and will see things in an entirely different light. If anything else concerns you feel free to write again to The EWC.  I wish you a joyous holiday and a fine New Year- one filled with love, kindness, and independence.

Best Regards,



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