I need help in guiding my brother-in-law, who may be developmentally challenged, with some important life decisions. I am pretty much his only family contact, am at a bit of a loss, and not quite sure where to start; (slightly lengthy) details inside.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My husband passed away in 2002. His only (younger) brother ("Simon", currently) has always lived nearby. Simon grew up in a very Orthodox Jewish, and sheltered household-- he only went to Yeshiva (never completed high school), was always a loner, and his parents never allowed him to have friends (he lived with them all of his life and took care of them until they passed away in 2008, leaving the entirety of their modest savings to him). While it's never been clinically diagnosed, I'm pretty sure that Simon is developmentally challenged in some way: he has difficulty communicating (very limited vocabulary, reading, and writing skills) and finds some basic tasks challenging (for example, I personally studied with him for the driver's ed test and he couldn't figure out how to answer multuiple choice questions). On the other hand, he is competent at handling his finances, has been able to hold down a (albeit very simple) job, and can be very secretive. IANAD, but from what I know, my guess is that he is somewhere on the spectrum.
Essentially, since my husband, and then Simon's parents passed away, I have been his closest family member: I helped him find a job and have guided him through all other basic living tasks (cooking, buying furniture, etc.). Simon lives and works in a very religious part of NYC. About a year ago, his coworkers introduced him to computers, and he caught on very quickly. Shortly thereafter, he met a woman in Florida through an Orthodox dating website, and went to visit her. This was the only time he ever mentioned anything of the sort to me. Three weeks ago, Simon revealed that he is getting married to this woman, went on to say that he'd been seeing her for the past year, has visited her three times, and actively lied to me during the times he went to FL. Additionally, an Orthodox Jewish matchmaker has gotten involved, and claims to have spoken to the woman's rabbi.
Bluntly put, Simon has zero experience, sexual or otherwise, with women and relationships. For example, I asked him what he thinks makes a good wife, and he told me "cooking, cleaning, and having someone to talk to." This woman, "Emily", is 49 and widowed, with three kids (the youngest is 16 and lives with her). I spoke with Emily over the phone, and it seems to me that she doesn't really know Simon--I asked her why she's marrying him, and she said he's "honest and a nice man," though "a little quiet." I asked her if she knew whether Simon had ever been with a woman, and she said that she knew he hadn't, but never asked why.
Obviously, I am not trying to insert myself or do anything to change this situation. However, in light of Simon's inexperience and condition, along with the fact that I don't really know this woman, I am concerned. In large part, I'm worried that she may be using him, though there's no rational proof of that--it's mainly that I am really the only one looking out for Simon and don't want to see him hurt, or worse yet, taken advantage of; he's already talking about buying a house, quitting his job, and moving to Florida.
I've tried to advise him to keep his apartment in NY, take things more slowly, and make sure he has a job before he moves. He has listened, but remains intent on getting married. As such, I would like to protect him. I have already told him to get a prenup, and plan on speaking with a lawyer in that regard (I also mentioned this to the matchmaker, who dismissively told me not to worry and said that he would take care of everything. I don't trust this guy either, and Simon is paying him). That said, I don't know what else to do-- is there someone with whom can I speak, or is there anything that I can do to protect him? I know that people here have had all kinds of experiences, and might be able to provide some good advice.
tl;dr my religious, possibly developmentally-challenged brother-in-law is hell-bent on getting married and I want to protect him. What can I do?