Not enthused about sibling's engagement. What to say?
June 13, 2016 9:40 PM   Subscribe

My older brother just proposed to his girlfriend of ~1 year. Red flags have gone off at every turn in his rapidly-progressing relationship with her. Yesterday, he sent a message to me and my parents announcing his intentions to propose, and then it happened before I got a chance to talk with him. My question is, how do I respond to him? More details and a TWIST! inside.

Bio details: Bro and I are both in our late 20s. He's older than me. We don't live in the same state but talk semi-regularly and are close. I think he's the best.

Why I'm not enthused
: To make a long story short, my impression of the relationship is that Bro was first an acquaintance of GF and found her annoying*, then GF pursued Bro and Bro warmed up to her, and things got extremely serious very quickly due to (I'm guessing) a mixture of GF being very pushy/controlling and Bro being (1) overly concerned with others' happiness over his own and (2) tired of being single. Bro has never been in a serious relationship before (not longer than a few months and never "in love") and I think he's eager to settle down with The One. I not only find GF annoying for the reasons Bro initially did, but there are some actual red flags that lead me to believe that she takes advantage of his under-confidence, and that she'd like him to be isolated from friends and family. The fact that everything has been so rushed is a red flag in itself, in my opinion. Both of my parents (divorced) share my concerns and are also shaken up by the engagement.

Actions so far: A month or two back, when Bro told me (over the phone) that he was planning to move in with GF, I expressed concern but limited myself to vague worries about things moving very quickly, and said nothing at all about my reservations about GF and the relationship dynamic in particular. In response to his announcement yesterday, I've just texted my brother to schedule a phone call for later.

Question: When I get a chance to talk to my brother on the phone (conveniently postponed by about a week due to travel), do I express my reservations? If so, how? Or should I just try my best to pretend I'm excited? I can see both sides and I'm struggling. My parents have chosen the "excitement" approach so far, but were conflicted about how to respond and don't know what I should do. I think they're both kinda hoping I'll be the "bad cop".

: Me and my partner of ~5 years had just decided to get engaged and were about to start shopping for a ring before we heard the news from Bro. Depending on how ring shopping goes, we were thinking we'd be engaged within a month.

Bonus Question: Should we wait to get engaged now to avoid stealing Bro's thunder (and, in a way, stealing our own thunder)? If so, how long should we wait? This would be awkward timing even if I were happy about Bro's engagement.

*Annoying is kind of a euphemism here. GF is yikes for a number of reasons, but I'll spare you the rant. Basically, for every good quality Bro has, she seems to have the corresponding bad quality.
posted by Slater Sheldahl to Human Relations (59 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When I get a chance to talk to my brother on the phone [...], do I express my reservations?

No, that'd be horrifically rude. There's not much to say beyond that.

Should we wait to get engaged now to avoid stealing Bro's thunder

I think that you should not get engaged this week. I think anything past that is up to you.

Also, this is not a competition. "[T]hunder" is not the right term to use here.
posted by saeculorum at 9:46 PM on June 13, 2016 [16 favorites]

You say, "Congratulations!" Keep your feelings about your future sister-in-law to yourself. Unless you're concerned she's actually abusive, no good can come from you expressing concern right now -- and it could well damage your relationship with your brother for a long time.

Remember an engagement isn't the same as marriage anyway. Be enthusiastic and supportive and don't push him away.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:49 PM on June 13, 2016 [29 favorites]

I was in a similar situation to this a few years ago when a close childhood friend got engaged to someone she'd known a month who sent up a thousand "red flags" for me as being someone controlling and other assorted bad qualities. I expressed concern, as you already have with your brother, for the rapid movement of the relationship in regards to her getting hurt and my fears involved in that.

But, beyond that, my mother gave me the best piece of advice when I went to her with my own questions about whether I should be the "bad cop" that our friends seemed to be waiting for me to be: "Why pit yourself against them? It will only drive them closer together for now and put you on the outside if/when it falls apart. Be a soft place to fall - not the person in charge of teaching someone how to live."

YMMV but I have used this advice many times since then (my friend's relationship ended up falling apart after a while) and it fits a lot of things that come up for me. I'm not necessarily saying that you should "pretend to be excited" but supportive and open-minded seem like things that already flow easily between you and he so that can be how this conversation goes, too.

(Also, congrats on your own upcoming engagement!)
posted by Merinda at 10:00 PM on June 13, 2016 [71 favorites]

Quick clarification: for those voting for "don't express reservations", any advice on how to approach things instead would be appreciated!

On preview: like Merinda's advice, thanks!
posted by Slater Sheldahl at 10:05 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Your poor brother. He's a grown man, and you and his parents are entirely discounting him and his choice of mate. This is woman you can barely know, given that you do not live near each other. I'm sorry his family has so little confidence in him and is so ungenerous towards the woman he clearly loves.

She has wonderful qualities if your wonderful brother is in love with her. You can't have it both ways, y'know? Your brother is wonderful and he is an adult. She must be wonderful in ways you have not seen yet.

That you have not detailed her undesirable qualities makes me worry this is a difference in class or status, perhaps education? But not that she is a horrible person. If you really had any evidence that she is some kind of monster, I hope you would stated so directly in your ask.

Obviously, you are already late congratulating your brother. I hope you can rethink your position and embrace his decision. He's happy. That needs to be enough for you to reach out and share his joy with him.

I'm sorry you are focusing on this drama instead of your own joy. Refocus on your own relationship and announce whatever whenever you feel it's appropriate. Agreed with other commenters that maybe in a few weeks is best.
posted by jbenben at 10:08 PM on June 13, 2016 [21 favorites]

Merinda's mom is 100% right, and I agree with most here so far. Stay open and non judgemental*.

When you talk to your brother, say "congratulations, I wish you the best" - because that's true, you do. And just don't talk a whole lot, other than asking questions. (e.g. "And where will the wedding be? .... Ah, ok!" etc. He'll fill up the spaces with his own enthusiasm.)

*Even if he does complain about the relationship to you. Not until after they've broken up (if they do). If he does talk to you, just (again) ask questions, and let him uncover his own feelings and concerns. People only act on decisions they feel they own.

(No opinion on timing your engagement. If you think it'd be weird for you guys, it probably is. Maybe wait a month.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:14 PM on June 13, 2016 [15 favorites]

I would just say "wow, thing sure have changed! I'm happy for you and I look forward to getting to know [girlfriend] better!"

Sometimes people come across as shittier than they are in real life, so there is hope yet. This kind of situation sucks, though, so I am sorry for you.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:15 PM on June 13, 2016

Right now, I would say "I hope you'll be very happy together." because that's the polite thing to do and it's probably a true statement. (I've used it very recently in a similar situation. I couldn't bring myself to say congratulations because it was a terrible decision.) After that, once the initial excitement has died down, it's really going to depend on your relationship. If you are close, you might be able to say, "I want you to be happy but I'm a little concerned about X specific things I've seen. I care about you and I know you want to be settled but I'd hate for you to settle." Maybe talk about it being easier to see things when you are outside the relationship, etc. But in the end, he's going to have to make his own decisions even if they are bad ones.

I guess I'd wait a few weeks to announce my own engagement, in this situation. Congratulations and good luck! I hope you'll be very happy together. :-)
posted by Beti at 10:36 PM on June 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

A month or two back, when Bro told me (over the phone) that he was planning to move in with GF, I expressed concern but limited myself to vague worries about things moving very quickly, and said nothing at all about my reservations about GF and the relationship dynamic in particular.
I think it's okay to not be enthusiastic about his engagement to this person but if you've thus far not said anything to your brother about your concerns regarding his relationship, to respond to his engagement announcement with a laundry list of red flags will probably not be well-received.
posted by sm1tten at 10:42 PM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

What would you hope to gain by telling him of your reservations? Are you hoping to break them up? Want to be able to say, "I told you so" at some point in the future? Treat your brother like the adult you say he is and act like a supportive brother and adult yourself.

Congratulate him and wish him the best of luck. Tell him you look forward to getting to know his fiance better. Then, in a few weeks when you announce your engagement, suggest the four of you get together to celebrate.
posted by AugustWest at 10:48 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

You can't teach anybody anything when it comes to this kind of stuff, has been my experience.

At some point, expressing your reservations like Beti outlines, briefly, once, could be done if you feel it's necessary for the authenticity of your relationship with him, so that you don't feel you're being fake by supporting them. I'd frame it in an "I just wanted to offer this, take it or leave it, after this I'll say nothing of it and trust you" way and then back off when he resists.

But for now, I'd say "congratulations" and "you guys must be excited. Did you go out to celebrate?" And "have you set a date?" etc.
posted by salvia at 10:54 PM on June 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Is it possible they are pregnant?
posted by blueberry at 11:27 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've been here. My brother's ex-wife was absolutely terrible and universally disliked. We saw red flags all over the place whenever we spent any time with them from the very beginning. They fought constantly, and there was a lot of stonewalling and tantrums on her part. It was even more red flags than what you describe, because we saw them often and were on the receiving end. My mother had even stayed with them for a while when they were living overseas, and saw a lot of it. They even fought just before he proposed in the Maldives, because while he was getting the proposal ready, she felt ignored by him-- she took umbrage and picked a fight even though his absence was to surprise her with the ring. At the end, he proposed anyway but said, 'how can I propose to this woman if this is going to happen every time?' we were in agreement with him, but despite this event he was determined. He wanted to settle down, too. He was getting older and wanted kids and seemed to think my Dad settled on my Mom for the same reason (FWIW, my brother was totally wrong; my parents were very in love). He also had this idea that she would somehow be malleable and would get better after being a wife and mother. (Of course, wrong again). He even asked my brother the day before his wedding, if we thought he was right to marry her. What do you say to that? He said we saw incompatibilities, but see how it went after a year or so of marriage, don't rush to have kids, and see if things get ironed out. He didn't listen yet again and she was pregnant within three months. Things just went downhill from there. After six years of (what he describes as hell) he's divorced now, a lot happier, but has a lot of financial obligations because of the path he chose and a boatload of stress (to the point of a psychological break). Yes, now he's out of it, we did kind of 'I told you so,' him, because we're assholes like that. But in our defense, he did say to us, 'well why didn't anyone tell me she was so bad?' cue eyerolling.

And yes, we knew, as you probably just know, that it was a terrible match and probably wouldn't work out.

I digress. My point is this, you can express your reservations, but don't expect it to yield any results. We found that if we showed any kind of forcefulness, (my mother was the one) he seemed to push back in equal measure and defend his choice vehemently. So we just supported him as best we could. That said, I personally couldn't in good conscience pretend that I was ok with it, nor give heartfelt congratulations. But I didn't want him to feel bad, either. So in the kindest way possible, I just asked about love in general-- I asked him things like 'Do you feel like you're on the same side? Do you respect her? Does she respect you? Are you happy when you're together?' (Answer was no to almost all of those, but he viewed having kids as a bigger quest than being happy, back then). Then I basically told him to take things easy, to not feel pressured, to see how things went before making major future decisions like houses, cars and starting a family, not to rush-- that he had time on his side, and that I was happy for him if he was happy and in love. And then I dropped it. He, of course, never listened. Even when he explicitly asked for our advice about her and his relationship, he still didn't listen to us, at any point or at any level. He rushed everything and did everything we said not to. In the end, we just let him make his own mistake, and we left it as, 'well as long as you are happy, we're happy for you.'

But this wasn't a friend or acquaintance. This was my family. My brother's decision to marry and have children with her had far-reaching consequences that negatively impact his life, our lives, and his childrens lives today. I can't stress this enough. Therefore, I'm glad I expressed my reservations because at least I feel I did what little I could to prevent his future hardships. Beyond that, it was his decision and mistake to make. It's a little bit like watching someone walking along the top of a fence. You see they might fall. They might not, but that fence isn't in great condition and they're not the most balanced, you know? You should say something. Not 'get off that fence, it's crap!' but more like 'be careful, it looks a bit unsteady,'-- It's not a question of being an adult and letting them adult, it's a question of them not seeing the fence is rickety and thinking they have great balance when they don't. That said, when they say "I'm fine," and they will, you need to back off. Sometimes you just gotta let them fall off on their ass and pick them up when they're done. In the inevitable unhappiness, just support him as best you can.

As for your own engagement, I'd wait probably six months if possible. It took that long for the excitement to die down over my own engagement.
posted by Dimes at 12:06 AM on June 14, 2016 [54 favorites]

You say, "Congratulations!" and smile when they discuss arrangements. The end. Give it a week or 3 before announcing your own engagement and try not to get married the same month as them.

Nothing you say is going to "educate" him into not marrying her and any criticism of her may risk his relationship with you. And if he's really about to marry and annoying, controlling shrew then he's going to need the support of his family, right?
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 12:50 AM on June 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

You're firmly into None of Your Business territory here.

The "red flags" are nowhere near extreme or concrete enough to warrant your intervention. Your brother is a competent adult and entitled to make his own decisions.

Would that more issues in life were so clear cut. What you do as a decent human being is congratulate him on his engagement, and wait a (little) while to announce your own.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:53 AM on June 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

Answering the twist first: My cousins (brother and sister) had their weddings about three months apart; I don't recall how close together their engagement announcements were but the season's break between weddings was a good amount of time for excitement/honeymoon/gift buying/dress finding etc to shift comfortably to the other cousin in our family. So I'd suggest either giving it a season or so or getting engaged in an extremely low key and personal way and then having an engagement party in a couple of months if you are party/gathering people. Awesome excuse for a beach trip or a cookout or a big dinner at a nice restaurant. But like, honestly, there is no "thunder" to steal here, it's just an engagement, not the wedding itself. Engagements don't have obligations for the extended family apart from congratulations and good wishes, and I hope your family's solid enough that there's plenty of that to go around.

As for the main question, be on your brother's side. Yes, sometimes that can mean tough love/bad cop stuff, but I don't think it does in this instance. Instead focus on him and do what you can to stay connected. Since you're worried about this woman isolating him, refuse to let that happen. Be welcoming to him and by extension, her. This has two possible benefits. First is that you could get to know her and eventually like or appreciate her, and the second is that if their relationship doesn't work out your brother will know you have his back and he can come to you. There is significantly less stigma in staying with a sibling as an adult than staying with one's parents, and just that small change can mean the difference between getting out of a harmful relationship or sticking with it. You could also encourage your partner to be extra welcoming to your brother too, and perhaps try to get to know him better than they currently do.

For right now just say congratulations and make sure their wedding plans won't overlap with yours. Work out the schedules so everyone can comfortably celebrate both occasions so nobody in the family has to choose.
posted by Mizu at 1:08 AM on June 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Do you have any idea how quickly they're planning on getting married? Would it be possible to delay your proposal—to avoid stealing their thunder, as you wisely suggest—but schedule your marriage sooner than theirs, and at a time of year where they'll be forced to push theirs back? Engagement is a wonderful period of emotional togetherness but wedding planning often isn't, and can put stress on a relationship with screaming arguments over, oh I don't know, the necessity or otherwise of making individual napkin rings for the guests by punching the bottoms out of a hundred tiny earthenware flowerpots, for example.

Give any cracks a little more time to grow. If they don't grow, perhaps there aren't any cracks.
posted by Hogshead at 1:15 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

As other folks say, all you can do is 1) smile while you offer your congratulations to your brother, and then 2) back off, don't say anything that might drive a wedge between you.

The thing is, if you DID try to tell him you don't like his chosen bride? All it will do is make him angry: if you make him chose, he's going to chose her over you. You may not like her, but HE is the one who has to live with/deal with her on a daily basis, not you, and you need to keep the lines of communication open in case he DOES ever want to leave her.

Don't ever --- not even if they DO break up --- tell him how much you dislike her, or any version of 'I told you so'; none if that stuff ever helps.
posted by easily confused at 1:18 AM on June 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Question: When I get a chance to talk to my brother on the phone (conveniently postponed by about a week due to travel), do I express my reservations?

No. This is not about you. Your brother gets to decide how he lives his life and if he's chosen to spend his life with someone, you saying that you hate his fiance will only sour him against you.

Should we wait to get engaged now to avoid stealing Bro's thunder (and, in a way, stealing our own thunder)?

In the same way that your brother's engagement is not about you, yours is not about him. I'm just a guy on the internet, but I think you should get engaged whenever you want. Don't wait because your brother might get engaged. It's not like there's an arbitrary joy limit. Your family can be happy for you both at the same time.

And congrats!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:10 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anecdata: I had a friend who got engaged to somebody who I thought was terrible for him. I congratulated him. He would sometimes come to me with relationship issues, and I would always listen and would ask questions -- not pointed ones like "Don't you realize she's terrible??" but, "Hmm, it seems like things like this have happened before. I remember when you told me about [similar situation]. Do you think this is a pattern?" Or just, "That sounds really hard, how are you dealing with it?" "How did she react when you said that?" etc. In the end they broke up (and he later married someone much better suited to him, yay!) and he thanked me for being there for him and talking him through some of the issues he had been trying to ignore. (He also said he had noticed that I was carefully neutral about his ex-fiancee; he appreciated my discretion, but some people might take this as a slight and be mad about this, especially if it's a brother rather than a friend.)

So, my takeaway is: be there for him, and encourage him to come to these conclusions himself if you can do that without pushing.

I also like snickerdoodle's advice -- since you're getting married too, you have standing to tell him what you're doing to prepare (pre-marital counseling, talking about kids, handling money, etc.) and ask about your brother's similar preparations or recommend resources.
posted by chickenmagazine at 3:33 AM on June 14, 2016 [20 favorites]

"Why pit yourself against them? It will only drive them closer together for now and put you on the outside if/when it falls apart. Be a soft place to fall - not the person in charge of teaching someone how to live."
This (what Merinda wrote).
Also, what chickenmagazine shared.

Anecdata: about 10 years ago my (at that time) closest friend married, and I ended up being their wedding planner, despite my severe misgivings about her and her being the text book Bridezilla. Except bride and groom everyone thought this marriage was a mistake. Even before they got engaged this relationship had sent up a multitude of red flags not only with me, but his entire family and most of his friends.
I kept myself to myself and just did a job I knew how to do. I smiled and wished them happy and as many said above, handled it by simply asking them all the questions, let them talk and never let them see my Doubts with a capital D. This put me in an akward spot among his friends and family (many, including his siblings, had put their hope on me as he oldest friend to make him change his mind. I refused to do that).

And then, about 4 weeks after the wedding, I made a very big mistake ( I was quite drunk, but still it was my choice to speak) and told him what I really thought of her. He was not only hurt to the point of tears but promptly told his new wife what I had said. She then forbade him (yes, this is how controlling she was/is) to have any further contact with me, ever. He complied. I was wiling to apologise in order to remain friends with him (he was my bestest friedn ever, closer to me than my brothers), and it had hurt like hell to see him do this and to actually plan his wedding. She forbade him to accept my apology and herself refused it. Eventually she relented (after several months) but it was never the same as before.

It took over 4 years to go back to a semblance of surface friendship with him, and eventually I have learned to simply accept her as she is and as the woman he chose to marry and have children with. Our relationshsip now is reduced to our children being friends.

My point is - don't alienate your brother. In hindsight I can see quite clearly how everyones oppositon drove him further into her arms and how my revelation of true opinion alienated him even further.
I would never again voice my misgivings about a friends, let alone brothers, choice of partner. The risk to loose them is by far too great and nothing positive is gained. he is all dependent on her now, her friends have become his friends (and replaced the old ties) and her family took him in when his rejected him.

Quick clarification: for those voting for "don't express reservations", any advice on how to approach things instead would be appreciated!

So smile if you can, but even if you cannot try hard; wish them well, and ask about their plans together, and refrain from saying anything against her/his choice. Be the person he feels he can come to but as chickenmagazine wrote - be neutral. Nothihg is gained by alienating him.
posted by 15L06 at 4:28 AM on June 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

I didn't read "Why I'm not enthused," "Actions so far," or "Twist," because anything with that heading is clearly not relevant to your questions. Thus, your question read to me as "What should I say to my brother when we talk after he announced his engagement?" Obviously, 'Congratulations!'
posted by deadweightloss at 4:40 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

This, from Dimes above, is one of the best answers in the history of Ask Metafilter and I urge you to print it out and read it daily.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:54 AM on June 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

Many annoying traits are also hidden strengths, and many noble traits are also weaknesses. I'm not saying this is true for the new fiancée, but it's something to consider. I'm also not saying that you should be unconditionally accepting, but maybe thinking about things this way will help you be more accepting of her.

Talks too much? The same tendencies can lead to: Is open with feelings and expectations, and doesn't make you guess what they are thinking; genuinely enjoys sharing; has fun and takes care of self in most situations; is not ashamed or afraid of self.

Quiet and doesn't talk enough? Could translate to: Lets partner focus and concentrate when partner needs to; thinking and learning about people before chiming in; genuinely enjoys and appreciates others.

Controlling? Could translate to: Has high standards; Will try to make home a safe, beautiful, clean place where people can then do other important things, and will prioritize this over daily fun; won't stand for letting vacation time slide until there isn't any; will make sure she has the resources she needs to be able to take care of others.

Doesn't seem supportive of partner's family relationships? Could translate to: very protective of relationship with partner and insists that partner prioritize that relationship, even if partner's time management skills are not 100% and partner doesn't have enough time for everyone.


Always supportive? Will let a friend drive off a cliff before risking others' anger; hasn't thought about things enough to really have strong opinions.

Incredibly compassionate to the point of self-sacrifice with animals? Doesn't understand people well enough to be as comforted by people; loves animals for unconditional acceptance.

Generous with his friends? Doesn't take care of himself enough to have any personal or financial reserve, so small problems become crises.

Strong protective instinct, maybe driving him to be a firefighter or policeman? Tends to vilify people who aren't in "protected" group and may not be

So, maybe try to reframe fiancées various traits as "mixed" or "having a positive side", and maybe consider that she might complement your brother, too; it could be that his best traits are costing him in a way that you don't see.
posted by amtho at 4:57 AM on June 14, 2016 [10 favorites]

I don't know, guys. If the genders were reversed would it be "let your sister marry this very controlling guy after less than a year and then keep your mouth shut"?

I'm not saying to call him up and tell him to dump her. But surely there's a middle ground between that and zipping your trap.

If I were you, I WOULD congratulate him - and then, maybe a few days later, I'd talk with him, mostly listen, about his new fiancée. And like someone upthread suggested I'd ask - does she listen to you? Does she treat you right? Can you see her being the mother of your children? Etc.

You might come out of that conversation with a totally different impression of your presumptive sister-in-law. Or maybe you won't. Most likely your brother won't change his mind either way... BUT! He'll know you as a sounding board about her, rather than a scold. You might really need him to think that later on.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:56 AM on June 14, 2016 [10 favorites]

I've never had to deal with this, but I will offer something my wife said to me about her very early first marriage, which lasted only a year: if someone had told her it wasn't a great idea, and that she didn't have to do it, it would've saved a lot of trouble. She felt like she was on a train she couldn't stop. (It wasn't an abuse situation or anything like that; it was just a bad idea.)

Being supportive while cautiously expressing concern might go a long way.
posted by uberchet at 5:58 AM on June 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

> she'd like him to be isolated from friends and family

Could you plan something with him and the family over the next few months? If she's going to push back on him visiting his family, it might be useful for him to see that now.
posted by typecloud at 6:09 AM on June 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

I guess I would (if you have not already) make a list of specific instances where you feel she's been controlling/problematic/etc and then run them by a trusted, level-headed friend. I think it is very easy to see kinda so-so behaviors as worse than they are if you don't like the person.

If your brother expresses reservations at any point, you can share your concerns. Or if you see a specific definitely bad behavior - she insults him on purpose, she pitches a fit if he tries to go to family brunch, etc - you can express concern that she is treating him that way.

A dear friend married a very, very unsuitable man (they are now divorced; it was expensive and wrenching). People in her life shared their concerns about him at many points. Right before the wedding she initiated a long conversation about him and she was almost ready to call it off . She married him anyway. Often, I think, you can't stop people because they are moved by powerful unconscious needs.

On the other hand, more cheerfully - another friend started dating someone I thought was pretty flaky and who did not treat my friend well. I was deeply, deeply skeptical about this person for very, very concrete reasons that would give anyone pause. Lo and behold, over several years this person matured dramatically in the relationship, became an absolute rock of a partner and is generally awesome and amazing.

My point is that you can only know part of the situation and it's not always certain doom.

I would only raise concerns when your friend raises concerns or if you see in front of you unambiguously troubling behavior.
posted by Frowner at 6:20 AM on June 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm with the minority on this thread -if you haven't really expressed any of your reservations about her before, then I think at some point before they tie the knot you should, albeit in a very gentle and non-confrontational way. Your brother probably does value your judgment and outside perspective, because you've known him his whole life and you love him. I know I've been in relationships where everybody else could see it was a disaster (and some told me so) but I couldn't until whatever happened that made it totally obvious. I didn't always LISTEN to those friends right away, but having that perspective probably helped me to see the signs eventually before marriage (thank god).

Express your congratulations now, tell him you're happy he's happy, yada yada. In a couple weeks, when the high from getting engaged has died down, take him out for a casual beer or some other place where you can be alone together and just express some reservations about the red flags. Tell him you know it's his life and you'll support him no matter what, but these are your worries. And then that's it. You've said your piece and he's going to do what he's going to do.
posted by permiechickie at 6:55 AM on June 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

I don't know, guys. If the genders were reversed would it be "let your sister marry this very controlling guy after less than a year and then keep your mouth shut"?

It's the exact same thing, though - expressing strong opinions doesn't work :/ It's not a matter of "letting" people do things, they just do what they do. The second you're too heavy with the commenting, you lose trust, and then you can be of no help. Least alienating thing is to gently probe when the person is questioning, and to encourage actions you support.

I have in the past tried to make a more active presentation with people I care a lot about (during their arguments with their SO); I didn't lose them or anything, but they stopped being as forthcoming with details, and I mean it really never did a thing. And I've been on the receiving end - as if I listened. No, I was too caught up in the dynamic to see it, no matter what. People do what they feel like doing, that's it. Watching from the sidelines is 100% slow-mo car-crash stuff, it's the worst.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:02 AM on June 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

Bro was first an acquaintance of GF and found her annoying*

So? When you barely know someone, you barely know them. First impressions are often wrong. This is also the plot of every romantic comedy ever. Yeah, it's probably better in Perfect World if you deeply respect and like someone and grow up with them and then fall in love, or whatever, but this is like, super minor nitpicky stuff. Who cares?

then GF pursued Bro and Bro warmed up to her

Again, who cares? Where's the red flag here? That she pursued him? That he didn't like her right away? I don't get it. Honestly.

things got extremely serious very quickly

So actually, most people say they know they want to marry someone within like six months to a year, IMO. A lot of people wait a year and a half or two years, but when you're looking to settle down and evaluating partners on that basis, it doesn't actually take that long to know. Your situation of dating for five years first may be skewing your perspective- I find this is not the norm and is more common with childhood/high school/college/grad school sweethearts. Most working adults propose marriage within a year to two years, I would say, IME. If we're talking like five months, then sure, be concerned. If less than a year means 11

(I'm guessing) a mixture of GF being very pushy/controlling and

You guess this or you know this?

Bro being (1) overly concerned with others' happiness over his own and (2) tired of being single.

These two things are contradictory. If he's dating he because he's tired of being single, he's not just "going along to make her happy." That means it makes him happy and is what he wants. Not a whole lot of people propose marriage to make someone else happy. He'd have to be like, an extreme patsy for that to be the case. Most likely he's actually in love, very happy to have found a partner, and doesn't want to lose that.

Bro has never been in a serious relationship before (not longer than a few months and never "in love") and I think he's eager to settle down with The One.

So? Does that mean he should wait longer? Get his heart broken first? Not be eager to settle down? Again, I'm not sure what the problem is here.

I not only find GF annoying for the reasons Bro initially did, but there are some actual red flags that lead me to believe that she takes advantage of his under-confidence, and that she'd like him to be isolated from friends and family.

So like 9/10 times when someone gets a life partner or gets married, they become more distant from their family of origin. This is natural and normal. A lot of close siblings feel jealous or left out when they really shouldn't, IMO. It's really hard to me to tell if this is within the realm of normal growing up stuff or not. That you don't respect her even a tiny little bit is making it hard to take your side of things as complete fact.

*Annoying is kind of a euphemism here. GF is yikes for a number of reasons, but I'll spare you the rant. Basically, for every good quality Bro has, she seems to have the corresponding bad quality.

What does this actually mean? Does she hate puppies and babies? Does she have a gambling or drug addiction? Is she cheating on him? Or is she just an assertive, outgoing person who takes charge? Because if so...again, who cares?

How well do you know her? Have you spent a lot of time with her in person? Have you ever attempted to reach out to her and be welcoming or nice?
posted by quincunx at 7:11 AM on June 14, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'm not sure what to tell you about your brother's fiance, but don't worry about getting engaged soon and stealing their thunder. There's no such thing as calling dibs on being engaged for a season, let alone six months. In fact, if you get engaged soon and it is a problem, this might reveal her true colors more than anything else.
posted by cakelite at 7:21 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

*Annoying is kind of a euphemism here. GF is yikes for a number of reasons, but I'll spare you the rant.

I agree with quicunx that the details of this are important. If you suspect drugs, legal problems, physical, emotional or financial abuse, that is concerning. Likewise if you see her being really mean to him. If you just think she's obnoxious, you're being a typical in-law and you need to let it go.

Plenty of people are told by friends and family members, at some time before a wedding, "Look, you don't have to do this." If you do this, I think it should be in response to expressed unease or reservations by your brother, not your limited observation of her. I'll just add that when marriages in my family and friend group have fallen apart really badly, it's often been the ones no one had any idea about.
posted by BibiRose at 7:24 AM on June 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

in the kindest way possible, I just asked about love in general-- I asked him things like 'Do you feel like you're on the same side? Do you respect her? Does she respect you? Are you happy when you're together?' - Dimes

This (and Dimes' whole answer) is excellent advice.

Don't ruin your relationship with your brother by telling him your concerns and the issues you have with his fiancee.

My brother dated a really horrible woman for several years. Maybe she had some of the same terrible qualities that your brother's fiancee has. I still cannot say what one earth he liked about her. My whole family disliked her and found her difficult to be around. But I did not tell him that she awful. When I talked to him (more or less weekly; we live in different states), I'd ask him how she was doing and I'd ask about their relationship. I responded positively to positive things: Oh, you went to a con together? That sounds like fun. She likes your favorite movie? Cool. And since I'd established that I wasn't going tell him what an awful person his girlfriend was, he opened up to me when things were rough. They'd moved in together and it was, unsurprisingly, horrible. So I was able to ask questions about how he was feeling, what he was going to do, what he saw the best outcome being, and questions like the above about happiness and respect.

They are no longer dating. And my relationship with my brother is still really strong, maybe even more so.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:50 AM on June 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm with Dimes all the way. Found myself in a similar situation with my sibling, but actively spoke up long before the engagement. I knew it would likely do nothing, but it was agony for me to think of sibling committing themself to a person who actively said and even published critical remarks about myself and my family.

As predicted, said conversations resulted in sibling being alienated (and now married).

However, even in hindsight I prefer to have said something than to have held back and had sibling never know anyone was concerned for their wellbeing.

However, I had Many Historical Family Dynamic Reasons for wanting and needing to speak up, so YMMV.

Short answer: do it if you feel you MUST but know you may lose your relationship with sibling as a result.
posted by Temeraria at 7:53 AM on June 14, 2016

Of course "congratulations" should be first thing! Yet I'm rather taken aback at all the advice to just quietly go along. Of course others have the right to live their lives, and you don't have the right to try to control their decisions, even if the decisions look like mistakes to you. But we need to at least try to look out for each other.

It's OK to be interested that he will be truly happy, and to talk about it. Part of being a supportive sibling can be trying to understand the situation. If you have questions, ask them humbly. Talk about your own concerns with getting engaged. Genuinely seek to be reassured and to trust his judgement. Just don't expect him to change anything. In the end, you're going to need to trust him anyway, so make it a conversation rather than a conflict.
posted by zennie at 7:55 AM on June 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another question: what is your relationship with your sibling now? If you never have serious conversations and then you're all "let's have a serious talk about our decisions to get married", that totally signals "I don't actually want to share with you, I just want to give you my opinions about your life". If you routinely talk about life stuff, it will make a lot more sense to have a conversation about how you each have made your life choices.

But honestly, a lot of people don't like their in-laws and think them awful - and yet, unless the world is split into 50% good people and 50% terrible people, it seems unlikely that all the terrible inlaws are actually terrible in any objective sense. I would, like many posters, be very interested to know more about what makes this woman so terrible.
posted by Frowner at 8:01 AM on June 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also curious... sometimes there are messed up family of origin issues, clashes of values... but when that's not true, often, if family, friends, and everyone you know thinks your partner is a jerk, your partner is probably a jerk.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:10 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Talk about your own concerns with getting engaged.

This is brilliant! You're both getting engaged so you have this in common and it might be a good entree to a conversation where you'll learn something, which may reassure you or may not, but you'll have more information.
posted by BibiRose at 8:10 AM on June 14, 2016

My own story of sibling-has-evil-partner (in this case, actively emotionally abusive and eventually a stalker after she broke up with him) would lean toward be supportive of your brother, as a brother, and don't expect to change his mind with pronouncements on the evils of his fiancee. My sister dated an objectively terrible human being when she was younger, and every time I tried to point out that, for example, the fact that he texted her every 5 minutes was perhaps a bit controlling, it led to us fighting and her digging in harder on her committment to stay with him and insist nothing was wrong. Same with my parents, who could see the same glaring red flags. We wanted really, really badly to somehow intervene and fix things, because this dude was so very obviously terrible, terrible news, but ultimately she was (is) an adult who had to figure out her own way in this relationship. I think having a support network to turn to when she eventually realized how bad this guy was was really important to her feeling confident enough to leave and to survive the months of stalking that followed. I think it is fine to express some reservations IF your brother asks for your opinion or initiates a relationship-related conversation, and it could be okay to ask some probing questions depending on your pre-existing relationship. But mostly I would just make sure your brother knows you are always there for him, no matter what, and that he can turn to you with whatever problems he's having without facing judgement/"I told you so". Be kind, reach out, and don't allow your brother to become isolated.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:17 AM on June 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think everyone else has given excellent advice on expressing your reservations to your brother. If she's really that terrible (and frankly, you don't really know that she is, it doesn't sound like), you can only hope he realizes it and breaks off the engagement. He's not going to hear what you see and suddenly see the light, if there's light to be seen; he'll more likely view you as being jealous and hateful, and it will be his relationship with you that will suffer, not his relationship with his fiancee.

As for whether you should get engaged soon, I think of course you should, if that's what you were planning to do. Your relationship is long-term and I don't think the whole "stealing thunder" thing with respect to engagements has any validity whatsoever; marriages are not a competition. As someone else said above, yeah, you probably shouldn't get engaged this week, and also don't schedule your wedding before his (or for the same month or something like that). But two engagements in one family should be a cause for joy, not rancor.


Is it possible they are pregnant?

The answer to this is, by definition, "no," because men don't get pregnant, only women do. Sorry to be the jerk about this, but "we're pregnant" is an awful phrase that really should be stamped out with extreme prejudice because it's yet another manifestation of the philosophy that women's bodies are community property and not actually their own, especially when they're pregnant. I'm sure you'll forgive me for being touchy about this in light of the recent news cycle.

posted by holborne at 8:37 AM on June 14, 2016 [9 favorites]

You don't express concerns about her. You don't know her like he does and you're not marrying her. You talk to him, a very real, open, honest conversation (if you can have it with him) about his happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, love, and admiration for this person. Ask him things like when he knew he wanted to marry her, how he knew, what makes her special, how this is different for him and so on. This should come across as a genuine conversation, almost like a therapy session and not an interrogation or accusations.

You do this so that you can understand what it is he sees in her that you don't. Ultimately it doesn't matter if you like your brother's partner or not, but if you don't, it would help all of you if you understood that he does like her and that she makes him feel good. Then you won't have to worry about your brother and can move towards accepting her. Lots of people make assumptions about sibling's partners that aren't deserved and just cause friction. Sometimes when the assumptions are deserved they just cause friction because you've put your sibling on the defensive.

HOWEVER. If she genuinely does seem abusive to you and he genuinely does not seem happy with her, then his unhappiness or reticence should also come out in a conversation like this. When that happens, it opens the door for you to continue down that path and let him get to a point where he can consider whether marriage is what he really wants and you can help and support that. I once married Mr. Red Flags and ended up having an awful time extricating myself from a horribly abusive relationship. I did not realize it was abusive at the time, though. I did not realize that I was not supposed to be miserable and hate myself all the time with my partner. I feel very stupid about this now, but at the time, that is how it was. I had initially hid the engagement it made me so miserable but once I announced it everyone just went on and on about how great it was. They were so encouraging that I did not have the courage to break off the engagement even though I thought about doing it every single day. I didn't feel like I had anyone I could talk to about it.

When I finally left him, all my friends and family said some version of how glad they were because they didn't like him, that he was weird and controlling and made me unhappy and so on. I was angry for a very long time that nobody had said anything; they had all been so encouraging and excited! When I asked everyone why they had acted so happy, they said I wouldn't have listened to what they said anyway. I can tell you absolutely I would have. I was young and assumed everyone had cold feet and was miserable before they got married. If I really had wanted to marry him and really had been madly in love with him then no, I would not have listened to anyone, but that wasn't the case. I was reticent and being bullied into a marriage and relationship. I would have loved some support from friends and family in terms of making sure it was what I really wanted, that he made me happy and that it was okay not to get married.

So find out whether your brother really wants this or not and take it from there.
posted by Polychrome at 8:48 AM on June 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

It's easy enough to figure out when standing off to one side, harder when you are in the driver's seat.

You aren't the one getting engaged. Think about it that way, and be your Bro's loving sibling by smiling, and behaving with courtesy toward them both. You don't need to gush, and you don't need to think of her affectionately in order to be courteous. Of course hugging Bro and wishing him happiness is always appropriate. It may be helpful to not have dissing sessions with your parents about her unless there's something specific that concerns you (as in, you saw her making kitten tacos), because, with each teaspoon of dirt you guys scoop up you begin to turn the molehill into a mountain. Everyone concerned would be better served if Bro's prospective partner was met with at least a provisional acceptance rather than suspicion. Give the woman a chance to win the family over, if that's possible; contributing to estrangement steals memories, if down the road you look back on the vacancy that your Bro once filled.

If their relationship endures then your fears will have been assuaged. If it fails, then you can help Bro commiserate by understanding how awful it feels when love turns to shit. BTW, in that eventuality, it probably would be less than gracious to tell him you saw it coming.

Some several decades ago, when I was dating the Dragon Lady, one of my good friends tried to tell me I was making a mistake. I told him to mind his own goddam business, thankyouverygoddam much, and our friendship, though it never faltered, underwent some strains. Some 15 years later I had the wit to apologize to him for trying to look out for me. It was only after he proved correct that I was willing to let bygones be bygones. The moral is that you shouldn't mess with someone's romantic choices unless you have some sterling reasons for doing so: simply not getting along with his choice in partners doesn't measure up.

Congratulations on your own romantic situation. It's a wonderful transition. If weddings are a big event for your family I suppose scheduling may be a logistical issue. I'm thinking of size and complexity, not emotional impact on friends and family. You and your SO might want to hinge your timing on Bro's schedule; you can do that passively, simply by having him tell you when his wedding will happen, then work around that. If his is in the distant future, then you can go first, and let him worry about the timing. My own preference would be to not try to actively coordinate this sort of thing with Bro, because I'd have to change my plans according to any speedbumps he might run across that affect his own timing.
posted by mule98J at 9:09 AM on June 14, 2016

There is nothing you can do. As everyone else has pointed out, you can't argue with this. This is his chosen life partner who he shall have a family with and who presumably gives him orgasms. Every ounce of that is going to trump whatever his family says. You are stabbing him and her in the heart to object to her. Also, it'll piss off the fiancee to find out the entire family doesn't like her*, and he will choose her over you pretty much no matter what you say. If he says something like, "But I love her," you're sunk because anyone saying that knows in their gut it's a bad idea but is hell bent on marrying the person and putting up with them indefinitely anyway. Everyone knows someone or has been that someone who spoke up and then was cut dead from their friend/family for objecting. Don't be that someone, it's not worth it. Your odds of success are incredibly low, your odds of him listening to you are incredibly low, the odds of him and/or her cutting you off for being against her are high.

* and I come from families where everyone hates the in-laws by default most of the time, so I know from that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:16 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Your brother is an adult, and is entitled to make his own choices. And, yes, his own mistakes. Provide support if he needs it, but otherwise let him go his own way.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 9:24 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi, I think I was your brother's fiancée to many people about a decade ago. My husband is older than me (by almost 20 years), and we come from very different backgrounds (namely, he has kids). Friends of ours on each side had reservations, and reservations are good things to express tactfully.

If you have reservations, bring them up but do so in person (if at all possible) and as lightly and casually as possible. I remember a lot of really casual light banter about golddigging haha chickenhawk haha midlife crisis haha that it was clear the hahas were forced, insincere apologies for the way people felt inclined to let their reservations known in a cutting, cowardly way. I don't talk to most of those people anymore, but some of the people who let their feelings know in that toxic way... well they were too important for me to push out of my life. So we all came back around, and it took months/years of slowly rebuilding trust in one another. And it shouldn't need to be that way. The one person who expressed his reservations to me in the best way possible was brief and light, and it was really phrased as questions to me: "Hey are you sure you're ready for this? This dude's the one? You ready to deal with all the baggage people are going to throw at you? You ok being a stepdad?" And then when he got me to talk about these things, and he heard my nervous sense of being ready and willing for a relationship that would go who knows where, he simply said, "Well alright, that's all I needed to hear." And then it was on to the next conversation.

So looking back, I'd say that you can and maybe should talk to your brother. You're concerned. He's probably aware of peoples' concerns on some level, and doesn't need it splashed in his face like dirty water. But you can ask him, kindly, you ready for this? Are your issues you discussed with me when you two first met all resolved now? Etc. And when he responds, especially if he responds with firmness and a sense of finality, you say, "OK, that's all I need to hear" and then move on to the next conversation.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:30 AM on June 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

Honestly, if I were you, I would make a sincere effort to spend time with my future sister-in-law, get to know her, and come to appreciate those qualities my brother sees in her.
posted by bq at 10:09 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks to everyone who weighed in. I've gotten some good ideas on how to keep the conversation positive without having to say, "I'm so excited and I think this is awesome!" Sorry this wasn't clear in my question, but I've had no problem saying "Congratulations!" via text, which is how he made the announcement. The issue is that when I have a real conversation over the phone, it would feel like I was being dishonest or keeping a secret if I never conveyed any concern. Plus, I'm worried about not sounding convincingly enthusiastic.

Also, a few people asked for details about why I don't like her and/or suspect that I don't have concrete reasons. I didn't go into it because I didn't think I needed to, and didn't want to be long-winded. And yes, I was being hyperbolic when I said she's the opposite of my brother's good qualities. Obviously he knows her better than I do, and she's not a monster. She just isn't very nice (belittles him, is rude to waitstaff, rude to me, materialistic, casually racist? etc.). And the progression of their relationship (as far as I can tell from what he told me over the phone) was like, "That annoying girl keeps wanting to hang out with me" then "I think she thinks we're dating. What do I do?" then "Nobody's perfect! And she's been through a lot of stuff in her life, so I understand why she's like that." Within a few months, she was talking to my mom about their future children, and things have just gone on from there. So I'm worried that he's gotten swept up into something and is being treated badly. And yes, he's an adult and can make his own decisions. I'm not suggesting that I tell him what to do. But he's my brother, you guys! So I worry about him. And when I expressed hesitance earlier about them moving in, he gave "Mom and Dad are in favor of it" as one of his reasons that he was reassured he was making the right choice. So I don't want to do a disservice by smiling and nodding.

Okay, I was long-winded after all! No more jumping in from me :)
posted by Slater Sheldahl at 10:16 AM on June 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

I went through this with my brother. He was on-and-off-again from the age of 18 with a much-older woman we all had reservations about. After several years of drama, she ended up pregnant, and he proposed. But he was so ashamed, he never even told my other brother or me, and we missed the wedding. We all made our peace with it and tried to accept her and her kid from her first marriage. They had a baby boy, and all was okay for awhile.

Fast forward several years and a baby girl, and many fights, belittling, arguing, financial struggle, etc. My brother's wife had an affair and walked out on their 17th anniversary. My brother and his children were devastated. Even though he's much better off without her, there's a 20-year span of his life that he could have done much more with. (Like he wouldn't have dropped out of college, for one thing.)

We all tried to talk him out of marrying her, and in the early days of his separation, I sometimes wonder if we should have. But I look at my niece and nephew, who mean the world to me, and I'm grateful that after all the drama, I still have my brother around, and was able to be there for him in his time of need. If I'd burned that bridge before his wedding, our family would have never recovered. So my advice is express your concerns if he asks, but ONLY if he asks. Otherwise, just be there for your brother - in good times and bad.
posted by jhope71 at 10:44 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Everyone is right: you can't tell him what to do and even voicing your opinion in a mild way could have the opposite of your intended effect by further calcifying his intentions to be with this women. What you can do is to be there for him and encourage him as he continues processing the lifelong impact of this decision.

With that in mind, the fact that you are also getting married is an absolutely perfect because it gives you a way to learn more about what he sees in this woman. It's an organic opportunity to introduce potentially thorny topics that might otherwise come off as overbearing or judgmental. Since you're both prepping to get married at the same time, it is completely justified for you to discuss with him how he is feeling about important things like: Where will he and his wife live long term? How will they spend time together as a married couple? Kids, and how many? Will they both continue to work? How do they envision the split of domestic chores? And what about finances? Conflict resolution, it's hard, how do he and his fiancee handle it? You yourself must be thinking about these things and broaching some of these topics with him as a way to get his valuable opinion will hopefully prompt him to think more concretely about what his life with this woman will really be like.

So keep him talking, keep him thinking. about what it will really be like to be with this woman 5, 10, and 20 years down the road. If they really are a bad match and shouldn't be together, he needs to come to that conclusion on his own.
posted by scantee at 10:52 AM on June 14, 2016

Thanks for your update and longer explanation. It doesn't sound like she's abusing him, but belittling can turn into verbal abuse if sustained and escalating. I can see why you're concerned.

A friend of mine had a similar whirlwind courtship and marriage with a woman who he found annoying at first, came on super-strong to him, and showed some red flags like calling her daughter Mini-Me, which seemed narcissistic, and posting on Facebook things like "nyah nyah to all the women in Joe's life before me who didn't appreciate him!" as well as over-the-top declarations of love for my friend. I (and as it turns out, many of his other friends) kept our reservations to ourselves. He's an adult, after all. Things went south quickly.

He's fine. He knew to get out when she suddenly became abusive after the wedding. His friends are there for him. That's the important thing. To be there for someone when they realize they need you. The last thing he needs are people saying "I told you so." If we'd interfered in his business at the time, he might have cut us off, and be under much more stress not having us around or repairing friendships.

I don't think you should express your concerns to your brother, or even hint about them or feel him out, because it will be obvious. Probably both of them know she's not liked. And you have apparently seen her acting unpleasantly, but you can't assume she's always like that. I didn't know which way my friend's marriage would go. Had it worked out, and she'd just turned out to be an intense yet loving person, I wouldn't have been surprised either. I only saw the tip of the iceberg and so do you.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:57 AM on June 14, 2016

I wish more people had told me their concerns before my wedding. I may not have listened, but 4-5 of my close people telling me concerns would have had much more weight than the one or two subtle innuendos I got...... (or, what I was willing to hear/understand/listen to, anyway)

Course, mine ended in blood, fire, tears, and heartbreak, so... hindsight.
posted by Jacen at 11:08 AM on June 14, 2016 [7 favorites]

I too wish people had spoken up about my ex when I was with him. I spent 10 years in a miserable relationship and I wish my friends or family had told me how they felt about him and our relationship (they knew he was all wrong for me). The key is that you have to bring up your reservations in a gentle way. Like, my mom spoke up but she basically berated me and came across as an asshole so I didn't listen to her. As others above me said you should feel free to bring up the reservations you have very gently and in a constructive manner. Good luck!
posted by FireFountain at 11:23 AM on June 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

When I told a relative I'd proposed to my boyfriend, she told me I could do better.

I still feel sore about it. Still married 7 years later, too, and have a kid with that person. I think it's a pretty rude thing to say. "Congratulations!" is much better.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:00 PM on June 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

IME, there's no ideal delivery or quantity of encouragement that will work to change the mind of someone who's determined in love. "You haven't seen his good side, he can be sweet". "I know she loves me". Etc. People who *want* that shoe that doesn't fit will live with the blisters and tears.

Sometimes you find your point is well received , if you time it sensitively. (Sounds like the point is worth making, I'd probably try if it were my brother.) But mostly, things sort of have to play themselves out. Any decision is going to come from an emotional place, after a tipping point's been reached.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:12 PM on June 14, 2016

I caution you against some of advice above. Nothing you say is going to slow or derail this train. By expressing useless reservations, all you are doing is giving the woman he's marrying ammunition to isolate him. Read through basically every Ask about marriage, ever. The advice is near universal: the two of you are a unit now, you put each other first even if that means cutting off parents and siblings.

He will tell her what you say. And if you think there is any danger of her building that over time to "Your brother hates me, he didn't even want us to get married, how can you choose him over me?" then be much more cautious than you are being advised to be.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:31 PM on June 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Something to mention: there is a world of difference between being frank and bludgeoning with full honesty. I really think that your best bet is to value politeness. Don't bring up your opinions if they aren't wanted, but do be honest if asked. He is your brother, don't lie to him.

There are gentle ways to voice your displeasure:

"Yes, it does seem like a really short engagement"

"Yes, it is moving really fast"

"Yes, I have noticed that you argue a lot"
posted by Shouraku at 4:07 PM on June 14, 2016

You are his sis. Say something!. After that butt out.
posted by metajim at 4:57 PM on June 14, 2016

examples: You must be so excited!
What did she say?
Have you talked to her parents/ family? What did they say?
You sound happy!

posted by theora55 at 8:01 PM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

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