My brother won't stop flirting with my HUSBAND

DEAR JANE: My brother won’t stop flirting with my HUSBAND – he acts like it’s funny but it makes my skin crawl

  • In her latest agony aunt column, Jane Green offers some candid words of wisdom to a woman struggling with her brother’s inappropriate behavior 
  • She also gives advice to a woman struggling with grief over her mother’s death
  • Do you have a question for Jane? Email [email protected] or ask it below
  • READ MORE: I’ve been hiding a terrible secret from my husband for 26 YEARS

Dear Jane,

For the past few months I’ve been getting really uncomfortable with the way my brother behaves around my husband. I only got married four months ago and ever since the ceremony, my brother – who is gay – has been openly flirting with him and it’s becoming increasingly awkward every time we see him.

I’ve always been close to my brother and spent years trading dating horror stories with him before I met the man who would ultimately become my husband. 

It was really important to me that he and my brother get along well so I made sure to introduce them early on in the relationship, and it seemed like they got on like a house on fire.

But after we got married, something just… snapped? My brother completely changed. 

Dear Jane, my brother won’t stop flirting with my husband. He keeps acting like it’s a joke but it makes me and my spouse incredibly uncomfortable

He started making really inappropriate sexual comments to my husband, talking about his ‘big feet’ and even ‘joking’ that he should ‘try the other sibling to compare and make sure he’s married the right one’. He’s also very touchy-feely to the point where it makes my skin crawl.

My husband tried to grin and bear it for a while but the last time we saw my brother, he reached his breaking point – understandably! – when he grabbed his butt in public.

He’s now saying he doesn’t know if he can stand to be around my brother anymore until we have a conversation with him.

International best-selling author Jane Green offers sage advice on readers’ most burning issues in her Dear Jane agony aunt column

I know that something needs to be said but I’m so worried about destroying what was once a really good bond between myself and my sibling. Any idea how I should handle this mess?


Sibling Rivalry

Dear Sibling Rivalry,

Your letter made me think of all the times, as children, we would say or do hurtful things, and then try and get out of it by proclaiming it’s a joke! 

Now, I see adults blaming others for being too sensitive when their unpalatable behavior elicits a negative reaction. I’m taking a wild guess, because I suspect your brother may say just that: He’s joking! You’re so sensitive! 

And yet, something does indeed need to be said.

Preferably, by your husband. You do not need to get in the middle of this and triangulate. 

If your husband is uncomfortable with the way your brother is acting around him, particularly at having your brother grab him inappropriately, your husband is the one who needs to speak up to stop this.

Firm and fair is the way to go. Difficult conversations are often made easier when they are ‘sandwiched’ between the positive. 

Something like, ‘I am so happy my wife has a brother who is easy to get on with, but I am uncomfortable with the way you speak to me and act around me. 

‘I don’t know if you are aware of how flirtatious it seems, but I feel disrespected when you grab my butt, and it needs to stop. I hope you can hear this and we go back to the relationship we had before I married your sister.’

No-one can dispute how your husband feels when your brother does this, and it’s entirely possible he thinks he’s just having fun and joking around, but it needs to be nipped in the bud now.

Dear Jane,

My mom died in December last year after a 12-month battle with cancer and as the anniversary of her passing approaches, I find myself completely overcome with grief. 

The holidays are now tainted with the memory of her death and before that with the day that she was diagnosed… now every time I see a Christmas tree or a twinkly light, I burst into tears. 

I have two teenage sons and have done my best to keep my emotions at bay so my sadness doesn’t leak into their lives, but it feels as though a dam has burst and I can’t hold it back any longer.

I don’t want my children to have a horrible Christmas but I can’t bring myself to get out of bed and do all of the things that we usually do around this year. My husband is doing his best but without my help he can only do so much.

I know deep down that I need to suck it up and move on, but right now it feels like the weight of my grief is too much for me to conquer.

How can I get back to myself and save our Christmas?


Daughter in Decline

Dear Daughter in Decline,

Dear Jane’s Sunday service 

I’m not sure when it became fashionable to try and do everything ourselves, but there should never be fear about asking for help. 

We tend not to reach out because we are terrified of appearing vulnerable, but when we ask for help, it is always available. 

We aren’t meant to navigate this life alone, and being honest about our vulnerabilities and need will always help us connect with others going through similar things.

I am so very sorry for your loss, and understand how difficult this must be for you. It’s less about sucking it up and moving on, and more about finding the tools to help you through the grieving process.

The first thing I will tell you is that you are not alone. The next is to find some support while you are still grieving. 

A year is not very long, and you must be gentle with yourself. I highly recommend you go to the website of Claire Bidwell-Smith, a grief therapist and bestselling author who specializes in motherless daughters, and the specific grief around losing mothers. I highly recommend her books, and, if you are in the United States, she holds workshops as well.

You not wanting to get out of bed tells me that – understandably – you may very well be suffering from depression. Listlessness and wanting to hide under the covers is always a signal of depression. I would like you to make an appointment with a health professional to see what options are available to you.

And lastly, little gets better when we are hiding at home. Look for local grief groups – being around other people who are similarly grieving can offer a tremendous support system, and help us feel not so alone.

I hope you are able to rejoin life very soon, and if this Christmas is less sparkly and fabulous than usual, know that everyone will understand.

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