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Ask Rene: Should I Stay Out Of My Husband’s Family Feud?

men angry


Hey Rene,

My husband, Paul, is estranged from his brother and the two of them haven’t spoken in 5 years.

Paul won’t talk about what happened between them but he has entirely cut his brother, Sam, out of his life. They used to be close and although he doesn’t admit it, I know Paul misses him.

Recently, Sam reached out to me on Facebook. At first it was just a friend request but after I accepted, he sent me a message saying he feels terrible about their relationship and he would love to reconcile. I have never had a problem with his brother and I think it would be good for the two of them to make up but I know my husband will be upset I am even speaking to his brother.

I feel torn, should I incur my husband’s fury and try to help them patch up their relationship or should I respect his wishes and cut off communication with his brother?

Claire, Tampa

Hi Claire:

I think you know the answer to this question but are looking for me to concur with the conclusion you have already reached. That conclusion is for you to STAY THE HELL OUT OF THIS! No, no, no do NOT get involved!  These are grown men, one of whom you are married to and I assume would like to keep it that way. Here’s my advice:

YOU DON’T KNOW THE WHOLE STORY: Whatever happened between these two was so egregious that Paul won’t even talk about it. So what makes you think that you can be the glue to bring these two back together? This is none of your business. You’re only involved because you’re married to one of the guys. So basically you’re going to try to figure out the best way for two warring factions to come together but with only partial information. That’s not a good way to go into anything and very definitely not a family feud.

YOU LIVE WITH YOUR HUSBAND: That means you are loyal to him not his brother. You absolutely will incur Paul’s wrath when he finds out about this. In life, we all want to know we have a posse willing to throw down in a knife fight, metaphorically speaking. That is a wife, husband or partner. While you think you are doing good by trying to bring these two back together, Paul will ultimately see this as an act of treason and disloyalty. And if Paul is as angry as you say he is, this is not going to go over well.

THESE ARE GROWN MEN: If and when Paul is ready to make a move, he will. While it’s true he may miss his brother, he may not be willing to reconcile, at least not yet. Maybe he needs to work out a few more details in his head; maybe he needs more forgiveness in his heart. Whatever the case, you can’t rush that along by playing matchmaker then hovering on the sidelines and nodding anxiously like you’re overseeing a playdate between two toddlers.  If this is to happen, it will happen on it’s own time.

Now for the controversial part of my advice, you’re going to have to unfriend Sam. You’re probably an incredibly nice woman with a huge heart. But until these two work out whatever their issue is you need to back WAY off. You can explain this in a nice note to Sam. If he understands, great, if not, oh well.

I would suggest that the note he wrote to you about missing his brother, he send on to Paul, the person who he should have sent it to in the first place. Frankly, it was unfair of him to place you in the middle as he attempted to take the temperature of the situation. You don’t belong there, so turn around and walk away.

Good luck!

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  1. pattyrowland

    April 22, 2011 at 10:47 am


  2. Pierce Sister

    April 22, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Take if from someone who didn’t speak to her sister for a year. If it were my husband, I would definitely try to help them resolve the issue. It is your business to me, because it involves family. I don’t care what happened, your husband should be able to talk to you about it. You may be able to help your husband see that no matter what happened, his brother is his family! And your family too, when you marry someone you become one and a part of each other’s family. If you have children, explain that he is setting a bad example for your children or the children in your extended family. I would tell my husband his brother wants to make amends and contacted you through facebook, but you advised him to talk to him personally. God forbid something happens to his brother, I am sure your husband would deeply regret that he had not spoken to him in years. I think it is alright to get involved — just as we sometimes have to guide our children to do the “right” thing, that guidance continues into our adult life.

  3. Rene Syler

    April 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

    @Pierce Sister, thanks for weighing in. You make some valid points but I still stand by my posting. It’s a matter for these grown men to resolve. Thanks again

  4. m.e. johnson

    April 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    If hubby won’t even tell you about it, it must be really deep doodoo. You tell Sam:

    “My name is Bennett, I ain’t in it.” OR:

    “My name is Tess, I ain’t in this mess.”

    Then, as Rene said, de-friend him.

  5. Cody Williams

    April 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    You’re right about Paul being in the wrong to have place her in the middle. But excuse my French, they both sound like little girly men to me.

    Guys don’t hold grudges. Not real guys anyway.

    They may actually need a mature person to stand in the gap and coax them back to at least being on speaking terms.

    Men and women are different. I think your advice would be perfect for two in that situation. But, not for two men.

  6. Cody Williams

    April 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    You’re right about Paul being in the wrong to have placed her in the middle. But excuse my French, they both sound like little girly men to me.

    Guys don’t hold grudges. Not real guys anyway.

    They may actually need a mature person to stand in the gap and coax them back to at least being on speaking terms.

    Men and women are different. I think your advice would be perfect for two women in that situation. But, not for two men.

  7. Rene Syler

    April 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    @Cody: well none of us even knows the whole story but since Paul won’t even talk about it with his own wife, it must have been bad. That said, I understand the stand-up, mature person aspect of your comment but it does not need to be her; stakes are way too high. I also think issues among family members are not as cut and dried as issues with other people. So while two business partners or friends who are men might be able to get past this, with family there’s the added layer of the fact that, well, it’s family.

    And “girly-men” and “perfect for two women”, to that i just have to say , WTF??

  8. m.e. johnson

    April 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Yeah, Rene, WTF! So Cody, define “girly-men”.

  9. Will Jones

    April 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Rene is dead on!
    As man (and not the girly-man Cody spoke of) I know that (at least for most of us) there are only a few reasons that a man would cut his brother out of his life, and if he won’t talk about it, one of those reasons must have presented itself.

    I was checking things off of my list as I read Rene’s answer:
    Not your business.-check
    Don’t know all the facts.-check
    Stay on your hudband’s side.-check,
    Un-friend him.-check!!!

    The only thing I would have changed is the wording, as in, “These are some grown-ass men!”

  10. Tiffany

    April 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    To me, this issue is affecting her life too & if this was me, I’d be upset if my husband refused to tell me what was going on. Whether or not he wants to fix things with his brother would be entirely up to him, but I’d feel like keeping me out of the loop on a situation as big as this would be rude & distrustful.

    I’d obviously unfriend Sam, tell him to talk to Paul himself & then I’d let Paul know about Sam’s contact with you. He can deal with it from there.

    I think Rene gives great advice, but I do think that Paul should be talking to you about it. At least in general terms so that you aren’t completely in the dark. You are married. It is your business to know, but not to fix the matter.

  11. Will Jones

    April 23, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Even though they’re married, there are some areas that are better left alone. Other than the brother trying to weasel his way back in through the wife (which I think says a lot about his character) I don’t see how this is effecting her life.
    The situation between these two men is between them. I don’t believe in keeping secrets from my wife, but I do believe that if I did choose to keep some things about my past to myself, that she should respect my right to do so, and that she deserves the same from me.
    I do have people in my past whom I’ve cut ties with because I believe that having relationships with them now would be bad for my wife and children. I did not sit my wife down and explain why I chose to do so in each case, I simply said, “It’s not a good idea,” and she trusted my judgment. This wife should do the same.

  12. Victor Hogan

    April 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I’m really late on this one. This seems to be resolved…. Bottom line, his wife DEFINITELY needs to cut all ties with his brother. A husband(or wife) doesn’t have to disclose every square inch of their past for them to have a successful marriage. I definitely disagree w/Cody. This in NO way makes them “girly men”… smh!
    I’ll keep my comment short and end it here by saying I agree 100% with Will Jones & you, Rene. SHE NEEDS TO CUT ALL TIES WITH THE BROTHER and let her husband deal with it… pretty simple to me

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