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Dear Stavroula

Dear Stavroula: My Sister Is Marrying a Man who Makes Her Suffer

Dear Stavroula,


My sister just announced to us that she is getting married to her boyfriend of three years. However, her decision scares me. First of all, because she doesn’t match with her partner at all, and secondly, because they have already broken up four or five times so far and each separation lasted from a few days to a few weeks. The separations were mainly caused by him, out of his jealousy. He would make very big scenes and for no reason. And then he would give up and disappear. Every time they split up my sister suffered a great deal. And when she started to come to her senses, he would reappear and the same thing happened again.

I can’t understand how she made the decision to marry a man who makes her suffer every so often, someone who with his jealousy has alienated her from all her friends, even me, and who very easily asks her to break up at the slightest thing and even disappears for long periods of time.

I try to talk to her, but she is determined to go ahead with this marriage, not thinking about what will happen if he decides to leave again or when they eventually have children. She tells me that she is in love with him and that when they get married and have children, he will change.

How can I help her understand what a big risk she is taking with this man? Can you help me?




Dear Marianna,


Many people tend to go back to their ex-partners, and the reasons are many. Some believe that the partner has changed because of the estrangement and separation so they seek reconnection hoping for that change. Still others refuse to let go of a relationship when they have put a lot of effort into it, when they feel invested. Some go back to a previous relationship because they fear loneliness or because they think they can’t find anything better.

There are even couples whose partners get caught in a vicious cycle of separation and reunion. In these cases, the conflicts are many and frequent and the couple seems to experience greater uncertainty about the future of the relationship.

Perhaps something similar is happening in the case of your sister and your fears are completely understandable.

However, it is not necessary for a relationship that ended and started again to end up in separation again. There is always a possibility that through this process the couple has become more connected, that the relationship has matured and evolved. The important thing is to find the factors that lead to the dysfunction of the relationship that leads to separation. And here the role of a mental health specialist is very important.

So it might help if you have a calm conversation with your sister and encourage her to talk to a professional about anything she’s concerned about in her relationship or with her partner. It would help her a great deal to understand how her relationship with her partner works (or malfunctions) and her own role in it.

Any other attempt to push her away from her partner or convince her that he is not the one for her, I don’t think is advisable. Your sister is an adult who has every right to regulate her life in any way she sees fit, just as she has the right to make mistakes and learn from them. Your role is to be close to her and love her and not try to direct her to do what you think is right.


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