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Appropriate or inappropriate Behavior Between Adult Male & Female S...
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Appropriate or inappropriate Behavior Between Adult Male & Female Siblings

My wife and I have been arguing for some time over behavior she engaged in with her brother and I would like an independent assessment.  There are five children in my wife's family, 3 boys and 2 girls.  My wife and her youngest brother have always been very close and are only one year difference in age.  The brother in question is the third child of the family and my wife is the oldest girl and fourth child.  They have always been affectionate and at family gatherings have preferred to spend time together.  

45 days after we were married her brother came to visit in our small 2 bedroom apartment that shared one bath in a common hallway.  After showering one evening my wife exited the bath wearing only a towel wrapped around her waist.  She and her brother had a conversation of several minutes before she came into our bedroom where I was at the time.  My wife had always stated that she was a very modest person and I was shocked at this behavior.  A big argument ensued where I claimed this was inappropriate and clearly behavior that differed from what she had represented herself to be.  She claimed I was simply over reacting, but agreed not to do this again.  About three years later we were visiting her family.  Her brother's girl friend was scheduled for a lumpectomy.  My wife previously had a lumpectomy and offered to show the girl her breast scar to reduce her anxiety.  She then went into a bedroom to show her breast to the girl.  It is unclear if her brother was invited into the room by my wife or walked in, either way he was there.  My wife has alternately stated he simply walked in or she may have invited him in.  As this was happening, I was in the same house but only learned of the event months later.  Another argument ensued and my wife said I was again over reacting, that she was trying to help them out.  Orignally she told me that she knew this would hurt our relationship but really wanted to help them out.  Recently she told me that really this was such an insignificant event that she didn't even think of me or my reaction.  I don't know why the change in her reported thinking.

We have argued about this for a long time as I cannot understand the behavior.  About 10 years after this "scar" event, the youngest sister told my wife that she and the brother in question had had expereimented with sex when they were in their teens.  The story was related to one of the older brothers, a series of conversations between the 4 siblngs ensued (I was never a part of any conversations) and the sister recanted her story.  During this time we had two young girls of our own who have been alone with the brother on several occassions before I learned of the reported sexual relationship between the brother and the youngest sister.  I became even more upset and demanded that my wife tel our girls about this and make sure they were never alone with her brother in the future.  My wife has told our girls the story and also told them that her sister is prone to making dramatic statements for effect.  The generalfeeling now by my wife and girls now is that this is a sister problem and the brother probably did nothing wrong.

My wife continues to tell me that I have over reacted, that nothing abnormal has happened between her and her brother and that I have no basis for being angry and upset.  Furthermore, that my reaction is damaging our relationship.  We have a difference of opinion as to what is acceptable behavior, who is the offended party and therefore who is damaging the relationship.  My feeling is that even if this is behavior she finds acceptable, I do not, that my feelings should carry greater weight than her brother's and out of respect for our marriage she should modify her behavior.

I understand these are complex issues and hard to judge as a third party with limited data coming from one party's perspective.  None the less, assuming my facts are generally correct, have I over reacted?  Is this normal behavior between adult siblings aged 30- 35?
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Avatar f tn
I think I may be a good independent person to consult with.
I have two brothers and two sisters and are close to both brothers, but one more so.
I have had breast surgery.
I don't like people touching me due to my mental health issues and are more guarded, boundaried around intimate relationships.

My thought is that you are the victim of your own doing.  Perhaps not something that you wanted to hear.

For me personally I would like to see the towel covering her breasts as well.  I would see this as being more respectful.
Having said that I have one older sister who is pretty liberal and depending on the situation may or may not even cover up at all.  My mother has also frequently changed in front of me and my siblings.

I'm going to take your side on this one.  I believe, that while a towel is appropriate it needs to cover certain body parts.

I think that it was OK for your wife to show the girlfriend her breast and the scar and I think that it was OK for the brother to be present, as long as she was comfortable with that.

This one goes to your wife.

I think that the flip-flopping may have come about due to your intense reaction to the situation (and also the previous one).  In a small way I think that she is trying to protect both you and the relationship.  I think that your badgering is perhaps at the root of this.

The way you talk about the sexual experimenting makes it sound as though it was consensual, if it did happen.
It sounds as though there could have been sexual intercourse between them.

I think that you were wrong in demanding that your wife tell your children.  Perhaps a general discussion on inappropriate behavior may have sufficed.
I totally understand your fears and the need to protect your girls.  I think discussing this on hearsay and on something that allegedly took place many years ago could have been potentially harmful.  I think that a discussion with the brother in question may have been more appropriate and with clear assertions as to your expectations of his behavior around your daughters.

To me this sounds like a childhood thing and something that would have resolved itself over time.  I.E., him acting in more appropriate ways now.

Some of your wife's behavior may be explained by the close bond she shares with her brother.  It is hard to know exactly where the boundaries should lie.
I think that you need to trust your wife and let her make her own decisions regarding her body.  I think that she also could be a little more sensitive and respectful to your needs.

I think that you both need to discuss this.  I think that there also needs to be a level of trust where you can both be open and honest with each other.
I think that it probably comes back to trust and respect and honesty.

I think that you need to discuss what is acceptable behavior to both of you and perhaps negotiate some sort of guidelines (but ones that have some flexibility because nothing is going to happen as you expect it all the time.  Things happen unexpectedly you need to take that into consideration.).

I believe that your wife is correct and that it is your over-reacting that is damaging the relationship.  I think when you do this you may also be showing her that you don't trust her and /or don't trust her to make a good decision.

So if other things go wrong in the marriage or there are things that you don't like then she has to change?  She has to give up or lose a part of who she is.  I think that you're asking too much.
Your wife isn't being a complete ***** or tramp is she?  Perhaps show her a little respect.

I think breast surgery is so personal too and you have to let people in to treat you.  At the end of the day it is possible that thoughts and feelings regarding self change.
Perhaps your wife's behavior is no less acceptable than her having a surgeon examine and touch her.  Did you begrudge her that?

I think this mainly comes back to your feelings.  In psychological terms it is called a narcissistic injury.
I don't know why you would feel this way.  I'm guessing that your family was more conservative or that you perhaps didn't have siblings or close siblings.

I agree though that your feelings should matter to your wife but not at the exclusion of her own.

If this continues to be an issue I would perhaps recommend couples counselling or individual psychotherapy for yourself.  I think that you have some control issues that need working through.

I was just thinking that your behavior, or reaction, sounds a little immature and was wondering if this is because it is related to child issues (we are all said to have a child in us) or childhood issues.  You have a trigger issue and it would be nice to learn what that is and to work through it with someone.  What aren't you saying?  ??
Avatar m tn
Why does your wife continue to show her brother her body parts when she is a married woman and you are uncomfortable with this?  Does she want him to get turned on? Does she get a thrill?  If not, then cover up!  Respect your body, yourself, your husband, and even your brother by not putting him and everyone else in an uncomfortable situation.  Knock it off immediately, behave like a lady, not an exhibitionist.  I am a wife and mother and not a prude but would never behave like that around my brothers or my dad or my brothers- in-law or even other women!  I might show a woman a scar, but not run around not covering myself after showering.  Would she also do this in front of children?  INAPPROPRIATE.
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