Skip to main content

Daisy – “Don’t settle for a partner who doesn’t care about your family”

I met my husband through mutual friends.  We were friends for years before getting together.  We’ve been a couple for 19 years and married for 9.  I honestly feel so blessed to have found him.

My previous relationship was very toxic.  My ex had had a very difficult life, he came from a broken home and struggled with addiction.  I was young, naive, and inexperienced, and I never had a lot of self-esteem or confidence when it came to relationships.  He wanted to be with me, which felt novel to me as I wasn’t used to getting attention, and deep down I thought I couldn’t do any better.  I ended up staying with him for almost 4 years.

The first few months were fine and fun, but then things got progressively worse.  I ended up moving out of the family home to live with him.  He was very controlling and abusive (although I couldn’t see that at the time).  He never considered my wants or needs; he was narcissistic and selfish.   He would frequently put me down in both private and public and he made me feel so worthless.  I had never thought I would stay in a situation like that, but I didn’t leave.  I couldn’t see how bad it was, I just accepted the situation as how my life was supposed to be.  Also, the rescuer in me couldn’t abandon him, I wanted to help him and fix him.

My ex had no interest in family, he didn’t care about my sib situation, and this resulted in me isolating myself from my family for a while.  Looking back now, I don’t even recognise that person that I used to be.

I stayed in that relationship for far too long.  The one blessing during that time was that we did have a good friendship group.  It was our friends speaking up and challenging his behaviour that helped me to see that the way he was treating me wasn’t OK, this gave me the strength to end it and I moved back home.   My husband was there throughout that period and was one of those supportive friends.

I was single for a long time after that.   I didn’t feel that I had a lot to offer someone, and I thought I was better off alone.  Then one day my husband told me that he wanted to be with me, he swept me off my feet and honestly, I couldn’t believe that someone as wonderful as him would want to be with me, as I couldn’t see my own self-worth.  Since we got together, every day I have felt loved, valued, and supported.  He is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I have always been very open about my brother (who is autistic).  I talk and vent about my situation with my friends frequently, so hubby always knew about my family situation.

My husband has spent all his career in adult health and social care, working with adults with learning disabilities.  He appreciates and values all different kinds of people (we both do).  He has a huge amount of love and respect for disabled people and the joy that they bring to those around them.  He understands the challenges and barriers placed on disabled people and their families by society and has spent many years of his career giving disabled adults and their families a voice, by working as an advocate.

I think what brought us together and keeps us together is our shared values.  We both value family; from the start, he wanted to get to know and spend time with my family and he has always supported us all, I was welcomed into his family with open arms.  We both care about the impact we have on the world and others.  Above all else, we care about each other’s happiness and having a great marriage and life together.  So, we make sure we spend quality time together; we make time for each other to have their space for self-care and we support each other.

We don’t remember when he met my brother for the first time but getting married was a milestone and helped my brother to see and accept my husband as part of the family.  Sometimes my brother is rude and nasty, but my husband gets that it isn’t personal, he has a vent, I listen and validate how he feels, and he is able to let that go.

We talk a lot about the future and our shared fears.  I think it is important that I acknowledge the commitment he has made to me and my family and that brings with it his own fears for the future.  So, we talk a lot about how we are going to manage that together and what our boundaries are.  We are a team, his feelings matter too, it is not all about me.  I am so grateful that in those conversations he always acknowledges that our future involves supporting my brother, he wants him to be happy just as I do.  This means the world to me.

My advice to other sibs would be to not settle for someone who doesn’t care about your family, you are better off on your own.  We have enough pressure on us without having a toxic, unsupportive relationship.  You could also miss meeting the right person if you are with the wrong person.  It is important though that you listen to how your partner feels, so that you can support each other, plan your lives together, share your fears, meet both of your emotional needs and most importantly be a team.

Advice to partners, communication is key.  Be a rock.  Be patient and supportive.  Know that your sib partner’s life is hard and overwhelming, so there will be times they are down and don’t cope, just be there for them and help them through as best you can.   Most importantly show them love and that they matter, as sibs often come last and don’t feel valued.  Make a safe space and build a happy life together.

All names have been changed. 

Would you like to help other siblings by sharing your own story? Please get in touch.