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Fiance’s Family Manipulate Him

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From Australia: My Fiance and I have been together for 3 years. During this time his mother and step father have manipulated him to give them money to pay for their addictions (drinking, gambling, smoking). When he doesn’t do it the mother in law threatens to kill herself. After 2.5 years I begged him to stop and he did for a short time. Now I have stepped away from his family as I can’t bare to be around them and this has caused conflict between my fiance and I. He seems confused as to why I don’t want to have them in my life. However, during multiple occasions his mother has verbally assaulted me and financially affected us.

6 months ago he committed to helping them buy a car. This was all done behind my back and it took any trust we had for one another away. Recently I asked him to cut them off and create boundaries as we are trying to fall pregnant and he couldn’t do it for more then a few weeks. He told me he loves his parents and me and doesn’t want to lose either one. I feel so hurt and so deflated as I love him more than myself but he is so weak and manipulated by them.

When we first met he gambled a lot and I have helped him to stop doing that and to feel better about himself. But whenever his parents harass him for money he resorts to gambling again.

I don’t know what to do!

Fiance’s Family Manipulate Him

Answered by on -


Your fiance may have been able to stop gambling for a short time but he is still an addict who is the son of addicts. The behaviors you are reporting are not uncommon in adult children of addicted parents. The family members are bound together by destructive patterns and the threat of losing one another.

If you and your fiance are serious about making a life together, he needs to do some equally serious therapy to break those patterns. And you need to do some serious therapy about what it means to be connected to an addict, what to expect, and the limits of your influence on his behavior until he does his personal work.

You asked me what to do. I can’t tell you that. But I can tell you what not to do. Do not have children with him until the two of you do the important work around addictions. I worry that becoming parents will only make the current situation much worse. You are likely to become a single mom with a former partner who will be unwilling or unable to do his share in providing financially and emotionally for the child.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Fiance’s Family Manipulate Him

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Fiance’s Family Manipulate Him. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 25 Mar 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.