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#1 of 17 Old 11-29-2004, 09:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dh and his brother have no relationship. Zilch. And it's tearing up my mil because they are her only two surviving children and she wants them to be close.

The main problem is his wife.

Ten years ago, before our dd was born, we were all sort of close. I considered his wife to be one of my best friends, to be family. Dh and his brother were closer than they had ever been growing up and we got together pretty frequently. Then, dh's sister (whom we were all close with) got sick with cancer and passed away. We leaned on each other pretty heavily for a time, then dd was born a few months later; then w/in the next year, my bil and his wife drifted away. I eventually cornered my sil and she said that bil had been cheating. Dh and I were there for her, supporting her through her tears and anger because we considered her family. When bil moved back in with her and she got (accidently) pregnant, we were supportive. Even though she found out she was pregnant the same day I miscarried. Even though I miscarried again a few months later. I called her every week (they lived a few hours away); I listened to her talk about her pregnancy, about her doctor appts, even though I sometimes listened through tears. I gave her a baby shower and then, when the baby was born and I was in my first trimester of an at-risk pregnancy, sil developed a serious case of post-partum toxemia, we went to their house every wkend she was in the hospital to help bil walk the floor and cuddle this tiny baby. After that, she never called me. Not once. Even though I was pregnant after two miscarriages. I would call her to see how my niece was doing and sil would do nothing but b**** about bil and how sick she was of hearing how wonderful he had been with the baby and how annoying and fake he was. So, we kind of drifted apart. She worked from 7 in the morning until 6 at night. My niece was in day care for those hours. They moved a state away, bil got a great job, making more than enough money--she still worked those hours, changing jobs/fields every few months, but never changing hours. She probably makes just enough to pay for day care.

She'll talk to my in-laws; he'll talk to my in-laws. And each will have a different story about when they plan to visit. No one knows until they arrive exactly what their plans are--and then we're expected to re-arrange our plans to accommodate them and, if we're late, we're irresponsible and inconsiderate and disorganized (in the opinion of all my in-laws). When my youngest was in the hospital last summer for more than a week and we had no idea what was wrong, they never called the hospital.

Dh is fed up with it. My mil thinks she's sweet and charming and a great mother (even though she won't take off if her dd's sick; even though her dd is in day care for almost 12 hours/day) because she's sooo nice and personable to my in-laws' faces and because her dd always has a hat.

They're (supposedly) coming up for x-mas day this year. We'll be expected to arrange our holiday to spend time with them. Dh says Nope, we're going where ds2 can eat (food allergies--my mom knows how to cook for him; my in-laws don't). So again, we'll be the evil, awful son and dil. Now, they kept saying they were coming last year and never showed (and seriously hurt my in-laws. But that's forgotten). But they never had their story straight. This year it seems to be a coordinated effort.

Do we have any real obligation? What would you do?

My sister and I are extremely close, even though we're very different. I would love to see dh develop a relationship with his brother; I just don't know if it's possible.

Missy
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#2 of 17 Old 11-29-2004, 09:25 PM
 
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Oh Missy

You cannot fix this. Shall I repeat that? You will not be able to fix this. Your DH does not want to have a deep relationship with his brother and I don't blame him.

My brother and I are not as close as we used to be due to being busy with 2 kids each and he and SIL work alot (on opposite shifts). BUT If my child was in the hospital, not only would he call every day, but would arrange for food to be delivered and presents for the kids. From 1200km away.

Your DH doesn't care to put in the effort as he sees his brother putting in no effort. So what are you going to do? Force him to have a one sided relationship? I would take your DH's lead on this. I would say you have NO obligation to be the mat they wipe their feet on. Enjoy the family relationships you *do* have. Your DH wants to spend time with your family, encourage that.

Just my 5 cents
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#3 of 17 Old 11-29-2004, 10:05 PM
 
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Well said, Chelsea. Missy, what a blessing that you have your family; it's nice that your mom will make special food for your son. Do yourself and dh a huge favor and let this one go.

And it's good that you know the unfair recriminations are coming. Just smile and be polite. That's all you are obligated to do.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#4 of 17 Old 11-29-2004, 10:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missy
and because her dd always has a hat.
I'm sort of laughing at that!

If that's the kind of people they are, you really don't have any hope of changing their mind.
You can't make your inlaws like you by doing what they think should happen. Well, maybe you can, but it's not worth it, in my opinion.

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#5 of 17 Old 11-29-2004, 11:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Apricot--my in-laws do love me; I know that. They just don't understand me. They've known me for over twenty years, since I was 13. But, I confuse them. I do weird things. I spoil my kids. My sil has some definite advantages over me: 1. she's black, I'm not 2. She grew up in the south; my family's from New England 3. she's from the country; so are they 4. she formula-fed 5. she never co-slept 6. her dd is now going to school; we hs 7. her dd always wears an undershirt, a hat, hard shoes 8. she dresses neatly, professionally; I dress for comfort 9. she carries expensive purses; I use the pocket on my Maya wrap (that is apparently a very big deal) 10. her SUV is always clean; my van...isn't. I could go on, but you get the picture.

My sil, when she graces us with her presence for a few hours, is always witty and charming. She knows **everything** about parenting and, coincidentally, it fits exactly with my in-laws' views. She can cut off her visit by more than 24 hours, staying only an afternoon, after they've prepared the guest room and dinner--and it doesn't matter!! We'll get the call that their visit has been cut short and we're expected to get all our kids ready and out the door immediately so we can all eat together (my in-laws still live nearly an hour away, so it's not like we're just popping across town). And, if it's a major holiday and we're celebrating with my parents, too, my mom is expected to put her dinner on hold at the last minute.

Sadly, I know my bil wants a better relationship. I've actually spoken to him several times in the last few months--but somehow his wife is jerking him around.

She's toxic.
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#6 of 17 Old 11-29-2004, 11:53 PM
 
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If I were you, I'd keep out of it. It is up to your dh and your bil whether or not they want to have a close relationship, not anyone else. It is not up to your inlaws. Not even your sil, no matter how much you would like everything to be her fault. If they wanted to be buddies, they would find a way to make that happen no matter what their wives think.

My dh has a similar situation with one of his brothers. Dh just doesn't like him. They have next to nothing in common, and quite frankly bil is a pompous boor. We see them at the occasional wedding or other family event and exchange pleasantries, but that's it. Bil will occasionally extend a patronizing invitation for us to vacation at his house (which is the center of the universe, doncha know). Dh will respond by inviting him to vacation with us, which bil pretends not to hear. But neither one of them really wants to spend free time together.

This drives my MIL insane. She wants them to be close and she used to try to drag me into it. Nope. Not going there. They are grown men and their relationship is up to them, not me.
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#7 of 17 Old 11-30-2004, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Chelsea and journeymom--you're both right. I am very blessed that dh is so close with my family.

Quote:
BUT If my child was in the hospital, not only would he call every day, but would arrange for food to be delivered and presents for the kids. From 1200km away.
And that's what my sister did from about 800 miles away (OK, my mom brought the food). She called every day, several times a day. She made a beautiful card (she's an artist); her kids drew pictures to decorate the hospital room and she sent the whole package express mail. Even one phone call from bil's family during that week, or even the week after, would have been welcomed. And that's largely on him. I understand that. Sil did not tie him up--he does have free will. But, EFmom, she manipulates. And for an already shaky relationship, that's dangerous. Just as my mil and fil have known me since I was 13, I've known my bil even longer. I care about him beyond just the obligatory family concern; we grew up together. He also cares about his daughter and is very deeply saddened that we haven't spent much time with her.

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#8 of 17 Old 11-30-2004, 11:31 AM
 
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She might well be manipulative. But your bil can't be manipulated without his own consent.
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#9 of 17 Old 11-30-2004, 12:45 PM
 
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I'm in the you can't fix this don't push it camp. The changes that need to happen have to come from the BIL's side not yours. Trying to force your DH into a closer relationship and making him work harder to still get very little in return will only cause stress between you and DH. Let the Inlaws stew in their own vile juices and negative feelings and have a happy holiday with your family who care about you and make the effort.

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#10 of 17 Old 11-30-2004, 01:22 PM
 
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I am with PudmaMorgana on this. You can't fix it! And you shouldn't beat yourself up about it either! Tina
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#11 of 17 Old 11-30-2004, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom
She might well be manipulative. But your bil can't be manipulated without his own consent.
I know. That's what angers my husband. As he puts it, "He's not going to see what he doesn't want to see." It's just hard sometimes when you can see the cogs at work...

So I shouldn't feel guilty if we don't play their game this year? This is our first Christmas without my grandmother and I'm not feeling real festive right now. The idea of juggling someone else's last minute plans is exhausting. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings (ie: my mil and fil), but I'm tired. I don't feel like "playing".

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#12 of 17 Old 11-30-2004, 08:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missy
So I shouldn't feel guilty if we don't play their game this year? This is our first Christmas without my grandmother and I'm not feeling real festive right now. The idea of juggling someone else's last minute plans is exhausting. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings (ie: my mil and fil), but I'm tired. I don't feel like "playing".

Missy
guilt is a waste of time and energy in this situation. It will get you nowhere. Either you kowtow to the whims of people who think nothing of you or you don't. Someone is going to get their feelings hurt.....either you and dh or your mil and fil. You pick who is more important to keep happy (hint...the answer is YOU ).

I would stop thinking of it. Start planning your holidays the way you and dh want them. If bil & sil fit in, great, if they don't...oh well, guess you'll see them another time.

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#13 of 17 Old 11-30-2004, 09:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Missy
Apricot--my in-laws do love me; I know that.
...
We'll get the call that their visit has been cut short and we're expected to get all our kids ready and out the door immediately so we can all eat together (my in-laws still live nearly an hour away, so it's not like we're just popping across town). And, if it's a major holiday and we're celebrating with my parents, too, my mom is expected to put her dinner on hold at the last minute.
so you are saying that if your in-laws have dinner plans that get cancelled at short notice, you and your family are supposed to drop everything, up to and including dinner with your mother, and rush to their table so they don't have to eat alone? please, please tell us that you don't fall for this crap?
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#14 of 17 Old 11-30-2004, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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so you are saying that if your in-laws have dinner plans that get cancelled at short notice, you and your family are supposed to drop everything, up to and including dinner with your mother, and rush to their table so they don't have to eat alone?
No, not quite. We are expected to drop everything and rush to their home as quickly as possible so that we can eat with bil and sil before they leave.(so, instead of eating at the planned time of 6:00, we have to try to make it down the road by noon) Or, if they're later than expected, we have to flip flop times with my parents. And my mother might roll her eyes a little, but she'll do it. But it's always on THEIR timetable.
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#15 of 17 Old 12-01-2004, 12:53 AM
 
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We are expected to drop everything and rush to their home as quickly as possible so that we can eat with bil and sil before they leave.
Well that's just nuts. Your parents deserve to be treated respectfully (to say nothing of you). If people change their plans at the last minute, I'd just tell them sorry, but my mother is serving dinner then and we can't make it. End of conversation.
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#16 of 17 Old 12-01-2004, 03:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It is nuts. But it's a desired illusion that is particularly important during the holidays. My sil, their oldest daughter, died three weeks before Christmas. When she was alive, nobody missed gathering for Christmas Eve. She was the one who decorated the tree and she thrived on her family celebrating together. So now, I think my in-laws try to cover their pain by getting everyone together, no matter what the inconvenience. Dh is their youngest, the baby, but they depend on us. Even when bil lived w/in the state, almost the same exact distance as we live, they called dh when their washing machine flooded the basement. We're the ones that wait at the hospital through surgeries and then visit the hospital daily. We're the ones who moved into their house for a week b/c fil's back went out the same time mil was recovering from serious surgery. We're always there for them. We'll be the ones taking care of them when they can no longer care for themselves (although, when they're driving me bonkers, I tell dh that I'm going to send them to sil's house; they have more space.). Dh is equally good about helping my family. When my grandmother was alive, he was always working on her car or computer. We do take care of our family.

But that's why 1. it's so important for them to create this little fantasy family gathering, and 2. they honestly expect us to bend over backwards to accommodate them. I don't mind being there when they need me, but juggling our holidays to fit sil's last minute whim is more than I can handle right now.
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#17 of 17 Old 12-01-2004, 05:58 AM
 
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I sounds as if the issue lies deeper than your BIL and DH. It seems it extends to the SIL, the ILs, and you. That is sad. I am sorry to hear that. Acceptance is hard thing for some people, and I am not sure why. An Open Mind cannot be that difficult can it? I certainly would not be competing with her. You sound like you have made well informed choices, and you should not let anyone make you feel any less of a wonderful person b/c of it (not that you are...I just saw the post about how she does these things and do not.). Following your instincts regardless of people's POV is a hard, but rewardig thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Missy
So I shouldn't feel guilty if we don't play their game this year? This is our first Christmas without my grandmother and I'm not feeling real festive right now. The idea of juggling someone else's last minute plans is exhausting. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings (ie: my mil and fil), but I'm tired. I don't feel like "playing".
Now I am the kind of person who likes to hash things out. Have you tried honestly and in an open way tried talking to them (all of them) about how you feel? Maybe the SIL does not know you were hurt b/c she never called, or DH was hurt when...., that you are bothered that there is a lack of relationship, the last minute plan changes, etc. etc. I often find that a lack of communication is a big part of things. If people do not KNOW--even if you assume they do--how will they ever be aware? Sometimes it has to be laid out very clearly for people to get it.

Also, I would let your ILs know, very lovingly, that you are not going to stress this holiday season b/c of your grandmother, this is how you want it done and if you all cannot spend a day together in harmony you are going to pass (or obviously whatever it is you feel you and your family want). Tell them how you feel. Tell them it is too much for you. Perhaps have a special dinner on an altogether different weekend.

That said, I feel you on the SIL. My only SIL is so controlling I am not allowed to talk to my brother. She gets jealous. He missed/ignored the birthday of my son, his 1s birthday, Christmas/my son's first (first time he missed it b/c she had to work and would not let him go be with his family and she had to be alone), my birthdays...Nary a card, a note, a present (and I stood up for them at her wedding FIVE weeks postpartum with leaky breasts and not even a Congrats about your baby. Nada.) Those women can be tricky, tricky people. Oddly enough I get along with my SO's sister fabulously!

Sorry mama, that stinks

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