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Thread: "I Am Not Responsible For My Family"

  1. #21
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Batya33
    I'm also not comfortable with "shoulds" when it comes to family helping at this time as far as what exactly the person "should" do ...
    Originally Posted by termus123
    ... the only thing you can try do is guilt your sister into caring.
    I've found it most helpful to recognize that 'shoulding' and 'guilting' usually prompt an equal and opposite reaction from those who may have otherwise voluntarily offered something of their own accord over t.i.m.e. Instead, the expectation offends and prompts resistance. Then one's reaction to the resistance builds an even bigger wall, and there you have it--a Mexican standoff power struggle at a time where mutual respect and cooperation is crucial.

    Sounds as though sister was participating enough to learn potential arrangements and timelines. She just had not volunteered her husband's money, and we don't know whether their private conversations over time would have lead to a future contribution at any point. So tossing an expectation into that mix may have derailed that process, and now they're locked down and dug in against it.

    Sister was positioned badly. If she has mastered anything, it's a loyalty to the hand that feeds her (and same is likely true of her therapist). I don't mean that disrespectfully, because in her shoes I don't know that I would appreciate any expectation that I 'should' automatically cause my own marital strife by forcing an issue onto my husband that I could have otherwise finessed in my own time and my own way.

    Since we don't know how this may have played out without prematurely voicing such an expectation, I'd focus on repairing my relationship with sister--because nothing good can come from upholding a standoff and holding a grudge. There is zero advantage to that. I'd rather confide in sister that my request was motivated by fear under pressure, and I'd apologize for not thinking it through. I'd ask her to consider what I can do to make it up to her, because losing her in my life would be the worst possible outcome I could imagine.

    I would do this regardless of how sincere I believe that I can be in that moment, because my days of a faulty strategy would be over. It would be my percentage play against alienation over pride and thwarted expectations. That would be of no benefit to me, and the domino effect on my Mom wouldn't be helpful, either. My goal moving forward would be to shield Mom from the details and to operate in a way that maximizes family unity and involvement in Mom's life.

  2. #22
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tiredofvampires
    I'll tell you what I resent. What I resent is that she has all her life has depended on someone else to give her not only what she needs for bare survival, and in addition, all the things she thinks she NEEDS for the comforts and joys of life, yet she feels I have no right to hope for any such graces, given my circumstances.
    Given what you've said about your sister's character, I don't think that's the case (bolded).

    It's not a matter of whether she thinks you deserve graces; the money simply isn't hers to give.

    She is just able to enjoy it and will continue to be able to enjoy it as you fall deeper into poverty.

    The money belongs to her husband. He decides where it goes.

    Chances are, he has his own aging parents to think of and is bracing for that same financial black hole on his own end.

    I totally understand why you feel betrayed and offended by these circumstances, and that you need to vent about it.

    But dwelling too long on this ugliness will just prevent you from confronting the situation on your end head on, which is what you need to do.

    You do have some opportunity, no matter how small, to mitigate damage. You should seize upon that.

  3. #23
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    How do you know she gets comfort and joy from the money and or material things ? I think youíre both making assumptions. Have you ever offered to care for her child - not sure if you can given your disability and not sure about the logistics but now youíre asking her to help care for your mother so I figured Iíd ask. Even the kind of thing which Iíve done where you come over and say ďyou go wash your hair and Iíll watch the baby ď yes she probably is constrained in her ability to use this money to give to her motherís care and you have no idea how hard she works as a parent - and neither do I because perhaps she does have 24/7 care or perhaps her husband does everything or his family etc. just please be careful with the assumptions.

  4. #24
    Platinum Member tiredofvampires's Avatar
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    Thank you, everyone, for your sympathies and empathy, taking time to consider and respond thoughtfully to my situation -- and a special, deep expression of gratitude for those who have been able to validate the pain and feelings of abandonment that I dealing with.

    I intend to respond to each post individually, with the points raised. I just have to take it in small bites, post by post, because I'm overwhelmed by this situation and current affairs around it happening as we speak.

    I want to elucidate some things, though, based on themes that several of you have brought up.

    One of the big issues being brought up, and rightly so, is that this money is not hers to offer. It is her husband's. And that that changes many things about what she feels she can and can't do. TRUE -- with some major "but's".

    A bit about their relationship -- and because I have served as her closest confidente, none of what I'm about to say is guesswork or assumptions:

    My brother-in-law (BIL) would give my sister anything she truly wanted. These are in her own words. And I have seen it in action. To give you a couple of examples, two-ish years ago I arrived there after a long plane flight late at night. It was my first time in their new house they bought. I was looking around saying how lovely it was, and then he pointed out in an obscure high corner of the kitchen near the ceiling a pipe that was showing. I never would have noticed it had he not pointed it out, and I'm pretty visually observant. He said my sister didn't like that pipe, that she said it grated on her nerves and wanted to have it replaced. He said he didn't think it was a big enough deal, and that it would cost several thousand dollars. But, he said, in a resigned tone, if she wanted it, he'd go along with it (he sounded reluctant, but not upset).

    Then there was the time she wanted them to buy a new mattress, and organic cotton mattress. A mattress costing in the 4 digits. When they got it, she started to feel that it was too hot and made her uncomfortable, and it seems a money-back policy was not in place, so they were considering a whole new one, even though my BIL would be okay sleeping on a busted spring-coiled bed. She told me he was "not happy about it," but if she truly wanted it, he would give it to her. They also have paid out thousands of dollars in vet bills for their cat to keep up its care, at times for expensive procedures (it was a stray they got from a shelter), and of course, that was both their decisions, because it's a beloved family member to them, and I of course understand why that would be important and fortunate to have the money to upkeep. But that is a luxury, to pay for feline surgeries that are a small fortune in themselves.

    My point is that they maintain a very high standard of living, and that is thanks all to my BIL -- but he counts my sister's wants and needs in a way that she has quite a bit of say. In fact, she is more or less the one who decides how their money is spent. And the truth is, if he had his druthers, he would spend it in such a frugal (the euphemistic word) way -- as saving and not spending almost seem an obsession with him -- their house and lives would look a lot different. He was supposed to pick me up at the airport and meet me at baggage claim, but instead he drove to the curbside and I was frantic about where he was (his phone was turned off) for a while, wondering where he was. Turns out he was trying to save the $2.00 parking fee.

    On a side note, it's worth noting that during this whole uproar, she's told me time and again that she respects and defers to my BIL's savvy with money/investment and how wisely he treats it, saying, "The reason well-off people are well-off is because they know how to save", and indignantly defended him to me, saying, "He's a GENEROUS man, ToV!" Yet funny enough, when I had that one Skype talk with both of them, he said to me, "My wife and son call me cheap. But I know I have to be that way, to keep things on track." OH, REALLY? Your son and wife get EVERYTHING THEY WANT, and still call you "cheap"? Hm. And all the while, your wife told ME that you are a generous, not-tight-fisted man with your money, and has defended your frugality? (I wonder how my sister felt that he blurted that out.)

    So the money is not just "there" as I see it, but my sister has a lot of power in that relationship to direct the money. Her choices and "asks" are central to their dynamic.

    Having said all that, I believe a couple of you have astutely assessed that despite the power she holds, she is still beholden to him. And they have a division of labor, which legitimizes her demands: while she is not the primary breadwinner, she performs the vital function of quasi stay-at-home mom (quasi because she has activities and paid work she does in her field that count as "work", even though what it brings in is negligible, and is more for her personal enrichment than income.) When she was a new mother, she was with her son almost 24/7 (which caused her post-partum depression and a nervous breakdown from which I don't believe she's fully recovered, but that's another whole issue.) So it is true that their marriage is an exchange: he holds up the roof and gives her what she wants and feels she needs (whether small or large), in exchange for her toiling as a mother to his son, who is his pride and joy and, as he told me, "The only thing I TRULY have a passion for -- being a dad." Their marriage itself pivots on this tacit agreement and modus operandi. It is not a passionate marriage, and I wouldn't even call them "happily married", as my sister is chronically unhappy over things money can't fix and my BIL is not an emotionally demonstrative man. But they have an "arrangement", and this is working for their son's sake, which is their common most important investment. Despite their lack of intimacy and passion, they never argue, my sister says, and I have never seen it myself. They may disagree at times and have a heated moment or two, but on all matters of consequence, they are a united front.

    The question, then, is -- even though the money isn't hers to spend, but their arrangement is that she is de facto the one to spend it and to make her own wishes paramount, why wouldn't she say, "As my mom starts to need more supervised caregiving at home, I want us to contribute something. Let's work out some amount we can contribute, since we can't be there to help out." It is a secret to no one that in so doing, they are sparing money so that I (and my older sister) can continue to enjoy the tiniest fraction of quality of life that she has in multiples, and that my medical expenses can continue to be paid, which my mom has contributed to. But even if I weren't even alive, that wouldn't change how I see this.

    Does anyone think that if you added up all the expenses she "needs" over time that he has allowed, that asking for help with her mother's caregiver bills would be so unreasonable? Even if I were totally independently wealthy, but certainly because I am in the fix I'm in?

    These are real questions, but to me it seems rhetorical. And I will conclude these thoughts in the next post.
    Last edited by tiredofvampires; 03-23-2019 at 04:43 PM.

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  6. #25
    Platinum Member tiredofvampires's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Jibralta

    Chances are, he has his own aging parents to think of and is bracing for that same financial black hole on his own end.
    I just wanted to pick out this one point for now, though -- that as I mentioned in my OP (I know, there was a lot there to wade through, so maybe this got lost in the shuffle), my BIL's own father and mother are millionaires. They buy a new car every few months. The father is in the most lucrative and prestigious job you could have in this country, and his wife has never had to work (when I say work, I mean, go to a job that pays -- I don't consider full-time mothering less work than a paying job, but you do get to be your own boss more.) And, not parenthetically, it is still harder to have to go to work for a paycheck, full or part-time AND parent -- especially if you're a single parent.

    Not so incidentally, my BIL would be perfectly happy for my sister to be a complete stay-at-home wife/mother, with no career, if she wanted that. Because that's how he was raised, with a 1950's styled household (and he doesn't lift a finger to cook unless she's out of town).

    So, my BIL's parents will age in the greatest of comforts. No financial black hole there. This would look a lot different to me if that were the case. They are in their golden years and it's truly golden.

    And, my BIL stands to get an equally golden inheritance, even split between 4 children. So in addition to my BIL's own financial security, he stands to get heaps more through inheritance. By the time it's all said and done, my sister will be a millionaire. My mother will be gone by then...but that is the track they are on.

    And this brings up another part of my anger, and it's big: I don't believe that my BIL would for ONE SECOND withhold financial support to his parents if he saw even the slightest quiver of a need. No, he would not put his own mother in what is basically an institution. He would see to it that she got the very best of care, and I'm sure that if his siblings fell on hard times, that would also be considered.

    So he is not treating his wife's family as he would treat his own, and that makes me feel sick to my stomach, especially when I am his son's favorite Aunt (sister has told me so), and I have invested myself deeply as her best friend, consultant, sounding board.

    Side note: as I live many thousands of miles away from her (and my mom), physically being present to care for my mom is not an option. It is many hours by plane from where I live, and hundreds of dollars just to visit family.

  7. #26
    Forum Supporter ~Seraphim ~'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tiredofvampires
    I just wanted to pick out this one point for now, though -- that as I mentioned in my OP (I know, there was a lot there to wade through, so maybe this got lost in the shuffle), my BIL's own father and mother are millionaires. They buy a new car every few months. The father is in the most lucrative and prestigious job you could have in this country, and his wife has never had to work (when I say work, I mean, go to a job that pays -- I don't consider full-time mothering less work than a paying job, but you do get to be your own boss more.) And, not parenthetically, it is still harder to have to go to work for a paycheck, full or part-time AND parent -- especially if you're a single parent.

    So, my BIL's parents will age in the greatest of comforts. No financial black hole there. They are in their golden years and it's truly golden.

    And, my BIL stands to get an equally golden inheritance, even split between 4 children. So in addition to my BIL's own financial security, he stands to get heaps more through inheritance. By the time it's all said and done, my sister will be a millionaire. My mother will be gone by then...but that is the track they are on.

    And this brings up another part of my anger, and it's big: I don't believe that my BIL would for ONE SECOND withhold financial support to his parents if he saw even the slightest quiver of a need. No, he would not put his own mother in what is basically an institution. He would see to it that she got the very best of care, and I'm sure that if his siblings fell on hard times, that would also be considered.

    So he is not treating his wife's family as he would treat his own, and that makes me feel sick to my stomach, especially when I am his son's favorite Aunt (sister has told me so), and I have invested myself deeply as her best friend, consultant, sounding board.

    Side note: as I live many thousands of miles away from her (and my mom), physically being present to care for my mom is not an option. It is many hours by plane from where I live, and hundreds of dollars just to visit family.
    I would dial back being her sounding board and confidante.

  8. #27
    Platinum Member tiredofvampires's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ~Seraphim ~
    I would dial back being her sounding board and confidante.
    And that is the part I am really struggling with at this moment. Because I am 50, and she is 48, and I have spent my whole life trying to protect and guide/console her in some viscerally instinctual big sisterly/mother-hen role. It's just how I am built. And I have pulled back because I feel so crushed and alienated, and this is her response: "I feel like I am being punished for setting my limits. You are passive aggressively taking your fear mentality out on me, for drawing my boundaries. I feel like I am losing my best friend, because you are too bitter to see that I have needs and a family I have to put first."

    And then she of course conveys this to her husband, who has even more reason to think I'm not worthy a character in his reckoning.

    I'm in a bind. I truly can't shut her out of my heart if I wanted to because I love her unconditionally, but when I have withdrawn (not just now, but in our conflicts in the past) to protect my heart and soul, she accuses me of "punishing" her and being passive aggressive, and that it's "my way or the highway." She talks to me in parental tones, saying things like, "You may not like my limits, but nonetheless, this is what I'm going to have to do" as if I am some bratty, entitled child having a tantrum.

    I can't escape looking like the bad guy unless I completely acquiesced to her position. I'm supposed to do it all: stay her best friend just like before, AND be okay with dying in slow motion (that is not an over-statement, because my health and sustainance depends on things I am imminently about to lose) because I don't have the resources to keep afloat. And "that's just the way it has to be". While listening to her vent about her needs in her life that aren't being met, such as not being paid exactly what she's worth, and so forth.

  9. #28
    Forum Supporter ~Seraphim ~'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tiredofvampires
    And that is the part I am really struggling with at this moment. Because I am 50, and she is 48, and I have spent my whole life trying to protect and guide/console her in some viscerally instinctual big sisterly/mother-hen role. It's just how I am built. And I have pulled back because I feel so crushed and alienated, and this is her response: "I feel like I am being punished for setting my limits. You are passive aggressively taking your fear mentality out on me, for drawing my boundaries. I feel like I am losing my best friend, because you are too bitter to see that I have needs and a family I have to put first."

    And then she of course conveys this to her husband, who has even more reason to think I'm not worthy a character in his reckoning.

    I'm in a bind. I truly can't shut her out of my heart if I wanted to because I love her unconditionally, but when I have withdrawn (not just now, but in our conflicts in the past) to protect my heart and soul, she accuses me of "punishing" her and being passive aggressive, and that it's "my way or the highway." She talks to me in parental tones, saying things like, "You may not like my limits, but nonetheless, this is what I'm going to have to do" as if I am some bratty, entitled child having a tantrum.

    I can't escape looking like the bad guy unless I completely acquiesced to her position. I'm supposed to do it all: stay her best friend just like before, AND be okay with dying in slow motion (that is not an over-statement, because my health and sustainance depends on things I am imminently about to lose) because I don't have the resources to keep afloat. And "that's just the way it has to be". While listening to her vent about her needs in her life that aren't being met, such as not being paid exactly what she's worth, and so forth.
    I would just tell her you have your boundaries as well. That is the way it is. And if she canít appreciate you are below subsistence she needs to take the bag off her head.

    I am sorry for you. Hugs. I understand. My husbandís sister got the lionís share of everything never struggled a day in her life for any want or necessity even as an adult. She also stands to inherit everything from her parents as we were told we have no need to know what is in their will aka she is inheriting everything. And she is bitter when her parents carried her on their butts their whole lives but the past 3 years.

  10. #29
    Platinum Member tiredofvampires's Avatar
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    So, just to finish on the thoughts in my Post #24, about how my sister is beholden to my BIL, since it's really his money.

    If my sister came to me and said, "You know, I really would want for us to be able to help out financially. But I know that hubby will deeply resent me for this. Even if he agreed, I think that deep down, he would feel taken advantage of, and he is not close to our mom, and honestly, she's just something on his radar that he feels he is obliged to contribute to. I feel deeply sorry about this and I don't agree, but in the end, I could ask him for this and it would eventually break us. As you know, sometimes I think my depression and anxiety get to him, and we have lost the spark. So I'm worried a demand on him like that, where his heart isn't in it, would be the last straw and I can't take that risk"....

    ...if she said that, I would say, "I understand. Say no more. Do what you have to do."

    And she would be totally off the hook -- that would have been her out, if sincerely said. I understand the power of the pursestrings. And I know that losing this marriage and everything she has is something she couldn't live through.

    But that's not what she's saying. She has blamed me and criticized me for my very modest expenditures for things that give me a semblance of normalcy, or pleasure, or anything not purely subsistence -- which are few and far in between, and things she could not fathom giving up herself. She has tried to present this as me having a "fear mindset" when in fact, destitution and slow, painful decline would make anyone fearful. She had defended him 100%, told me that I am unreasonable in my "expectations", and demanding, and so she has not presented this as a plight she is stuck in, but an initiative and choice she herself has firmly made.

    These are HER priorities every bit as much as his, and that's what is horrifying to me. She is as "removed" and "separate" from her family of origin as he is from us.

  11. #30
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    Originally Posted by tiredofvampires
    So, just to finish on the thoughts in my Post #24, about how my sister is beholden to my BIL, since it's really his money.

    If my sister came to me and said, "You know, I really would want for us to be able to help out financially. But I know that hubby will deeply resent me for this. Even if he agreed, I think that deep down, he would feel taken advantage of, and he is not close to our mom, and honestly, she's just something on his radar that he feels he is obliged to contribute to. I feel deeply sorry about this and I don't agree, but in the end, I could ask him for this and it would eventually break us. As you know, sometimes I think my depression and anxiety get to him, and we have lost the spark. So I'm worried a demand on him like that, where his heart isn't in it, would be the last straw and I can't take that risk"....

    ...if she said that, I would say, "I understand. Say no more. Do what you have to do."

    And she would be totally off the hook -- that would have been her out, if sincerely said. I understand the power of the pursestrings. And I know that losing this marriage and everything she has is something she couldn't live through.

    But that's not what she's saying. She has blamed me and criticized me for my very modest expenditures for things that give me a semblance of normalcy, or pleasure, or anything not purely subsistence -- which are few and far in between, and things she could not fathom giving up herself. She has tried to present this as me having a "fear mindset" when in fact, destitution and slow, painful decline would make anyone fearful. She had defended him 100%, told me that I am unreasonable in my "expectations", and demanding, and so she has not presented this as a plight she is stuck in, but an initiative and choice she herself has firmly made.

    These are HER priorities every bit as much as his, and that's what is horrifying to me.
    Truly she has no understanding of your situation and very limited empathy.

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