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Losing my brother to his wife?


Hoagy
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My brother and his family are due to stay with our family over the Christmas period same as every year. The problem is my sister-in-law. She's very possessive of my brother to the extent that I don't think she even likes his own family talking to him without her acting as a 'gatekeeper', monitoring all his texts and emails. If you send a message to him, you get a curt reply from her. She is rude and abrasive to us, always making nasty snide comments about us not being vegetarian. Ever since day one she has addressed my parents by their first names (never Mr and Mrs) which I was always taught one does not do until invited to do so (or is this a modern thing?) She is also lazy, never offering to lift a finger to help prepare dinner or clean up, acting as if she is an honoured guest instead of a member of the family and we are her servants. This always upsets my parents, especially my mother, but my brother does nothing.

 

So far we have always bitten our tongues and said nothing for the sake of peace and harmony. But I suspect this can't continue much longer. This Christmas might be the day (long overdue) where someone finally snaps and puts her in her place. She needs to learn to respect her in-laws instead of treating us like dirt. The question is how my brother will respond. We worry that, if he is confronted by a choice between his wife and his parents/brother, he will chose his wife and we will never see him or our nephews again. We feel as if she is trying to tear him away from us because she can't bear sharing what she sees as her property with anyone else.

 

I just wish he would have the courage to stand up to her. He made the decision to marry her so I feel he should be the one who says "You can't treat me and my family this way" but he doesn't which means someone else will have to and then the sh*t's going to hit the fan. Things can't go on the way they have been any longer.

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Keep in mind he picked her and condones all of this. Don't make her the scapegoat for his decisions. Of course he will side with her if anyone creates drama. Does your brother help or also act like a guest? Call him personally rather than email where she answers for them.

 

But always keep in mind: He picked her. He married her. He condones all this.

If you send a message to him, you get a curt reply from her. This always upsets my parents, especially my mother, but my brother does nothing.

Edited by Wiseman2
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You should have a talk with your brother about the behavior and see if he can do anything. The previous poster is correct that he is currently validating and condoning the behavior. I would never let an S.O. treat my family this way. It is his responsibility.

 

Back words up with action of what you/your family thinks is appropriate. I wouldn't stand disrespect of my parents like this, so the action I would suggest, like rescinding an invite - you might think is crass or too much.

 

Family is more powerful an influence than you would think. Talk to your brother about your concerns and continue to bring it up to him when this kind of thing happens.

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Well, first off, as much as I can sympathize with not enjoying someone being rude or curt, she doesn't "need" to do anything. That's typically not going to be an attitude conducive to any sort of positive resolution.

 

Second, if you really feel you're being treated like dirt, then tell her to stop treating you like dirt. Why expect him to "stand up to her" when you guys, who don't have to go home and share a bed with her every night, won't even do so? I mean if he'd been just dating her since a few weeks ago, sure, him being an intermediary is probably more proper. But she's married to your brother. She's part of your family. Don't be upset with her playing gatekeeper while you expect him to do the very same. I could never imagine sitting there helplessly with my head down, blushing because an in-law was being an ass. You don't have to make a Jerry Springer scene of it, but I'm sure you're capable of some polite assertiveness.

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My brother left an abusive marriage in which we were treated much the same way you describe your family being treated . I told off my ex SIL a few times but after my brother left that marriage he told me he was “made to pay” for every time I told her off . So while you guys may tell her off just remember it’s your brother that might be paying for it . And maybe the reason he doesn’t stand up to her is that he’s abused by her .

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This isn't a sister in law issue...it's a brother issue.

 

He is the one who chose her, he is the one allowing her to act this way, he is the one allowing her to treat the family badly, he is the one allowing her to read all mails.

 

This is his problem, he is the one who does not care how someone treats his family. If you need to fix the problem, go and ask him what HIS problem is and why he does not care. Quit blaming the wrong person.

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I think you should try to do something with just your brother - whatever the "guy errand" is - to go get the liquor or whatever and try to get him away from her and tell him that you miss being able to have conversations with him like you used to -- how can you reach him directly without sister in law reading it?

 

Ever since day one she has addressed my parents by their first names (never Mr and Mrs) which I was always taught one does not do until invited to do so (or is this a modern thing?)

 

I think its the opposite, at least in my family -- unless the in-laws tell you that you can call them "mom and dad", you address them by their names. As a daugher in law, calling them Mr and Mrs is weird - most of the time in my family unless the in-laws have reached out and invited them to call them mom or dad - you go by their names. That is the one bone you should not pick. That would be up to your parents.

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My brother left an abusive marriage in which we were treated much the same way you describe your family being treated . I told off my ex SIL a few times but after my brother left that marriage he told me he was “made to pay” for every time I told her off . So while you guys may tell her off just remember it’s your brother that might be paying for it . And maybe the reason he doesn’t stand up to her is that he’s abused by her .

 

This is part of the reason we haven't said anything so far. We don't want to make things worse for him and my nephews when they go home. I'm not sure if he even knows how she treats us because she always says these things when he's out of the room. But I've known her to call him "stupid" and "useless" in front of us so I suspect he may be afraid of standing up to her.

 

It's ironic that, when we were little, he (being the older brother) used to bully me. When they married I admit it was amusing for me to see him getting a taste of his own medicine. But now it has gone too far. It stopped being funny a long time ago. We just wish he would divorce her and find someone who treats him better but she seems to be in control of him. Not just my opinion - my parents think the same. I've seen this before in abusive relationships. We want to talk to him but we can't get him alone without her being around. We don't even have his mobile number. The only number we have is hers and we have to rely on her to relay messages.

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I think its the opposite, at least in my family -- unless the in-laws tell you that you can call them "mom and dad", you address them by their names. As a daugher in law, calling them Mr and Mrs is weird - most of the time in my family unless the in-laws have reached out and invited them to call them mom or dad - you go by their names. That is the one bone you should not pick. That would be up to your parents.

 

I've just always addressed parents of girlfriends as Mr and Mrs until I've been invited to use names or "mum and dad". Maybe I'm just old fashioned but, in my experience, it usually convinces them that I am respectful and the invite follows quickly if not immediately.

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This is part of the reason we haven't said anything so far. We don't want to make things worse for him and my nephews when they go home. I'm not sure if he even knows how she treats us because she always says these things when he's out of the room. But I've known her to call him "stupid" and "useless" in front of us so I suspect he may be afraid of standing up to her.

 

It's ironic that, when we were little, he (being the older brother) used to bully me. When they married I admit it was amusing for me to see him getting a taste of his own medicine. But now it has gone too far. It stopped being funny a long time ago. We just wish he would divorce her and find someone who treats him better but she seems to be in control of him. Not just my opinion - my parents think the same. I've seen this before in abusive relationships. We want to talk to him but we can't get him alone without her being around. We don't even have his mobile number. The only number we have is hers and we have to rely on her to relay messages.

Maybe he will come to a point where he will leave like my brother did. Your brother is in an abusive marriage too. My brother left when he took a couple punches to the head.

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Sounds like my sister in law. I had it out twice with her, and both times my brother ended up

taking her side(he has to live with her, she is an ungodly beast, honestly). We didn't talk both times for

a year. I got so tired of it that I just started biting my tongue to try to salvage my relationship

with my brother. We are alienated again, it's fine. She butt her nose into my business and gossiped

and lied for the very last time. My brother turned his back, no loss. People who repeatedly stab

you need to be cut out.

 

You run this same risk if anyone says anything. She's to blame for her actions, but he is also

because he allows it. Instead of messaging, you should call and always speak to him

directly, that way you aren't getting replies from her.

I'm really sorry, I relate so well and know how incredibly frustrating it is .

I wish you and your family the best of luck, whatever happens here.

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But I suspect this can't continue much longer. This Christmas might be the day (long overdue) where someone finally snaps and puts her in her place.
Instead of "finally snapping" why don't you just say "hey, (SIL name) can you help me clear the table and do the dishes... "Mom worked hard making dinner and we owe her the labour."

 

Why would any of you not just ask? Why would any of you enable her like you have been?

 

I don't get it?

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Instead of "finally snapping" why don't you just say "hey, (SIL name) can you help me clear the table and do the dishes... "Mom worked hard making dinner and we owe her the labour."

 

Why would any of you not just ask? Why would any of you enable her like you have been?

 

I don't get it?

Not enough drama. Please try again.
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My brother and his family are due to stay with our family over the Christmas period same as every year.

 

i know there is more to your post, but your very first sentence stood out to me. Why is he "due" to stay with you? Is he obligated to? expected to? I've not heard the word used this way; bills are due, library books are do, reports are due, but people? Also, why is it every year? You all don't own him any more than she does. I don't know why communication goes through her, but if he's not giving out his cell phone number or email, then he has his reasons.

 

Different families have different customs, and what she might see as normal, even expected behavior, you might see as rude. First names are not unusual in this neck of the woods and isn't necessarily rude. How long has she been a part of the family? I can't see a family member being expected to address others as Mr or Mrs. Do you not accept her as family?

 

You don't have to make this a battle, you don't have to make him choose. She's different from your family but she is now a part of the family, like it or not. Why not use the spirit of Christmas and make peace?

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Losing my brother to his wife?

 

Not unless you position yourself as SIL's adversary and place brother in a no-win situation. That's not necessary. If you or your family want some help from SIL or brother when they stay in your home, simply ask for specific help in any given situation. If SIL speaks badly of brother when he's not present, you can ask that she kindly curb any negative comments about family members not present to defend themselves.

 

As long as you remain kind as you address specific requests at any given moment and avoid turning nasty and making accusations, you can also avoid the kind of confrontations that blow up relationships.

 

I'd also trust that my parents are fully capable of addressing any requests they'd like to make on their own. Using a defense of your parents as license to start a war rather than deferring to your parents good judgment will only cause harm to everyone, and you will be blamed for that. If parents complain to you about SIL, I'd encourage them to ask for what they want from the guests they've offered to host while also telling me how I can best help them.

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Not even having your brother's cell phone number is not right. You need it in case something were to happen to mom and dad and you needed to get ahold of him. I would just downright ask for it. And if she balks - everyone can see how controlling she is. I am not sure whether you should ask in front of everyone so you have the safety of everyone to witness the situation or ask privately.... maybe your female relatives can help you out by all deciding to go out to do something as a woman only thing and insist that she join to give you time with him.

 

I've just always addressed parents of girlfriends as Mr and Mrs until I've been invited to use names or "mum and dad". Maybe I'm just old fashioned but, in my experience, it usually convinces them that I am respectful and the invite follows quickly if not immediately.

 

As a teenager or in my early 20s i did the same thing.

 

However, a daughter-in-law should not call her in-laws mr and mrs. I think its totally acceptable that she call them by their first names until and unless they invite her to call them mom and dad.

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