To ask if there is any way to handle this differently?

(248 Posts)
NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 28-Dec-12 11:44:01

It's a very long story so please bare with me and I don't want to drip feed

My SIL is lovely but has had a very hard life and as a result refuses to go any where near my DH. She won't be in the same room as him and refused to allow him to attend her wedding or any family get together that her and my brother wish to attend (DH, quite unfortunately, looks similar in build and looks to her very abusive ex).

For the last three years this has meant that if my parents or my brother host a family get together DH either can't attend or does attend resulting in a lot of tension and a very upset SIL. If we are hosting one then either only my brother attends or he makes an excuse not to attend. I've no idea whether or not she is seeking help dealing with her past but I hope she is sad

Is it unreasonable to want to attend family gatherings with my DH without worrying about how it will affect SIL? Or to not have my mum or brother asking if I wouldn't mind just bringing DS with me? Or asking me which weekends my DH is working so that they can plan a meet up for when he is?

SIL doesn't have any close family and seems to be thrilled that she's been taken into the fold and is mothered constantly by my mum . Any family gatherings that SIL doesn't attend DH is allowed to attend. I'm starting to feel pushed out of my own family, if that makes sense, since I'm not happy leaving DH behind every time there is a family event sad

DH says he doesn't mind and would rather not attend if attending is going to cause SIL stress. Thinking about it since my brother got married I've attended fewer and fewer family events and have made a lot more effort to do things with my PILs.

* I'm not entirely sure this is the right place for my thread. If not I'll ask for it to be moved.

Quacks I agree that's how the SIL should be handling it -- but she's not, and I don't see how the OP can really do anything about that. It's also possible it's how she will handle it at some point but sometimes it takes time.

Not everyone deals well with trauma. For all we know she had a difficult life before her ex and that's not helping. I'm not really comfortable judging someone for not handling a traumatic event -- something that most people will never have to deal with -- very well.

Mary the SIL is not acting on the basis of 'not liking' the DH, she had a massive panic attack at the sight of him. That's a bit different.

Pando The SIL is not trying to cut the OP out of her family, she is trying not to be in the same room as the DH. Yes unfortunately that means that sometimes the OP is not at certain events, although she could go on her own. So if anything, the SIL is excluding DH from the family -- but he has kindly agreed to go along with it.

I really do sympathise with the OP but I don't really see what else she can do. I have huge respect for her DH, it can't be easy for him but he sounds incredibly empathetic and kind about it.

Maryz Sun 30-Dec-12 21:16:43

I know that dreaming.

The result is the same though. The sil is acting in such a way that she is interfering with the op's relationship with her own family.

Which (whatever the reason) isn't ok in my book.

Because the loser here is the op's child/ren. How can they live in a family where their father isn't allowed to go to family celebrations because his mere presence affects someone so badly.

This has been going on for three years. And is obviously getting worse, not better, so it could conceivably go on for another three years, or thirty maybe.

What happens when people in real life jump to the "he must have been her abuser" conclusion?

She is already telling people, including the op, that he is abusive. Presuming he isn't, she needs to be stopped.

Just how long should the op and her dh continue to be patient? Until their children start asking questions? Or the wider family start "no smoke without fire" rumours?

This needs to be stopped. It isn't fair on anyone.

forgetmenots Sun 30-Dec-12 21:22:24

What maryz said. Completely agree - i feel very sorry for the SIL but there needs to be an open and honest discussion.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 22:06:13

Your SIL is the one who should be staying away if anyone is going to be. I'd say she'd be better off to face up to him and accept he isn't the one who abused her and learn to get on with it - to manage her feelings about someone who just looks like the man who abused her. The way this is being handled makes it seem like your DH is in some way guilty - it's certainly going to look like that to friends & acquaintances of your parents - which isn't nice for you or your DH. You are all pandering to her too much - this cannot be good for her, or you.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 22:08:06

Sorry - I started my last post then had to go and do something, finished posting it and I've said almost exactly the same as MaryZ.

Maryz Sun 30-Dec-12 22:15:20

I forgive you Chipping, it's nice to be agreed with grin.

It's true though Nothing, everyone is going to think your dh is abusive if this carries on.

Pendipidy Sun 30-Dec-12 22:37:45

Why are you and dh always the ones who don't attend family functions? If it can't be dealt with as others have suggested, why can't you take turns?

quoteunquote Sun 30-Dec-12 22:57:47

I've never come across a therapy method that requires everyone else to permanently adjust their normal behaviour and change their normal lives around the recipient of the therapy, most support aims to helps people to cope with normal life.

It will be hard for children to understand why their father is excluded,

You need to draw the line before you miss out on more than just family christmas, I love having my DH with me at family events, someone to chortle with afterwards when discussing idiosyncrasies of family life. He has a great relationship with my family, they love him, and he them, I've learnt a lot about them through him, of course I see them sometime alone, but he would always come when he could,

You are getting pushed out of your family, that is dangerous, It may suit your SiL but it a lot to lose, no one knows what the future holds, but every time you miss out on something that chance has gone forever.

If you are going to give up a normal family relationships, I would at least check it based on reality.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Thu 03-Jan-13 19:59:13

If I did find the Ex may have found someone who looks loosely like DH what would the appropriate course of action be?

Do I ask DB if he can confirm it then point out that they are not all that similar. I certainly wouldn't get them confused.

She did start going to therapy but stopped as she's 'fine'. Perhaps she was fine before she had a panic attack but 3 years on and she's not fine. I may have implied this when talking to DB. He can't 'see' it though. So if the person who lives with SIL can't see that she clearly isn't fine do I have any hope in resuming a somewhat normal family life?

Great, if she's "fine" then she will have no problem seeing your DH. If she does have a problem with that then she needs to seek help. They can't have it both ways.

Maryz Thu 03-Jan-13 20:25:37

I would talk to your parents and tell them that this isn't helping anyone, and that although your dh is being very understanding you are worried the children will pick up on it and it will become a major problem.

So, from now on you are going to visit as a family. If your sil has a major problem with that, you are quite happy to sit down with her and your brother and your dh and sort it out. If she can't face seeing him at all, then maybe you could all sit down with a family counsillor and have an intervention of some sort, and get professional advice about the whole thing.

But in the meantime, you are going to presume that as your dh has done nothing wrong, he will be welcome at family gatherings.

And then leave the ball in their court.

If it is a genuine problem, then she needs help. If she comes back with a suggested course of action, you can compromise at that point.

But you can't just carry on pretending everything's ok as it is, because your children will notice.

DeWe Thu 03-Jan-13 20:39:01

If I'm right, then you've a sister as well?

Can you use her as an avocate? Will she play ball with that?

If you think she would help, then get her with you for a heart to heart, and tell her how left out it is making you feel. Then work out where to go. Firstly, if she can tell your parents how you feel. She can do it without getting upset or sounding accusing, which is hard to do when it's your side.
She needs to be happy to state that she will support your dh coming.

Now to allow some leeway for your sil you either have a (small) room that your sil can go into on her own or with your db. Don't make it the main room, and don't have it so all the family can go with her, otherwise she will have no reason to come out.
Or say that the first time your dh will stay for an hour, second time 2 hours, third time all morning/evening, with the expectation that by next Christmas it will be the whole day/time.

My bil (dsis dh!) has no alive family. He had some pretty horrific stuff growing up, his dad died, his mum was an invalid/disabled etc.. He loves the big family Christmas because he never had one... he was the one who said to my parents that he thought they should stay with me one year when they hadn't for some time.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Fri 04-Jan-13 01:27:54

I think that the rest of the family are prioritizing the SIL because it's fairly normal and natural to side with the person who is in distress and displaying it and making a big noise about it, and also because your H is behaving with dignity and standing back, so they don't have to think about his feelings. Because most people are reasonable, unreasonable people get away with a lot before someone pulls them up on it. And, trauma or not, this woman is being unreasonable in expecting the whole family to put her needs above everyone else's.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Fri 04-Jan-13 01:38:29

Well, that's brilliant - she's fine there's absolutely no need for your DH <who has never so much as hurt a hair on her bloody head> to stay away from family gatherings - wont it be nice to have everyone together soon smile

... and when she does the dramatic panic, she can leave, she simply cannot have this both ways and is now coming across as a manipulative, drama queen who wants to be more important in your family, than you are. Stop enabling it.

KC225 Fri 04-Jan-13 03:03:01

I think you need to make your DB understand that your SIL is letting her EX have way too much power over their (his and her) life together. This is proof she is not fine. She is with your brother but she needs to get over the EX. I appreciate she may have had a terrible time, but she was able to trust and be with another man - your brother. She needs to file and get over the EX or get some proper long term therapy. Perhaps even some couples therapy, so he could explain how he feels. I would hate to be with a person that was so obsessed - good or bad, with their EX.

I think, I agree with other posters that if she refuses to do something about this, then you have to start questioning her motives.

milf90 Fri 04-Jan-13 13:39:45

any update op?

ModernToss Sun 06-Jan-13 07:47:20

I'd appreciate an update too. This is such an extraordinary situation.

gimmecakeandcandy Sun 06-Jan-13 08:03:30

Unfortunately many op's never bother updating which is a shame. Especially as so many people give thief time to help. Ungrateful attitude!

gimmecakeandcandy Sun 13-Jan-13 15:04:53

We would love to know if you have progressed on this op?

jessjessjess Wed 16-Jan-13 02:43:19

taps foot impatiently

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Wed 16-Jan-13 03:46:20

It would be interesting to have an update, of course it would, but gimme & jess - that's just really rude. The OP doesn't owe anyone anything and if I were her, your attitudes would put me off posting an update. This is a horrible thing she's working through, not bloody entertainment for you. Gimme - don't 'give' if you don't do so freely.

TinyDancingHoofer Wed 16-Jan-13 04:38:41

OP what would happen if you invited SIL and DB to lunch? Really directly and pretended the whole her hating your husband thing didn't exist. Just cut them off when they ask if he will be there. Use your DS to really guilt them into it. Say he wants to see his favourite aunt and uncle. Any mention of SILs issue and say "but she is fine".

Her initial reaction was vague reminder of her ex= panic attack and since then she has obviously built the fear and anxiety round your DH. This should have been addressed right from the start. I am amazed your family have excluded your DH for so long. Her avoiding your DH is just reenforcing the idea that this is a good coping strategy.

What does your brother say when you confront him directly? Why does he think it is fair your family is excluded and his aren't, especially considering you have a child you won't understand why his dad isn't allowed at family functions.

NeedlesCuties Wed 16-Jan-13 14:14:16

>awaits an update<

Hope you're ok, OP.

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