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.

Floggingmolly Fri 28-Dec-12 12:42:11

Why isn't your sil excluding herself from family gatherings if she can't, for whatever reason, be in your dh's company? That would be the normal thing to do if she has genuine issues, both from her perspective and the rest of the family's.
It's frankly bizarre that your parents have colluded with her on this for so long, despite the fact that it leads to your exclusion.

mummyonvalium Fri 28-Dec-12 12:43:05

YANBU - whether she realises it or not her behaviour is divisive and manipulative. Reading your OP it almost seems as though it is not your DH she wants out but you. She loves it that she has people pandering to her every whim and that your mother is sympathetic. It sounds like you and your DH are very tolerant of her.

Personally, I think she is at least in part making up her problems with your DH. How can someone you don't know remind you of someone you were intimate with?

pictish Fri 28-Dec-12 12:44:01

I also don't think that trying to exclude your SIL's husband from your husband's family events is a "lovely" thing to do. Lovely people don't behave that selfishly.

I agree entirely!

SolomanDaisy Fri 28-Dec-12 12:49:36

I'd bet it's pure manipulation. It may well be you she is actually trying to force out of the events, as she enjoys her role as daughter.

Pantomimedam Fri 28-Dec-12 12:49:46

I've been around the block long enough to have known several situations where damaged people arrive in a group, everyone is jolly sympathetic and horrified by their awful past, adjusts things for them and makes allowances, then it all goes horribly wrong. Because making allowances isn't always the best thing for someone who is damaged, or because the full story is far more complicated, or because damaged people can continue to behave in destructive ways even after the source of that damage is removed. Sometimes because they don't know any other way to related to people other than being manipulative - that's all they have experienced/the way they survived.

I am not having a go at people who have suffered, obviously everyone is an individual and copes in different ways, just saying I've known several of these situations and making allowances that encourage people to behave in a bizarre manner is not a good idea. For anyone, least of all the person at the centre of whatever it is.

Iamsparklyknickers Fri 28-Dec-12 12:51:14

The more I think about it the odder it is.

Surely at some point in 3 years you'd have thought to yourself 'right this is now my family and I need to get this sorted. It's nothing to do with them and it's not fair to extend my issues to the point the family can't spend time together'

I would be embarrassed to think I was impacting so much on a family.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 28-Dec-12 12:51:28

Worra - She wont talk to me about it so I have to rely on DB

Holla - As far as I know they'd never met until DB brought her to meet the family and she had a massive panic attack.

Megan74 Fri 28-Dec-12 12:53:14

Have I got this right? Your brothers wife/partner won't spend time with your husband solely because he looks like her EX? As a result you and your DH are excluded from YOUR family events? Bonkers.

I would start with a talk with your parents. Just set it out straight that you are being excluded because your husband happens to look like someone and they as your parents are colluding with this. See what they say. You need their support for the next bit. You then speak to her and your brother with your parents backing and say you don't feel you should be excluded any further and from now on you won't be.

TBH. I agree with someone further up that your SIL is being manipulative. I think she wants to be the only daughter and this is a handy way to exclude you. Do you ever see her alone? What is your relationship like with her?

SugaricePlumFairy Fri 28-Dec-12 12:53:38

You've tried to discuss it an she point blank won't?

NatashaBee Fri 28-Dec-12 12:54:59

I'm shocked your parents would allow this to happen at the expense of their grandchild. I agree with clutchingpearls - she needs to start 'desensitising' by taking small steps to get used to him - adding on fb or talking by email is a good idea.

Megan74 Fri 28-Dec-12 12:55:59

Agree with what Floggingmolly said. That's what you need to say to your parents.

WorraLorraTurkey Fri 28-Dec-12 12:56:09

Right well this needs to stop here and now.

Personally I'd be gathering the whole family together and telling them in no uncertain terms that if she doesn't want to see your DH, she needs to keep away from family gatherings until such time as she's willing to get help.

Then ask everyone why they're pandering to her at the expense of you and your DH and suggest they support her through counselling.

MammaTJ Fri 28-Dec-12 12:58:26

This may sound harsh but it isn't meant to be.

Your SIL really needs to woman up. she is an adult, she knows damn well it was not your DH who did her harm (he sounds lovely btw) and should not be allowed to dictate whether or not you are allowed to take him to your family gatherings.

The less time she spends with him, the less she can see for herself how lovely he really is.

I have a feeling that if she was not allowed to dictate that he shouldn't be there, she would either stay at home and miss out herself (her choice, she is a grown up) or get over it. I think the getting over it would be more likely as she values your family.

2rebecca Fri 28-Dec-12 12:59:49

This is sounding odder. It's not just that she won't be in the same room as your husband she also won't talk to you about her problems with your husband.
Why do you think this woman is lovely? Why have you let this drag on for 3 years without writing to her/ phoning her/ talking to her at one of the functions she has been at and asking her what she is going to do to resolve this issue as you don't want you and your husband to be marginalised at her expense?

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 28-Dec-12 13:02:31

I've started changing where I meet up with family over the years to avoid conflict so I still see everyone. Though very rarely see my brother. I know I shouldn't have to but it makes life so much less stressful and avoids the whole 'is it possible for you to come on your own?' talk

izzyhasanewchangeling Fri 28-Dec-12 13:03:03

Sounds awful - she needs help - and pandering to her isn't helping her - it'd enabling her victim status.

DontmindifIdo Fri 28-Dec-12 13:03:35

something else to raise in the conversation you have to have with your parents, if your DS starts to look like his Dad as he grows up, are they happy to cut him out of their family too? (And do keep saying they are cutting DH out, they are the ones doing this, not SIL, she's asking and they are the ones actually doing it.)

Iamsparklyknickers Fri 28-Dec-12 13:04:01

Agree with worra.

Softly, softly is clearly getting you no where, it certainly doesn't sounds like sil sees a problem if she won't even talk to you about it at all.

I think you may have to accept being seen as the 'bad guy' initially and have a frank talk with your parents and brother that you're not comfortable at your family been split up at family occasions. It's not a great example for your kids and it's hurtful to you and dh. Therefore until it's resolved, your door is open but you won't be attending anything that requires you ostracising your own husband and children's father.

Your sil can either face up to the fact she's got to at least try an sort out some sort of therapy or she is destroying a family.

It's not nice to heap more guilt on someone whose already gone through trauma, but there does come a point when they need to realise life goes on and that people around them are not responsible for their feelings.

DontmindifIdo Fri 28-Dec-12 13:04:54

Nothing - that's normal too, you are being accomodating to the unreasonable request, so the person making it doesn't have to face what htey are doing is unreasonable. You need to make your Parents face what they are doing in order to make them realise it's not ok. Because it's a horrible thing for your child to grow up with, as well as a shitty way to treat your son in law.

HollaAtMeSanta Fri 28-Dec-12 13:04:56

Bollocks to desensitising her. This is not a child with a fear of dogs, it is a grown woman who sounds utterly bonkers, manipulative, shamelessly egocentric to the point of narcissism, and basically not lovely at all. I think it's time to take a firm stand with your parents and with your brother.

izzyhasanewchangeling Fri 28-Dec-12 13:05:10

And the answer to that - is it possible for you to come alone - is no.

No is a complete sentence.

Stop telling them his work patterns and stop going along with this. You are all colluding with her - even your DH.

Iamsparklyknickers Fri 28-Dec-12 13:08:23

nothing I think you need to encourage that question and answer it honestly that no you can't, he's your husband not her ex and part of the family. It's bloody rude to keep asking you that without attempting to help her issues so you can all be normal.

Why should you be playing the avoidance game with everyone else you have done nothing wrong!!!

Pantomimedam Fri 28-Dec-12 13:09:03

Maybe she won't talk to you about it because (being generous) it's too painful/triggering. OR because she knows perfectly well she's in the wrong and doesn't want to face up to it.

I can understand how this has dragged on for three years, when it's family sometimes it's easier to let things slide rather than tackle them and risk upsetting people. I'm sure you didn't realise, three years ago, quite how long this would last or how bad it would get.

But it is ridiculous and it is time to make a stand. She can't be allowed to exclude your entirely blameless dh, and, by extension, you and your ds. These are your parents who are supposed to love you unconditionally and put you first always - not your SIL, however fond of her they are.

WorraLorraTurkey Fri 28-Dec-12 13:10:05

OP not only are you allowing your family to treat you and your DH like shit...but you're also treating him like shit.

How long do you think it's going to be before he gets fed up of being treated like an outcast while this woman acts like queen bee?

If you can't gather the family and put a stop to it right now for yourself, at least do it for your DH.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 28-Dec-12 13:11:37

Megan - We're at other ends of the country so already see very little of each other. Since my family is scattered all over we tend to have 1-2 big meet ups a year and several smaller ones.

SIL is friends with my sister and most of my family on fb. She can see DH on fb as well. I text her occasionally but it can take up to a week for a reply so I don't really bother. Phone the land line if she picks up she either hands the phone straight to DB or says that he's busy and puts the phone down.

Saying that she's lovely was me trying to avoid being called an evil cow bag for daring to say that she's not. I've seen other threads where the op has been jumped on and didn't want the same blush

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