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To expect DH to also be really angry about this and to be terrified that he's not?(31 Posts)
BIL (DH's brother) has always displayed challenging behaviour. I would agree that to a certain extent we as a family have enabled this. We've never pulled him up on it, even when it was really awful. (At the time, I didn't feel I could as he was DH's brother rather than mine but am now starting to think that perhaps I should have tried to do something. Anything. I'm not sure quite what.) Anyway, BIL is firmly entrenched in his belief that he is the most important person in the universe.
SIL (BIL's wife) is a really lovely lady. She is genuinely kind and thoughtful. It has been noted by a number of people that she is a saint for putting up with him and that he is lucky to have her and their very lovely DCs.
Yesterday we found out that BIL has had an affair. As if that were not bad enough, he chose to do this with SIL's best friend. I think he is an utter scumbag. He has always been a selfish so and so but even for him, this takes the absolute biscuit. SIL has not asked him to leave but they are working through it.
Part of my anger is obviously because I think BIL has behaved so appallingly to people I care about, but I'm also really angry and frightened at DH's reaction to the news. He is decidedly lukewarm in his disapproval. He refers to it as a "dalliance" and says BIL has been a "silly boy and an idiot", but that he wants to be supportive of BIL and thinks that they should look to the future. When I point out that somebody who sleeps with his wife's best friend is a damn sight more than a silly boy and that actually BIL has behaved like a total sh*t, he says he doesn't want to talk about it any more. There is a conspicuous absence of strong disapproval which is leaving me absolutely terrified.
Part of me is frightened on my own account. I have never doubted him and when we got married I genuinely believed that he was the most moral, honest person I knew, but I'm really confused by his reaction. He works away a lot, which is making my nervousness even worse. I'm also really angry at him on SIL's account. For various (very valid) reasons, PIL are not going to be told and so we're the only members of BIL's family who know. I feel that if I were SIL, I would want to be supported by my husband's family and for his horrible behaviour to be acknowledged rather than tolerated/condoned. She has been a member of our family for years and I just think it would be awful for us to just brush this under the carpet as if nothing has happened - as if her whole world hasn't just come down around her ears. Although |I'm not sure how I would show my support without sticking my nose in to other people's business?
AIBU to expect DH to acknowledge how badly BIL has behaved? Or as it's his brother, is it actually normal to try to minimise it? And should I be hearing massive alarm bells here for my own marriage?
I think you need to make DH talk about it. I think your final paragraph is key. You need to know how much of this is minimisation because blood is thicker than water, and how much of this is because deep down DH doesn't see your BIL's behaviour as that big a deal. And the only way you can establish that is by talking about it.
It's also worth bearing in mind that your DH may simply want to keep a lid on his reaction because the two parties in the marriage have decided to work through it. He may feel that a strong reaction on his part could be construed as unhelpful interference.
Or he could just be jaded. Sadly, people have affairs all the time and life goes on regardless. I can't find it in me to hang someone out to dry for an affair, no matter how much I find their actions appalling. You either care about someone - character flaws and all - or you don't. That's not the same as condoning (because I wouldn't) but it does translate as a reluctance to publicly flog.
But I think YANBU to be worried. I would be too. Unless you are prone to shooting your mouth off and therefore your DH is very circumspect about what he will say to you regarding family politics, I would expect my DH to privately agree that BIL has behaved very badly indeed and in doing so reassure me that I need not worry about being treated in the same way.
YANBU at all.
But if my brother's cheated on their partner's I'd be thoroughly ashamed of them, but I'd probably use terms like 'stupid silly boys' because they're my siblings and younger than me.
I think being "terrified" is a bit of an over-reaction. Just because your husband isn't being overly critical of his brother doesn't mean he's going to go off and shag your best friend.
Your BIL is clearly a shit, but other than offering your SIL moral support in whatever decision she makes (of course she should turf him out but her choice) it's really not your or your DH's business.
What exactly do youi expect your DH to do?
I don't think anger is the only valid emotion here, could your DH also be feeling ashamed, disappointed, embarrassed, shocked, guilty because of how much his brother has hurt someone else, or guilty because he's been an enabler?
If the couple are working through it then I think your DH is right to be supportive of that. Your SIL deserves support, but she doesn't necessarily need you to be angry at the husband she is choosing to stay with.
I think your husband should acknowledge it. My BIL behaves extremely badly in many different ways. My husband does find it hard, but makes no bones about his brother and condemns his behaviour.
I can see why your husband is rather reluctant. He wants to keep a relationship with his brother without alienating him, so finds it hard to acknowledge the bad behaviour despite it being right in his face. I think it is called denial.
Like your BIL, mine too had a lovely wife, and his behaviour (drinking and aggression mainly) destroyed his marriage. I would have loved to be more supportive to my SIL, but sadly it was not to be because she quite understandably wanted to cut all ties for herself and for their daughter.
I think that all you can do is be there if required. Make sure your SIL knows this, but try to be a little unobtrusive about it if you can be or you will step on your husband's toes.
He is still his brother, whatever he has done. So you will feel differently than DH. But that doesn't mean your DH would ever have an affair.
I'm not an expert, but it sounds as though your DH is embarrassed by his brother's behaviour, but doesn't want to criticise him because he has spent years defending him.
I can see where you're coming from about alarm bells, but you really are the only one who can tell if his behaviour is embarrassed, I don't want to talk about it, or acceptance that it's just 'one of those things' that men do
because it's actually still the 1950s.
In terms of support, your SIL is likely to be embarrassed about it too. She has obviously made the decision to try and work at the marriage so maybe an offer to have the kids one weekend so she and BIL can 'reconnect'?
Your DH may be seeing things from his brother's pov (which woul d be normal i think) so rather than being furious he's seeing what he's risked losing - hence the silliness
I think you need to separate his response to someone else behaving like that and his own personal stance on it.
For example, ask him on a scale of 1-10 how important fidelity in a marriage is to him. If he says a low number, you can discuss how you feel about it and why you are concerned. If he says a high number you can go on to ask his views on what should happen to the relationship if one of you cheated. He might say get over it, or he might say break up.
Tbh, this is the sort of conversation that should be had before marriage so that you are both in agreement.
You can say that BIL's cheating has got you thinking but you are not specifically thinking about them and just want the opportunity to talk about your own relationship. If he still won't talk, it would indicate a problem.
I don't think you need to be terrified for your own marriage. His reaction to his brother's affair does not need to be indicative of his own feelings about affairs.
I think it's normal, with siblings you love very much, to have this sort of reaction to their wrongdoing. I think an affair is one of the worst things you could do to someone, but if my brother had one, it wouldn't change my feelings for him as a sibling; I'd be mad, I wouldn't condone his behavior whatsoever, I'd call him an idiot, but I'd still be accepting. And if they were going to work through it, I would offer all my support.
Your anger is completely valid, but it's not the only thing to feel. And I hope you can offer your SIL support along with your husband, as it is their choice to try to work through it.
Has he maybe known all along ? Therefore it's not a shock and he's already processed it?
When my dh cheated on me-with prostitutes no less-he told his brother and mum first They have certainly never expressed any anger,sadness etc at his behaviour to me. It was all swept under the carpet and never spoken of again. So I do understand how you feel about your dh's reaction op.
He sounds pretty unpleasant from what's been posted here. However there's not much you can practically do to change that. It is of course up to you how you react to him in general. I can understand why you are thinking after years of letting him 'get away with' bad behaviour you are thinking that this may have been the wrong tack, but you can only change things from here on. Do you have to socialise with him much? I think I'd try and stay out of his way if I could. How would your husband respond if you challenged your BIL about something (not about the affair, on some other point of contention)?
However, I differ from pp in my view of the affair and what it says about him. Do people really refer to cheaters as 'silly boys' as if they are 5 year olds who can't control their reactions? I do think it says something about him and I disagree with the 'you have to care about someone with all their character flaws or not at all' position. Many people care deeply about family members but are still deeply disappointed / hurt / resentful about particular behaviours that have harmed others they also care about. They are allowed to feel that way without it meaning they don't care for the person at all. Love is more complex than an 'accept all or accept nothing' situation.
Maybe he is in shock hence why not reacting, but maybe he had a feeling and isn't that shocked that he sort of knew.
I think being terrified is over reacting.
Taking sides can be difficult too. He probably doesn't want too involved.
Rather than focusing on BIL and looking for criticism from your husband, I would calmly say to DH something like:
"I don't want to talk about BIL again, but your reaction to that situation has given me concern over your general attitudes to cheating. Would you make so light of it in other partnerships?" (E.g. If you cheated on him, are you a silly girl?)
You could even go so far as to say "I would not consider it a dalliance if you were to cheat on me"
Etc etc. Just talk to him.
I also think you could try and broach this with your DH in the terms you have used here - that you have always thought he would find cheating morally abhorrent and this makes you think that in fact you are on different pages on this issue. That might prompt him to say if it's just his way of minimising his brother's transgressions. Or it might lead to a more extended discussion of how much of a deal-breaker is infidelity. Either way it's better than guessing.
Your husband is used to his brothers behaviour and isn't surprised.
Have you told him you are terrifiedhe has/is doing the same, this is where you should start. A marriage without trust isn't worth it.
An alternative would be to think my bil is a wanker but my dh is totally different and I trust him.
OP, I suspect I am quite like you in my stance on the world, and like you I would find this frightening. HOWEVER, I do not think that is necessarily a helpful response even though I struggle not to feel it.
I think some people are quite weak on expressions of morality - it doesn't mean they are immoral in their personal behaviour, just that they perhaps fear the fallout from confrontation far more than perhaps we do. I suspect that your DH wouldn't dream of having an affair, but that he finds your explosion about his B's behaviour disconcerting, and fears the consequences might involve a cessation of a relationship with a really loved (but flawed- and ain't we all!) relation.
Some men - especially those who have been bullied or who have domineering fathers - simply find it difficult to take a stand on family ethics or to talk about them openly. And that very weakness in one context may also make them very caring, loving partners in other ways (my DH is very weak in standing up to his parents, but endlessly patient with my cantankerousness, for instance!)
I should also say that being tolerant of the faults and weakness of others does not necessarily mean that one is morally weak inside. Quite the reverse, in fact. I know that when I am at my most judgemental is actually often when I feel most personally insecure.
I think you need to keep your beak out of your BIL's marriage. And also to understand that your DH's refusal to join you in howls of outrage doesn't necessarily mean that he is going to cheat on you.
And you should, most of all, bear in mind that you don't necessarily know how happy their marriage was. What jumped out at me from your OP was the impression that everyone around has cast BIL as a sinner and SIL as a saint (in general, not just relating to this affair). Maybe she was one of those women who are all ostentatious good works - and no sex. Maybe she constantly nagged and patronized BIL at home. Or maybe he is a woman-hating fanny-rat. However, your intervention is not necessary and probably won't be welcome. It's for the two of them to decide what to do.
I think YABVU to need him to perform shows of hatred and disgust towards his brother. It doesn't mean he condones it, what an odd conclusion you've jumped to.
So if a woman refuses her dh sex then he has carte blanche to shag around solid?
ps-no I am not "vanilla" before you get on that particular soap box.
My brother has done some pretty twatty things over the years but he's my brother and I love him.
I might tear a strip off him or have a little moan to other people but if the expectation was that he'd done something terrible, was already getting (quite rightly in this case) stick for it and I should add to that, my natural reaction would be to either not give him any more stick than he's already getting or to even defend him a bit.
Your DH might feel this way.
I don't think a woman refusing sex is necessarily a justification for her H to seek it elsewhere but it is a reason he might do so.
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