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.

I'm sorry if this is insensitive but I do think it's very odd behaviour from your SIL and the rest of the family. Do they not care about your DH's feelings?

If all the poor bloke is guilty of is looking like someone she's frightened of, then surely she needs to get some help and he should not be excluded from anything.

Quite bizarre!

Moominsarehippos Fri 28-Dec-12 11:48:40

Is it an issue between the two of them, or is it just the similarity between him and her ex that she can't bear? Are they brother and sister or just in-laws to each other?

If its the former, then they need to work out whatever is in the past, if the latter, then she needs to work on herself. Either way, she can't be haopy with herself to act in such a way.

GentlyGentlyOhDear Fri 28-Dec-12 11:49:46

YANBU that sounds like a really difficult situation for the whole family, but your DH is not her ex and shouldn't be made to feel like he is!
I think you need to maybe talk to your parents and DB about the impact that this is having on your family and on your DS too - surely he must be picking up on the fact that his dad is always absent from family gatherings?!

ImperialSantaKnickers Fri 28-Dec-12 11:50:25

Hi, yes, probably not the best place for thread as AIBU does get lots of traffic but also gets bun-fights...

You're in limbo really aren't you? Until SIL gets over her irrational aversion to your DH, you can't all be comfortable in the same room, and you don't know if she's even trying to get help to deal with this.

FairyInTheGarden Fri 28-Dec-12 11:50:44

Sounds to me like there is something more to this, how long has this avoidance been going on?

Your poor DH. And poor you. This is a very strange way to behave. She really does need some help and I think the time has come for you to say something. It isn't right for you and your dh to feel excluded from things when neither of you have done anything wrong.

pictish Fri 28-Dec-12 11:53:15

This very strange behaviour. I'm sorry, but I just do not understand what your dh is supposed to have done to warrant such an adverse reaction! If it is simply down to a resemblance with someone then she needs to seek help of some description.

Is there more to it?

Fairyegg Fri 28-Dec-12 11:55:15

I also think there is something more to this, that you are probably unaware of op. I almost wouldn't want to know but I suspect if you dig a bit deeper you'll find your answer, but it probably won't be pleasant.

HollyBerryBush Fri 28-Dec-12 11:55:25

Nicely, she sounds two satsumas short of a bag. What does she do all day? Stay indoors just incase she sees someone with a passing resemblance to her ex?

I'm afraid she needs to grow up, sharply, and realise the whole world does not revolve round her and her dramas. That's what she is, a drama queen, who is projecting her issues on to your DH

millie30 Fri 28-Dec-12 11:56:19

I think your parents and DB need to gently explain to your SIL that this situation is not sustainable and possibly encourage her to get therapy for her issues (assuming the only issue is that your DH resembles her ex). Can you try to get them on board by telling them how hurt and isolated you are starting to feel in your own family? I also don't think they are doing your SIL any favours by pandering to this, as in the long run she needs to address her problems to be happy and healthy.

biff23 Fri 28-Dec-12 11:56:57

Your SIL needs some sort of help to work through this. I wouldn't play along with this any longer. You are all making it too easy for her to ignore the situation. You're DH has done nothing wrong, this isn't his problem so he should always be included. It's really up to your SIL to get help or not attend get togethers. Can't really understand why you have gone along with it up to now. You husband should be more important.

Sounds like your parents would rather have their son and daughter in law happy and present at gatherings than their daughter and son in law. It's a shame for you but they've obviously decided she comes before you sad
While everyone dances around SiL and her issues (however bad they may be) she will never make any attempt to be reasonable and accept that your DH is nothing like her ex apart from in looks.
You could either accept it, and give up on any hope of being a "proper family" iyswim because she is wallowing in her past - not very flattering for your brother really, since SiL obviously thinks he would "let something horrible happen" to her if your DH is in the room hmm
or you can tell her to sort herself out, or say you're sorry not to see her at family gatherings, what a shame she will miss them.
Of course, since your parents seem to want her rather than you, the choice probably isn't actually yours to make, they have made it for you some time ago by the sound of it, and chosen her sad

DontmindifIdo Fri 28-Dec-12 11:57:15

I think some strong words need to be had with your parents, she is making them pick between their children-in-law and they are picking her. Say that you feel they are pushing your family out, your dh has done nothing wrong to be treated so badly by his pils (make it clear they are treating him badly, even if he doesn't mind) and if she has the problem why should your dh be the one to suffer?

Sooner or later your ds will notice, ask if they want him to grow up thinking granny hates daddy?

Refuse all invites without your dh, keep saying you are offended. Eventually this will have to be tackled, sil needs help if she's struggling with seeing a man who just looks a bit like her ex but she knows is a completely different person, sweeping her problem under the carpet isn't helping her deal with it.

Unless there is more of a backstory then I think this has to stop. Your SIL does need to get some appropriate help but she can't keep projecting her issues about her ex on to your DH. In the longer run everyone tiptoeing around the issue may be making things worse as SIL is able to dump her negative feelings on your DH instead of getting proper support to deal with them.

I think you also need to speak to your DM and DB and explain that whilst you are understanding of SIL issues, it is beginning to have a negative effect on your relationship with them and with your DS's relationship with them as he is going to start wondering why nobody seems to want Daddy around.

pictish Fri 28-Dec-12 11:58:44

I think this is bloody awful btw. I cannot help but feel irritated by your sil on reading this. I am trying to be objective, but it's difficult. However I look at it, it's all very twisted that she should have this much influence over your family. Dyswim?

HollyBerryBush Fri 28-Dec-12 12:00:56

What happens exactly if they are in the same room together?

Roasties Fri 28-Dec-12 12:01:02

This sounds very unfair.

I have someone in my family that reminds of my abuser. I posted here about it once for advice and was given the advice to concentrate on the fact that even though he reminded me of him...it was not him . And to look at their differences and not their familiarities

Which was really good advice , would you be able to perhaps a conversation along these lines with your SIL?

whois Fri 28-Dec-12 12:02:58

Your SIl is either seriously mental and therefor she and your entire family are being extremely U to exclude your DH. Or there is something more to this.

Have you asked your brother and parents what the actual fuck is going on and at they are punishing your DH and you by exclusion for the crim of looking like SiLs abusive ex?

SavoyCabbage Fri 28-Dec-12 12:03:05

Oh my goodness, your dh should not be excluded from events on the basis of his physical appearance.

The members of your family who are allowing this situation to exist, need to stop, your husband should not be tangled up in this.

HollyBerryBush Fri 28-Dec-12 12:04:05

Is it unreasonable to want to attend family gatherings with my DH without worrying about how it will affect SIL?

No it isn't - but by doing so you are making her problems, your problems.

She sounds quite manipulative - weedled her way into your mothers affections at your expense - does SIL have any contact with her own family? If not, I think you may find there is a reason for that.

pictish Fri 28-Dec-12 12:05:07

I suspect if she's had a harsh, unkind and unloving past, she is probably quite enjoying having this warm family behind her.
I suspect it's a case of her enjoying the attention OP.

It's absolutely not on!

bradywasmyfavouritewiseman Fri 28-Dec-12 12:06:31

Yanbu.

If I were I would be expecting her to take steps (counselling, cbt etc) to get over this. It seems she is quite happy to carry on excluding your dh.

If she refuses to at least try and fix this, then really she should be attending all the family arrangments. She should miss at least half so your dh can attend.

LovesBeingAtHomeForChristmas Fri 28-Dec-12 12:06:36

What a lovely dh you have. I don't know the answer but it certainly doesn't feel right to me. She needs to get some help. What happens if she is walking down the road or someone gets in a lift who looks similar?

ZebraInHiding Fri 28-Dec-12 12:06:41

I think your family are being quite mean. How sad for you and your dh. sad

hermioneweasley Fri 28-Dec-12 12:07:16

Hmmm, assuming your DH has done nothing wrong, he should go and if she finds that difficult, then it's her decision about whether or not she attends. Why should your family be excluded and split up?

jessjessjess Fri 28-Dec-12 12:07:27

She needs to get some professional help because this is not healthy or fair on you or your DH. Have you ever spoken to your brother about this?

I would be tempted to just bring DH anyway but suspect that's not the best way to deal with things.

ArfAPandaTreacle Fri 28-Dec-12 12:07:30

Nothing who has told you the reasons for your SIL reactions? Your DH? Or her?

CluffyDude Fri 28-Dec-12 12:10:30

Do you think your sil may have an agenda?

I may be being a bit cynical here but my first thoughts are that she is trying to steal your place in your family.
You say sil is thrilled by being taken into the fold and is constantly 'mothered' by your DM.

I think sil is threatened by your presence and wants to be the only daughter.
sad

I would have a chat with your DPs about how unfair this is on your DH and you.

pictish Fri 28-Dec-12 12:13:10

I think there may well be an element of that as well cluffy.
I strongly think it.

WorraLorraTurkey Fri 28-Dec-12 12:14:05

That's just ridiculous...this is her problem. Why is everyone dancing around her instead of chipping together and making sure she gets to see a psychiatrist? confused

Either that or there's something you're unaware of that actually happened between her and your DH.

SugaricePlumFairy Fri 28-Dec-12 12:16:02

This situation is dreadful, is it supposed to be this way forever?

Address it with your Parents and brother as it can't go like this.

SiL may have had a hard time but seriously hmm, how long since she last saw her Ex?

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 28-Dec-12 12:17:03

I think everyone panders to her because her past is truly horrific sad and because we can always go to DHs family things whereas SIL can only go to our family things

She was fine until she met DH - I've no idea exactly why as she won't talk about it. All I know is that according to my DB my SIL thinks DH looks and acts a lot like her Ex shock DH is a gentle giant so not sure how exactly he acts like her ex?

Moomins - They are just in laws to each other

FestiveElement Fri 28-Dec-12 12:17:22

I don't get this at all, it sounds very wierd.

Since when did one in law get to dictate which other in laws are allowed to come to family stuff?

Why does she have such a problem with your DH? This woman's behaviour is not normal, I can't believe a whole family of sane people are pandering to such a ridiculous demand.

In your situation OP, I'd tell my parents that if they want a relationship with me and their grandchild then they need to stop excluding their grandchilds Father. How is this going to make him feel as he grows up?

What if he starts to look more like his dad, will crazy woman demand that the child doesn't come to family events too?

It's completely bonkers.

WorraLorraTurkey Fri 28-Dec-12 12:20:52

So you haven't pulled your SIL to one side and asked her what her problem is with your Husband...you've just heard it secondhand from your brother?

You and your SIL need to get together pronto.

Sorry but none of you are doing her any favours here.

SugaricePlumFairy Fri 28-Dec-12 12:21:02

Have you only her word that dh looks like her Ex or do any of you know what he looks like?

Is there a startling resemblance that you can see?

bradywasmyfavouritewiseman Fri 28-Dec-12 12:24:03

I think she is manipulating your family. She doesn't have her own.

The fact that you can go to your in laws means jack shit. Your parents are still your parents in laws don't replace them.

Next event give your brother plenty of warming you are taking dh.

I think she could possibly be lying.

FolkElf Fri 28-Dec-12 12:24:34

This sounds very strange to me.

If she can't cope with seeing your husband at family events then she should be the one to stay away.

Unless of course there is more to it and it's your husband who has done something. But if not, the problem is hers and not yours.

jalopy Fri 28-Dec-12 12:26:20

I had to re-read and re-read to believe this.

From the little info you have disclosed, either your sil is manipulative and in need of help or something sinister has gone on in the past that involves your dh.

Surely you and your family must have thought this very odd? You've let it go on for three years?

One thing is for sure, she's firmly the kingpin of the family.

pictish Fri 28-Dec-12 12:27:05

If her past is truly horrific, then she is possibly quite a damaged woman.
With every ounce of sympathy in the world OP, damaged people can cause mayhem.

jessjessjess Fri 28-Dec-12 12:28:18

The fact you can go to DH's things is hardly the point - this is your family and it is her issue not yours. I am sorry but I just don't buy it. I take it you are sure DH is not her ex, or a relative of her ex?

I do wonder if she is doing it for attention and/or sympathy. Fine to want those things but this is not how to get them.

Can I ask why she doesn't have any close family? It's just I am reminded of a friend at college who was a care leaver and was also a compulsive liar (eg she told us her dad was a university lecturer, farmer, pilot and heart surgeon on separate occasions). It was very sad as she had obviously had a really tough time, so everyone politely ignored it rather than calling her on it.

I'm not saying being in care makes you lie, I hasten to add. Just throwing this out there.

If I met someone who looked like my abusive ex and it was triggering, I would feel sorry for them as he was an ugly git see it as my duty to get help.

2rebecca Fri 28-Dec-12 12:31:28

I would speak to my parents about this if they did this to me. It isn't your fault that your SIL has no family of her own. I would tell your parents that you feel pushed out of family gatherings and feel she is trying to take your place rather than see a psychologist to sort out her unreasonable issues with your husband who has done nothing wrong.
You can't stop your parents choosing her over you but you can make it clear to them that that is what they are doing and that if SIL doesn't sort this out it isn't going to go away and will cause family tension.
SIL may have been treated badly in the past but that is no excuse for her and your parents to treat your husband badly by excluding him just to stop her having to sort herself out. I would say this to my brother as well.

pictish Fri 28-Dec-12 12:32:07

I know - justifying it with the fact that you have in laws is a load of old shit. Your mum and dad are your mum and dad ffs!

ArfAPandaTreacle Fri 28-Dec-12 12:33:15

I understand now. Sorry I thought your DH and your SIL were brother and sister.

Most bizzare how she is reacting.

2rebecca Fri 28-Dec-12 12:33:21

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.

Pantomimedam Fri 28-Dec-12 12:35:12

This is bizarre. You've heard this about dh's resemblance to her ex second-hand, i.e. not directly from your SIL? You need to find out what is really going on here - it may well be as barking as that (damaged people can behave very strangely indeed) or there may be something else going on. Possibly SIL being so relieved to be part of a family who actually want her that she's shoving you out (even if not consciously doing that).

I would talk to SIL to find out what on earth her objection to your dh is, and then assuming it's mere resemblance to her ex, have very stern words with your parents. They are YOUR mother and father, they can't exclude you from the family (that's what this is about, refusing to allow your dh in the house is excluding you) because your SIL has issues, however painful those issues are.

Iamsparklyknickers Fri 28-Dec-12 12:35:49

I'm not sure how you can deal with it nicely confused

Whatever her issues are with your dh, it's unreasonable to create such a divide in a family and I'm surprised that everyone has gone along with it for so long tbh.

Any chance, as she's so close to your mum, you could get her to sit down and tell her this can't go on. Everyone is supportive, but that doesn't mean her issues can spread throughout the family creating hurt needlessly, she needs to start looking at ways to start dealing with her past and developing coping strategies to live a normal life.

HollaAtMeSanta Fri 28-Dec-12 12:37:37

Is it at all possible that your DH actually is SIL's abusive ex?

If not, SIBU and I can't believe you tolerate this!

SarahWarahWoo Fri 28-Dec-12 12:37:55

Tough love time? Tell your parents to stop pussy footing about, pandering to her, your DH isn't the same person as her ex and she needs serious help if she can't see that, if anyone should be left out then surely it her? If your parents continue this odd behaviour they are missing out on seeing you.

Could you agree with her to gently increase contact with him over a long period of time? Would she agree to say,

DP e mailing her friendly correspondence about the news/soaps/TV, then start to include his opinions on it. To get her to see he has a personality rather than his looks and he isn't the same.

Then he could start mentioning places/holidays I.e. more personal things about himself/your family life.

Then maybe move on to facebook where she can choose to see pictures of him and more natural update, also start to see his friendly interactions with other people.

Then start to shop in the same shop as him so, she could have an occasional interaction/seeing him.

This would allow her to get to know his personality and see him as different to her ex. After all when we know someone well, we don't tend to notice much about them physically and she would have chance to learn enough about him to make conversation.

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

WorraLorraTurkey Fri 28-Dec-12 13:14:08

I'm actually trying to put myself in your DH's position here.

If my PILs were to tell my DH to keep me away from family gatherings because I looked like my BILs ex, his reply would be something along the lines of "Get to fuck".

Though he's a bit more polite in his language than I am...but that'd be the general gist of it blush

quoteunquote Fri 28-Dec-12 13:20:37

You need to talk to your family,

Stop indulging her, do not attend anything without husband, he has done nothing wrong, being excluded because your sister in law can not differentiate between someone in her past and him is not his responsibility.

If you have children, why are you allowing their father to be exiled from the family? It must be hard for them to understand.

I would also ask what sort of treatment your SiL is undergoing and ask for evidence, It sounds as if you are all being played.

CecilyP Fri 28-Dec-12 13:22:22

Your SiL really doesn't sound all that lovely if she demands that your blameless DH is excluded from family events merely because he looks a bit like her abusive ex.

Your family really need to stop colluding with this behaviour. Of course it is not unreasonable to want to attend family gatherings with your DH. You should really stop pandering to this and try to get things sorted out.

skatebauble Fri 28-Dec-12 13:25:07

If she acts like that with you, she is hardly lovely. Do sil and db live closer to your parents? I feel sil is trying to push you out of the fold, by excluding your dh, then you will follow suit.
What would your db do if the situation was reversed?

yohohoho Fri 28-Dec-12 13:25:18

What do you parents say when you don't go to events because of this.

She should be the one not to go. Or actually do something to move past this.

This situation is ridiculous and if it was my brother and sil I wouldn't exclude my dh

yohohoho Fri 28-Dec-12 13:26:33

In fact how did this come about.

What happened the first time? Did she ask your dh to not attend or tell someone she wouldn't go if your dh did and he offered to not go?

Iamsparklyknickers Fri 28-Dec-12 13:29:28

Has this been promoted by Christmas or is there a gathering coming up?

I really think you need to have a conversation with your mum about this, I feel it's up to them primarily to be the ones to neutrally deal with this. They obviously care about their family so shouldn't be facilitating or avoiding dealing with something that's dividing it so significantly. Maybe it's just not been something they've felt they need to deal with if it's never being directly bought up?

Bit of armchair psychology for you, but speaking as someone whose has had a fair bit of crap over the years, there comes a point when you risk your issues becoming the defining thing about you. People who constantly make exceptions or engineer situations for your needs - in the long run - aren't helping. It makes everything in life about your problems therefore your problems are always near the surface iykwim?

The time for sympathy and support is so you can put this in order in your head, heal and get yours scars hardened enough to deal with being a part of the world around you. Yes there will always be triggers, but if you know how to heal yourself a wobble can be soothed. If you don't ever learn you will constantly spend your life in a never ending cycle of unhappiness and believing that sympathy is the only way to know people care and love you. It's not healthy and it drives people away eventually.

jessjessjess Fri 28-Dec-12 13:30:23

Sounds like she is jealous of you and/or wanting to replace you.

I think you should sit your parents down and point out how much you and DH have been pushed out.

SugaricePlumFairy Fri 28-Dec-12 13:32:15

The more you write about her the more manipulative she sounds.

Make it a new year resolution that you attend family events together as a family.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 28-Dec-12 13:32:50

They say that they'll catch up with us later in the week/month but are happy to suggest coming without DH. I don't see the point of going to family gathering when my family will still be at home...

I would prefer it if she was at least comfortable enough to be in the same house, if not the same room, as DH. I'm going to have to talk to my parents about it it's highly likely that they don't realise excluding DH isn't the answer

AdoraJingleBells Fri 28-Dec-12 13:37:53

OP

If she has had such a horrific time as you believe, I'm not doubting that, then it could be that simply looking similar to her ex is all your DH needs to "do" in order for her to think that he also behaves in a similar way. Fe, and nowhere near as traumatic as this situation sounds, I dislike Robbie Williams. Love his music but dislike him personally because he looks like my brother, and he reminds me of my parents.

It sounds like she needs professional help, can you gently suggest this to your DB - not directly to her. It's not only to make family relations easier, she could go back to work, if she isn't now, and have a colleague or boss who looks similar to the ex. She really needs to deal with the issues so that she can lead a normal relaxed life.

And no YANBU to want to be able attend family events with your DH if he isn't the source of her anguish. Just out of interest, does your DH take this personally? If he does his body language could be making her nervous, again not his fault.

TandB Fri 28-Dec-12 13:37:59

Assuming nothing truly bizarre is going on (your DH is actually her ex's long-lost identical twin or similar) then this is outrageous behaviour and needs to be stopped.

I would suggest a frank conversation with your parents and telling them that you are no longer willing to even have a discussion about coming to events without your DH, and that you are not prepared to be punished for something that is absolutely nothing to do with you.

Sad as your SIL's past no doubt is, there is no justification for her behaviour. She might well be entirely incapable of getting past her instinctive reaction to the sight of your DH, but her response is entirely her choice. If she canot cope with the sight of an entirely blameless individual then it is up to her to modify her own behaviour - not demand that someone else is mistreated. She should simply stay away, not expect your DH to be excluded.

The fact that she is taking this course of action makes me suspect that this is less about her issues and more about being the centre of attention. You need to deal with this. Or are you afraid your parents will pick her over you?

Moominsarehippos Fri 28-Dec-12 13:43:51

I assume she has had a truly traumatic past/incident. She has to get over this and move on. I wonder what else she can't/won't do.

There is nothing she can't get over. An old tutor had a client come to him for PTSD. She had been kidnapped, held in a flat and raped. She had panic attacks, phobias, anxiety... He helped her (remarkably fast too).

DontmindifIdo Fri 28-Dec-12 13:45:38

This does need dealing with now. It's not your DH's problem, so your parents stop need to think that excluding him is the solution to her problems. And it's just going to cause more. I would raise the idea in their minds that your DS might grow up to look like him, and will they be happy to end their relationship wth their DGS to keep her happy?

yohohoho Fri 28-Dec-12 13:47:46

I can't believe you parents think its ok to exclude your dh.

Iamsparklyknickers Fri 28-Dec-12 13:48:44

Don't feel obliged to offer a solution, if you tell your parents how this situation is upsetting you and your family and you (even taking into consideration. Her past and current problems) don't agree this can continue, it's not up to you to offer solutions. This is a situation your db and parents have decided is an acceptable way of dealing with things. It isn't and you won't be participating any more so it's up to them.

They can either deal with having a fractured family, deal practically with your sil, or they can send you the very clear message that you either like it or lump it. Please stick to your guns. People can be pig headedly stubborn until they actually experience you following through. It doesn't have to involve complete separation from people, but it will mean less contact if they choose to continue.

Basically you have to choose and be prepared to either carry on with things the way they are or wait for them to come around to a better compromise.

AdoraJingleBells Fri 28-Dec-12 13:52:20

I missed a point, how do you respond when your parents suggest you visit without DH? I would probably just say, "no, we'll all visit"

DizzyHoneyBee Fri 28-Dec-12 13:59:57

YANBU. However, she sounds like she is very sad and is in urgent need of help to come to terms with what has happened in her life so she can move on and be happy and not let it interfere with other people being happy. Sympathy all round I think.

2rebecca Fri 28-Dec-12 14:35:43

Do your parents have psychological problems or issues with you or your husband?
I find it odd that it hasn't occurred to them (in any way that impacts on their actions) that this is hurtful to you and your husband and that your mum hasn't become aware that she is favouring her childlike neurotic DIL over her more adult and capable daughter. Does your mum "need to be needed"?
I can't imagine suggesting my daughter and her future partner stay away from me because my son marries someone prone to panic attacks if someone resembles someone else and his wife won't sort out her problems.

forgetmenots Fri 28-Dec-12 15:06:48

OP, you need to talk openly and honestly with your parents and possibly also brother and SIL. Go in with an open mind in case she is willing to get help. But don't go and see them without your DH anymore, try and resolve this. The people mentioning your DS are right - is he next?

You may not like the results but at least it will be honest and you can make decisions for next steps.

CailinDana Fri 28-Dec-12 15:22:01

You and your DH have been far too accommodating, stupidly so IMO. My "best friend" decided she didn't like my bf (now DH) and wanted me to exclude him from situations where she would be present. I was aware that this was due to her own issues, and I am sorry she has had such a tough time, but for me that condition was a dealbreaker and the friendship ended.

Everyone has issues but they can't expect others to rearrange their lives to suit them. If your SIL has a problem she needs to deal with it herself, she can't expect you and your DH to suffer for it when it's not anything to do with you.

ImperialBlether Fri 28-Dec-12 15:37:59

I don't think this is anything to do with him looking like her ex. I think it's to do with her shoving you out of the way so that she is the daughter in the family.

Your family are incredibly unfair and you need to speak to them - better still, write it down and send it, so that you can keep calm.

ImperialBlether Fri 28-Dec-12 15:39:24

I hate to sound cynical, but how do you know she had a hard life and that your husband looks like her ex? Does your only information come from her?

quoteunquote Fri 28-Dec-12 15:54:06

What ImperialBlether said.

This is one of the strangest threads I've ever read on here (and I've read a few).

I can't get my head around it. Who's idea was it for your DH to stop attending? Why doesn't your brother talk to you on the phone? Or your SIL?

Sounds like they don't like you and using the abusive ex to isolate you.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 28-Dec-12 16:40:51

Very - Brother does talk to me on the phone smile SIL not so much and the only time she every voluntarily rang us was when we announced that we were expecting DS. Basically to tell me that DH IS abusive and to try and convince me that he was either already abusing me or that he was going to start confused It has to be the strangest phone call I've ever had. Anyone who knows DH knows he isn't.

Reading back what I've posted it does look like I let her walk all over me but I honestly thought not having to have a constant reminder and getting help if she is would help sad

forgetmenots Fri 28-Dec-12 16:46:19

That's even stranger nothing. You definitely need to have a talk with the family, this has gone too far. I would sort this out ASAP to be honest.

misterwife Fri 28-Dec-12 16:46:43

'DH says he doesn't mind and would rather not attend if attending is going to cause SIL stress.'

Then he's a saint.

Unlike the majority of posters I would say that, unfortunately, this situation is just very hard luck. Your DH is a trigger for abuse memories. Right now, your SIL has no control over her reaction to those memories.

The answer is that she needs to get some. She needs professional help, and you need to be sure that she is getting it (you don't need to organise it - just get assurances that she's getting it), because until she attempts to resolve these issues - which obviously hasn't happened - your situation will not move forward. And it needs to, because as it is it's not sustainable for you, your DH, or the rest of your family.

forthesakeofoldQODsyne Fri 28-Dec-12 16:50:58

My immediate reaction without reading to the end of the thread is that she should fuck off! What a cheek, that's utterly utterly out of order!!!!!
You wouldn't accept that if she wouldn't see him if he was Asian, Black, Purple or friggin Irish, why should he be excluded cos of his looks?

Way out of fecking order

quoteunquote Fri 28-Dec-12 16:57:24

Basically to tell me that DH IS abusive and to try and convince me that he was either already abusing me or that he was going to start It has to be the strangest phone call I've ever had. Anyone who knows DH knows he isn't

I would stay away from her, all of you.

I would also track down the ex and have a look, and even ask if there is anything behind her claims,

She sounds like a fantasist.

If you are going to be living with this scenario as a permanent fixture in family life, it would be worth finding out if it is true.

colleysmill Fri 28-Dec-12 17:10:27

From your last post op it seems that the sil is either convinced your dh actually is her ex or is projecting her experiences onto him in someway (although I am most definately not an expert!)

Have they definately not met before? if not then she clearly needs some professional help and quick. It sounds like this is escalating beyond what your family can deal with alone

SugaricePlumFairy Fri 28-Dec-12 17:24:35

As I asked upthread do you or anyone in your circle know who the ex is and what he looks like?

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 28-Dec-12 17:30:33

Sorry Sugar blush Yeah one of DBs work colleagues knows the Exs cousin. Not really in my circle but at least I know there IS an ex

I think your SIL is being completely unreasonable but you know that. It sounds as if she needs to talk to a specialist, it's just not healthy to assume everyone who looks like her ex is abusive.

I also wonder why she has brought all this up? I had a very abusive past but I don't really discuss it because I don't want it to define me. It's gone for her to be open, but what is she doing to move on?

I think another poster made a good point - what if your DS looks like your DH will he be excluded as well.

I suspect your family feel sorry for her which us kind, but really doing her no favours. She needs to seek professional help.

SugaricePlumFairy Fri 28-Dec-12 17:42:19

Can you get to your Parents soon to discuss this?

While you've got the bit between your teeth do you feel strong enough to stand up to them all.

DontmindifIdo Fri 28-Dec-12 19:01:54

so at least you know there's the ex, and it's not your DH!

Try to talk to your parents, and your DH, he might say he's ok with it, but how does he feel really? It must hurt to be labelled an abuser just because of the way he looks! What is it about him that makes her think that he must be an abuser because of his appearance?

FolkElf Fri 28-Dec-12 19:17:00

I agree with everyone else.

If her explanation is true then I really feel she needs the support to come to terms with it because she must find it emotionally and mentally exhausting to live with this. And it would be quite extreme for her to be reacting like this now about something that happened in her distant past.

However, I suspect that it's more likely to be the case that maybe he does resemble her ex. Maybe she had a bit of a shock reaction when she first saw him and liked the way people responded to her and is, for want of a better expression, 'milking' it. Especially in light of her own family situation.

It would certainly explain why she feels she can make such outrageous demands without having to justify any of them; "goodness, she must have suffered terribly to behave like this!" "I agree, and for her to not even be able to talk about it" "Yes. Bless the poor girl"

Unfortunately some people are manipulative fantasists. And one of the things they rely on is the kindness and generosity of others not pulling them up on the things they say or challenging them out of decency and consideration for them - just in case it's the truth

I am so shocked at this thread. You sound lovely OP, very understanding but it's time to stand up for your family.

yousmell Fri 28-Dec-12 19:47:18

Your SIL obviously needs to get to know your DH better and realise that her ex and you DH are totally different people. In you shoes, I'd be gently arranging games nights/walks/cinema nights etc with yourself/DH and SIL/brother. Don't involve your mum etc in the arrangements at all - she doesn't even have to know. Keep it small. Also talk to your brother about wanting to move forward and making sure that future family gatherings can be inclusive as it's important o you that SIL and DH are both there. Take it gently and slowly, building things up in a positive way. Let your SIL see just how gentle DH is. Maybe he could show her photos of his past?

LovesBeingAtHomeForChristmas Fri 28-Dec-12 21:03:52

What is she going to go if her children grow to look like her ex, this isn't a long term solution.

SugaricePlumFairy Fri 28-Dec-12 21:16:19

yousmell this is a 3 year rift and sil didn't even want OP's dh at her wedding! It should have been tackled then.

Forget the baby steps, this situation requires intervention now , I'm amazed OP had been so patient!

pictish Fri 28-Dec-12 21:39:19

Yes she's a damaged woman.
Damaged and damag*ing*.

She doesn't sound lovely at all.

abbierhodes Fri 28-Dec-12 22:29:57

I've read all of this thread, and I must say your last post puts a whole new spin on things.
Strangers on the internet can only judge to a certain extent as we never have all sides of a story.
But I'm amazed that very few posters have asked about your DH and what he is like.

This woman may simply have issues that are being handled wrongly, or she may be a crazed nutcase trying to steal your family...or...she may have a valid point about your DH. Obviously, I have no idea. But as a stranger to you both, I don't automatically rule it out.

Pantomimedam Fri 28-Dec-12 22:34:37

abbie, I think most of us are doing the OP the courtesy of assuming she knows her dh and whether he's a decent person or a nasty piece of work.

QuacksForDoughnuts Fri 28-Dec-12 23:17:16

If her story is true, it must really suck to be her. I know as I have similar issues. I spent the best part of a university term on edge because my tutor was the spitting image of arsehole ex's best friend (who didn't do anything awful but did try to convince me his mate was a decent guy who deserved my sympathy) - looks, voice etc. That was when the relationship was still a recent memory and I'd only just managed to fully disengage from ex. Guess what, the prof in question ended up being my favourite tutor and someone I'm still vaguely friends with now. Now, I have a colleague who could be the ex's twin. When I first set eyes on him I was kind of freaked out by that. I have to say, this colleague is not the first person I tried to make friends with at work and is not the best friend I have there, but over the two years I've got to know him I've gradually managed to distance my perception of him from my ex and we generally get on well. We worked on the same project for two months and it went ok. Even taking the selfish view and leaving aside the impact on others, I think my own life would have been a lot worse if I'd run out screaming and refused to interact with this guy based on physical resemblance to someone he's unlikely to have ever met.

Seriously, I feel for your SIL as I know from experience how difficult it is to separate past abuse from current everyday life. The crap my ex pulls colours whole swathes of my life wrt how I interact with others. I have trouble trusting people, my OH and closest friends often get pissed off with me and I can see why - if I'm having a bad brain day (periods often produce these) then I struggle not to interact with everyone the way I would with a mind-game-playing trying-it-on-with-everyone chronic-lying dickhead. Thing is, I make the effort not to do this. I do my best to force the rational part of my brain into taking charge and telling me that everyone isn't like that guy. It gets easier with time and with practice. Your SIL has had time - at least three years to get used to your husband, presumably a fair bit longer away from her ex - but what she needs is practice. Yes, you'll all need to accept that she may never be friends with your husband, but all you need here is for her to be able to be at the far end of the same room. YANBU to expect that.

FairyInTheGarden Fri 28-Dec-12 23:25:21

Very strange, you need to get a big shovel out and dig and dig until you get to the bottom of what is really going on here. I absolutely 100% from what I have read here don't believe that your Dh resembles her violent ex in any way shape or form. Not for one minute, it's a smoke screen. Either he IS the violent ex or something happened between your dh and sil or perhaps even she is pushing you out the nest so to speak by making herself a constant victim over and over again.

Think about it logically, we see people all the time who we mistake initially for someone else or think they look like someone but usually when we get to know them and become more familiar they no longer look so much like the person you thought iykwim.

You need to start getting this out in the open and if I were you I would confront her in with family all present to hear it from the horses mouth.

cees Fri 28-Dec-12 23:29:48

How strange your sil is being ridiculous and your family are facilitating her bizarre behaviour.

Anytime they ask 'can you come without dh' say NO. That's it that's all you have to say, sil has driven a horrible wedge into your family and she has no right to ask others to exclude your dh like this.

Your parents and siblings really should know better.

simplesusan Fri 28-Dec-12 23:38:04

I think you need to stop pandering to your sil.
I would insist that Dh goes with you on all family visits. Sil should try and tackle her issues. As posters have said the more she gets to know your dh, the more the similarity with her ex will disappear.
It shouldn't be your immediate family which suffer. Make her make the choice of either going to an event or staying at home. Don't let her make you have to choose, that is totally not on.
Don't cause an argument just calmly state that from now on ALL my family will attend. End of.

Misty9 Fri 28-Dec-12 23:38:44

What does your DB have to say about it all??

Objectively, she could have had the panic attack due to heightened anxiety when meeting the family (for first time you said?) and latched onto your DHs appearance as the trigger (it's normal to want to find a trigger for something as awful as a PA). Then the continuing avoidance of this 'trigger' may have reinforced it as such.

Solution? From a purely psychological point of view in this context. Exposure. If this truly is a 'phobic' response, she's doing herself no favours in avoiding - and all your family colluding in this is not helpful either.

But what does DB say?

Misty9 Fri 28-Dec-12 23:40:06

Mind you, having said that, it wouldn't explain the frankly bizarre behaviour of her phone call to you when your pregnancy was announced...

Does she have dc? Want dc?

Damash12 Fri 28-Dec-12 23:41:53

I think there has to be more to it really. If not she's batty and you need to speak to family about it and stop excluding Dh. If my husband only ever took me to in laws when his sisters husband wasn't there ( because I reminds him of a bunny boiler ex) I'd tell the lot of them to get a grip.

CrazyChristmasLady Fri 28-Dec-12 23:50:01

YANBU. You need to say something. Its not fair for your DH to be excluded from family gatherings because of her. She is treating him unfairly. He didn't do anything to her and she needs to realise this.

Her phonecall to you when you were pregnant makes her sound unhinged!

I was abused and couldn't hear his name for years. I hated anyone saying his name. It is a fairly common name though and I got over it as DH has the same name.

mrslaughan Fri 28-Dec-12 23:57:23

its twice a year....your family are being extremely unreasonable. She doesn't have to be best friends with him, just tolerate, make an effort, be polite.

She has problems, she needs to deal with them in a way that does not split your family.

Your family are not helping her - as they are just feeding her neurosis - its sad this is where she is at - presuming she not just some manipulative twunt...but really, I would not be saying it is fine.

Esp when you have children - what do they make of it?

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sat 29-Dec-12 03:29:27

I think your DParents probably already disliked your DH.

Why are they all so happy to just cut him off? Have they spoken of reservations they have about him? Have you broken up or been very on/off in the past?

yousmell Sat 29-Dec-12 06:45:49

I think I would dig deep with DH and brother and find out if there is any more to this. Do you think something has happened previously or maybe SIL has control issues and wants to split the family.

If there isn't any more to the situation, I would insist DH attends every event with you and explain you won't bother attending if he can't. You are either all accepted or all rejected. Explain that the situation can't/won't continue as it is and that your BIL/SIL/mother must find a proper solution and leave it in their hands.

yousmell Sat 29-Dec-12 06:46:55

What is your brother doing about it all?

yousmell Sat 29-Dec-12 06:51:03

Why is your brother accepting such controlling behavior?

exoticfruits Sat 29-Dec-12 07:37:17

I think you need to bring it all out into the open and discuss it- with everyone there- saying that a resolution has to be found and you are not carrying on in the present way.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sat 29-Dec-12 08:54:33

She's DBs world - he's stressed if she's stressed. He would like us to all be at the same events but doesn't feel that she is ready to handle that a bit like everyone else really Unfortunately according to DB she can't have DC as a result of the abuse. She's very good with kids though

Thanks for the benefit of the doubt with DH he's not the monster SIL thinks he is. We've been married just over 6 years and known each other since school. Parents like him they wouldn't hesitate to say if they didn't Unfortunately since we live so far away meeting up to help her see DH differently would require an entire day, possibly two so isn't really practical

sleeplessinsuburbia Sat 29-Dec-12 09:08:09

I think she's lying.

She sounds horrible.

I agree with everything worra said.

gimmecakeandcandy Sat 29-Dec-12 09:15:58

I think your sil is WELL out of order and this is so unfair. I don't think walking on eggshells is helping anyone and she needs to be told that this cannot go on. Your dh is being totally vilified for NO reason and your pathetic family let it happen? No no - you must all say enough of this. It is not your dh's fault he looks like someone. Doesn't she have the intelligence to see he is not her ex? And how her actions are separating a family? You need to talk to your parents and to her and tell her this is unfair and unacceptable.

I cannot believe your family has let this happen!

gimmecakeandcandy Sat 29-Dec-12 09:19:34

The more I read the more angry I am for you - please stop walking on eggshells for this silly, factured woman who is ruining your family. She is totally out of order, I don't care what she had been through, it doesn't warrant this. Please talk to your mum etc and find a way to end this. Don't hide your dh away for this stupid woman.

EleanorGiftbasket Sat 29-Dec-12 09:42:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shockers Sat 29-Dec-12 09:47:33

I don't blame your DH for agreeing to stay away though.... who would want to stand there while someone had a panic attack because of your presence in the room, it must be awful for him.

I agree that if your folks really cared about her feelings, they would support her in getting help.

JustFabulous Sat 29-Dec-12 09:59:06

I was all set to be on your SIL's side as I occasionally see someone who looks like ...... and it is awful. I have to ring DH and he talks to me until I am calm.

However, she is being weird and ride to you and you don't look like her ex.

Your parents are trying to be welcoming and supportive but in that they are enabling her to stay in victim mode and the fact you have inlaws is irrelevant. One doesn't make up for the other.

You have nothing to lose by talking to your parents and say you are not going to have DH, the father of their grandchild, treated like a leper any more and they need to stop allowing their DIL to dictate what goes on at family gatherings. She needs to seek help as you are bringing DH and if they point blank say no, then no one will come and they have made their choice. It will be upsetting as they may stilol choose her - poor vulnerable SIL? - but you know where you stand then and you can make a strong family within your house and with your PIL.

acceptableinthe80s Sat 29-Dec-12 10:02:29

Have you ever actually seen a photo of the ex? Has your DB? Have to say i think she's lying. She sounds like a manipulative control freak and a bit unhinged tbh. Your family need to stop enabling her. I would simply refuse to exclude your DH from now on, as others have said if she can't handle seeing him (i find this quite unbelievable) then she needs to stay away. Next time you have a family gathering simply tell your DB that your DH will be attending end of. It is then up to her whether she chooses to attend also.

DontmindifIdo Sat 29-Dec-12 10:36:43

good point about what the ex actually looks like - you said you know someone who knows him, have you asked if the ex does in fact look just like your DH? (and not just a "well, they are both tall and white/black with broad shoulders, but otherwise, no.")

CecilyP Sat 29-Dec-12 10:47:02

Yes, I have been wondering that too. I would be sufficiently curious to find out who the ex was, get a photo and see if they are really all that alike. Do you know any more than what your DB has told you. If the abuse was as bad as implied, might it not have resulted in prosecution?

But just supposing that your DH looks so uncannily like him that your SiL on first meeting, thought it was him, and reacted badly, then a lovely person would then would later apologise for her reaction and that would be that. To milk it for 3 years and to get complicity from your parents in this milking, is just wrong.

pictish Sat 29-Dec-12 12:28:21

I agree Cecily.

gimmecakeandcandy Sat 29-Dec-12 19:06:05

Update op?!

simplesusan Sat 29-Dec-12 19:13:14

Just to add I wasn't invited to in laws wedding anniversary and neither was bil. We have both been married for 20 years!
The reason? myother bil-dh brother- "didn't have a wife" and mil thought he would feel left out.
Result- neither myself dh, bil, sil or the single bil went!!!
Ridiculous but some families cannot see how bizzare their behaviour is.

Borntobeamum Sat 29-Dec-12 19:26:20

Nowt so queer as folk as my Nana used to say.

I fear there's more to this too.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 13:16:27

gimme - I'm trawling through DBs facebook trying to find the cousin so that I can then hopefully trawl through his facebook and find the Ex or since I don't know the Exs name someone who looks like DH. So I'm looking for a 6"4 ish man with a weight lifters/rugby players body, brown hair though since the Ex is meant to look like DH I should be saying bald since he's shaved all his off , hazel eyes and a bit of facial hair.

Have nagged DB who now thinks I hate SIL since I'm not prepared to leave things the way they are it's not healthy!! DH and the Ex have similar interests (weight lifting (both have competed), going to the gym, rugby, like a lot of the same things ect - Of course DH may look similar in build if they do similar things, plenty of DH's friends have a similar build hmm )

quoteunquote Sun 30-Dec-12 13:19:34

well done, get the facts in front of you,

Name, looks and what actually happened, you may be doing your brother a big favour.

izzyhasanewchangeling Sun 30-Dec-12 13:25:37

Cecily sometimes even the worst abuse does not result in prosecution.

izzyhasanewchangeling Sun 30-Dec-12 13:29:25

Nor despite her horrendous behaviour shiuld the OP be digging into SIL s past - its almost irrelevant - her reaction to OPs DH is irrational whatever is causing it - its unacceptable for the family to exclude OPs DH - whatever happened to SIL ops DH didnt do it.

CecilyP Sun 30-Dec-12 13:30:18

Yes, of course, I do appreciate that; but there are things in OP's posts that would set off alarm bells for me. Though perhaps I have just become extremely suspicious after watching too many documentaries about con-men and women.

Pantomimedam Sun 30-Dec-12 13:30:51

agree with quote, the more I think about this the more I suspect your SIL may be a manipulative cow. It may be entirely true that she is a survivor of abuse, but even if she is, she may still be playing games.

quoteunquote Sun 30-Dec-12 13:34:48

It strikes me as very strange, as if she was getting counselling, it would highly unlikely the problem would be tackled in such a way.

When she first met you were you already married or with DH?

StanleyLambchop Sun 30-Dec-12 13:40:53

So because you are now sticking up for your own DH instead of pandering to your SIL your brother thinks you 'hate' your SIL. It sounds like the sort of thing a 7 year old would say- 'if you are friends with them then you can't be friends with me, ner ner,' etc. It seems he needs to grow up a bit.

TidyDancer Sun 30-Dec-12 13:51:59

I agree with the others here. There's a couple of options. Either your SIL is a manipulative cow and trying to edge her way into your position in the family, or there is something your DH isn't telling you. I would think it unlikely that this avoidance is purely on the basis of looks (not impossible, but for the drama to go on for so long and not be tackled by anyone, it seems like you might not be privy to some information perhaps?).

I would confront who needs to be confronted here and hammer it out. This can't go on. If your SIL doesn't want to be in the same room as your DH, that is her choice but it shouldn't be your DH that is excluded by default. She can withdraw herself, which is what should've gone on from the start.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 13:56:44

I'd been married to DH for almost two years when she first met me. Thing is though I have no idea if she is having counseling but I'd have thought if I was in a similar situation that counseling would help and to some extent be a priority.

He thinks I'm belittling SIL's past and her current problems. Honestly I'm not doing that, it's just gotten to a point where I'll most likely only ever get to email/text him since SIL can't be near DH and I can't be bothered to go to the other end of the country on my own or with a young child.

DH, bless him, keeps saying his fine with it and I shouldn't try to change it if it's going to cause problems.

foreverondiet Sun 30-Dec-12 13:57:27

Totally unacceptable behaviour on her behalf - unless she has a reason to dislike your DH due to his behaviour rather than just due to his physical similarities to her Ex.

I think your mum is being totally unfair to go along with this as well - I would not put up with even if it meant falling out with my parents - I personally would not go along with this at all and would not pander to any requests for you to go to things without your DH.

However if he has seen your DH displaying abusive behaviour towards you or her then perhaps fair enough - ie does he tease her - my sister's DH used to do this to me (ie tease me to the point that I felt uncomfortable), and my SIL's DH also and as I result I didn't like either of them. Or is he a bit rude to you in front of her? Just asking as this makes me feel very uncomfortable.

fuzzywuzzy Sun 30-Dec-12 14:15:51

I'd ask your brother whether his wife is having counselling.

And ask your brother to put himself in your place how would he feel if he could only attend family events without SIL, would he accept this as the norm forever?
Regardless of the fact his spouse was innocent in all this.

Does your Brother even know about the mad phone call his wife made to you when you anounced your pregnancy?

I'd also tell your parents outright that you barely see them as it is and they are pushing you out by cutting your husband off, your child(ren) will eventually grow up not having a meaningful relationship with them as you are a family unit and will not continue meeting them without your husband as its grossly unfair, given he has done nothing.
And as another poster pointed out, what happens if your son starts to look like your husband are they going to then cut their grandchild out of their lives in case it upsets their daughter in law?

I'd understand (maybe), if it was a temporary thing, but this sounds like they expect you to permanently walk on egg shells around your sister in law and put her needs and above your family ties forever. And that frankly is ridiculous and untenable.

lunar1 Sun 30-Dec-12 14:19:33

This must be horrible for you op. I know you say dh is fine with it but can you imagine being excluded for looking like someone! This is potentially very damaging fort your ds, when he picks up on it how will it shape his relationship with his dad?

I would be telling my family you have been patient enough and they either accept you as a family or not at all. Her past is not your fault and she has no right to desperate you from your family.

Iamsparklyknickers Sun 30-Dec-12 14:42:33

Your brother needs to start looking outside his own little world tbh. If his wife's issues are making other people unhappy then it's obvious the little bubble he's created to 'protect' her isn't a long term solution.

My impression of the timeline you've known your dh make it highly unlikely that he's had anything to do with your sil's past, if she takes issue with parts of his personality or mannerisms, although it would be very nice of your dh to try and suppress those around her, it's ultimately up to her to learn to function around them. Does she work outside the home?

I'm curious if/what help she's sought, but again it's not something your brother is obliged to tell you.

(Touch wood and all that) but what if something happens to you and your dh is the main link to your dc having a relationship with your family. What happens then? Personal experience has taught me that it's very easy for even close family links to drift, never mind ones that don't exist because you've not seen any one for years.

ModernToss Sun 30-Dec-12 14:59:04

This is insane.

I don't know how she has the nerve to insist that your DH is excluded from family gatherings - it's not HER family! I am even more amazed that your parents go along with it.

Don't stand for this any longer. It's pandering to her, and alienating you.

BrandonFlowersHoHoHo Sun 30-Dec-12 15:00:43

Totally bizarre. I don't know how you've put up with this for so long. There is not a hope in hell I'd have been involved in the exclusion of my DH at family gatherings for 3 years. No matter how many times he had said he wasn't bothered. I also can't believe your parents are ok with this.

I'd give them all a wide berth tbh and if they ask why you and your child are not attending gatherings etc I'd tell them straight that all 3 of you attend or none of you. Crazy behaviour by all involved actually, even your DH a little bit. I'd certainly be questioning why I am being excluded from weddings due to physical appearance alone. Bizarre!

BrandonFlowersHoHoHo Sun 30-Dec-12 15:00:43

Totally bizarre. I don't know how you've put up with this for so long. There is not a hope in hell I'd have been involved in the exclusion of my DH at family gatherings for 3 years. No matter how many times he had said he wasn't bothered. I also can't believe your parents are ok with this.

I'd give them all a wide berth tbh and if they ask why you and your child are not attending gatherings etc I'd tell them straight that all 3 of you attend or none of you. Crazy behaviour by all involved actually, even your DH a little bit. I'd certainly be questioning why I am being excluded from weddings due to physical appearance alone. Bizarre!

AnneElliott Sun 30-Dec-12 15:02:33

Your SIL sounds very much like a woman I used to work with. She had a thing about one particular bloke and used to scream if he sat next to her in the office. Then she would lay down on the floor and cry!
Mollycoddling her did not work and even though she had terrible personal problems the only thing that stopped her was the threat of being fired. I would advise tackling the issue head on as it will not get better if she is pandered to.

I'm going to go against the grain and say YABU for several reasons:

1. You say that your SIL's abuse was truly horrific. She cannot have children because of the abuse she suffered. How long ago was this, five years? It can take years and years to recover from such abuse. Yes, this can cause problems for family members, but their problems are nothing compared to what she went through. Obviously she should be seeking counseling but this is not a quick fix.

2. I think people are being quite dismissive of how powerful triggers can be. Not to make this about me, but many years ago I was raped and nearly murdered, and if I had had to be in close proximity with anyone resembling that man for a number of years afterward, I too would have had panic attacks. It's fine now but it was a long road.

3. It sounds like you are the ONLY one not happy with this situation. Even your DH doesn't mind! (What a kind soul.) Are you sure you want to upset everyone by forcing the issue?

I feel like people are responding as if this is a normal situation. It's not. You don't say exactly what happened to her (I wonder if that would change people's answers?) but really traumatic events are life-changing. Sometimes you are never the same again. It sounds like the rest of your family, even your DH, are prepared to be empathetic and self-sacrificing in recognition of what she has suffered. I think it would be best if you think long-term and think of ways to work around the problem for now, with the hope of gradually improving things.

With lots of support your SIL will no doubt get better. Making her behaviour the centre of a family row is unlikely to improve anything, however.

quoteunquote Sun 30-Dec-12 15:04:30

keeps saying his fine with it and I shouldn't try to change it if it's going to cause problems.

It's really not you that has caused the problems,

Sounds like she had a high anxiety when she first met you all, and used a back story(true or untrue) to justify her reaction.

If you visit your parents with your husband does your brother come and see you?

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sun 30-Dec-12 15:18:27

I've known women like this SIL: mercifully not very many. They are awful, selfish and destructive. Half their stories tend to be untrue but they milk their victim status for all it's worth and cause no end of trouble.

Iamsparklyknickers Sun 30-Dec-12 15:30:54

dreamingbohemian you really do make a lot of good points and I don't think the op will be dismissive of any of them.

I do however think that her family needs to understand that they need to make room for her dh as well. They don't live up the road so any contact isn't coming out of no where, I personally don't see why her dh is the one expected to stay out of the picture during visits?

Surely if the sil sees this is a member of the family that isn't going anywhere it means any help she may be seeking isn't reliant on the fact that he's now a trigger that she will never have to deal with, fact is she will at some point have to accept that op and her dh are family. Her inlaws condoning isolating him just justifies her tailoring the op's family relations to suit what she can deal with, and ultimately because she want's to be part of things the op's dh can't.

No matter what happened before she joined the family, it doesn't justify isolating one member. A reasonable person would surely offer occasionally to be the one to be absent?

Pantomimedam Sun 30-Dec-12 15:31:25

dreaming, thing is, would you have insisted your BIL was excluded from family gatherings?

I just think it's meaningful that the entire rest of the family seems to believe her and want to help her. Who are we to say she's lying? Terrible things do happen to people and royally fuck them up.

Even the OP has not said she thinks the SIL is lying, she thinks that even if she is telling the truth that she is being unreasonable.

I do think that if the OP posted in graphic detail what happened to her SIL there would be more people saying, jeez, give the poor lady a break. It's easy to think someone is lying and being dramatic if all you are being given is their behaviour, not the root causes of it.

I fully admit I was a bit of a mess for years after what happened to me. I know some people dropped me because of it, while others had patience and stood by me (bless them). I can assure you that if everyone had stopped 'pandering' to me and told me to suck it up that it would not have helped me get over it, it would have made me even more depressed and desperate.

Iam and Panto -- I probably would have stayed home myself, rather than ask anyone else to be excluded... but the OP says that this is something the SIL does anyway (stay home herself). So it's not that her DH is excluded from ALL events.

Obviously the SIL could not have avoided her own wedding. There may be other family events that are particularly important for her and the OP's DB.

Don't get me wrong, it's a shitty situation, but I think the family should focus on finding practical solutions. If the OP hosts something, then DB comes and not SIL. That's already happening. If the OP goes to her family, then she and her DB can work together to find a way that both SIL and DH can share family time without each having to be there all day.

It doesn't sound all that unworkable to me, if you really want to try.

ithaka Sun 30-Dec-12 15:52:34

OP, I think the issue is your parents' enabling of your SIL's demands and their consequent hurtful exclusion of you and your family. I would take it up with your parents in a firm and non negotiable manner.

Perhaps you could explain you are worried your son may start to resemble his father to the extent that he is no longer acceptable to SIL. If you explain that you just cannot bring your son to visit with that sword of damocles hanging over his acceptability at family gatherings they may sit up and realise how unreasonable this situation is.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 16:07:53

Dreaming - I am well aware that my problems are nothing like the ones SIL has. The first time I met her is permanently ingrained in my memory due to her massive panic attack sad and I'm guessing that she will have a far worse and most likely painful memory of that day. But even if I knew the full extend of my SILs abuse I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing every little detail especially as I'm sure it would involve a lot of trust and confidence to get to that point.

We've adapted when and where we see the rest of my family to fit around when DB and SIL want to spend time with everyone to avoid any upset to SIL. This means that we tend to miss fairly important get togethers to keep everyone happy. Yes I am most likely the only one who has an issue with this and I'm thrilled that DH doesn't but I'm feeling fairly disconnected from my family and while DHs family are great I do miss my own.

This is crazy op how come everyone can't see that? She's never going to get over the fact that your DH and her Ex look similar if she never see's him, there must be loads of blokes around with similarities.
~Sorry but I'm gobsmacked this has been allowed to go on for so long, and your DH is a saint BTW, so are you! I wouldn't put up with it,I wouldn't.
Yes, she needs help, and she should do that regardless.

Just to be clear, I'm not asking you to share her details here -- just pointing out that without them, we're not necessarily getting a fair portrait of her.

I am probably being dense, but why would this on its own mean that you have to be disconnected from your family? Your DH is being very understanding and is willing to absent himself, but you can go to family events yourself surely? I know it's not ideal to go without him, but you can still go, right?

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 16:18:23

There's no way I'd allow my DH to be sidelined like this. To be treat as though he was her ex - no way. He was already a part of the family, what would your parents have done if he had been another brother?

I'm sorry she has had a very tough past (if she has) but she needs help to deal with that.

Your brother needs to wise up as well. You hate your SIL because you aren't prepared to exclude your husband and miss out on family events because he looks like her ex?! Madness.

yes, I guess she can go, but you wouldn't want to keep leaving him behind would you? and so there's times when she doesn't go, and that's creating it's own wedge.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Sun 30-Dec-12 16:22:50

If anyone should stay home, it should be HER. She is the one with the issues, not your DH. This is your family, not hers. Just because you have DH's family, it doesn't mean you should miss out on your own.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 16:23:31

You're not being dense at all smile I can go on my own and have done but I'm leaving part of my family behind so either way I'm not really enjoying it as much. If I bring DH then there is an atmosphere, if I don't bring him them my family are apologetic and it's uncomfortable so still an atmosphere. If I want to see my brother then I do have to go on my own though I tend not to bring DS.

Iamsparklyknickers Sun 30-Dec-12 16:27:57

nothing do you think you could feel better about the situation if your brother at least acknowledged or reassured you this wasn't intended to be a permanent solution?

I understand that even with counselling it might never be feasible for your sil to get past where she is, but I would feel incredibly hurt if every one thought this was Ok and thats it. Your dh is your family, you love him and he's the father of your child, of course you feel upset on his behalf.

Through no fault of his - or sil's- you can't enjoy your whole family together. That's not something anyone would aim for I'm sure. Unfortunately, the only solutions available require the effort from sil, there's nothing anyone else can do.

Does she ever miss out ont hese gatherings? so that your DH can go?

It must be hard for you, and I don't mean to overlook the sacrifice you have to make.

Do you mean that if you bring DH, even if SIL is not there, there is still an atmosphere? Why is that? And why should there be so much atmosphere if he's not there?

Is it because things aren't really being discussed openly? is there any way all of you can just say: right, not ideal, but it is what it is for now, so let's just treat it like a practical problem and make the best of it. If you are all on board with it, shouldn't that diminish the atmosphere?

I just think you should think carefully about your options. I don't really see how you can do anything differently without causing a huge uproar that will delay things getting better.

SantasHoHoHo Sun 30-Dec-12 16:39:40

OP, I have to say I'm intrigued by this whole situation. I really hope you sort it out and please keep us updated.

BarredfromhavingStella Sun 30-Dec-12 16:43:09

I also would never allow my DH to be excluded as he is part of MY family.
Sorry but I think the behaviour of your family is disgusting & would be telling them so if I were you, feel very sorry for your husband as he sounds just lovely.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 16:50:55

No, if SIL isn't there then there is no atmosphere but if I go without DH it's because SIL is there. It sort of feels like when SIL is there I'm not really welcome in my own family at times. I know its me being stupid but that's how it's starting to feel.

This year we should have all been renting a cottage together for a big family Xmas happens every few years - We couldn't go as of course BD and SIL wanted to go why wouldn't you want to spend Xmas with your family and since they would be spending it on their own if they didn't go DH suggested we stay home and invite his parents, brothers and their partners round, which we did and had a lovely time smile but still sad

Pantomimedam Sun 30-Dec-12 16:52:07

dreaming, even if the OP's SIL's fragility is taken at face value, it is still desperately unfair for OP and her dh to be excluded from the family as a result. The OP and her dh have done nothing wrong. Why should OP be all but estranged from her family because an IL has issues that are not her responsibility?

Pantomimedam Sun 30-Dec-12 16:53:38

It's not stupid, OP, I'm afraid it is you finally realising what is actually happening here. Your SIL may be an extremely damaged woman but she and your brother cannot be allowed to cut you off from your own family. That is not a solution.

DoctorAnge Sun 30-Dec-12 16:53:41

The more I read the more it seems like she has sinister motives.
I could totally understand an initial panic attack on meeting your DH if he looks like her abusive ex. But them her stance should have been apologetic if anything, more like " I am so sorry about this situation I am working in it I will hold back from certain family gatherings until I get better".
Your poor, poor DH. This needs to stop.

onedev Sun 30-Dec-12 16:56:00

Without knowing the back story, I think it's hard to say whether you SIL is being awful or not, but the point for me is that she & your DB should be actively working to make the situation better - such as counselling or therapy of some kind - if this isn't happening then its very wrong & very wrong of your family to go along with it also.

Good luck Op as the situation sounds horrible for you & well done to your DH for not making a drama out of it.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sun 30-Dec-12 16:57:24

DreamngBohemian, this woman's had three years already of being pandered to at the OP's expense. Even if her story is true then surely she has some responsibility towards other family members and cannot expect everything to be micromanaged around her issues forever.

Iamsparklyknickers Sun 30-Dec-12 16:57:36

You mentioned another sister - what does she think?

CunningPlan Sun 30-Dec-12 16:57:47

What I wonder is whether OP's DS resembles the OP or her DH more? What happens if he grows up to look the SIL's attacker too. Will he be banished too?

MrsDeVere Sun 30-Dec-12 17:00:18

I lost a DD.
I have lots of nieces.

It can be immensely painful for me to attend family gatherings. There are certain nieces who are very like her and are the exact age she should be now.

I am telling you this because I wouldn't dream of excluding a family member because they reminded me of something painful. There cannot be many things more painful than losing a child, can there?

So I am afraid I just do not get this who thing with your SIL. It is weird, it is unfair and its NOT a solution.

MaryChristmaZEverybody Sun 30-Dec-12 17:01:19

So basically you will never again be able to spend Christmas with your parents?

As your brother and sil will be with them every year or otherwise will have to be on their own. Is that right?

The only way I can think there is any justification for this is if your sil thinks your dh is her abuser. In which case (presuming he isn't) someone needs to point it out to her. Because potentially you are looking at years and years of your children not being able to spend important times with their father and grandparents.

Shutupanddrive Sun 30-Dec-12 17:09:29

And what if your DS looks like his dad when he is a bit older? Is she going to exclude him too?

AltinkumATEalltheTurkey Sun 30-Dec-12 17:11:28

Your sil is nuts!!

Your dh is NOT the man who abused her and its unfair on you both to be excluded on the basis of this.

I'd har words and just state that she either needs help or does not attend.

I've had a horrid past, but the blame lies with the abuser and no one else.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 17:13:21

God no! We're going to my parents next year not sure what DB and SIL are doing. We've not had a big family Xmas since just after me and DH got married so he felt it was only fair to let SIL experience one, lovely man that he is probably sick of being mothered wink.

My sister thinks it's a naff situation but there's not a lot that can be done. We do make more of an effort to see each other, each other DC and partners.

KitchenandJumble Sun 30-Dec-12 17:14:58

What a terrible situation. Your SIL sounds as though she wants the entire family to revolve around her. Of course everyone feels sorry for her and the abuse she suffered, but they absolutely should not pander to her ridiculous requests. It is unfair and cruel to you and your DH, and in the long run it won't help your SIL.

I would imagine a very serious conversation or two must be had, with your parents, your brother, and your SIL. I don't envy you, OP. I'm sure these conversations will be uncomfortable for you. But the situation is really untenable for you. If I were you, I'd tell the whole family that from now on, DH will attend all family events. I wouldn't be confrontational about it, but I would be very clear.

DoctorAnge Sun 30-Dec-12 17:16:05

This thread has made me realise how strange families can be. The things they hide, the double standards for certain children ! - mine included in that...

Writehand Sun 30-Dec-12 17:16:38

The only thing I can think of that would make your family's attitude reasonable is if there's something between your SIL and your DH that no one is telling you about. Is this possible?

If not, then YANBU, and I'd try to arrange a family conference - no in-laws, neither your SIL or your DH - to sort this one out,

Rosa Sun 30-Dec-12 17:17:00

SIL needs to get a grip and get to know your DH

MaryChristmaZEverybody Sun 30-Dec-12 17:17:04

In that case, start planning next Christmas now. Make absolutely 100% certain that everyone knows you are going and so is your dh. Don't let anyone say a month beforehand "oh it will be hard for sil, maybe you had better not come".

It will be interesting to see whether she decides to stay at home on her own, or whether she is willing to make an effort to overcome this.

I think Mrsdevere has a very valid point by the way.

Sometimes things are very, very difficult to face. But sometimes you just have to get on with it.

But is there no room for compromise?

Why not rent the cottage for a week and split the times -- your DB/SIL go for a few days, you go for a few days.

Look, your SIL is mentally ill. It sucks you have to deal with that but you cannot simply force a mentally ill person to be normal. You have no idea what her treatment is, for all you know she is getting treatment but it's just progressing slowly.

Imagine she had some other kind of mental illness that meant she couldn't tolerate large gatherings. Would you still insist on big family holidays or respect the fact her illness changes things?

There is a very particular trauma that comes with being on the receiving end of extreme violence, particularly sexual violence. It is absolutely horrific, the panic and anxiety, and it can take a long time to get rid of.

I think your sister has the right idea, it's naff but what can you do?

Everyone saying to stop pandering, how do you do that without completely alienating the DB and causing a huge family rift?

QuacksForDoughnuts Sun 30-Dec-12 17:31:44

Dreamingbohemian your points are good ones, but how is it 'thinking long-term' to exclude a family member (and possibly a grandchild if he looks like his dad) on the basis of his physical appearance seemingly forever? Total avoidance would be a short-term strategy, for someone you won't have to have much to do with. If a person who looked like my ex showed up at a conference, I might give them a wide berth. Fine, two days and I'd never have to see him again. With a colleague in a small department, that doesn't work. Even if dude turned out to have the same not very common hobbies as the ex, I'd still need to deal for my own sake as much as his. It would work even less well if the 'offending' lookalike was part of OH's family.

I didn't get a chance to go and hide, I had to keep living 'normally' and interacting with people in semi-normal ways, including people who would defend my ex to me and make me out to be the 'rude' one for trying to explain why I didn't want to be his friend. Then I moved away and had to interact normally with people who didn't know my history, because I wasn't out about it for a good few years. No allowances made there, I just had to get on with it. Sometimes I resented that. But to be honest, I often wonder if I'd have achieved anything - including the ability to leave the house, do a job, have friendships in which I'm not the other person's charity case - if the initial situation had been different.

My point is, yes we should assume that OP's SIL is telling the truth, but that doesn't mean letting the current situation continue until she or OP's husband die of old age. It isn't helping her, as she has no chance to practice using any defence but hiding.

MaryChristmaZEverybody Sun 30-Dec-12 17:34:27

So dreaming, would you be happy to not spend Christmas day with your parents because your sil didn't like you?

Basically she is driving a wedge between the op and her family, which isn't fair.

If she was asking the op to stay away from her own (i.e. the sil's) family, that would be different, maybe confused.

AllYoursJingleBellbooshka Sun 30-Dec-12 17:34:38

Horrible situation for all involved here, it's strange but not unbelievable. Horrific abuse does happen and we shouldn't need all the gory details to show a little empathy.

You SIL needs help, what kind of life is it to live with such fear an panic? Not being able to face your DH is probably just the tip of the ice berg.

Talk to your parents first if you are having trouble talking about it with your DB. Come from an angle of wanting to help SIL because things cannot continue like this for her or you and your DH.

Floggingmolly Sun 30-Dec-12 17:39:06

It sort of feels when SIL is there I'm not really welcome in my own family at times
It's not totally about your DH then, is it? Do you think she's also managing to poison your family against you? Even alone you appear to have been ousted. sad.
As several people have already mentioned; it sounds like there's something else apart from what they've agreed to let you know. How bloody unfair.

How bizarre, you can't carry on like this.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 17:51:14

Floggingmolly - But what haven't they let me know? That DH is actually SIL abuser? He isn't, he can look scary can't we all but looking scary isn't being abusive, he has a fairly confident/dominant/alpha male (take your pick) personality, again it doesn't make him abusive. None of my friends see him as abusive...

Honestly can't see him as the type confused

JustFabulous Sun 30-Dec-12 17:51:58

It isn't keeping everyone happy though is it as you don't get to spend time with your whole family.

If your SIL is seeking therapy for herself then she deserves sympathy. If she has shown she is grateful for the huge sacrifices your family has made for her, then she deserves credit. If she has shown that she wishes things could be, were, different then she deserves respect.

If she hasn't, then..

Floggingmolly Sun 30-Dec-12 17:54:09

God, no! I wasn't suggesting that at all, just that if you're getting unwelcome vibes when you're there without your DH, not just from SIL but from your wider family also, she seems to have put the boot in well and proper.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 17:59:05

Oh blush, no my family are apologetic that I have to leave DH at home if I go while SIL is there. I feel uncomfortable because they have to ask and then apologize and I think they are uncomfortable for the same reasons I refuse to think they are uncomfortable for any other reasons sad

JustFabulous Sun 30-Dec-12 18:00:24

If you seriously think there is a chance he is the man who abused your SIL then you need to ask her. If not, then put it out of your mind. Abusers are just normal people who act in an abnormal way and as such, look like normal people.

KitchenandJumble Sun 30-Dec-12 18:12:19

There is no good reason for SIL to avoid OP's DH. Therefore there is no reason to "compromise" as someone suggested above. The family is not responsible for curing SIL's mental illness or PTSD or whatever it may be. They are not mental health care professionals (and even if they were, they wouldn't be allowed to serve as her therapists). Their responsibility is to treat all family members with equal respect and care. As things stand, they are failing in that by pandering to an irrational fear, and the OP is being badly affected.

In treating phobias, AFAIK the generally accepted approach involves desensitization. Avoidance of the feared object isn't recommended. So expecting the OP's DH just to make himself scarce really wouldn't be helpful to the SIL. It would just reinforce her irrational fear.

Pantomimedam Sun 30-Dec-12 18:18:41

dreaming - OP isn't excluding the SIL, it's the SIL who is insisting on excluding OP and her dh. From the OP's own family. The SIL may be the victim of horrendous abuse but that doesn't mean she is justified in cutting the OP out of the OP's family.

Pantomimedam Sun 30-Dec-12 18:23:33

btw, one of my sister's close friends is the survivor of an horrendous attack. The perpetrators went to prison for a very long time indeed. Her life is curtailed in all sorts of ways and she is a very, very damaged person, poor woman. But she does not use that trauma to bully other people in the way the OP's SIL has done. She avoids certain situations because she is too fragile, she doesn't decide to order other people to stay away!

TidyDancer Sun 30-Dec-12 18:40:36

That's exactly it, Pantomimedam. The reasonable course of action if the SIL's background checks out (etc) is for her to remove herself from the situations she finds difficult until the point where/if she feels able to confront it and cope with it.

This is what makes me wonder if there is another truth to the situation. I suspect if the OP's DH was an abuser, that her family would've clued her into that by now. It all seems a bit unlikely that OP's own parents and siblings would allow her and her DS to go on living with someone they knew to be an abuser without telling her. That would be unforgivable in my mind.

I suspect that SIL is manipulating the situation to a degree. If she was a kind person, she would withdraw herself from social situations since she is the problem. The fact that she doesn't do this is telling.

lisalisa Sun 30-Dec-12 18:58:24

Assuming the fact that your dh looks like your SIL's abuser and there is no backstory at all then a story I heard recently may give you some comfort. It is a true story of a family that moved to a small town and attended a place of worship there. This family were very religious and the place of worship was very important - integral really - to their being there. To the man's surprise and then discomfort ( although he had spoken to people on the phone from that town before the move having been introduced via friends but had never seen them and they had expressed friendly sentiments and couldn't wait to meet the family etc) when he actually arrived in the place of worship people's reactions were distinctly cool and he even noticed some looking askance at him and moving away. He checked his own appearance in the bathroom thinking maybe he'd left shaving foam on or something else strange but - nothing.

He smiled openly at a few people but receiving nothing more than awkward responses in return decided to go and seek out only those with whom he'd been introduced on the telephone. To his horror the same reaction ensued - and from a man who'd expressed a welcoming nature and said that he'd like to have the man and his family round for a meal etc.

Puzzled and dejected he sought out the spiritual head of the place of worship.

"Ah, Mr x " said the head. " I was wondering when you'd come to see me".

" Can you explain all this please? " said the man on the brink of tears. " People are acting as if I have the plague or something and I just can't understand it. "

It turned out that this man looked identical to a conman who had been part of the religious group and had conned many people out of a vast sum of money and left. And they were talking of vast sums of money as it transpired he'd invested people's money and many were facing bankruptcy as a result. The resemblance was uncanny he was told and his very appearance was bringing back memories ( this happened only a few months before he got there) making the congregation uncomfortalbe and unwelcomingly.

" Well, what would you suggest I do ?" Said the man , " Uproot my family and move back to my home town?" [this was the only grouping of this reglious nature in the area].

" No" came the advice , " stick it out and people will get used to you and slowly slowly they will warm to you as of course they already know ratioanlly that you are not him".

To end the story without the long middle, this is what the man did and slowly slowly people's barriers did come down and a few even shared with him what this man had done and the way they had felt when they initially saw him. It took a while but he is now a fully integrated and happy and welcomed member of the congregation.

So - to move this to your situation - I would say that your dh must attend each and every gathering and no attempt must be made to pander to your SIL's feeling that the sight of your dh upsets her. Rationally she must know that your dh is not your abuser ( unless she is insane which is a whole other thread). She will therefore get used to the sight of him and will gradually be densensitised to him. Allowing this to continue is just making it worse and entrenching her feelings towards your dh and even allowing her to justify them by equating anyuone who looks like her abuser to be her abuser.

HTH

EleanorGiftbasket Sun 30-Dec-12 19:23:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DoctorAnge Sun 30-Dec-12 19:39:22

Your family can't like your DH very much if theyvare willing to collude like this. This is honestly so, so odd.

OP theres no possible way your DH and SIL have had a fling is thrre? Sorry to ask, just so strange

gimmecakeandcandy Sun 30-Dec-12 19:56:53

Bloody hell, some people really do post some shit on here don't they?! I'm sure if he had been the abuser or involved with the sil it would have come out by now and the op has already said it is nothing like that. Don't some of you people think before you post your stupid comments and the 'conclusions' you have come up with?!!!'

Iamsparklyknickers Sun 30-Dec-12 20:29:49

Nothingisasbadasitseems has already said that she and her family have known dh since their school days. I think it's highly unlikely that the op or her brother would have been unaware of either his friends or him knowing sil before she met the brother.

Also the brother seems to have no issue with his bil.....

This is one of the problems though isn't it? People will fill in the blanks of situations they can't get their head around. If complete strangers start going down these lines what will the rest of their friends, family and possibly dc start concluding?

Cerealqueen Sun 30-Dec-12 20:45:15

What worra and lisalisa have said - this alienation of you DP must stop and your sil must start spending some time socially with your DP and treating him like a human being. Its a form of bullying. He has done nothing wrong and this pandering to her is unhealthy.

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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