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To want to shake some sense into my brother? (SIL related)

(25 Posts)
Teacupstorm Wed 22-May-13 00:56:53


I would really appreciate some views and advice on this situation. My brother has met a girl, they married within about a month of meeting,

The first time I met her, she was 'off'. Just slightly rude, slightly taking the mickey (mimicked my voice, laughed when I stumbled).

Over the following few moths she has been rude and disrespectful to me, my parents, other members of the family. My brother meanwhile seems to have completely lost his voice and never utters a word when she's around! She does all the talking.

Examples of this are, missing important family occasions and giving the reason, "'I had to go to the supermarket". Arriving an hour late and keeping my parents waiting in the street because she was at the hairdressers and lost track of time. I could go on.

I don't think she has any regard for her husband's family, and that's quite sad because I think we are going to/ have already lost my brother.

They've been together about 6 months now and my brother and I have completely grown apart in that time. He has 'stone walled' me on the couple of occasions I've brought it up. Refuses to admit there is any issue. We also hardly see each other any more and he did not turn up to my recent birthday. He didn't even respond to the voicemail invitation.

I'm getting married in December and I want to invite my brother, but he keeps playing games with me when I try to arrange to meet up. I call, he doesn't answer. I text, he says yes let's meet, then stops replying when it comes to arranging a time, etc etc. Or he tries to engineer an argument by antagonising me on text message. It's so childish and frustrating.

How can I get through to him? I would be devastated if he didn't come to my wedding.

LittleFeileFooFoo Wed 22-May-13 01:04:41

Send him an invitation with the RSVP.

It actually sounds like he has married a very controlling, and possibly abusive woman. I say this because of the limiting access to others, and him not having a voice when they are seen together.

Do you know, has he lost touch with many other friends/people?

Teacupstorm Wed 22-May-13 01:13:25

His relationship with my parents and other siblings is now very limited too, as mine is.

There was distance with his friends at first, but now he seems to be spending time with them, with his wife. Not by often though.

I think she is manipulative. He seems a shell of himself. Has given up his tennis which he used to love, now he smokes weed with her most evenings.

Teacupstorm Wed 22-May-13 01:17:10

When you say abusive, do you mean mentally abusive? I want to get through to him but I just don't know how to broach this.

LittleFeileFooFoo Wed 22-May-13 01:47:06

The abuse could be emotional, but cutting someone off from their family and friends is one very common tactic for an abuser.

From a psychologist's website:

Emotional abuse

Psychological or emotional abuse tactics are used by a partner to keep power in a relationship. This is done to promote their needs while neglecting the needs of their partner.

Abuse victims describe an insidious process that, at the time, is not recognized as abuse. Emotional abuse conditions them to feel helpless and powerless to leave and makes them vulnerable to subsequent physical or sexual violence.

Emotional abuse tactics

A perpetrator of emotional might use some of the following tactics:

- Isolates the victim. Loyalty is proven by cutting off friends and family. Friendships and family contacts are undermined by subtle and direct messages that they are not acceptable. Isolating the victim is one of the main tactics in abusive relationships.

- Questions conversations with others. Questions become hostile, repetitive and controlling.

- Expects to spend all available free time together;

- Is possessive and jealous. Makes accusations of flirtations and infidelity. Gives surveillance.

- Gives intense concentration on one issue until the partner gives in;

- Voices strong opinions or judgments and backs them up by a short temper. The abuser tries to take over the thinking of the victim.

- Uses money to control and create dependency;

- Gives criticism and humiliation on traditional female skills – housework, child care, cooking, etc. Makes attacks on appearance that undermine self-confidence and self-esteem;

- Destroys partner’s favorite possessions. Is physically violent with property.

- Gives verbal abuse such as put-downs, name-calling, blame, sarcasm and public humiliation;

- Uses threats to create feelings of fear and danger;

- Disregards or neglects the opinions or needs of the partner;

- Makes unwanted or inappropriate sexual overtures as harassment.

A cumulative effect

Not just one act of emotional abuse produces helplessness and powerlessness in a partner. It is the cumulative effect of many acts of emotional abuse over time. Those suffering from emotional abuse feel unloved, unwanted, inferior, inadequate and cut off from support. Victims feel shame, guilt and worthlessness. They are confused and angry.

Once these power tactics are understood as abuse, a person can recognize how and why s/he feels devalued and violated. Once it is understood how destructive this behavior is to her/his emotional well-being and how it may lead to physical abuse, s/he can take steps to protect herself. Emotional abuse is abuse.

Teacupstorm Wed 22-May-13 22:32:25

Thank you LittleFeile. I see alot of warning signs from reading your post.

I have a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach and just want to reach out and help him, make him see what is going on.

If I try to tell him what I am seeing, he will definitely withdraw from me even more. He will take it as an insult that I think him 'stupid' or 'weak' enough to be susceptible to abuse.

I don't know what I can do for the best except keep myself available for him when or if he needs me.

Should exclude her or include her from family get togethers? When she has come in the past, she tends to chatter away very confidently to the more peripheral members of the extended family, and my brother sits by her side without uttering a word.

joanofarchitrave Wed 22-May-13 22:36:01

Don't exclude them. Keep in touch any way you can, even if your brother doesn't respond much. IMO seeing your partner in the context of other people is one way to encourage him to look at the relationship differently.

In the meantime, and even if and when he leaves her, don't make lots of comments about her which only forces/encourages him to start defending her. Focus on him and how he is doing, perhaps good memories from the past. Remind him subtly that life doesn't have to be like this.

TheSmallClanger Wed 22-May-13 22:39:11

EA is a possibility, but is there also any chance that they are abusing drugs together? That can also cause personality changes and unreliability.

Either way, try to keep him around if you can.

Teacupstorm Wed 22-May-13 22:56:05

Yes, I do think they are both getting stoned in the evenings.

The trouble with seeing her interact with others, is that she's very good at it. Always makes a beeline for the children and spends lots of time playing with them. Always makes lots of effort to keep conversations going. If anything, the more she realises we don't like her, the more she is 'thriving' in our company.

I will continue to include them, though I really, really do not want this woman at my wedding, or in my wedding photos as a reminder.

TheSmallClanger Wed 22-May-13 23:58:19

I don't know what to do about the wedding - I'm sorry. If you explicitly bar her, that is exactly the kind of ammunition an abusive or divisive person uses to justify keeping relatives at arm's length.

Teacupstorm Fri 24-May-13 00:30:05

Exactly. I'll just have to have her there.

LittleMissLucy Fri 24-May-13 00:43:09

From a completely opposing view, you have gone to your brother and criticized his wife. He is going to take her side. He is going to give her precedence over you and the rest of his original family.

I think you might need to approach her differently. How have you behaved towards her? If you, the family have expected her to ingratiate herself when she's a strong independent person, it won't go down well.

You might need to reach out an olive branch and be friendly.

BOF Fri 24-May-13 00:47:50

Hang on, they got married within a month of meeting? It takes three weeks to post the banns, so they arranged this within three or four days of meeting? That's the most bizarre thing I've ever heard.

monsterchild Fri 24-May-13 01:06:35

Op I agree that you need to treat carefully, as any criticism of her could impact his opinion of you.

BOF, I've read about banns in historical books, but does that actually still have to happen? I'm in the US, and there's no waiting period for us, but you still have to do that in the UK?

BOF Fri 24-May-13 01:19:07

As far as I know, yes. You've got me wondering now though, so I'll look it up...

BOF Fri 24-May-13 01:50:27

"Normally, notices should be with the Registrar about eight weeks before the marriage, but if either of you have been married before, the notices should be with the Registrar ten weeks before.

The minimum period is fourteen days before the date of the proposed marriage, but if you leave things as late as this you could be faced with the need to postpone your marriage.

Only in exceptional circumstances will the Registrar General authorise a marriage to take place if fourteen days notice has not been given.

Fuckwittery Fri 24-May-13 04:16:12

Your comment about peripheral members of the family is weird, and criticising her for being nice to children? you consider yourself central, most important family member and are offended she chats to others less important?! Presumably thats because she is well aware how much you dislike her?
if you want to continue a relationship with your brother you have to continue to smile and be nice to her, otherwise of course he will side with her and avoid chats with you if he thinks you are trying to be divisive.
I cant believe you are considering excluding her from family events when shes your brother's wife, do you really expect your brother to come without her? All without a massive falling out, is there any chance that the perceived slights could be her nervousness to break into a close knit family after a whirlwind relationship when she knew there was disapproval?

Fuckwittery Fri 24-May-13 04:19:48

And your brother being quiet at family gatherings / avoiding them / avoiding speaking to you is because he is furious you dislike his wife? Obv I may have perceived the dynamics wrongly but from another reading of your posts.

Yettish Fri 24-May-13 04:23:46

I would imagine you are seeing less of your brother these days because he's too busy shagging his new wife

Yettish Fri 24-May-13 04:25:51

Which is of course also why he's missing appointments, turning up late, playing less tennis and preferring to spend quiet nights in having lots of slightly stoned sexy sex.

Don't see the problem myself.

MusicalEndorphins Fri 24-May-13 06:14:55

I think for your brothers sake, and for the good of your relationship with him, you have to keep your criticisms to yourself, and be warm and welcoming to his wife.
As far as your wedding goes, mail them the invitation, and wait for the RSVP.
You may not like her, but she is your sister-in-law, and although you don't have to be best friends, maybe make an effort to get to know her, invite her to do something with you. Hopefully there is something good about her to discover.
I don't think you will do anything by trying to discuss your brothers marriage with him except alienate him. I know if someone was cutting up someone I loved, I would eventually be avoiding their company too.
Remember two catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and keep your friends close and enemies closer.
She is important to your brother, treat her with kindness, at least you won't loose your brother.

Iactuallydothinkso Fri 24-May-13 06:39:20

Op, I've been reading this and I could be your sister in law. People know when you don't like them, that's why she talks to other people. Be honest, you don't want her to talk to you. The comment above about you seeing yourself and your parents as the central members of the family was spot on.

Your brother is a grown man. He is an adult and can make his own decisions. Because you are not letting him, he is avoiding you rather than have an argument with you.

He is a grown up and can make his own decisions. He is not just your brother anymore, he is someone else's husband. You need to adjust to that. You can still be close but when people marry they are supposed to put their spouse ahead of their family. It's what people do. And if they don't do that THEN there is big trouble!

FasterStronger Fri 24-May-13 07:46:39

I have a similar situation with my brother. I suspect he is going to remain like this now & you just need to get used to it to make you life as easy as possible.

My SIL thinks life is a show that she is the star of and the rest of us are just background characters who dont actually exist other than as bit parts in her life and certainly dont exist as equal human beings.

But there is nothing I can do about it as my brother is a grownup and that's fair enough. I avoid them as much as possible. I enjoy seeing my family without them and grit my teeth when I cannot avoid them!

brass Fri 24-May-13 09:56:26

sounds like you've all got off on the wrong foot, she's been condemned, your brother senses the disapproval, so does she so avoids you all at family gatherings choosing to speak to people who will be more civil to her etc etc

Your loathing of her is palpable, do you really expect to see any change in the status quo?

And what is it you want your brother to do? Be disloyal to his new wife? Attend events (where she is clearly not welcome) without her?

musickeepsmesane Fri 24-May-13 10:16:39

There are 2 sides to this. I found when meeting the in laws that they were all very judgey. I spent time with the kids because it was easier. Spending time with kids is the perfect way to avoid uncomfortable social occasions. Also, peripheral members of a social gathering are more approachable somehow. What did you do to welcome her into your family? Her manner when she met you could have stemmed from nerves. If your brother senses your dislike he will be very, very offended. I was shocked when a girlfriend of my brother confided in me that she found us all very scary because we were so close. I hadn't realised at all.

The other side of course is that she is manipulative, domineering and everything you are worried about.

Maybe you should try building a relationship with her? Maybe you should trust your brothers judgement?

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