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Is DH BU to think his aunt has an agenda.

(60 Posts)
GertyD Sat 27-Dec-14 10:47:17

Back story, DH's widowed aunt has been increasingly relying on us for company, chores and hot meals since her husband died 3 years ago. Visits have gone from once a week to 2-3 times per week and she has started to show signs of jealousy if we see anyone else. She insists we go on holiday together constantly and invited herself on our last trip. We know she is grieving and incredibly lonely so we generally let it go.

This aunt has a lot of money. She is extremely generous to us in the way of buying us gifts. But constantly. She buys stuff all the time, but mostly for me. Some of the gifts are really pricey - think tickets to shows, posh restaurants, clothes for the children from higher end shops. I have asked her on two occasions to stop buying us things - it is too much. I am not ungrateful by any means but the sheer volume and cost is enormous. Both times she stared crying and went on and on about how it makes her happy, and begged me not to try and stop her. DH thinks she is trying to buy us.
So this Xmas she is with us. DH bought me a gift, I had wanted since I was a teenager. Think decent brand handbag, about £150. Something I never would buy myself but always wanted. He hid it at her house.
DH's aunt then came to me on Xmas Eve when DH was at work. She had wrapped the gift, and written on a tag: From the boys.
She said that I had to open it there are then. That DH had told her to give it to me. I thought it was odd, but thought maybe she had bought me something 'from the boys' and just wanted me to have it. She has form for this.
So I unwrap it. See what it is. Shocked!!! She tells me to call DH and thank him. So I am really confused. I call but he doesn't answer, so I text him.
DH then goes mad!!! He gets really upset. It meant a lot to him to give me that and it cost him money we don't have.
I told the aunt he isn't happy and she says it was a mistake, that she misunderstood when he asked her to bring it to the house and put it under the tree, she had thought she had to give it to me.
DH thinks she has some bonkers agenda and is mad.
I have no idea why she would get it soooo wrong. What do you think? Sorry for the long post!!!

angelohsodelight Sat 27-Dec-14 10:53:48

She may have an agenda. I think you and dh need to have a discussion about the future ..... Is aunt expecting to live with you, can she afford/want care home arrangements, does she think you will look after her in her own home? That is the issue. Does she have and dc? What do aunts siblings think about the current situation?

GertyD Sat 27-Dec-14 10:57:49

She has a son who fell out with her about 2 years ago after she relied on him for everything and it got too much. Cue massive fight and no contact since then. She has no other family. DH is actually her deceased husbands nephew, rather than hers.
She has enough money to pay for any care needs but I do worry that this is where this is going.

angelohsodelight Sat 27-Dec-14 11:03:06

I think you and dh need to have a discussion with her. She's going down the same route with you two as she did her son. I also think she was a cow re the handbag .... I feel sorry for dh not seeing you open the gift.

VitalStollenFix Sat 27-Dec-14 11:13:13

Is she frightened and lonely? Scared of not being able to manage? I suppose you have to ask yourself is she a monster or is she a frightened woman trying to keep you or control things in a situation where she feels helpless? Perhaps after her son walking away she is frightened that you will too and is trying to keep you in her life.

I think you should sit down with your husband and work out what you can and are willing to give to her in terms of time and help. Then go to her, sit down with her and reassure her that you are there for her, and you will be helping her with X visits and doing 1, 2, 3 for/with her but she has got to stop doing <insert here> because it is making you feel uncomfortable. Tell her what you are not happy with. Assure her that she will remain a part of your lives but draw your lines so that you all know where you stand.

Perhaps you could also see what help and support she might be entitled to. If she can afford it (and it sounds like she can ) perhaps she could have some live in/home visiting support as well, when you tell her what you will and will not be doing, you can have an alternative to suggest to her.

pictish Sat 27-Dec-14 11:18:57

Op I sympathise - I have an aunt (dh's aunt) who has foisted herself on us too. She never married and didn't have children, so obviously I understand that she is lonely and getting on in life (mid 60s). I like her, and she is very kind to us, but it does feel as though she tries to buy us as well. She is generous to our children with her time and money, in a way that their actual grandparents are not, and the kids do adore her, so it is difficult to refuse her kind/manipulative overtones...iyswim?
Dh cba with her tbh and while I think he's a bit callous about her, he has his own reasons for feeling the way he does, owing to history and family dynamics.
I just find I have ended up with this person being present in my life a lot and I'm not quite sure how it happened.
She is involved in every birthday, every Christmas, every special occasion, but by her own invitation.
Like I say, I like her...she's a nice woman and generally easy company...but I do not love her, and I feel the relationship is a bit intrusive. She does expect and demand a certain level of return for her wanting us/me to attend awful events she organises, and being quite bossy towards us and pushy about being part of our lives.

It's slowly increasing in intensity and I'm very torn as to how to deal with.

Sorry if that's all about me....but it's good to hear from someone going through something similar.

comeagainforbigfudge Sat 27-Dec-14 11:35:38

GertyD can you get her or suggest some counselling? She may well have transferred her grief and sadness onto you and your family by over-compensating particularly if her own son isn't talking to her. Never under estimate grief and how it can manifest itself.


The present opening was unfortunate, I would be thoroughly pee'd off as well.

Perhaps in the new year you should all sit and have a talk about boundaries and that you thoroughly appreciate everything that she has given you but that there needs to be a limit.

This time of year must be so hard for her.

I don't think yabu completely as it must be hard for you but at the same time I think she needs some help to see what her actions are doing to you all.

(If I've got the wrong end of the stick please feel free to ignore this post wink)

GertyD Sat 27-Dec-14 11:41:41

Pictish! What you describe is exactly the same!!! I don't know how to handle it anymore.

Mostly she is lovely. Our kids think she is some kind of magical fairy godmother. She is the same in regards to way time/money/effort than their own grandparents.

But you can be killed with kindness.

She is mid 60's and in excellent health. She is here, there are everywhere with other friends. But her circle is becoming increasingly smaller.

DH doesn't know what to do. He is now at the point of wanting to cut her out completely, but he knows this is over reaction and harsh and wouldn't do it.

pippop1 Sat 27-Dec-14 11:43:05

Do you think she has the beginnings of dementia and that she was confused about the handbag? Also the dependence thing might be dementia too as she feels she can't cope. She responds with buying you things as a thank you. It's kind of logical.

A difficult situation.

If she has a lot of money perhaps you could suggest and organise for her to have some kind of helper (I would avoid the word carer if I were you) perhaps even someone that lives in such as an au pair? This would give a bit of companionship for her and make her less reliant on your family.

There is also a scheme that may be helpful for her. It gives young adults a home and companionship to older people.

GertyD Sat 27-Dec-14 11:43:20

She has had counselling several times, but 'never gets on with the counsellors'. They don't understand her confused

DoJo Sat 27-Dec-14 11:44:17

Gerty and Pictish - it sounds like you should set up an 'interfering older relative' date and see if they get along!

GertyD Sat 27-Dec-14 11:44:57

If I suggested a companion, she would go mental I think. She likes to think of herself as very hip and funkygrin

AlpacaStockingOnChristmasEve Sat 27-Dec-14 11:47:09

I think she knew exactly what she was doing... But I'm not sure why she'd want to do it. Is she trying to see how far she can go before DH falls out with her like her own son did?

angelohsodelight Sat 27-Dec-14 11:50:24

Stop telling her about events so she can't invite herself. Avoid the phone if it's is her.

Cauliflowersneeze1 Sat 27-Dec-14 11:52:41

She is controlling and knew exactly what she was doing , spoiling a special moment between you and your husband

RJnomore Sat 27-Dec-14 11:56:53

I also wonder if there is some sort of early onset dementia going on. Reason being I cannot see what she would have to gain by deliberately giving you the bag early? She must have known it would piss off your DH if she chose to do that as a manipulative move and that is not the game she is playing at the moment.

I'm not sure but isn't the jealousy another potential sign of early dementia?

Does she do any other "odd" things?

KingJoffreysHasABigWhiteBeard Sat 27-Dec-14 12:03:31

I reckon she wants you to be dependent on her so you'll always want her around.

She wanted the handbag to come from her. she knew it was hugely special and would mean a great deal to you. Therefore she wanted to be the one who gave it to you.

She was there for your special moment, not you DH. That's what she wanted.

Get her a dog. Would she like a dog? Dogs like attention, cuddles and overbearing love. Take her to a rescue centre after Christmas under the pretence of a day out. She might fall head over heels in love while she's there.

clam Sat 27-Dec-14 12:05:14

I agree; I don't see any way that she could have misunderstood your husband's request. How can "I'm hiding this gift at your house as a surprise for Gerty. Can you take it round and put it under the tree?" be interpreted as "get her to open it before I get home."

That said, I would never have opened a gift with a tag from "the boys" (or dcs, in my case) without them being there, as I would know they would want to witness me doing it.

I think she out-manoeuvred you there. I would be limiting how much I told her about our lives, booking some holidays that didn't include her and not pandering to any displays of jealousy about us mixing with other people. Easier said than done, I know, but necessary.

Fluffyears Sat 27-Dec-14 12:06:57

Sounds like my mil. She makes DP feel guilty and tag he has to be at beck and call. She is jealous of me and tried to get us to go on holiday with her as she wanted a 'family holiday'. Strange she never gave a fuck about him being included in her holidays before she became widowed. Luckily that didn't happen. She apparently has a breakdown one day to make him feel guilty and it was all a ducking act as she ended up managing to go to her volunteer job in the afternoon. She asks Dp to sort out tradesmen for her, you know the man who had a full time job and home of his own. She volunteers 2 days a week so could sort them herself!....we just dig heels in and have learned to say no and suggest alternatives, are you able to do this a bit more. Don't tell her your plans so she can't invite herself along etc?

AMumInScotland Sat 27-Dec-14 12:10:22

The only explanations I can think of for the handbag are 1. dementia (not particularly likely in mid 60s but not impossible), 2. testing boundaries to see what you and DH will let her get away with, and 3. putting a wedge between you and DH because she likes you better and thinks you separated from him would work out well for her.

For any of those, I think you need to consider very carefully how much intensity you want in this relationship. As you say, she did this to her son and he ended up going no contact, so she has form. I don't think you can jusy continue to let her away with this on account of grief and loneliness.

I'd hope you can extricate yourselves without it having to be a huge scene and no-contact, as I think that's dfifficult for everyone particularly the children. But you need to start handing back (some of) the presents and ignoring the tears, being firm but kind. "No, I can't accept that. You need to stop doing this." And not telling her about holidays, trips, and other plans, unless you want to include her in them.

GertyD Sat 27-Dec-14 12:14:01

There is some great advice here. Thanks everyone. Tough love seems the way forward.

I bought me and my sister tickets to see my father in June as he lives abroad. When I mentioned that we may go, aunt said immediately: "Oooh count me in. Won't it be lovely, the three of us and your Dad. Your sister and Dad will love that. And I'll buy us all a lovely meal when we are there!."
So I never mentioned it again, secretly booked the tickets and now have to stay quiet until June grin

GertyD Sat 27-Dec-14 12:17:11

The dementia thing maybe worth exploring. She keeps calling on DH to go round and fix things she had broken, such as the internet not working, or losing all her channels on the telly, or fixing the sound on her iPad, and all these issues DH says she must have five herself mad, like switching off the modem, or the Virgin box or turning down the volume.

KingJoffreysHasABigWhiteBeard Sat 27-Dec-14 12:19:22

Won't it be lovely, the three of us and your Dad. Your sister and Dad will love that. And I'll buy us all a lovely meal when we are there!

Says it all.

"Let me spend time with you and I will buy you something in return."

If she new in advance how much you wanted that handbag you'd have 4 of them by now.

KingJoffreysHasABigWhiteBeard Sat 27-Dec-14 12:20:55

She keeps calling on DH to go round and fix things she had broken, such as the internet not working, or losing all her channels on the telly, or fixing the sound on her iPad, and all these issues DH says she must have five herself mad, like switching off the modem, or the Virgin box or turning down the volume.

That's not dementia. That's her finding any excuse for him to go round.

pictish Sat 27-Dec-14 12:22:56

Gerty I don't think the handbag gaff was necessarily intended to control...but there is something improper in her assumption that she was to be included in the event, like she thought it appropriate that she be in on the secret. Because you're all so close. In her ideal world.

My dh does not treat his aunt as someone he feels affection for, like he does his parents or brother, but I think that is what she wants from him. She has aggravating, pushy habits, and at times he is quite openly rude irritated by her...but she chooses to ignore the signals he is sending her, and convinces herself he's just a 'tricky character'.

She is obstinately blind to him, and he is cringingly ungracious. I am floating about in the middle wishing it would all go away!

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