AIBU to feel uncomfortable about these conversations?(9 Posts)
Background: When I started going out with DH (about 10 years ago), I met his sister, my future SIL, a few weeks later and her boyfriend (BIL), a few weeks after that, so I've known them both a similar amount of time and I've always got on really well with both of them, although we didn't see them very often. They always seemed very loved up but then started having problems, separated and are now getting divorced. They both described it publicly as 'growing apart' (FB), they wanted to stay friends etc. and while I know BIL had various MH problems and dyspraxia, and SIL had reached her limit with what she could cope with in terms of him doing things without considering her feelings, I thought they might genuinely have an amicable divorce and DH and I hoped we could stay friends with EXBIL (and saw him separately in the summer).
When they were separated SIL got a new boyfriend (who seems nice and makes her happy) and they are currently staying with us. I think SIL has been bottling up some anger towards EXBIL and wants to talk about the things that have made her angry, and I'm trying to support her as a friend and listen to what she wants to talk about (so I don't want to sit there and remind her of the good things about her ex or play devil's advocate (maybe he did that because...) when she wants a chance to be angry).
What made me uncomfortable were a few conversations, mainly between SIL and new boyfriend, when we were all there last night:
a) New boyfriend making earnest statements about how much he loves SIL and how well he treats her compared to EXBIL and generally how rubbish EXBIL is.
b) Conversation assuming EXBIL is being vindictive about splitting things that mean something to SIL, which doesn't sound like him and doesn't consider that the same things might be meaningful to him too
c) Conversation complaining about EXBIL wanting to get more than is fair out of the divorce (which seems a bit hypocritical as SIL and new boyfriend are living together but not publicly because it might affect the settlement)
It feels like it's going to be really difficult to stay friends with both of them (and SIL knows me and DH want to stay friends with EXBIL), and I already feel like I have to keep things from EXBIL which I'm not happy about. I think because I can see things from his point of view/feel sympathy for someone dealing with MH problems and because he's my friend I want to defend him, but I also want to be a good friend to SIL who wants to vent right now.
AlBU to feel uncomfortable with some of these conversations and pissed off about what feels like redefining EXBIL as if we always this awful person (particularly from the new boyfriend who doesn't know him)? And any advice for staying friends with two people who are divorcing, particularly when you're more closely tied to one of them?
You're totally NBU, but to be how at I don't know what advice to give you! You've mentioend that SIL knows that you'd like to stay friends with EXBIL, so I guess politely reiterating this may not have much effect. Technically I guess SIL is still your family by that that means in practice I don't know! I sympathise - you sound sensible and compassionate.
I think it is totally bizarre to sit exclaiming how much you love and adore someone in front of other adults and new BF sounds awful to me.
The only people that really know what went on in that relationship are SIL and EXBIL.
It's very difficult to remain friends with both, if the divorce is going shit.
Tbh she is better placed to say wether her ex is making things difficult or not. It may not sound like him but people don't act like themselves when getting divorce, all the time. Some people do, do things they shouldn't.
The new boyfriend making comments is really not on. He is speaking badly of someone he doesn't know to people who have been his family.
Not sure what you can do about though.
Unfortunately if the divorce is heading into this territory. It's very very difficult for you to remain neutral.
If I was divorcing dh and dbro and his wife wanted to remain friends with him and therefore not show me any support, I would be hurt. Especially if dh started making it more difficult than it needs to be.
Horrible situation but I do think in the long term your loyalty needs to lie with SIL, even if she is rewriting her story a bit without necessarily realising it to suit the new situation as so many of us do after a traumatic split.
I've been through similar, recently, albeit with friends rather than family. It all started off good intentioned, growing apart etc, we'll always care for each other but it just isn't right....
And then the shit hit the fan and it went downhill. Dh and I want to stay friends with both of them - we've been friends a long time but it is proving difficult.
We've made it clear that when spending time with either of them, we are not up for discussing the other one. Both have behaved badly in some respects however it's very much six of one and half a dozen of the other. Nothing major - just the usual shite.
It's not too bad at the minute but I suspect ultimately we will continue to have a closer friendship with the male in the relationship (who dh has known longer and if I'm honest, we both enjoy the company of more) and the female will become a casual acquaintance.
Any new partner slagging off the ex for either of them would get short shrift though. I would take SIL to one side and say something like 'look, I know you're going through a tough time, but we really don't want to hear your new bf slagging off ex to us...it puts us in an awkward position'. New Bf sounds a bit of a dick, tbh.
This new bf is an idiot.
Even if he believes this crap - he shouldn't be saying it.
I would stay out of it and let dh say something to his sis.
Thanks for replies. New boyfriend was being a bit odd, I think he's trying to reassure us that he's going to look after SIL but the way he talks about it is weird (including saying how he'd act if they split up), kind of like he's trying to sell himself as this great boyfriend. It was mainly him saying things that irritated me, I think SIL was unhappy for a while and her anger has built up which is more understandable.
Enjolrass, you're right, I don't know what he's said/done, and some of the dividing things exactly equally might be thoughtless or deliberately mean if both partners know they mean more to one person. It was more that there seemed to be some assuming he's going to be a dick about things he hasn't been asked about.
If it happens again I think I'll say something, but hopefully we can keep the conversation on other things.
I totally get that having the boyfriend saying these things would wind you up more.
As for the fact tags she is assuming things again, she has been with him a long time and knows him beat. She may prove to be right. I can predict dhs response and behaviours.
She may be worrying about nothing.
The boyfriend seems a little desperate to prove he is wonderful. Which isn't always a likeable trait. It makes me uneasy tbh. Don't let it get to a point that sil thinks she can't turn to you or your dh if she needs to.
It's very difficult for you as well.
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