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AIBU? Family member (long!)

(110 Posts)
Ilovewheelychairs Thu 06-Apr-17 16:11:58

Okay I'm posting in AIBU because I think I've lost perspective and may need a shock back into reality.

So, 3 years ago I met my DP. I get on really well with his parents and all of his friends so then I was introduced to his DB and SIL. First meeting with them and their children (15 and 9 at the time) all went well. Fab. I then went away to a hotel for a few days with them all over the Christmas period. All seemed absolutely fine at the time, we all seemed to have a good time. Only after that SIL started ignoring me. Not only that, but she'd make nasty comments about me to her friends who then posted sarcastic comments about me on fb (causing MIL to deactivate her account because she was upset about it), was actively rude to me when I saw her, even turned her back on me if it was just me and her. I asked my DP and my PIL repeatedly during this time what the problem was and nobody knew. After a YEAR of this, I then get a really awful text from SIL saying that when we were away in the hotel I had corrected her youngest child's manners at the dinner table and that I was rude and had treated her terribly. I immediately apologised (I don't remember doing so nor does anybody else at the table but I am prepared to accept I might have done) and we sorted things out.

Everything okay for a few months. We saw them 2/3 times, all fine. Last time I saw or had any contact with her was July. Suddenly in December she blocks me on fb and starts bitching about me again to everybody. Yet again, nobody has any idea of what I've done. However her mother had just died (to put this into context she had not seen or had anything to do with her mother for 35 years- her mum walked out on them when she was 4) so I thought she was probably grieving. I sent her some flowers and a card and left it at that.

On Christmas Day my DP proposed to me. BIL, SIL and family all in NYC for the Christmas period so my DP texted them to let them know. We had one text back, from his DN (who is now 18) saying 'that's brilliant, can I be a bridesmaid????' Nothing else from any of them.

We decided over the Xmas holiday that we were going to go away to get married and have a really small ceremony and honeymoon all in one. I'm a teacher so we're limited to school holidays. We have chosen to go to NYC in October half term and have a party when we got back. My parents/PIL and everyone else we spoke to thought it was a brilliant idea. DP rang his BIL and explained what we were doing and he seemed really pleased but said he didn't know if they could all go out as DN would be first term at uni. We said we understood that it would cost a lot (and they had just spent £15k on 16 days in NYC over the Xmas holidays!) but hoped that they would be able to join us for the party. A week later we got an email from BIL saying they wouldn't be coming out because he wouldn't split the family up and leave SIL and the kids (18 at uni and 13!) at home for 3 days because I hadn't asked DN to be a bridesmaid and that's all she'd ever wanted to do. We thought this was a bit odd, but accepted it, explained that I wasn't going to have any bridesmaids out there because it's such a small ceremony etc. BIL seemed fine.

Moving on, we booked NYC and a place for the reception in the U.K. I sent DN plus my two best friends invitations to be bridesmaids in the UK so they didn't miss out. DN took over a week to reply. Apparently SIL had been causing so many issues at home (ignoring DN and BIL, favouring youngest, yelling etc) that DN was too scared to reply and say she wanted to be involved. However, she did accept eventually and seem really keen. I found dresses they all liked and DN tried it on. I explained that I would like her to be involved in organising the hen do (an afternoon tea of 3 hours max, nothing major) and asked if I could give her number and email to my other bridesmaids so they could organise things together. DN really excited about this, had lots of ideas for the hen do. All good.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and everything has gone to shit. DN is refusing to answer any communication from either me or my bridesmaids. I had sent them all details of who I wanted to invite with contact details and what I wanted to do. I had to nag her to reply and confirm which date was good for her. Eventually she did. However, a week later she then sent a one line email to my bridesmaids saying she wasn't coming any more.

I sent her a text asking her why she wasn't coming and I thought she had wanted to be involved? If she couldn't come why did she choose that date as we could have easily chosen another one. It was important to me she was there as my bridesmaid etc. She ignored me but DP then got an email from BIL slagging me off, telling me DN was in the middle of mocks and it would be my fault if she got rubbish results because I had upset her. I sent an apology via DP (because nobody in their family ever actually speaks to the person they are upset with, drives me mad). DP then met up with BIL one evening to have a few drinks and sort a few things out. BIL seemed to be under the impression we had deliberately organised the entire wedding to spite them in some way. DP explained a good many things to him and they got on well. DP asked BIL to be his best man and BIL was chuffed and accepted.

DP then asked why SIL disliked me so much. BIL couldn't really give a straight answer but said the only thing he could think of was a comment I'd made in March which she wasn't impressed with. And which incidentally she wasn't even there for, it was PIL and DNiece and DNephew. It also had apparently taken her 9 months to decide she was cross about it??? She was also upset that I hadn't invited her to the hen do (she hadn't spoken to me for months?? Did she really expect to be?) and also that we hadn't consulted her on when or where we were getting married, that I hadn't given her the bridesmaids dresses or invitations to approve and even cross that my DP hadn't consulted them about proposing to me! DP kind of just said 'well that's a bit ridiculous isn't it? If she'd said something we could have sorted it out months ago'. BIL just said 'that's just SIL' and changed the subject.

They finished their night out and went back to BIL and SIL'a house. DP slept on sofa. He was woken by SIL screaming in his face at 2.30am because BIL was a bit merry (he's 43!) and how he'd deliberately taken him out to get drunk and he'd probably spiked his drink etc etc. DP was a bit stunned so didn't really say anything, she then went back upstairs and had a screaming row with BIL.

Next day he receives an email from BIL apologising for the night before and pulling out of being his best man because he had to 'put his family first'. He said he didn't feel he could do a positive speech about me and DP together so he'd rather not be involved. A day later, I get a vile text from DNiece pulling out of being my bridesmaid because of all the 'drama' I had made about her not being able to go to the hen do and she wasn't going to go to that so she wasn't going to be my bridesmaid. She put words into my mouth. Apparently I had said to her that she was 'clearly not up to the job' which I would never have said. I replied, explained that I had never said that, I just needed some communication with her at some point and it would have been polite of her to just send me a text saying she was too busy to organise it or explain why she couldn't come. I also said that SIL could come to the hen do if she wanted and that I would keep her bridesmaid slot open for her to change her mind at any point. No reply.

So, a week later I decide to email BIL myself because I know that DP really wants him to be at the wedding reception. I explained that DP really needed him there, we were only asking for 5 hours of his time. I understood it was me and SIL who were making it difficult and I was prepared to apologise and make things right if he could tell me what it was I was apologising for (!). I also reiterated what I had said to Dniece about her place still being open etc. No reply. I then sent SIL a massive box of chocolates with an apology. They were received yesterday and I got a completely raving text back about how I was splitting up the family, we were rushing all the arrangements for our wedding, there was no need for that we should have sat down with them and discussed time/date/place/bridesmaids with them and PIL (because apparently my parents don't really matter!). How dare I ask DNiece to help organise things, she's only 18 and just wanted to be DP's bridesmaid and wear a dress, I was completely unreasonable. How dare I send an email out with a list of people I wanted to invite to the hen do to her daughter, nobody does that it's really weird and I'm not right in the head. That I sent a really nasty text to her daughter and that was the last straw, I had alienated them all. She then finished up by saying they were a close family before I arrived and they now aren't because of my behaviour. She's washing her hands of the whole thing. And she thought I should know what I'm apologising for!

I was a bit stunned tbh. I replied saying that I had discussed with and asked DNiece if she was happy organising things, and she'd said yes. That all I was asking for was the occasional reply to a text and I didn't think that was too much to ask, but if she had told me that then I would have let her off the organising part. That they hadn't shown any interest in our engagement at all, they didn't even send us their congratulations or anything so I was confused as to why they felt we should run all our decisions about our wedding by them- did she do that for her wedding? And that I wasn't asking her to be my friend but I was just asking that she allowed BIL to be at his brothers wedding. She sent me back a 'crying with laughter' emoticon. That's it.

So, if you've got to the end of this, AIBU? Am I really the psychotic bridezilla that SIL is implying I am? MIL is siding with SIL and saying I have to be nice to her, she has always behaved that way and it's just her. But I feel bullied and upset. I have tried to apologise and she's just thrown it back in my face. But I don't want to be seen as the person who is splitting up my DP's family and MIL is implying that it's my fault with not going along with SIL's demands. DP is very much on my side btw, defends me to BIL, SIL and MIL. I just feel so sad that this may prevent a major part of his family being at his wedding.

JaxingJump Thu 06-Apr-17 16:20:18

She's a nutter. Wow!

I'd leave the BIL as best man thing to DH2B to negotiate and stay away from them completely myself. Everything you do seems to get you SILs back up. It's pointless trying so you are best to bow out.

Areyoufree Thu 06-Apr-17 16:21:01

Wow. Best piece of advice I was ever given was to not try and rationalise irrational behaviour. She sounds like someone who will never be happy, and you could drive yourself crazy trying to work out what is going on. Wash your hands of it. If your partner wants his brother at the wedding, then he can sort it out. You've done more than enough. Just try and organise the wedding you that want, and ignore their, frankly bizarre, behaviour.

Ilovewheelychairs Thu 06-Apr-17 16:22:37

See I really want to, but MIL is so upset about BIL potentially not coming to the wedding at all and she is implying it's my fault for not complying with SIL. You're right that any communication gets her back up, but I suspect their marriage is on the rocks (SIL has had 3 affairs during their marriage) so I don't want them to look back in 20 years time and be sad that they didn't attend the wedding. You're right though, think I need to step back and not get involved any more.

mmgirish Thu 06-Apr-17 16:22:57

You should stop apologising as it seems to validate her behaviour towards you.

Ilovewheelychairs Thu 06-Apr-17 16:23:21

Thanks both, first time AIBU and first two messages are not me being flamed! Quite a relief!!

Justanothernameonthepage Thu 06-Apr-17 16:24:27

God no – she’s isolating her family. The best thing you can do right now is stop trying to be her friend. Let DN & BIL know that if they ever need you, no matter how longs it’s been that they can call/text or just turn up and that you’ll never not be there for them. But that you’re not her emotional punching bag, her behaviour isn’t healthy and you’re not indulging it any more. Explain that while you’d love them to be at the wedding, you understand that they feel they can’t. However if they change their mind on the day, they are welcome to come and you won’t place anything on social media that could make them a target of SIL. She has red flags of being an abuser from what you’ve written.


Stop bending over backwards – there is nothing you can do or say that will keep her happy so you should focus on making your own family as happy as can be. It may be that standing up to her will help your BIL & DN realise that they don’t have to put up with it either.

Ilovewheelychairs Thu 06-Apr-17 16:26:51

Okay, so general advice is to stop apologising, let her get on with it, and just let them know (through DP I think) that they are welcome to the wedding if they want. I can do that. Thanks so much everyone.

Justanothernameonthepage Thu 06-Apr-17 16:27:31

MIL knows you can't reason with crazy so she's hoping you'll give in. But you can commiserate with her that BIL won't be there, but nothing you've said/done has helped and that given SIL behaviour, you think it's best she not attend. But that you're so happy she'll be there and what is she wearing? Would she like to see the dress etc

SurlyValentine Thu 06-Apr-17 16:29:04

SIL is batshit.

HTH.

alltouchedout Thu 06-Apr-17 16:30:01

I would tell my DP I was not havingredients anything to do with his family ever again and I would mean it. Bloody hell!

lazytuesday Thu 06-Apr-17 16:32:10

no they are all completely insane and it seems like they are taking advantage of you wanting to keep the peace. Dont do that any more they arent worth it. Arrange your wedding how you want it and tell them what is happening. Invite them and give them the opportunity to come but if they say they arent dont engage and try and find out why, just leave it. Its all massively immature attention seeking behaviour. The best thing to do is detatch from it. Dont apologise or try and explain yourself. Just keep any communication clear unnemotional and to the point. Do not respond if they start insulting you or behaving strangely.

Ilovewheelychairs Thu 06-Apr-17 16:36:09

Thank you all so much. I have quite bad anxiety which I've had years of therapy and medication for, so I quite often find it difficult to distinguish when it's me being paranoid and difficult or it someone else is genuinely in the wrong. Thanks for all the advice. DP is amazing and supports me 100%- after SIL texts last night he made me block her number and he did too.

Racmactac Thu 06-Apr-17 16:38:10

She sounds batshit crazy. Get on with your wedding plans and leave them to it.

Why on earth would you discuss wedding plans with her ? Sod all to do with her.

Good on your dh as well for blocking her.

reetgood Thu 06-Apr-17 16:41:05

You are not being unreasonable. SIL sounds difficult, sorry this is all focusing round your wedding and upsetting for you and partner.

I once read the most amazing bit of advice re dealing with enormous pain in the backside in laws. In this bit of advice, it's re the MIL who is referred to as 'Alice'. I think it applies here - just substitute 'SIL' for Alice. TL:DR : stop placating her. She will be mad whatever, so the key is to not let fear of her response control your actions. You are taking responsibility for her feelings. This will just escalate. Here's what the advice said:

"You cannot control Alice’s behavior. You cannot predict Alice’s behavior. You cannot prevent Alice’s behavior. Alice is gonna do what Alice is gonna do, which is cry and shower displeasure and guilt on her family, who will cheerfully pass it onto you, because that’s how they roll.

Alice is going to throw tantrums and be shitty NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO. I think that is helpful to know. Keep reminding yourself. Alice will find ways to be shitty and intrusive, because she is a shitty intrusive control freak who needs to make everything about her and who will projectile vomit blame all over everyone.

Also, Alice is not going to get better. She is not going to have a sudden revelation of self-awareness and stop this stuff. She may mellow with age and time, but she is always going to be somewhat like this.

Here’s what’s powerful about realizing this: Once a person shows that they don’t give a shit about the social contract and have no shame about throwing adult temper tantrums in public, it kind of frees you from giving a shit about what they think of you. They hold the threat of their tantrum (displeasure, guilt trip, sulk, whatever) over the family if they don’t get what they want, but you have the power to say “Huh” and not really even acknowledge that it affects you. Or you have the power to say “It really freaks me out when you cry and yell at me over what seem like minor things and makes me not want to be around you” to Alice or “It really freaks me out when Alice crys and yells at me over something minor and you all treat me like it’s my fault and not something very strange that she is doing” to his family. You have more power, because you have more self-control and are not shitty tantrum titty-baby. Permanently offended people lose power because it eventually becomes absurd and hilarious for them to be that offended all the time, and someone who insists “You don’t love me enough!” at every turn is living in a self-fulfilling prophecy....

One way to reset the relationship with someone like Alice is to stare unblinkingly at them while they do their thing, and stay very calm. Once they pause for breath, say something like “What I’m hearing is that you’re very upset about x. How would you like me to handle x in the future?” in a very even tone of voice, as if the tantrum has never happened. Keep pushing for them to suggest what your next step should be. As long as they stay in the realm of vague “But I just wanted you to have read my mind and for it to have been magically better, in the past tense, which you can’t undo or control right now” stuff, you can’t really do anything about it.

I mean, dude, I hate the “non-apology apology” of “I’m sorry you feel that way” as much as anyone, but it was made for people like Alice. You can keep repeating “I’m very sorry to have upset you. Can you give me your best case scenario for what you want in the future?” until she gives up (probably in a huff, but who cares?) or actually spells something out, which people like Alice are TERRIBLE at doing which is why they have to rule everyone with tantrums. If she does manage to articulate a positive outcome, you evaluate it and either say “Thanks for telling me, I’m pretty sure I can agree to x from now on” or you say “Thanks for telling me, I’m sorry, that’s not negotiable for me.”

captainawkward.com/2012/05/14/247-marrying-into-a-family-with-awful-boundary-issues-or-secrets-of-dealing-with-highly-difficult-people/

ShuttyTown Thu 06-Apr-17 16:42:25

Stop apologising to her she's a fruit loop. Have no more communication with any of them, what's the point, you can't do any right according to them so why bother!

FlyingElbows Thu 06-Apr-17 16:43:02

I have a Sil just like that. Meeting someone who doesn't just tolerate their behaviour sends them off the scale. You will never change her, it's pointless trying. Make the choices which are right for you and your Dp and leave crazy Sil to stew in her own juice. Mine expected me to just accept being treated like complete shit and was totally blindsided when the result of her behaviour was a complete blanking from me. The only person she actually hurt was her brother. She sees herself as some wronged victim purely because I exist (I have never had any meaningful interaction with her ever, she simply hated not being in control of her brother's choice of girlfriend) and nothing anyone does will change that. We just live our lives because hell will freeze over before a self obsessed bully will run my life. Stick up for yourself.

Chloe84 Thu 06-Apr-17 16:43:11

OP, you have the patience of a saint!!

Time to go NC. She WILL find a way to ruin your wedding day.

ExplodedCloud Thu 06-Apr-17 16:45:59

She sounds unhinged. Agree with others that you can't have a reasonable discussion when one person isn't reasonable.
Do you think she's so used to having every dance to her tune and is angry that you've changed the dynamic?

LadyPW Thu 06-Apr-17 16:48:28

shock Yep, she's a nutter. The total looney tunes package. It's like stepping into another dimension.
Just cut all contact, no more apologies, and if you ever have to see again limit yourself to asking if they've worked out the correct dosage for her medication yet grin

FrancisCrawford Thu 06-Apr-17 16:49:35

My goodness you are patient! Most people would have cracked long ago, but you sound lovely and very considerate

SIL is a nasty, manipulative control freak. Well done on blocking her because whatever you do is going to be wrong.

MrsJaniceBattersby Thu 06-Apr-17 16:49:42

They all sound odd
Don't let them come to your wedding
They'll only find a way of ruining it

HelenaGWells Thu 06-Apr-17 16:51:36

She's absolutely batshit crazy. You have to disengage because for whatever reason she's taken against you and nothing you say will be good enough.

blankmind Thu 06-Apr-17 16:51:55

Your SIL has serious problems, the family are all minimising it and complying with it, even encouraging it by saying it's "her way" but seriously, she needs help to find any shred of emotional maturity.

Brilliant idea of your DP to block her number.

Starlighter Thu 06-Apr-17 16:52:43

SIL has got issues! nothing you do will ever be good enough, so stop trying! And stop apologising, you've done nothing wrong.

Tell DP to tell them all that as they keep having issues with you, you're going to keep your distance from now on. They're welcome to the wedding and you'll be happy to make friends if they change their mind but don't interact with them anymore as you're just adding fuel to their batshit fire.

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