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Family feuding and I don't know WIBU

(11 Posts)
Sibsmum Sat 11-Aug-18 12:21:52

Long backstory but trying to keep it short.

DH sister lives 4hrs away and our kids are about 10 years younger than hers.

She is currently living with MIL who is lovely and sweet and had a nasty health scare last year so feels a little more vulnerable than usual but is mobile , capable and we have a good relationship.

DH and sil have never had a great relationship. She seems to resent that he travelled and had adventures and career success before getting married and starting a family. We have as a family continued to travel and have adventures and both DH and I have worked really hard at a work life balance that allows life to be fun , even though we have a limited budget. Life isn't always easy but we get on with health issues, job insecurity and living apart most of the year when DH works away, because everyone makes sacrifices and everyone has hard times and we are just making our decisions and doing our best.
SIL has had many jobs, many health issues, a nasty divorce and a whole heap of bad luck. Currently doesn't work, lives with MIL and seems to feel that my DH should be and should have been for years, available to her and her kids to prop them up. Now, this is shouted and screamed at him when he does go to visit , and she very rarely calls even on the phone. She ignores my existence and that of our children entirely and has gone nc with everyone numerous times.
My view is that she is mentally unwell and needs help, but it's not my place to say, and she is very difficult so don't actually say much at all regarding her.
Now MIL has had a health scare she is very determined to get her son and daughter talking again. She has witnessed several outbursts from sil to DH but wants peace in her own mind before she goes ( not likely but it did scare her when she was unwell)
DH has written to his sister, got a nasty reply, made suggestions, she ignored, tried to move forward, she always dredges up the past and says he,s never been there for her.
DH happy to go nc because he sees sister as manipulative and disturbed and feels he has tried, but can't be a substitute father to her grown (20's) kids and that his priority is us. BUT he doesn't want to upset his mum either. I am quite intimidated and fearful of sil, but feel that the door should be left open if possible. I have a great relationship with my bro and his family and really value that closeness.
I don't know what to advise. I don't want to judge but I really have no idea what, if anything I can constructively contribute to this. Ideas please?

KatieMarieJ Sat 11-Aug-18 12:25:20

Draw a line in the sand. DH needs to tell both MIL and SIL together that whilst he will always be there if SIL really needs him, there is no point trying to pretend to be friends or trying to maintain a close relationship. I feel for your MIL I really do but you can't force people into relationships just because they share DNA.

Maelstrop Sat 11-Aug-18 12:39:40

Thing is, he doesn’t need to be there for her. She has grown up kids. She’s an adult and presumably copes day to day. It’s not his job to be there for her, he should be there for you and your dc. It’s odd that she wants him to ‘be there’ for her. If mil is mobile, fine, mentally ok, then why does she need him?

MissionItsPossible Sat 11-Aug-18 12:43:39

Difficult situation. I would have normally advised for your husband to call his sister on speakerphone while his mother was present so she could hear how she rebuffed his attempts at making the peace but if she is ill that is not a good idea.

Maybe he could keep the peace by not announcing he was going no contact with her but just doing it all the same and keeping up appearances in events when they are forced together?

Sibsmum Sat 11-Aug-18 13:36:53

Yes, it is better to try and keep the peace. I don't like the thought of the communication being cut off entirely. I appreciate that DH feels that it easier than being shouted and screamed at and verbally abused , but I think we would both be there if we were really needed.
Mil, is in regular contact and we see her albeit secretly because sil doesn't like it that we see her. Mil knows we love her and support her and as a mum I totally get her desire for her children to get on. It's a stretch for me to imagine that scenario after all the ill feeling sil harbours and can't seem to get passed. Sil seems to project that everything that is awful about her life is somehow DH 's business to sort out for her. There,s certainly a lot of resentment there. We don't have an ideal life and certainly have our own hurdles, but we just quietly get on because we don't have or need support outside ourselves. It,s just sad and I wish I was brave enough to suggest sil needs help with her issues.

Weepingangels Sat 11-Aug-18 13:52:57

I think your SIL does sound unpleasant and i think you should support your husband in nc if that is what he wants, even if you think lc would be better.

It sounds like your MIL has supported this behaviour towards your dh by going along with it all his life, so i am unsurprised he is fed up and disinclined to help SIL anymore. Your MIL should not keep pushing your dh, it is unfair and will lead to resentment and when MIL does die there may well be relief that he no longer has to try with SIL and that will have a negative guilt effect on him.

I am sorry to be honest but mentally ill or a nasty piece of work, SIL sounds toxic and if nc is best in your husbands eyes then that should be the way to go. The being there for her is what has been pushed on him all his life and is the reason SIL is like this.

LagunaBubbles Sat 11-Aug-18 13:59:05

Mil, is in regular contact and we see her albeit secretly because sil doesn't like it that we see her

That's ridicolous, it's your DH Mum to as well as hers no reason you shouldn't see her! You are all pandering to this awful woman.

Sibsmum Sat 11-Aug-18 14:16:50

Yes It is ridiculous, but MIL decision and sil currently lives with MIL so I guess she wants to keep the peace.
I did once years ago try to put my tuppence in, but ended up being on the receiving end of some nastiness myself, so try to stay out of it. I try to support DH but ultimately I do agree that the decision needs to be his. He might need to stand up to sil and MIL ultimately.

longwayoff Sat 11-Aug-18 14:19:29

See her in secret!!! Give me a break.stop pandering to this infantile behaviour.

junebirthdaygirl Sat 11-Aug-18 16:09:38

Whats the worst sil in law can do..shout and roar? Let her. No one will die even though its horrible. If the power was gone out of her bullying tacticts she could shout and roar to her hearts content and everyone would just look at her and say " are you alright?
The worst thing here is ye seeing mil in secret. Your dhs own mother!
He needs to adopt a different tactic. Susan Forewards book Emotional Blackmail is excellent for this. Eg adopting one sentence to say no matter what she lm sorry you feel that way. NO OTHER DISCUSSION. NO TRYING TO JUSTIFY HIMSELF.
I wouldn't cut off but render that woman powerless. She obviously has problems but it will actually do her good to be stood up to.
And last she going to inherit mils house? More trouble??

Sibsmum Sat 11-Aug-18 16:45:54

Thank you for the book suggestion. It's definitely good to get fresh perspectives here. I have worried that sil is capable of physically harming when she rants and rages, but she is far enough away from us that it is very unlikely. Kids know now they are old enough never to go with her however convincing her reason, if she turns up. DH thinks she could try to use them to hurt him. I don't entirely disagree but think it's very unlikely.
Inheritance is sorted with a time limit written in before sil has to vacate if the current situation is still the same should anything happen to mil.
Mil is they nothing who could really draw a line and she won't do that. I see that Sil has been enabled into this pattern by very non confrontational people in the family. Still, it's a horribly sad state of affairs.

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