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quarrel: trying to find a way forward

(76 Posts)
matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 20:38:29

So my husband's elder brother is much older than us, about 75. I just say that to give context. You should probably think of him as a FIL-type rather than a BIL.

He's my husband's only surviving family and they're fairly close. He makes an effort to be a kind/good sort, used to be a lawyer, volunteers.

But he's an absolute pig to his wife, and he thinks sexually harassing women is a way of connecting with them.

I've been with my husband for ten years, married for nearly seven. This is literally the only thing we have ever quarrelled about.

I have tried over and over again to be friends with BIL. At the beginning we had a serious problem with his over-eagerness to hug and kiss and squeeze me, until I had to have a serious talk with him over it and he stopped.

He's one of those who gibbers insults at his wife absolutely non-stop. It is so depressing to be around. For variety he'll "flirt" with a waitress or make a comment about my sexy legs. #grim

The last time we spent time with them (Jan) we had a horrible day out during which I was basically trapped in a car with that bullshit. I managed to keep civil but my husband had a go at me afterwards for being "cold." Hey, it was either that or jump out of the fucking car. Husband and I quarrelled bitterly.

Husband has invited BIL and his wife to ours for the first weekend of July. Cleared it with me first. Fine. Today husband asked whether I'd like to go and see a show with them on the Saturday and then go to see the Tour de France (day out) on the Sunday. No thank you and no thank you. I'll just go to the stables and see you in the evening.

Husband got the hump. I don't want to go see the Tour de France? Really I don't? Really I don't? Am I sure?

We tried to have a talk about it but got nowhere. I was telling him I wasn't mad at him, it was his brother. But I wasn't going to put myself in a position of being trapped with that again. Why would I?

I tried to ask him how he felt but now frankly I regret it. He said, "There's a lot of lovey-doveyness around here but when it comes to a real test of love and tolerance you do this." Oh, and also he said they've been very welcoming to me (I'm foreign) and are his only family. Also I can't judge their marriage.

I said, "Yes, but those things co-exist. He has been welcoming to me and he's also sexually harassed me. And of course I can judge the way he treats his wife, because it's wrong and upsetting to be around."

Why can't the "love and tolerance" thing be BIL's responsibility too? Because, I'm told, he won't change. Oh okay then.

Husband made some comments around how I was winding myself up and no one else had a problem with BIL (except for BIL's step-children who won't let them near his teenaged step-granddaughters anymore but evidently that doesn't count).

I said I could feel a lot better about the whole thing if husband would just acknowledge that I've been doing my best to be civil and it's a lot to put up with. "I don't see it that way," he says and goes up to play with his computer.

Okay, fuck you too.

Just a vent, really.

And anyone who tries to rationalise misogyny to me because he's "old" is going to get their head bitten off (metaphorically speaking).

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 20:39:37

And when I started typing the above I was thinking, "Maybe I can find a way forward?" But then by the time I finished I thought, "Ah, fuck it."

karatekimmi Sat 14-Jun-14 20:41:55


matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 20:45:08

Thanks karatekimmi. How did you know?

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 20:46:52

I pretty much insisted that husband tell me what was on his mind, because he's usually such a bottle-it-in Englishman. And then when he told me I got pissed off. High-five, me!


have you written about him before. I remember a similar post recently about someones vile bil who harassed women. poor you and poor waitress.

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 20:53:57

Thanks for remembering Round. Yes, that was our quarrel back in January.

I am at a loss. It helps to keep in mind that it's not anything husband or I are doing wrong, it's just a shitty situation we're in.

For me the solution is the path of least resistance. "You all enjoy the Tour. I've got to go into the stables, aw, too bad. Tell me all about it when we meet for a [VERY BRIEF] supper tonight!"

To me my absence is only a Big Deal if my husband makes it into one.

You know what? That's really what it boils down to.

SamanthaJones Sat 14-Jun-14 20:58:37

Hmm, your dh isn't going to take your side on this is he? Which is very annoying and I'm not sure I could let it go but your path of least resistance sounds sensible

Would your husband listen if you said something like "you know what, I will tolerate him, for your sake. But in order to cope I need to do xyz so if you want me to not explode at him that's the way it's got to be. That's the deal, take it or leave it" ?

Very annoying, I agree.

SamanthaJones Sat 14-Jun-14 21:00:03

And you're right, that's what it boils down to

So he needs to not make it a big deal. Is the SIL nice? Could you spend the day with her instead?

SamanthaJones Sat 14-Jun-14 21:00:57

Your dh is seeing it as "love me love my pita brother" though by the sound of it :eye roll:

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 21:01:24

That is essentially what I said, Samantha. You're on the same wavelength with me. I pretty much said that was the best he was getting.

He's not exactly not taking my side. I mean, it's not about sides...

Oh fuck it, he's not taking my side. I am really fucking angry at him right now.

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 21:02:22

Yes she's nice. No, she'd never spend the day away from BIL.

SamanthaJones Sat 14-Jun-14 21:03:19

Sleep on it maybe?

Or, alternatively, go and have a really big fight!

SamanthaJones Sat 14-Jun-14 21:04:18

Organise a day that doesn't involve much interaction?

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 21:07:35

Yeah, maybe I could capitulate on the theatre thing on Saturday. He'll have to keep quiet during the show.

Or maybe fucking not. I don't know. I'll sleep on it.

Thanks Samantha.

ThefutureMrsTatum Sat 14-Jun-14 21:08:26

Stick to your guns, your not going and that's final.

If you give in you know your going to be miserable and it will possibly escalate into something bigger. Tell dh your saving him further hassle by not allowing yourself to get wound up by him by avoiding the situation, you've already agreed to July and thats enough.

He may not have many more years in him anyway!

SamanthaJones Sat 14-Jun-14 21:08:29

Good luck and theatre sounds like a plan!

SarcyMare Sat 14-Jun-14 21:12:59

I would say to your hubby that, you are sorry but you don't like his brother( everyone is allowed to dislike some people) and to remain civil to him you will need large breaks.
Explain that his behaviour makes you uncomfortable and ask that you are never on an intimate situation just the two of you.
There is nothing you can do about his behaviour to his wife, as the only person who can is his wife and she is choosing not to, so discussing it with your hubby is just arguing with nothing to gain.

If his brother lives far enough away ( or is never going to show any interest anyway) make up a show you are practicing for, so need to spend extra time at the stables, schooling, exercising, grooming.

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 21:17:51

so discussing it with your hubby is just arguing with nothing to gain

Yeah, you're right. I don't know why I want to argue about it with my husband. I don't want him to ditch his brother, I just want him to say, "Yeah, you're right Matilda, that's completely unacceptable." Why the heck do I find it so important for him to say that?

SamanthaJones Sat 14-Jun-14 21:22:38

Because it's a about shared values / morality and you're not getting from him that he shares yours

But he's skewed because it's his brother

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 21:27:30

Yeah. Husband has been involved in this local group of men against male violence against women (if you can follow all that) and I threw that in his face while quarrelling on this topic. And he's actually read Judith Butler and Marilyn French (unlike some other people in this house, ahem). And now this.

matildasquared Sat 14-Jun-14 21:43:51

Shameless bump. Feeling kind of crap and lost.

daisychain01 Sun 15-Jun-14 05:11:13

Hi Matilda, good idea going to a theatre show, but make sure your seating arrangement is something like

Matilda - DH - wifeofBIL -BIL.


WifeofBIL - BIL - matilda - DH

Otherwise you have his grubby hand all over you in the dark with nowhere to escape angry

He sounds ghastly, not a 'nice sort' that you so magnanimously called him in your OP

Really, I would spend most of the time at the stables and as non-committally friendly the times you have to put up with being in your BILs company.

Cabrinha Sun 15-Jun-14 07:18:43

He sounds awful.
I am really reluctant to "defend" your husband here in anyway, but... you said yes to then coming for the weekend. To me, that means you said yes to spending time with them. So I'd be pissed off that you now said you were going to ignore them and hide out at the stables.
Don't get me wrong, I see why you want to, I really do. But I think it's fair if he expected more.
I think it would have been perfectly acceptable for you to say no to the weekend! But you didn't.

I think I would do this: tell him that as you said yes, you'll suck it up, and go to theatre. Either grin and bear the cycling, or find another activity. Definitely can't peel SIL away? Take her hacking? But tell him this is the last time, that next time if he asks you about inviting them you will be explicit in saying "yes if you like but I will not be here". Yes, that'll cause a row - but there won't be any difference in expectation. Also tell him that you are going out with them this time for him only, and that means you will NOT take any shit from him afterwards if you are civil but cool.

BIL sounds vile sad

matildasquared Sun 15-Jun-14 08:18:57

Otherwise you have his grubby hand all over you in the dark with nowhere to escape.

Oh no, he doesn't touch me anymore. I don't even shake his hand. He wouldn't be coming if I were worried about being sexually assaulted.

Thanks for your comments and thoughts.

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