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Brother ended marriage- how to act with SIL?

(18 Posts)
DownInFraggleRock Fri 01-Apr-16 20:16:49

My brother recently told his wife he didn't want to remain married. Childhood sweethearts, married young, grew apart. If either of them told their story here, they would get calls of 'LTB'.... No cheating or abuse, but very dysfunctional for a long time.

I wouldconsider myself to be friendly rather than friends with my SIL, but I think she would definitely consider me a close friend; she's always struggled to make and maintain friendships, and often confided in me about the problems they were having.
Does anyone have advice on how you treat the changing relationship? I'm very aware she's hurt and angry, and I don't want her to feel like I'm treating her badly too, but I don't want to be her support, and I definitely don't want to be trailed into the middle of the mess! What level of involvement do people take, or would you expect if you were her?

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Fri 01-Apr-16 20:59:46

Well, when DB behaved like a tit, it didn't change how I felt about my SIL. Lovely woman, mother of DD's cousins, good company and in sore need of a shoulder in the early days.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Fri 01-Apr-16 21:03:55

I became closer to my Sil when my DB left her. I just kept textng to make sure she knew I was there for her, and met her for coffee/lunch frequently. As time went by and she got through it, she needed me less.

It was a bloody grim time.,

ThroughThickAndThin01 Fri 01-Apr-16 21:06:33

I think in a strange way she found it comforting to be with me, because of my relationship to him, it made her feel connected to him still.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 01-Apr-16 21:17:16

From ThroughThick's last post, I think it's important that you DON'T stay close to your SIL because of the enduring link she would feel, that would surely hurt her more in the long term?

As you say that your DB and SIL grew apart then I would say your loyalty should be with your brother. Your SIL will not be able to preserve that closeness should your brother start dating again eventually - or marry again. Imagine how awkward that would be!

Keep out of it as much as you can and start distancing from their relationship. YOUR relationship with your brother will endure because blood really is thicker than water. That's my view anyway.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Fri 01-Apr-16 21:33:18

Oh no I think that's really very cruel.

I doubt she'll be hurting by the time he remarries.

It's now she needs people.

I was very very happy to be there for my sil when she needed me.

Dancingtothemusicoftime Fri 01-Apr-16 21:59:30

My brother was a complete cunt to my SIL. I Have remained friends with her, supported her over the years, and held her hand literally and metaphorically when my DB married the OW. My DB and my DB's now wife have tried very hard, often roping in my DM - who can see no fault in my DB - to stop me maintaining any contact with my Dex-SIL. They have been told very firmly to FOTHFSOFATFOSM. No one polices my friendships or tells me who I have the 'right' to speak to angry. Incidentally, I am cordial to my DB's W but will never like her. She too behaved despicably. My Dex-SIL has had a bloody time of it at the hands of DB and I won't suspend my moral compass just because he and I are siblings.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 01-Apr-16 22:40:19

Your scenario isn't the same though, Dancing, OP's brother and SIL are 'no fault', her brother just didn't want to be married anymore. Anybody can end a relationship for any reason and there's nobody lined up for either of them.

Dancingtothemusicoftime Fri 01-Apr-16 23:27:33

Lying I do get that and I wasn't trying to draw a direct analogy, but the OP does say that her SIL is hurt and angry. Surely it is not unreasonable to want to support a loved ex/about to be ex-SIL when they are in pain? I do think that as autonomous adults we have the right to do that. I am not suggesting that the OP takes sides in this scenario, but to totally abandon her SIL at this juncture when she clearly is someone who already struggles with friendships would be pretty heartless. I think that is is possible to remain neutral but a candid friend to someone in this situation. A challenge when the other party is your DB but entirely achievable provided you can make clear that you will not be indulging in any mud-slinging although my instinct still shouts cherchez la femme in this particular scenario.

DownInFraggleRock Sat 02-Apr-16 00:17:12

Thanks for the input, it's really good to hear different opinions. I have had a few conversations with her, and text most days (it's been a month now), but have only met up with her once. My worry is that she's already threatening things like not working for the next two years and expecting DB to support her, and simultaneously saying she'll never say anything against him,while saying plenty! At the minute I'm letting it slide because she is truly heartbroken, and says she didn't see it coming (although he initially told her he was feeling like he wanted to separate 9 months ago, and they went to marriage counselling at his suggestion, so I'm a bit hmm at that).

My gut tells me that she is going to majorly cross the line of acceptable levels of anger and badmouthing, and that the eventual choice will come down to bowing out early and be another one who abandoned her, or eventually have to call her out on her behaviour and end up in the middle of it all.... I think I'm just trying to believe/ explore if there is a middle ground!

springydaffs Sat 02-Apr-16 00:34:25

Perhaps you need to be honest and say you don't feel you're the right person to closely support her at this time.

She's going to be swinging about wildly, saying/doing all the wrong things in her shock (not excusing her!). She needs to do this with people who can take it - and you can't because it's your brother, whom you clearly love and naturally stand in his corner.

You also don't rate her much from what you've said - a one-sided friendship the way you describe it: friendly v close friend. Ouch for her. You don't appear to have much compassion for the fact she probably thought the announcement 9 months ago then the couples counselling ultimately resulted in her marriage ending. She could well have thought they were getting somewhere with the counselling...

The end of a marriage is horrible. This is going to be a car crash - you can't expect her to be behaving impeccably. Perhaps she wants to do the right thing but she can't pull it off.

Tbh she needs you like a hole in the head. I don't say that unkindly.

DownInFraggleRock Sat 02-Apr-16 10:45:42

You're absolutely right. I stopped sharing with her years ago because it kept being used against me, or told to other people; once I realised I couldn't trust her, I put my effort into making sure she felt supported and accepted while protecting myself and my family- disengenuous, but I didn't know what else to do; confronting her resulted in months of getting the cold shoulder and having it brought up over and over.

If it was a mutual split, I'd quite happily distance myself, but as she is so obviously heartbroken and hurt, I really do want to do right for her. At the moment that involves just letting her rant and get it all out, but when I visualise the future, I want a relationship where we send birthday messages etc and are friendly if we run into each other.... And writing that down makes me realise that's the sort of level of affection I already feel for her. Thanks for the feedback... It's really cleared things up in my head! Just have to work out how to make the transition without hurting her more, as she doesn't deserve that on top of everything else.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Sat 02-Apr-16 10:53:24

I'm going through something similar. It's amazing how quickly people feel blood's thicker than water. I've one SIL who is positively interfering and enabling DH (she's his SIL, too was married to his DB) in all of this. Not helpful at all.

Scornedwoman67 Sat 02-Apr-16 14:45:20

I have two lovely former SIL's. My exH had an affair & remarried to the OW. I have maintained a great friendship with both of them for the last 9 years. Our kids are cousins & we all get on great. I was very careful not to slag off their brother & make them uncomfortable. He has since distanced himself from them somewhat because they don't like the OW but I let them make their own judgment & that way we have stayed friends. I am very grateful to them for that. In your case though she is making it very difficult by expecting you to side with her over your DB and no matter how badly he has behaved that's not fair. I would reduce contact and make it clear your DB is not a topic of conversation you're willing to have with her.

huskylover Sat 02-Apr-16 15:41:48

Well please don't do what my ExSil's did....their DB cheated on me repeatedly and when I left him, he owned up to this. I never heard from them again. They thought cheating was one thing, but that I had split up the family by leaving (small DC's). I had been close to them for 20 years. Our children are cousins. I am Godparent to one of their children. Please don't do that. I will have to see these cunts people at my children's weddings, and I won't be able to speak to them with any civility at all.

ForalltheSaints Sat 02-Apr-16 16:15:23

If there are children then you should remain a relationship. No obligation otherwise though you can still speak to each other, especially if you live nearby.

scarlets Sat 02-Apr-16 16:47:43

Stay friendly, be neutral, but don't put up with any nonsense from her - if she crosses a line, tell her.

tempo Mon 04-Apr-16 11:38:38

i've stayed in contact with my ex SIL, despite my ex dh (her brother) being a complete twat and abandoning me and ds aged 9 months. She thought her brother behaved appallingly and tried to persuade him to stop shagging skirts and see sense. Fortunately (with hindsight) he ignored her advice as well.

She and I are still close, as I am with her children (now grown up) - they are cousins/aunt to my ds and I feel it is really important to keep that link.
After all it isn't ds's fault his father is a twat (not, of course, that ds realises this yet!).

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