my brother and SIl, what is this about?

finedreamsNovember 28, 2008

not SF related but I think this forum is very helpful with advice. not like i need a particular advice but i am feeling hurt and need venting.

my brother has two children one is in college 19 and the little one is 7. I love my niece and nephew. i get along wiht my brother and SIL as well. so i could never figure out what is all this about?

my brother and SIl are impossible to make plans with. long story but it is ongoing trouble. I don't make plans wiht them ahead of time because it never ever goes through so i have learned the hard way.

example of what they do: last nigth they were an HOUR late for Thanksgiving dinner at my aunts. 15 people sat and waited for them. it is mainly due to the fact that my SIl is incapable for getting ready and it is always big problem for my brother because it could be embarassing.

for example they were late for my cousin's wedding and walked in interrupting the wedding ceremony, my SIL had her hair still wet etc. My SIL has some issues, long story. if i will tell you the stories here it would take me an hour to type.

so anyways last night at thanksgiving dinner i came up to my SIL and asked if they have any plans a day after Thanksgiving because I and my 7-year-old niece wanted to spend time together for a long time. i got her some board games recently and we wanted to play them.

My SIl said: "we have no plans at all but it is better to ask her husband, my brother, because he might have plans."

I come up to my brother, he says "we will be home most fo the day and do not have any plans".

i go to my niece and discuss it wiht her. her responce: "oh how great! i want you to come over and play games wiht me".

I go back to my brother and tell him. he is: "oh how wonderful! come spend most of the day with us".

so we decided I will call at 10AM and we will make more specific plan because he could not decide what time is the best, sometimes they sleep late on the weekends.

I sat back at the table and hear my SIl whispering: "so what did you talk about to finedreams?" he says "she will come over to play with our DD."

then i hear SIl says:" didn't you make plans to go to the museum wiht our DD?" he is: "no, we made no plans. museum? what museum?" (mind you we live in the area where there is maybe one museum and even that one is not like fun to go to)

she is: "oh yes you did". he is: "oh when did we make this plan? I don't know about that". at this point I cannot hear them anymore, and they say nothing to me. since i overheard them and it is not like they told me anything so I said nothing. and I thought since he told me to come over he would stuck to it.

I call my brother as we decided. he says "sure let me go talk to them and call you back about specific time."

he calls me back: "oh you know we do have plans so you cannot come over." i ask "what plans?' he is "oh i am not sure but apparently there are some plans". I: "how about in the evening?" he "oh we do have plans. maybe tomorrow then."

what the....I am upset. it is not the first time i try to do somehting wiht my niece and something else comes up.

now it is not like i am a bad influence. it is not like i am in their face all the time. i rarely come over because they never have time. i have a good relationship with my brother. i am involved wiht both my niece and my nephew, i do not ignore them. I call regularly my nephew in college. but whenever i want to do anything wiht either one of them my SIL comes up with somehting.

SIL does it to my parents all the time, invites them over but then comes up with something and then cancels, but it hurts. How much you want to bet that they would come wiht somehting tomorrow?

I usually do not let myself to get upset over it but i am very upset this time.

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just to add that even if there was a plan to go to some kind of museum (there was no plan), no museum is open in the evening. and no trips to museum takes the whole day.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 12:39PM
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It sounds like your sil is jealous of your family and tries to keep your brother and niece all to herself!!

I would flat out tell your brother you are hurt and just wanted to spend some time with your niece. Tell him you want to reschedule and follow through with the plans.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 2:33PM
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Oh finedreams can I ever relate to this.....I must say that for you to have maintained a relationship with your nephew and niece is wonderful. I think you are very blessed to have that and a decent relationship with your brother. Because of my own experiences with one of my brothers, his wife and their daughter I would make the judgement that you SIL is jealous, as mom2emall said and that she is controlling.

My niece is 19...I have never been able to have a relationship with her. Her mother has been so controlling that my brother and I do not have a relationship either. He is a grown man and has handed everything over to her so I understand that in all of this he had made his choice.

They were always late to family things as well and I do mean ALWAYS. Most of the time SIL didn't come at all. She has lupus and I know that her health issues a real but she was always doing things with her family or out shopping etc.

One of the last times I saw my brother I told him that I missed him and would like to have a closer relationship with him. He told me that he was pretty busy with his wife's family......Ok then. I get it.

His DD had anorexia so bad last spring that she and her mom spent 5 weeks in a hospital 1 hour from where we live (brother and I in same town) and DD was told by doctor that her heart could have stopped at any moment. THEY NEVER CALLED ME. My DD found out from myspace. My brother has never called to tell me. The last time we spoke was a year ago Thanksgiving...I invited them over to our house.

Any way....I don't mean to take over you post. I could fill pages and pages with this story. I blame my brother for not having enough backbone to make a stand for me as his sister and his wife for taking his you know whats and wearing them around her neck. I have no other nieces or nephews. I have been in their home twice in 20 years.

Ok....must stop.....If you feel so inclined you should do as mom2emall suggested and speak to your brother. I wish you better luck then I have had.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 3:30PM
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Could it be that SIL is a messy housekeeper, and you dropping by to play board games would involve hours of cleaning on her part???

And even if you might not care what their home looks like, she might care?

Oprah AT HOME magazine has an article in winter 2008 (volume 5, number 4) by Martha Beck writes that interacting with others at a restaurant, or other neutral turf, is akin to a peck on the cheek. Entertaining in your home, bluntly stated, is equivalent to a french kiss. Guests can make harsh judgement's about someone's house keeping, or lack of taste as in decorating. It can create tremendous anxiety for many people. They may feel their shortcomings are glaring, or that you are judging them somehow.

Just tossing another possibility into the ring for consideration, to help you to ponder possible reasons outside of the box that may have nothing to do with you personally. It may have everything to do with her, on some area that she could be trying to work through. So before you take it personally, could there be some (less than obvious) possibilities that were not meant to hurt you??? An area that she felt vulnerable for some reason?

Believer...could your brothers wife possibly struggle with something like this?


    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 8:13PM
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bnicebkind...I think that the housekeeping is definitely an issue for my SIL. I do feel, how ever, that my brother and his wife could have made efforts in other ways to develop a relationship with my side of the family. They could have suggested taking my children and myself out to dinner and picking up the tab once in a while. The cost of Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner and the 4th of July is quite a lot when you add it up over the course of 9 years. I took over the role of doing these things when my mom died. I am disabled and it causes me a great deal of pain to ready things for a family dinner.

I was a single mom for 12 years and not once did my brothers, either one, call to see if I needed help with anything or if my kids needed anything.

When I separated from DH my kids were 5 and almost 2. I needed $1500 for a deposit on an apartment and my first months rent. The house was sold and we were going to close in 2 weeks so the money was coming, I just didn't have it then. I asked my brother if he would lend it to me and he said that he would have to ask his wife. She said no.

I have tried to over look things, tried to move past not having any family when they live in the same part of town as we do. I have gotten to the point where if I don't feel like getting the house ready and cooking a big meal for them I don't. I NEVER hear from them if I don't call. When I stopped doing all the work for the relationship it ended.
That has nothing to do with SILs house keeping abilities. Besides...they have enough money that they could hire it done, no problem.

Anyway...I'll call them if I feel like I can handle it physically and I won't hear from them until then. That is their choice. I feel like I made as much of an effort as I could and when I couldn't do it for physical reasons I never heard from them. I do know that they are heavily involved with her side of the family. Like I said....she wears my brother's manhood around her neck. She wanted it that way and he allowed it.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 11:15PM
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I think many women fully embrace their side of the family, and do the bare minimum for her husbands side. How selfish and how sad. I am surprised at how many men allow this, unless his side of the family creates emotional trauma or pain with their words or behavior. Then I understand the distance.

You mentioned believer that they have enough money that they could hire housekeeping out. No problem. Do you realize that hiring house keeping is something many people can't do, even if they can afford it? For many people it is traumatic to have a stranger in their home and personal space, touching or going through their things, to clean. They can find it nearly impossible to make the phone call to allow this person into their personal space. They may fear the housekeeper stealing, or moving things, or a myriad of other reasons. For many people, it can feel threatening.

Some may have a cleaning woman, and the housekeeping falls apart within a day or two after the cleaning service has left, and the house returns right back to its messy state.

For people who struggle with messiness and disorganization, it creates a situation called CHAOS (which stands for: Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome).

She may be able to have her family over, because they love her, and are not judging her. (Or maybe her family isn't allowed in, either).

This problem can affect people from all walks of life. They may look neat and attractive, but simply lack the organizational skills, or energy, ability, or time to keep a home tidy. It may be something she has struggled with for years. Some people are able to entertain in the midst of mess and not care what others think. Others can't breathe, feeling vulnerable and judged and exposed.

Believer, it sounds like you should talk or write a letter to your brother about the pain of never hearing from him, and the hurt that he keeps you at arms length. Do not attack his wife. Just tell him you need to know he cares. Can he see you now and then for pizza, or just call to say hi? And you need to be able to hear without defending yourself if he tells you why. If you have said or done things that have hurt his wife, at one time or another? Just listen and ponder his side of this distance, without excuse, or accusation, or defending yourself. Just listen and learn. And then go home and ponder what he has to say.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 7:37AM
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Believer: I am second guessing my suggestion regarding talking or writing to your brother about the hurt and pain. Sometimes trying to talk to people about things that they have done that have hurt, get misunderstood, or they feel defensive or start shifting the blame and pointing fingers, and it makes things worse, instead of better.

Perhaps others can comment, but I am wondering if it might be better to simply let the past stay in the past, and simply tell your brother that you love him, and miss him, and could he call you now and then, just to let you know he thinks of you sometimes? Could you tell him that as you struggle with your health, that it is easy to get discouraged, and a simple note of encouragement from him would mean the world to you? Could you tell him that you would love to get to know your niece better and would there be a way to get together once a month for pizza? If you could learn to text, I imagine you could start texting the niece now and then with short and encouraging thoughts. Or out of the blue, mail the niece something with a note that tells her you are thinking of her. Do not expect anything in return, and it may not be acknowledged "this time" but she will surely think kindly of you for thinking of her, expecting nothing in return. Over the years, she may become dear to you.

But I imagine the easiest way to somehow turn this around is to try and make a friend of your brothers wife.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 10:48AM
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bnicebkind....I appreciate the thought that you have put into my situation. I don't really feel like working on a relationship at this point in my life. I feel that I have expressed my desires to have a relationship with my brother and his family quite adequately in the past. My niece is 19 now and I think if I were to approach her in any way my SIL would be very suspicious of my intentions. Although I have been hurt by this I have accepted that it is the way that they want it and I don't feel comfortable pushing myself on them. I know that I have not said any thing to hurt or offended her. She has me though and I've let those things go so if I would have by some remote chance then she should let it go also.

I am content to let it go as it is. Like I said earlier, if I feel that I can do a dinner I will call them. If I don't call I'll never hear from them. That sounds like their problem not mine.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 12:22PM
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thanks everyone for a reply. this is ongoing issue with SIl not only with me but with everyone else.

she did it wiht my nephew and as soon as he got older he clearly didn't like it and now unfortunatelly he barely has any relationship with his mom. he has very nice relationship wiht me and garndparents. it will be the same with my niece...

i did ask my brother to call me on friday or saturday and tell me if i can come over for a little bit to play wiht my niece. he only called today when i already had plans.

my parents go there now without any priopr notice because otherwise they can never see their granddaughter. my nephew goes to visit grandparents and me on his own but my niece is too young.

as about housekeeping. my SIl does not do housekeeping. my brother cleans and does decent job so that cannot be a reason. plus even if i give prior notice enough time to clean, still there is somehting coming up...

it is sad. i don't want to rock the boat so all of us keep quiet...sad.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 5:09PM
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