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Family dynamic changing because of 1 in-law spouse


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Old 4th January 2018, 1:18 PM   #1
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Family dynamic changing because of 1 in-law spouse

We are 4 siblings aged 52 (me),51 male, 43 male, 36 male. We have always been a close-knitted family. We spend all of our holidays together and we have often vacationed together. We live a few km only from each other and visit regularly.

So things have been dandy up to 3 years ago when my sister-in-law married to my 51 year old brother started breaking our link. She's the type of person that would block her own brother for years then patch things up with him and proceeded to block her mother or father for years, she always has someone on block in her own family.

So 3 years ago she started playing these little games in our family and we ignored her, never played into it and we pretended to not even hear her hurtful comments but this year 3 of us are about to give up on our brother and her.

Example during the Holidays Brother (43) made a FB group and invited the whole family for dinner. About 30 minutes later, using the same FB group she made her own invitation to the whole family for the same dinner.

On NYE when we left their home she invited me and my daughter for a brunch the following morning, she invited us in front of everybody but did not invite my brother (43) that was standing next to us.

Last year our parents were staying at brother (43) for a week. They called brother (51) and said before leaving to their hometown (10 hours away) they'd like to go spend a couple of days with them, brother (51) said no, sorry it's a bad time to come over with no further explanation. We know that's her manipulating brother (51).

Last summer I organized a huge birthday party for my daughter's 30th. Brother 43 offered me his big backyard with swimming pool, I said yes. From that moment she tried to convinced me to drop brother 43 and to have the party at their place. Which I didn't.

I have a collection of stories like this. It's all manipulation.

Right now brother 51 and her are driving our parents back to their hometown. We all alternate on who go get our parents. Our dad cannot drive that long anymore and taking the bus or train is bad for his condition. I have just learn that when my brother and her drive our parents back they pick different antiques from our parents house, in other words they are slowly grabbing our heritage from the rest of us. When I was a teen girl I had a record collection I had bought with my babysitting money over years, guess where my collection is? Yes I have just learn sister-in-law has it.

So it's the 3 of us dilemma. If we rock the boat with this woman we will never hear from our brother again and that would be very sad. We all want a relationship with him but over the years he stopped standing up to her and he's buying the peace now.

It's sad but me, brother 43 and 36 are considering spending our holidays apart next year, it would be the first time I am apart from my siblings in 52 years :-(
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Old 5th January 2018, 12:38 AM   #2
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Most of those examples sound like small potatoes to me. The first example doesn't really make sense to me. How did she extend her own invitation to the very same dinner? Do you mean she was trying to arrange her own dinner party?

The second example I'm not sure why your brother would expect to be invited to a girls brunch. I've been at family gatherings where maybe a couple of family members are planning to get together later in the week and that's never hurt my feelings and as far as I know nobody else gets upset either. We don't have any expectation that all invites must include everyone. This brunch was for you, your daughter and your sister-in-law. That sounds like a girls get together to me.

The third example is called boundaries which people are allowed to have and that others need to respect. It sounds like your parents contacted your brother and his wife on rather short notice fully expecting to be welcomed as house guests. Well now they know that your brother and his wife are not comfortable with guests on short notice and in the future they will know to plan further out. I have family in other cities whom I visit from time to time. Our visits are planned out long before I arrive in their area.

How are they nabbing antiques? Are they literally stealing them from your parents when their backs are turned or are your parents allowing them to take things? As for the record collection, that obviously belongs to you and if it were me I'd have no problem calling them up and letting them know that they took MY records and I would like them returned to me immediately.

I'm not defending your sister-in-law, she does sound like a pain, but your brother married her and that means that he needs to put her first. I know it's hard when family dynamics change. I have a brother that I was very close to. We used to spend every weekend together along with my mom. Then my brother got a serious gf and he started to change. He didn't spend much time with us, sometimes his personality seemed different and he was standoffish at times. My mom and I were both hurt and we resented his gf who seemed to be exerting her will as my brother started spending more time with her family than ours. But I thought about and realized my brother needed to break away and have his own life. I think he was feeling rather unfulfilled spending his weekends with his mother and his sister and of course his gf didn't want to spend her weekends with his mother and sister either.

I accepted the new dynamic and let my brother go. I still love him and I know he loves me. I miss the old days but I respect his relationship and understand that his long term gf is going to take priority over me. She's the one he lives with and sleeps with
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Old 5th January 2018, 11:03 AM   #3
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The first example doesn't really make sense to me. How did she extend her own invitation to the very same dinner? Do you mean she was trying to arrange her own dinner party?
I mean she made a dinner invitation to all family members after seeing a brother make a dinner invitation to all the family. She was trying to compete. Yes she saw that brother 43 sent an invitation to all family for a dinner on date X, they were invited but instead of accepting the invitation she sent her own invitation to the same family members for the same dinner at her home. In private she told someone she didn't like what brother 43 had on the menu so she started her own family dinner, It's ridiculous and hurtful, and childish.

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The second example I'm not sure why your brother would expect to be invited to a girls brunch. I've been at family gatherings where maybe a couple of family members are planning to get together later in the week and that's never hurt my feelings and as far as I know nobody else gets upset either. We don't have any expectation that all invites must include everyone. This brunch was for you, your daughter and your sister-in-law. That sounds like a girls get together to me.
I don't know where you got it was a girl brunch. This happened on NYE, the entire family was there including our parents from outside of town.To each person leaving their home on NYE party she made an invitation to join them for brunch next day, except to brother 43 and his family. The very same brother she tried to steal the previous family dinner from (the same brother she tried to steal my daughter's 30th party from). So, bottom line she had invited every family member back for brunch the following day except 1 sibling.

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The third example is called boundaries which people are allowed to have and that others need to respect. It sounds like your parents contacted your brother and his wife on rather short notice fully expecting to be welcomed as house guests. Well now they know that your brother and his wife are not comfortable with guests on short notice and in the future they will know to plan further out. I have family in other cities whom I visit from time to time. Our visits are planned out long before I arrive in their area.
My parents come up here twice a year, we know months ahead of time when they come. My parents always stay at brother 43 for a week and at brother 51 for the second week, it's been like this for 15 years. It's her that didn't warn our parents that this year it would be different and they didn't wish to have them over. But, why? it's ONCE a year. They go to my parents several times a year and show up unannounced and my parents never turned them down, you don't turn family around, not in our world.

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I accepted the new dynamic and let my brother go. I still love him and I know he loves me. I miss the old days but I respect his relationship and understand that his long term gf is going to take priority over me. She's the one he lives with and sleeps with
Our new dynamic includes manipulation and sneakiness, it's hard to accept after 25 years. She has been in the family for 25 years, she was always warm, welcoming, generous, upbeat, full of energy, she organized herself most of our vacationing together, I can give you 10s and 10s of example of her generosity of heart but since 3 years she isn't the same person.

I was thinking about it since I post this and I know she is medicated since her father died 2-3 years ago, it seem to coincides with her change of character. Now when we get to her home our brother welcome us in, she doesn't get up to come to the door, she stays in her chair, doesn't great anyone, doesn't even turn her head to look at us. She's like numb.
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Old 5th January 2018, 11:16 AM   #4
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It sounds like she doesn't like brother (43). Maybe their personalities clash. Maybe he rubs her (or they both rub each other!) the wrong way.

I personally can't stand my bother and sister in law. I am not rude to them. But I do not go out of my way to hang out with them any more than I absolutely need to -- meaning I ensure I keep the interaction to as minimal as I am required to do without coming across as rude.
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Old 5th January 2018, 11:25 AM   #5
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Sorry I misunderstood parts of your post. About the brunch, you said she invited you and your daughter. You didn't say anything about the whole family being invited.

Anyways it sounds like you stumbled across the answer yourself. For 22 yrs this woman was a warm, generous, loving family member now she's going through something and she can't be who she used to be for whatever reason. Just keep your distance, let her have her space. She has become unhappy and her unhappiness is at least ten time more painful for her than it is for you.
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Old 5th January 2018, 11:36 AM   #6
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I am also not seeing anything that sounds like manipulating family. Brother 51 is married to this woman and obviously she is affecting him and changing the way he behaves which is sort of normal.

The pillaging of property -- i guess you need to check with your parents first to make sure they didn't offer it to them or just give it away because they thought it was stuff no one wanted and it's just junk taking up space. If your record collection is so valuable to you, why is it at parents place and how long has it been sitting there? If it truly does have sentimental value, then after you confirmed the bask story of how it got to their place, maybe talk to brother (51) and explain in a nice polite way that there was a misunderstanding and how that record collection does very sentimental value to you and you feel like you want to keep it. Before it winds up sitting in their house too long. But you want to do it in a very nice and well thought out manner and make sure you do not come across as there is some other deeper issues (which lets face it, there are!) going on between you and brother (51) wife.
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Old 5th January 2018, 11:47 AM   #7
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So when she invited you all to dinner at her place right after your brother 43's dinner invitation, did you and your siblings accept both invitations? Did your brother 43 accept her invitation?
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Old 5th January 2018, 11:52 AM   #8
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I am also not seeing anything that sounds like manipulating family. Brother 51 is married to this woman and obviously she is affecting him and changing the way he behaves which is sort of normal.

The pillaging of property -- i guess you need to check with your parents first to make sure they didn't offer it to them or just give it away because they thought it was stuff no one wanted and it's just junk taking up space. If your record collection is so valuable to you, why is it at parents place and how long has it been sitting there? If it truly does have sentimental value, then after you confirmed the bask story of how it got to their place, maybe talk to brother (51) and explain in a nice polite way that there was a misunderstanding and how that record collection does very sentimental value to you and you feel like you want to keep it. Before it winds up sitting in their house too long. But you want to do it in a very nice and well thought out manner and make sure you do not come across as there is some other deeper issues (which lets face it, there are!) going on between you and brother (51) wife.
I am sure 100% they didn't take anything from our parents house without their blessing.

Our parents still live in the house where we were raised. Soon they need to move to something smaller, 3-level house is too much for them to maintain at their age. It's possible our parents told them to pick anything they'd like. It's possible they saw something and asked our parents if they were ok to take it. All I know is my old records are now at my brother. I would never be rude with any of my brothers, especially not brother 51. We're the same age, we grew up side by side, went to college together, etc. My other brothers are younger, we relate differently.

I am also realizing I have to remain as neutral as possible. There are some tension building up between sister-in-law and brother 43. Brother 43 calls me often to unwind about it. He may be blowing things up a bit when he says they're taking things out of our parents house.
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Old 5th January 2018, 12:00 PM   #9
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I am sure 100% they didn't take anything from our parents house without their blessing.

Our parents still live in the house where we were raised. Soon they need to move to something smaller, 3-level house is too much for them to maintain at their age. It's possible our parents told them to pick anything they'd like. It's possible they saw something and asked our parents if they were ok to take it. All I know is my old records are now at my brother. I would never be rude with any of my brothers, especially not brother 51. We're the same age, we grew up side by side, went to college together, etc. My other brothers are younger, we relate differently.

I am also realizing I have to remain as neutral as possible. There are some tension building up between sister-in-law and brother 43. Brother 43 calls me often to unwind about it. He may be blowing things up a bit when he says they're taking things out of our parents house.
Sounds like parents think they have a lot of junk in their house and are not aware what is and isn't valuable to various children. It also sounds like personalities clashes. Not much you can do but be cordial. You can't expect to like and get along with everyone in life. Being cordial with certain family members is the only way to go. Never let the personality issues come to surface. Things will only get worse and you get into this weird thing where people don't talk for 10 years.
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Old 5th January 2018, 12:01 PM   #10
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So when she invited you all to dinner at her place right after your brother 43's dinner invitation, did you and your siblings accept both invitations? Did your brother 43 accept her invitation?
Brother 43 could not accept her invitation, some of us had already accepted his invitation.

I had already accepted brother 43 invitation so I declined her invitation. My daughter declined as well and stick to brother 43 invite, our parents were caught in the middle but accepted their invitation after brother 43 reassured them it was ok with him if they went there instead. Brother 36 was also caught in the middle, he called me in private and I told him to accept her invitation as he doesn't see our parents often and they're heading there and re-assured him no one will take offense.

BF and I + my daughter had dinner at Brother 43.

So result the family was divided and uncomfortable.
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Old 5th January 2018, 12:02 PM   #11
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I agree that this sounds more like the tension between your brother 43 and the wife of your brother 43. You are probably a little biased as your brother 43 has been venting to you (and you have listened only to his side of the story).
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Old 5th January 2018, 12:08 PM   #12
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I agree that this sounds more like the tension between your brother 43 and the wife of your brother 43. You are probably a little biased as your brother 43 has been venting to you (and you have listened only to his side of the story).
Brother 43 says often he's gonna speak up and sh$t will hit the fan. This is something I don't want. Brother 51 is caught in the middle, he lives with her and if we rock the boat she may make his life difficult. No one wants a spouse in discord with his family.

On the other hand we don't want to be door-mats either
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Old 5th January 2018, 12:18 PM   #13
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Brother 43 says often he's gonna speak up and sh$t will hit the fan. This is something I don't want. Brother 51 is caught in the middle, he lives with her and if we rock the boat she may make his life difficult. No one wants a spouse in discord with his family.

On the other hand we don't want to be door-mats either
If bro 43 is the personality type that speaks his mind and can't control himself -- it will probably happen. The only thing you can do is stay out of it.

I have a sis in law who is like that. (not the one I cant stand, another one and I like her -- she's feisty!). Anyways, that one speaks her mind and fights with everyone. There is literally never a time when she is not fighting with someone -- either with someone in family or at work or with other extended family. She even fought with us many years ago and we didn't speak to her for almost 10 years. All water under the bridge. :-)
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Old 8th January 2018, 9:42 AM   #14
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Most of those examples sound like small potatoes to me. The first example doesn't really make sense to me. How did she extend her own invitation to the very same dinner? Do you mean she was trying to arrange her own dinner party?

The second example I'm not sure why your brother would expect to be invited to a girls brunch. I've been at family gatherings where maybe a couple of family members are planning to get together later in the week and that's never hurt my feelings and as far as I know nobody else gets upset either. We don't have any expectation that all invites must include everyone. This brunch was for you, your daughter and your sister-in-law. That sounds like a girls get together to me.

The third example is called boundaries which people are allowed to have and that others need to respect. It sounds like your parents contacted your brother and his wife on rather short notice fully expecting to be welcomed as house guests. Well now they know that your brother and his wife are not comfortable with guests on short notice and in the future they will know to plan further out. I have family in other cities whom I visit from time to time. Our visits are planned out long before I arrive in their area.

How are they nabbing antiques? Are they literally stealing them from your parents when their backs are turned or are your parents allowing them to take things? As for the record collection, that obviously belongs to you and if it were me I'd have no problem calling them up and letting them know that they took MY records and I would like them returned to me immediately.

I'm not defending your sister-in-law, she does sound like a pain, but your brother married her and that means that he needs to put her first. I know it's hard when family dynamics change. I have a brother that I was very close to. We used to spend every weekend together along with my mom. Then my brother got a serious gf and he started to change. He didn't spend much time with us, sometimes his personality seemed different and he was standoffish at times. My mom and I were both hurt and we resented his gf who seemed to be exerting her will as my brother started spending more time with her family than ours. But I thought about and realized my brother needed to break away and have his own life. I think he was feeling rather unfulfilled spending his weekends with his mother and his sister and of course his gf didn't want to spend her weekends with his mother and sister either.

I accepted the new dynamic and let my brother go. I still love him and I know he loves me. I miss the old days but I respect his relationship and understand that his long term gf is going to take priority over me. She's the one he lives with and sleeps with
This for the most part was my take on it. I think you've been really accustomed from the way you describe it as having things always be an exact certain way, and the idea that your brother (who by the way is 51, he's not a young 19 yr old kid so I feel like after he got married obviously he isn't the single brother you were accustomed to--- marriage creates a new dynamic as the main person/ priority now as it should be is his spouse and when someone gets married it's very natural for other priorities to shift and change as the marriage takes the priority...it sounds like your assuming certain choices he makes are not really his choices, but that he's being manipulated by his wife and "made" to for example opt out of a visit with your parents that occasion when he told them it wasn't a good time)

I have a younger sister who has always felt like invitations are a command and that because in the past there was a dinner at so and so's house every holiday it must remain like that forever. Me and one other relative felt like we were not "allowed" to ever make other plans- she would get very offended and lash out verbally that we were not "loyal"- we felt like hostages to attend everything and honestly there were too many times I cancelled my own plans of something special I wanted to do in order to be where sister believed all family members HAD to attend.

Ugh
Then I realized I only have one life and although I made a sincere effort to attend the majority of gatherings I didn't let myself be held hostage so to speak or "forced" by means of guilt or her hostility to feel like I always had to put to the side something special for myself in order to placate her.

I am not saying that is the extreme in your situation but it does seem like you believe that because in the past your brother always attended everything hat he must continue to do so--- things change, having a spouse shifts priorities and people are allowed to decline invites- they are not a command

The thingnwith the brunch your first post you said it was you and your daughter who were invited- sound like a girls brunch but later in the thread you changed it to saying it was a brunch for everyone- so I'm confused on that

I think I would consider a bit more the fact that your brother at 51 is in a different place in life now- you were used to him being single and always available- but life changes- people marry or have kids- then their situation is totally different with different priorities-- it doesn't need to be so black and white-- a either or thing. It can be something that is looked at this is a legitimately new stage in his life and allowing for that and being gracious or understanding of times he's not as available as you think he should be, I would rather use my energy enjoying the visits you do have with him instead of digging in your heels to try and insist everything stay the way it was before--- all that does is stress you out and create disharmony in your relationship with him.

Maybe his new wife picks up on the close knit exclusivity and has felt left out- have you tried to welcome her in enthusiastically to the family and on your end tried to really talk with her and have a genuine connection with her? I think that probably from the way you described it hasn't really taken place but it would be nice for her to feel really a part of the family instead of the mean woman who takes your brother away from get togethers.... because he's 51-- nobody's kidnapped him or taken him away- he sometimes makes the choice to spend holidays different or to opt out of visits

Last edited by rubyjuly; 8th January 2018 at 9:46 AM..
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Old 8th January 2018, 2:03 PM   #15
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This for the most part was my take on it. I think you've been really accustomed from the way you describe it as having things always be an exact certain way, and the idea that your brother (who by the way is 51, he's not a young 19 yr old kid so I feel like after he got married obviously he isn't the single brother you were accustomed to--- marriage creates a new dynamic as the main person/ priority now as it should be is his spouse and when someone gets married it's very natural for other priorities to shift and change as the marriage takes the priority...it sounds like your assuming certain choices he makes are not really his choices, but that he's being manipulated by his wife and "made" to for example opt out of a visit with your parents that occasion when he told them it wasn't a good time)

I have a younger sister who has always felt like invitations are a command and that because in the past there was a dinner at so and so's house every holiday it must remain like that forever. Me and one other relative felt like we were not "allowed" to ever make other plans- she would get very offended and lash out verbally that we were not "loyal"- we felt like hostages to attend everything and honestly there were too many times I cancelled my own plans of something special I wanted to do in order to be where sister believed all family members HAD to attend.

Ugh
Then I realized I only have one life and although I made a sincere effort to attend the majority of gatherings I didn't let myself be held hostage so to speak or "forced" by means of guilt or her hostility to feel like I always had to put to the side something special for myself in order to placate her.

I am not saying that is the extreme in your situation but it does seem like you believe that because in the past your brother always attended everything hat he must continue to do so--- things change, having a spouse shifts priorities and people are allowed to decline invites- they are not a command

The thingnwith the brunch your first post you said it was you and your daughter who were invited- sound like a girls brunch but later in the thread you changed it to saying it was a brunch for everyone- so I'm confused on that

I think I would consider a bit more the fact that your brother at 51 is in a different place in life now- you were used to him being single and always available- but life changes- people marry or have kids- then their situation is totally different with different priorities-- it doesn't need to be so black and white-- a either or thing. It can be something that is looked at this is a legitimately new stage in his life and allowing for that and being gracious or understanding of times he's not as available as you think he should be, I would rather use my energy enjoying the visits you do have with him instead of digging in your heels to try and insist everything stay the way it was before--- all that does is stress you out and create disharmony in your relationship with him.

Maybe his new wife picks up on the close knit exclusivity and has felt left out- have you tried to welcome her in enthusiastically to the family and on your end tried to really talk with her and have a genuine connection with her? I think that probably from the way you described it hasn't really taken place but it would be nice for her to feel really a part of the family instead of the mean woman who takes your brother away from get togethers.... because he's 51-- nobody's kidnapped him or taken him away- he sometimes makes the choice to spend holidays different or to opt out of visits
Thank you for your input but my brother and this woman have been together for 25 years. There is no new-wife. Things changed 3 years ago only.

I understand things change, I understand people cannot always attend gatherings, I myself do not always attend, but it's not *things* that have changed, it's her. She went from a warm and generous woman to being numb and indifferent.
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