Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
What are your thoughts on these extra familial relations? My husband’s brother in law
is very difficult to get along with. You go over to his home and he doesn’t acknowledge your arrival, no greeting, no warmth, does not participate in general conversation. This is a typical visit. The last time I went I got the same treatment until I began a conversation with his wife about another family member, and then he piped in only to say, “Well, who did you talk to?” That was the most said to me from him while I was there. So I went two days later to the same home only to visit my husband’s mother with our son. He did not answer the door, so I went for a walk, and came back and only then did his mom and sister come out, with all these weird excuses. My conundrum, I go over there to support my
husband, but I no longer want to subject myself to such negative behavior. What are your thoughts? We spend every Christmas Eve there.
Families are a value judgment we have to all make and as we don’t get to pick our
families there often is no good answer.
That being said, I do not believe it serves anyone any good to place yourselves in a
situation that doesn’t feel right. I don’t believe we are duty-bound to suffer for the sake of family. But in removing yourself you are making a deliberate choice to let those people go. I believe these decisions have to be weighed carefully as they are important. Children
learn through role modeling. It is quite important who we allow to be the role models for our kids; certainly we should at least discuss afterwards that WE don’t treat people that way.
I have heard people excuse bad family situations due to this fear: I don’t want to teach my kids to abandon me when I grow old. This is not sound reasoning unless you plan on being an asshole deserving of abandonment. It’s better to role model to your kids that no one has the right to disrespect you and that you needn’t put up with other people’s bullshit.
Your in-law might be mentally ill but mental illness isn’t an excuse for bad behavior. If his whole family walks on eggshells around him, why should you? Again that would be horrible role modeling and has serious repercussions.
An A-hole is an A-hole is an A-hole!!!! DON’T PUSSYFOOT around one.
If your husband values his family so much that he’s willing to let them treat him like shit then he can visit them without you and your son. Sometimes families treat their own OK and the newbies poorly; again you needn’t put up with that B.S.
If your husband wants you there then it is up to him and him alone to discuss and negotiate a better position and treatment for you and his son. And very importantly: He does not get to isolate you by bringing his son without you. That would most definitely send the wrong message.
I hope this is helpful,
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny has a few questions. 1. When you go over to visit this loathsome ogre family,
do you invite yourselves… or are you invited? 2. It sounds as if this brother-in-law lives with your mother-in-law. Is he taking care of her? What’s her personality like? Why is it that she doesn’t live with you? 3. Do you ever invite these people to your house and offer them your hospitality? 4. Do you ever have family celebrations at your own home?
Since the answer to these questions are missing, I can only give you my gut reaction-
it seems you are invading your loathsome brother-in-law’s house every few days;
and he lives with your mother-in-law 24/7. If I lived at your brother-in-law’s house, I wouldn’t be that happy to see you either. I’d want to be left alone. Are you expecting him to entertain you? Did you bring anything for their entertainment? Do you ever offer to help with mom?
Until these questions are answered, it’s tough to assess the situation. But I gotta say, Granny’s initial impression is that your family seems very full of themselves regarding your desirability as frequent guests and you might want to examine this issue from another point of view- the people you are imposing on. In the meantime, go to Christmas Eve with a big smile on your face. It’s what families do, no matter how much they are sniping at each other. It may be a hypocritical tradition, but I think it’s preferable to sulking.