Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: amylouky on November 16, 2012, 08:51:46 AM

Title: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: amylouky on November 16, 2012, 08:51:46 AM
I've posted before about issues with BIL, and MIL's enabling of him. Well.. things have gotten worse. BIL did a stint in rehab, which only served to connect him with "friends" with better drugs. He's now graduated from pain pills/pot to meth and IV something or other.

MIL has decided (yet again) to let him move back in with her, after his last living situation fell apart. DH and I have made the decision that we will not be taking our children to her house while he is living there, and we will not be attending family events at which he is present. This decision was made much easier after he stole money from my purse at the last family event.

MIL is either really in denial about the extent of BIL's problems, or determined not to abandon him no matter how bad things get. I sort of understand this, and can respect that it's her choice to make. However, she is not respecting our decision to not be around him. And yes, we have spelled it out for her.. we will not be present if he is, and we won't be coming to her house while he is living there.

This didn't stop her from inviting BIL to my DH's birthday dinner (and yes, we had made it clear that the invitation was ONLY for her, not BIL). DH went to the dinner, just because he didn't want to have that fight on his birthday, but the boys and I stayed home. He had the fight a couple days later, and told her again in not as nice terms that we will NOT be around BIL. Period.
So.. she left a message on our voice mail about Thanksgiving. "Just wanted to see what your plans were for Thursday.. I'll be making a turkey, stop by around 4 if you can!"

I'm leaning toward ignoring the message completely, and just not showing up. We are going to decorate our Christmas tree and have dinner on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I'd like to just call her (when I know she's at work) and leave a message inviting her to that, and not mention Thursday at all.

Is it horribly rude to just ignore her voice mail? My view is, she knows where we stand, so it's not a valid invitation since it completely ignores the boundaries we've set. If I do need to respond to it, should I tell her (again!) the reasons why we won't be there.. or just "That won't be possible"?

Also, how can I make it clear that BIL is not included in the invitation for Saturday?
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: 25wishes on November 16, 2012, 09:01:00 AM
I think your DH should deliver the message and it should be --

"thanks for the invite but we won't be coming to your house as long as BIL is there. Also, we do not want him in our house when you come on Saturday. After he stole from my wife's purse, we do not want to be around him at all."

Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Ciarrai on November 16, 2012, 09:07:19 AM
I agree with Barb. Your husband needs to call her up and decline the invitation, and tell her why (again, apparently). Then he can invite her to Saturday dinner but reiterate that she is not to bring your BIL, and if she does, she will not be allowed into your home.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: amylouky on November 16, 2012, 09:35:12 AM
*Sigh* I was afraid that we'd have to respond. I guess it would be rude to completely ignore, since it will affect how much food she'll need to plan for (DH has a very small family, not having us there will be about 1/3 of the guest list).

I just don't want to have to rehash the fight.. she got pretty angry when we didn't come to DH's birthday dinner. I suppose I'm looking for a way to keep things pleasant while sticking to our boundaries, but I don't think that is going to be possible.

I'll just have DH put on his flame-proof underoos and give her a call back, then. I like the suggestions on what to say, I'm just afraid they'll probably fall on deaf ears. Apparently he got a job about a week ago so she's convinced he's back on the right track. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: doodlemor on November 16, 2012, 09:38:13 AM
Your DH is giving MIL mixed signals,and should never have gone to the birthday dinner.  MIL does not believe that you and DH will really exclude BIL, because DH has not drawn the boundaries sufficiently.  DH should have called off the dinner and stayed home with you and your family.

DH needs to call MIL and tell her that your family will not be coming as long as BIL is there.  It sounds like MIL has been manipulative and a boundary pusher in the past, since your DH expects a big "fight" when she doesn't get her way.  Best take a stand and get the unpleasantness over with sooner, rather than later.


 
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Deetee on November 16, 2012, 10:04:52 AM
It is better to have the few unpleasant "fights" where you are clear about why you are not coming then to feed MIL perpetual wishful denial. She really, really wants to pretend BIL is fine and you won't enable it.

It will get easier once she realises you are immovable on this subject.

edit: Sorry I never actually answered your question. You (or prefereably DH) should call immediately and clear things up (Well actually correct her wishful thinking).
Something like "Hi Mom, I just wanted to let you know know we won't be coming over for Turkey on Thursday. As we said, we won't be coming over to your place while BIL is there. You have a nice time. Also, we are looking forward to seeing you on Saturday. You know BIL is not invited, right? Good, because if he comes, he will not be allowed in the house and that would be embarrassing for everyone. I want to avoid that (you can add that you will call the cops if you are comfortable foing that)"
Other useful phrases "No, this isn't about any specific incident. Our family and me do not feel safe around him right now. Gotta go, Bye"

I would suggest saying something like "We will not be having ANY contact with BIL for the next year. When a year is up, we will reconsider the situation. Until then, I don't want to hear anything about it."

I think a year time frame gives you a chance to get across that you are evaluating his behaviour and you will give him another chance, but not for a while. It gives MIL something to pin her hopes on and gives you a good deflection. (most likely scenario is that he still an addict in a year, but if he is sober for 6 months at that time and has a job, maybe you can meet him a restaurants for a year, then at MIL's house. It would be a while before he would be allowed in my house.

Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: HermioneGranger on November 16, 2012, 10:10:45 AM
It is better to have the few unpleasant "fights" where you are clear about why you are not coming then to feed MIL perpetual wishful denial. She really, really wants to pretend BIL is fine and you won't enable it.

It will get easier once she realises you are immovable on this subject.

Agreed.  And I'm in a similar situation, so good luck.  I hope that you have a peaceful, drama-free Thanksgiving weekend. 
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: SPuck on November 16, 2012, 10:23:47 AM
I just don't want to have to rehash the fight.. she got pretty angry when we didn't come to DH's birthday dinner. I suppose I'm looking for a way to keep things pleasant while sticking to our boundaries, but I don't think that is going to be possible.

There is no way your going to be able to get out of this without any mud throwing for no other reason that your MIL won't accept your boundaries. If she wants to be angry about the boundaries then let her be angry. You might even want to tell her you can only have a relationship without BIL and if BIL is all she wants then BIL is all she gets.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: GrammarNerd on November 16, 2012, 10:24:44 AM
I think you should stop enabling her.  You've stated your wishes, you've stated your viewpoint, and your boundaries.  The more you keep arguing about it and restating it, it just gives her an idea that you're open to arguing about it.  So treat it like it's a done deal....of course she knows that you won't be around BIL. 

So can you call her and just gloss over the T-day invite, and then invite her over on Saturday?  Act like the invitation from her was just lip service, because of course she already knows that you won't be coming to her house.

"Hi, MIL.  Yeah, can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving?  It seems like it was just summer!  But anyway, yeah, we got your message about Thursday, and it won't work for us.  But we're making a turkey on Saturday, so you're welcome to come over to our house then if you want.  Just let us know so we know if we should set an extra place at the table for you or not."

And if she dares bring up BIL, don't get mad, but act confused.  "You know how we feel about that.  I'm not sure why you're even bringing it up."
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: NyaChan on November 16, 2012, 10:27:35 AM
Your DH is giving MIL mixed signals,and should never have gone to the birthday dinner.  MIL does not believe that you and DH will really exclude BIL, because DH has not drawn the boundaries sufficiently.  DH should have called off the dinner and stayed home with you and your family.

DH needs to call MIL and tell her that your family will not be coming as long as BIL is there.  It sounds like MIL has been manipulative and a boundary pusher in the past, since your DH expects a big "fight" when she doesn't get her way.  Best take a stand and get the unpleasantness over with sooner, rather than later.

I agree, you've already shown her that your rule is not going to be enforced so she is continuing to test to see if you will give way.  I would call her directly and let her know that you will not be coming.  If she asks why, tell her that she already knows.  Don't get drawn into an argument, just state that you've made your boundaries clear and will not be attending.  If she shows up with BIL, do not allow him in, even if it means that your MIL leaves also.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: cicero on November 16, 2012, 10:28:06 AM
Your DH is giving MIL mixed signals,and should never have gone to the birthday dinner.  MIL does not believe that you and DH will really exclude BIL, because DH has not drawn the boundaries sufficiently.  DH should have called off the dinner and stayed home with you and your family.

DH needs to call MIL and tell her that your family will not be coming as long as BIL is there.  It sounds like MIL has been manipulative and a boundary pusher in the past, since your DH expects a big "fight" when she doesn't get her way.  Best take a stand and get the unpleasantness over with sooner, rather than later.
this, exactly.

Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: LadyL on November 16, 2012, 10:29:21 AM
On some level, you are dealing with two people entangled in addiction here - the user and the enabler. Just because MIL isn't using drugs herself doesn't mean she's not engaging in behavior nearly as toxic as BIL. Think about it - in what world would you encourage a person who has stolen from someone to maintain contact with them (and vice versa)? That is not rational thinking and does not deserve polite, gentle boundaries - it demands strong, fortress like ones. For the sake of you and your DH but most of all for your kids who don't deserve to be placed anywhere NEAR this situation.

So yes, have your DH call and lay out explicitly that you will not *endanger your family* by risking any level of contact with BIL. And remind her that she is free to make her own choices but so are you. And you may want to state that this is the last time you will have the conversation (since his waffling about the bday dinner may have given her false hope) and in the future use a Toot's Cut 'n Paste of something like "You know how we feel about that, it's not up for discussion."
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: O'Dell on November 16, 2012, 10:33:25 AM
Your DH is giving MIL mixed signals,and should never have gone to the birthday dinner.  MIL does not believe that you and DH will really exclude BIL, because DH has not drawn the boundaries sufficiently.  DH should have called off the dinner and stayed home with you and your family.

DH needs to call MIL and tell her that your family will not be coming as long as BIL is there.  It sounds like MIL has been manipulative and a boundary pusher in the past, since your DH expects a big "fight" when she doesn't get her way.  Best take a stand and get the unpleasantness over with sooner, rather than later.

I agree, you've already shown her that your rule is not going to be enforced so she is continuing to test to see if you will give way.  I would call her directly and let her know that you will not be coming.  If she asks why, tell her that she already knows.  Don't get drawn into an argument, just state that you've made your boundaries clear and will not be attending.  If she shows up with BIL, do not allow him in, even if it means that your MIL leaves also.

I agree with all of the quoted, but want to emphasize the bolded. Do *not* justify, argue, defend, or explain your decisions in regards to BIL. You (and your husband) have already done this. When she starts to argue, end the conversation. "I'm afraid that won't be possible. I'm hanging up (asking you to leave) now. Goodbye." And shut the door or hang up the phone or ignore voicemails or emails, etc. where she argues. You are not rude to do this.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: gramma dishes on November 16, 2012, 11:12:12 AM
As often happens in life, it sounds like you'd taken two steps forward.  But when your husband went to the birthday party after stating he would have no further contact with BIL, it was definitely a step or two back. 

But it's definitely not too late to start over.  Sometimes we actually DO get "do overs" in life.

Your husband and you need to be sure you're both on the same page with this and then one of you should call your MIL and tell her in no uncertain terms that you will NOT be attending Thanksgiving there.  Do not give any excuses.  If she asks, as others before me have said, tell her that's already been discussed and she knows the answer.

If you invite her for Saturday, you need to make excruciatingly clear that the invitation does NOT include BIL and that if she even thinks about showing up with him, they will both be immediately turned away at the door.  And then be prepared to really follow through.  (Some people have a way of thinking that if they show up, you won't really have the nerve to turn them away.  They're counting on you to be "nice".)

She'll be mad.  Maybe even hurt.  But you and your children will be safe and can enjoy your holidays in peace --  and with your wallets untouched.

She can see you without BIL present or not see you and see only the BIL.   You've made your choice clear.  When it really comes down to it, it's now her choice and it's a choice SHE'S going to have to make.  BIL's choices had consequences; so will hers.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: weeblewobble on November 16, 2012, 11:13:25 AM
I would let your MIL that you will not be coming by for Thanksgiving.  Deep down, she knows that you don't want to come and why, but she thinks if she can just brazens her way through it, you'll feel so uncomfortable, you'll just comply. Trust me, I am familiar with the technique.

Re: the Saturday invitation.  You're going to have to spell it out for her, "MIL, please do not arrive with BIL.  No matter what other circumstances or 'emergencies' or transportation issues come up, we do not want BIL to come to our home. He is not welcome."

Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 16, 2012, 11:20:07 AM
I always think ignorning an invitation from someone you are not trying to cut off is rude.  So since you want to maintain a relationship with MIL, I think she deserves a response. IMHO your DH should call her and state that you guys have your plans made for Tday.  I wouldn't mention BIL at all because she already knows the reason that your not coming and mentioning why your not coming just opens the discussion up for debate. 

He can in the same call invite her for Saturday or you can call her later with the invitation.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: weeblewobble on November 16, 2012, 11:22:59 AM
As often happens in life, it sounds like you'd taken two steps forward.  But when your husband went to the birthday party after stating he would have no further contact with BIL, it was definitely a step or two back. 

But it's definitely not too late to start over.  Sometimes we actually DO get "do overs" in life.

Your husband and you need to be sure you're both on the same page with this and then one of you should call your MIL and tell her in no uncertain terms that you will NOT be attending Thanksgiving there.  Do not give any excuses.  If she asks, as others before me have said, tell her that's already been discussed and she knows the answer.

If you invite her for Saturday, you need to make excruciatingly clear that the invitation does NOT include BIL and that if she even thinks about showing up with him, they will both be immediately turned away at the door.  And then be prepared to really follow through.  (Some people have a way of thinking that if they show up, you won't really have the nerve to turn them away.  They're counting on you to be "nice".)

She'll be mad.  Maybe even hurt.  But you and your children will be safe and can enjoy your holidays in peace --  and with your wallets untouched.

She can see you without BIL present or not see you and see only the BIL.   You've made your choice clear.  When it really comes down to it, it's now her choice and it's a choice SHE'S going to have to make.  BIL's choices had consequences; so will hers.

POD. Family members in dysfunctional situations tend to act like they're completely helpless and have no choice in what's going on, but honestly, they do.  They have the choice to accept bad behavior or not. Your MIL has the choice to spend time with you on your terms or not.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: kherbert05 on November 16, 2012, 11:38:40 AM
I'm so thankful that my parents minimized contact with members of our extended family that had addiction problems. Please be strong for your kids. Think about what his being sober is going to have to look like (how long, stopping other behaviors). Set those boundries and be firm.

 My parents taught us what to do and say if we saw them around the neighborhood. After I got in my Uncle's jeep not realizing he was drunk - they had a serious conversation with me about Drunk Driving and what to do if I got caught in that position again. Not a conversation you want to have with a 9/10 yo, but they had to do it. (I had gotten out of the jeep at a stop light and ran to my Nanna's with him following - Dad about tore his head off). Basically they gave us permission to be "rude" and disobey an adult -something all kids need to know how to do.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Kaypeep on November 16, 2012, 11:50:40 AM
This is definitely a conversation for your DH to have.  He should decline Thanksgiving and reiterate why.  In fact, I'd go a step further and gently say to her "I know you're sad we aren't coming but you know our position on this.  It's hard for me to say no to you, but I wish you'd respect our decision and stop trying to include us with BIL for events.  It's not going to work and everyone ends up disappointed.  We get upset that you won't take us at our word and keep trying to force us to be with BIL, and you get upset that we say no.  So please, stop asking.  We still love you and you are always welcome here and we want to see YOU.  So please, still join us on Saturday because we're looking forward to seeing you.  But please, come alone.  If BIL comes along, we will not let him in and there will be a scene, and we would rather not have the kids witness that scene.  I know it's hard for you to deal with this, but I need to you try and understand and respect my wishes.  Thanks."
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: weeblewobble on November 16, 2012, 12:07:10 PM
I don't want to dogpile, but I also agree your DH shouldn't have attended the birthday dinner. (Also, it was excessively awful that your MIL basically denied your husband a birthday celebration unless BIL was involved.)  She's employing the same technique I mentioned above. And by going, even without you and the kids, he's shown MIL that she can have what she wants as long as she makes it so uncomfortable for him to say no that he folds.

If I've learned anything, it's that you can't fold "just this once" because it's a special occasion and you don't want to fight on a special occasion.  You will lose all of the progress you've built up protecting the non-special occasions. Your MIL will use any excuse at her disposal to justify including:

"Oh, he needed a ride to XYZ, so I let him tag along!"

"Oh, he was having an allergic reaction to shellfish, so I had to bring him so I could keep an eye on him."

"Oh, I couldn't drive because my vision isn't good after dark, so I needed him to drive.""

"Oh, but it's (his birthday/Christmas/my birthday/Thanksgiving/your birthday/Easter/Arbor Day/National Back Hair Awareness Day!  You can't expect him to sit at home alone!"

You can't make exceptions.  Because the minute you do, they'll expect you to make another one, and another.  Until you're back at square one.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: amylouky on November 16, 2012, 12:15:15 PM
Thank you all for the replies. We are honestly trying to keep our spines firm on this, I know we haven't done the best in the past. It's easier to know in my mind what the right thing is, than to actually make myself enforce it. I do sympathize with MIL and understand why she won't cut BIL off.. she had a sibling with very similar issues who took his own life, so I think that she's afraid if she just cuts him off, the same thing will happen. Still doesn't change the fact that we need to protect our children (and ourselves) from the situation.

I agree that DH going to the birthday dinner was a step backward. What had happened was, DH had called her earlier in the week and asked her to meet us at X restaurant. He made it VERY clear that the invitation was for her, and for her alone. We thought that she got it, but then, 30 mins before we were supposed to be at the restaurant, she called us and said, "Hey, we are already here if you all wanted to head up a little earlier..". We, being her and BIL.

This was really the first time that we had explicitly stated that BIL was not welcome. I refused to go, and refused to bring the boys. It's hard to explain but DH did not want to get in a huge fight (and it would have been) on his birthday. We agreed that he would go alone, and call MIL in the next day or two to explain (again) our position. Shouldn't have been necessary, but apparently the first time didn't sink in.

I just talked to DH.. he is going to call her tonight, and just say "We're not going to be there on Thursday, but we'd love for you to come to our house on Saturday for dinner. Please remember that this is an invitation for YOU."

I know that we come off as weak here.. it's just hard to consider cutting MIL off if that is what this has to come to. DH's family is REALLY small.. as in, DH, BIL, MIL. I know DH doesn't want to leave MIL all alone. Despite her manipulations and intentional blinders where BIL is involved, she really is a good person and we very much want to maintain a relationship with her, for her sake, our sake, and for our boys' sake. Just have to get it across to her that for now anyway, that relationship can't and won't include BIL.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: gramma dishes on November 16, 2012, 12:21:43 PM
Her reluctance, given her past experience with her own sibling, is understandable.  But you really do have to stick to your guns here anyway.

You are NOT demanding that she abandon BIL.  All you're asking is that he not be included in visits with you.  She can keep him and keep you too.  Just not together.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: MrTango on November 16, 2012, 12:32:31 PM
Her reluctance, given her past experience with her own sibling, is understandable.  But you really do have to stick to your guns here anyway.

You are NOT demanding that she abandon BIL.  All you're asking is that he not be included in visits with you.  She can keep him and keep you too.  Just not together.

I completely agree with the bolded.  I would be ready for her to play the "don't make me choose between you and your brother" card.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Deetee on November 16, 2012, 12:40:23 PM
I want to note that while I think DH going was giving MIL hope, the fact that you stayed home was important.
This was the first time standing up to them, so the mere fact that you stayed home may have been enough to get the point across.
If this were the 4th times standing up and you had caved the same way, it would have been much worse.

From now on you can be a total immovable brick wall on this subject.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: SamiHami on November 16, 2012, 12:44:44 PM
Oh, Amylouky, you realize that she is going to bring BIL on Saturday, don't you? She was told to not bring him to the restaurant after being told not to. And she was rewarded by your DH showing up.

I know this will be difficult, but I think if (when) she shows up with him that you and your DH already have a plan in mind for how you are going to handle it. Unfortunately, I think you are going to have to go semi-nuclear on her to get her to understand that your boundaries will not be broken. When your DH talks with her again, I suggest he tell her that if she does bring BIL that all contact will be cut off for X period of time (a month, two months, whatever your decide). And stick to it-nevermind about birthdays Christmas, other events. She needs to know that if she insists on breaking your rules that there will be consequences that hurt.

I know it will be very difficult. But I really think it's the only way that you'll get through to her. And you are not being unreasonable; it's not like you are telling her to cut off contact with  BIL; you are just telling her that you refuse to spend time with him. She should be able to live with that, even though she won't like it. You must protect yourself and your kids first and foremost.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 16, 2012, 01:41:52 PM
(I had gotten out of the jeep at a stop light and ran to my Nanna's with him following - Dad about tore his head off).

I think your DH needs also to talk to his brother one last time.
Maybe in the presence of his mother.

And say, "No matter what Mom tells you, you are not welcome in our home. You are not welcome at parties we arrange. When you have been clean and sane for two years, we will consider seeing you in limited ways. I'm sorry if this hurts you, but I have a responsibility to keep this sort of insanity away from my family. And I *also* don't want to be around it in any way myself.
    "So don't show up at my house. I'll shut the door in your face.
    "Mom, don't bring him. Don't make this worse for him and harder for him than it needs to be. Don't rub his nose in it."

And later, to his mom he can say:
     "While I may seem like I'm being mean--this hurts me too. A lot. It's really painful to see my only brother, the only other member of my family, hurt himself in this way.
    "I don't enjoy being forced to choose between my wife and kids, and my brother. But *he* has created a situation in which I have to. He is the one forcing the choice It hurts me to have to repeatedly turn him away, to repeatedly reject him. Don't do that to ME. Don't make ME have to have this conversation over and over. Don't rub MY nose in it.
     "It's a bad situation--don't spend so much energy fighting it now--that will only make it harder on BIL. And harder on me. And therefore harder to heal. After all, what is it that they say? 'It won't get better if you pick at it'? "

And then, when she breaks the boundaries, cut off HER access to you as well. Go "radio silence."
The only way she'll take you seriously is if you never, ever budge, and if she suffers as well.

Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: YummyMummy66 on November 16, 2012, 01:43:02 PM
I agree with others that your dh should never have gone to his birthday dinner.  When she called up and stated they were already there, MIL knew exactly what she was doing.  She knew how you would feel and thought it best to soften the blow before you got to the restaurant so you would not argue with her.  Your dh did not have to fight. He simply should have said, "Who is we? Bil?  You know how I and my family feel.  I hope you both have a nice dinner.  We will stay home and order pizza" and hang up.  Be done and don't answer the phone again.  No fights.

If MIL decides to show up on Sat. with BIL, then your dh needs to enforce your family's wishes.  To MIL, "Mom, you know how we feel.  You can either come in alone or turn around and go back home.  BIL, my family and I wish to have nothing to do with you as long as you are not seeking help for your addiciton and are clean and sober for such and such a time.  I truly hope you get the help you need to help you get better, but until that time comes, we will have nothing to do with you whatsoever.  We will not attend a function where you are at, we will not come to MIL's house, and you are never invited into our home."   Mom, are you coming in or not? 

If she says not without BIL, then your dh needs to stand up for himself and your family and "I am sorry then.  Have a safe ride back home", turn around and close the door.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: AreaWoman on November 16, 2012, 01:58:04 PM
This thread is giving me serious chills, as we had a family tragedy occur between a long-time substance abuser and his/her enabler at Thanksgiving.  While it has been a long time, I still cannot stand Thanksgiving and get seriously depressed at this time every year.  OP, please know that you are doing exactly the right thing, and please, please do everything you can to keep your children safe.

Also, I agree that MIL WILL show up with BIL on Saturday.  I would just not invite her until she really and truly understands your position (although I admit I have a bias on this -- see above).  I don't think it is rude to keep a known enabler, even a close family member, at arm's length.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: rose red on November 16, 2012, 02:24:54 PM
Well, she didn't really invite you to Thanksgiving dinner.  She asked you to stop by if you can.  Your DH can just phone her and say you can't. 

I'm wondering about Saturday dinner.  I bet you anything she will bring BIL.  Maybe you can invite her to dinner sometime when you are going to a restaurant.  If BIL shows up, your family can leave.  Leaving is harder to do if dinner is at your home.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: LeveeWoman on November 16, 2012, 02:48:46 PM
Well, she didn't really invite you to Thanksgiving dinner.  She asked you to stop by if you can.  Your DH can just phone her and say you can't. 

I'm wondering about Saturday dinner.  I bet you anything she will bring BIL.  Maybe you can invite her to dinner sometime when you are going to a restaurant.  If BIL shows up, your family can leave.  Leaving is harder to do if dinner is at your home.

Why should they leave their own home? They don't have to let the woman and her son into their house.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: auntmeegs on November 16, 2012, 02:56:00 PM
Your DH is giving MIL mixed signals,and should never have gone to the birthday dinner.  MIL does not believe that you and DH will really exclude BIL, because DH has not drawn the boundaries sufficiently.  DH should have called off the dinner and stayed home with you and your family.DH needs to call MIL and tell her that your family will not be coming as long as BIL is there.  It sounds like MIL has been manipulative and a boundary pusher in the past, since your DH expects a big "fight" when she doesn't get her way.  Best take a stand and get the unpleasantness over with sooner, rather than later.

I disagree with the bolded.  I think its perfectly reasonable for the OP to not want to be around BIL and not want her children to be around him either.  But I don't think that means her DH has to write his brother off completely and forever.  Despite BIL's many issues, the OP's DH probably still loves his brother and feels sad that he is the way he is.  As long as he is not pressuring the OP to have a relationship with him I don't think its so unreasonable that he go on his own once in a while to keep some line of communication open.  Deep down inside me may hold out some hope that some day his brother will get his life together. 
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: rose red on November 16, 2012, 02:56:55 PM
Well, she didn't really invite you to Thanksgiving dinner.  She asked you to stop by if you can.  Your DH can just phone her and say you can't. 

I'm wondering about Saturday dinner.  I bet you anything she will bring BIL.  Maybe you can invite her to dinner sometime when you are going to a restaurant.  If BIL shows up, your family can leave.  Leaving is harder to do if dinner is at your home.

Why should they leave their own home? They don't have to let the woman and her son into their house.

Once again, I used the wrong phase.  I mean it's easier to turn away and leave the situation when you are on neutral ground.

Yes, you can close the door, but in a real life situation, it's hard to do that with your own mother even if she behaves like the OP's MIL.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: gramma dishes on November 16, 2012, 03:29:16 PM
Well, she didn't really invite you to Thanksgiving dinner.  She asked you to stop by if you can.  Your DH can just phone her and say you can't. 

I'm wondering about Saturday dinner.  I bet you anything she will bring BIL.  Maybe you can invite her to dinner sometime when you are going to a restaurant.  If BIL shows up, your family can leave.  Leaving is harder to do if dinner is at your home.

Why should they leave their own home? They don't have to let the woman and her son into their house.

Not only that (and that's certainly true) but DH's birthday was held at a restaurant and she brought him anyway even though they had specifically said they didn't want him there.  That's why only DH went and not the rest of the family.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Mikayla on November 16, 2012, 03:52:41 PM
Amylouky, you mentioned that you appear weak, and I don't think you do at all.  In fact, I think it took courage for you to boycott your DH's birthday.  I agree with PPs that he messed up on that, but it's getting kind of glossed over that you did not.  Your kids didn't get to attend their dad's birthday dinner, and your DH didn't even have his own wife.  So props to you for that!

What your DH needs to be very clear on is that, when dealing with addicts and their enablers, words are meaningless unless they are accompanied by actions.  It's obvious that your MIL is still stuck in the word game, and this means it's very likely she'll try to bring BIL on Saturday.  Your DH needs to find the words to make it clear this can't happen (even if he has to put it in an email to be direct enough) and then - most importantly - he needs to promise you that he will turn them both away if they show up.  I really hope for all your sakes she gets it this time.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: LeveeWoman on November 16, 2012, 03:57:45 PM
Well, she didn't really invite you to Thanksgiving dinner.  She asked you to stop by if you can.  Your DH can just phone her and say you can't. 

I'm wondering about Saturday dinner.  I bet you anything she will bring BIL.  Maybe you can invite her to dinner sometime when you are going to a restaurant.  If BIL shows up, your family can leave.  Leaving is harder to do if dinner is at your home.

Why should they leave their own home? They don't have to let the woman and her son into their house.

Once again, I used the wrong phase.  I mean it's easier to turn away and leave the situation when you are on neutral ground.

Yes, you can close the door, but in a real life situation, it's hard to do that with your own mother even if she behaves like the OP's MIL.

The birthday dinner was at a restaurant.

I don't think amylouky or her husband would have any trouble refusing to let his mother in if his brother is with her. I know I wouldn't.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Drawberry on November 16, 2012, 04:23:56 PM
My family is about as dysfunctional and a duck living with wolves and a lot of it develops from my grandmothers toxic relationship with my uncle, who is a long time alcoholic with no end in sight. So I understand a lot of where you and others are coming from.

That said, in what I have experienced the only way to get your boundaries respected is to treat the enabler like a child in that when they disrespect what you've laid out you must put forth a consequence. MIL disrespected your boundaries and included BIL at the birthday dinner, therefore she is not invited to Thanksgiving this year.

The enabler see's any form of 'give' as a sign that all has been forgiven and it won't be an issue anymore. When you invite her over she's going to assume that you wouldn't possibly think of kicking her and BIL out of your home and will take advantage of that. Unless you are willing to do so, which I firmly believe you will if you invite her to dinner, it may be best to simply state you will not be coming to dinner and not invite her to your home.

I think it will be wise for your husband to speak personally with BIL and tell him for himself that BIL is not to come over to your home and is not welcome at occasions you or your husband personally organize. He needs to be told personally that his presence is unwelcome because he will continue to cling to his mothers coattails wherever she goes. If he's told personally that he is unwelcome then he has no excuse. He can't say "Mom said it was okay" when you and your husband explicitly tell him that he is not to come to your home.

I think for the sake of peace during your celebrations it would be best to not involve MIL at all.




A few others have mentioned having unfortunate encounters with addicted family members in their youth and I have to agree with their statements that you may want to talk to your children about what to do if BIL comes over or try's to engage with them. Teach them that they should not talk to Uncle X alone, that they shouldn't let him in the house (even if Grandma is with him), and that if their Uncle tries to take them somewhere to not go with him.

It might sound serious and even awful, but having grown up in the toxic and sometimes scary environment with an addict literally across the street it would do well that your children know that they have boundaries with BIL and let them know it's okay not to listen to him.

I am not trying to make any accusations, assumptions or implications about BIL in my following statement, please do not take it that way. I just want to share my own account;

My uncle, the alcoholic, has on numerous occasions in my youth from the ages of about 17-22 (22 being the last time I saw him, as well as my enabling grandmother) inquired to me personally the status of my virginity. He would look me up and down then crudely ask "So have you popped your cherry yet?"

My reason for including this scenario is to show how an addicted family member can come to view their own family not as people anymore but as someone they can drag down as low as themselves. For my uncle it was sexual and crass as I got older and therefore 'attractive' (he had previously had a sexual relationship with his cousin, and tried to do so with my mother-his sister). When I told my grandmother, whom he lived with, she would brush me off and tell everyone else in the family I was a liar. She completely refused to believe he was saying these things , even if he said it in front of her. She was enabling him for so many years that she could not face reality even if it was slapping her in the face.

Again I am not trying to imply anything about BIL specifically, but just to put my own experience out there. Teaching your kids not to talk to BIL or let him in the house might sound mean and extreme but I can't stress enough how much good it will do for your children to know their boundaries with him.Especially as kids who may be at an age where they believe they must listen to all adults and do what all adults tell them to do.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: rose red on November 16, 2012, 04:36:26 PM
Well, she didn't really invite you to Thanksgiving dinner.  She asked you to stop by if you can.  Your DH can just phone her and say you can't. 

I'm wondering about Saturday dinner.  I bet you anything she will bring BIL.  Maybe you can invite her to dinner sometime when you are going to a restaurant.  If BIL shows up, your family can leave.  Leaving is harder to do if dinner is at your home.

Why should they leave their own home? They don't have to let the woman and her son into their house.

Once again, I used the wrong phase.  I mean it's easier to turn away and leave the situation when you are on neutral ground.

Yes, you can close the door, but in a real life situation, it's hard to do that with your own mother even if she behaves like the OP's MIL.

The birthday dinner was at a restaurant.

I don't think amylouky or her husband would have any trouble refusing to let his mother in if his brother is with her. I know I wouldn't.

Yes, I know the birthday was at a restaurant.  That's in the past and they need to plan as a team for future dinners.  My advice was for the OP not to invite MIL to Saturday dinner at their home.  Take small steps.  Invite her the next time they are going to a restaurant and walk away if BIL is there.  Why do you think the OP's husband will have no trouble turning his mother away at his door?  He loves his mother.  He went to the restaurant on his birthday.  The next step is being strong enought not to go in the first place or leave a restaurant.  Then become strong enough to turn them away from his home.  If they can do that now, great.  If not, neutral ground first.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: joraemi on November 16, 2012, 04:46:08 PM
I'm wondering what the plan will be if she shows up with BIL at your place on Saturday?  I'm sorry she's making this difficult.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: JenJay on November 16, 2012, 05:11:44 PM
The BIL is a grown man, right? So ultimately it's up to him whether or not he shows up uninvited (she doesn't knock him out & drag him to the car). I'm assuming he knows he's not welcome in your home or around your family. If it hasn't been explicitly spelled out for him your DH needs to do that ASAP.

I'd remove MIL from the equation and hold BIL responsible. Call and invite her to dinner. If she says "We'll be there." correct and remind her that BIL is not welcome. If he's with her when she arrives don't let them in. Look right at him and say "You know you are not welcome, and why." then turn to her and say "Mom, are you staying?" If one or both of them starts whining or arguing you say "You both know how we feel. It hurts that you choose to continue to disregard our wishes. Goodbye."

Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: BarensMom on November 16, 2012, 07:22:13 PM
OP, as a SIL to an addict, I reiterate what some of the other PPs have said:  Do not invite your MIL to your home.  She will bring your BIL, because she will not respect your boundaries.  Enablers are all about appeasing the addict, and expecting others to "be the bigger person."

When DH & I moved into our first house, SiL would pitch fits every time we invited FIL and MIL, as DH made it very clear to all three that SIL was not welcome.  To placate SIL, MIL would stay home, leaving FIL to come by himself.  MIL died two years after we married, without ever seeing, much less setting foot in, our home.  MIL was such an expert enabler that it wasn't until after MIL died that he even realized that SIL was an addict and had been forging checks on their joint account to pay for her habit.  Poor man died five months later with an empty bank account.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: GrammarNerd on November 16, 2012, 08:35:45 PM
OP, as a SIL to an addict, I reiterate what some of the other PPs have said:  Do not invite your MIL to your home.  She will bring your BIL, because she will not respect your boundaries.  Enablers are all about appeasing the addict, and expecting others to "be the bigger person."

When DH & I moved into our first house, SiL would pitch fits every time we invited FIL and MIL, as DH made it very clear to all three that SIL was not welcome.  To placate SIL, MIL would stay home, leaving FIL to come by himself.  MIL died two years after we married, without ever seeing, much less setting foot in, our home.  MIL was such an expert enabler that it wasn't until after MIL died that he even realized that SIL was an addict and had been forging checks on their joint account to pay for her habit.  Poor man died five months later with an empty bank account.

That is really sad.

Having had a sister who was an alcoholic in denial until the day she died, I had a period of not seeing my sister for 7 years.  Sure, I heard about her, but she stayed away from me.  She knew I would not enable her.  My kids never met her until the oldest was almost 5.  My take on it was that I would not want her around my kids if she was any random person off the street, and because she was family, it didn't automatically negate that viewpoint.  In fact, because she was family, I expected her to set a better example for my kids than any random person off the street.  She couldn't do that, so I had no desire to be around that behavior (disease), or let my kids be around it, until such a time as she could show me that she was done blaming others for everything and was ready to take responsibility for herself.   Unfortunately, that never happened.

But we were never close to begin with, so perhaps it was easier for me to take this stand, because it was actually a relief to not have to worry about her.  OP, Kudos to your DH for being able to (mostly) stand strong about keeping his brother away from your kids.  I'm sure he had some sort of a more brotherly relationship once, so this must be hard for him.  I can even kind of see why he went to the birthday dinner; his brother has probably ruined a lot of times/memories/events, and your DH didn't want him to fully ruin his birthday, so he went anyway. 

But I do now kind of agree with a PP who said that MIL needs a consequence for foisting BIL on you during your DH's birthday dinner.  And she should know about it (otherwise it's not a consequence).  (said by your DH) "Mom, we were going to invite you to our house on Saturday for our big dinner, but we decided against it because of what you did for my birthday dinner.  When it came right down to it, we knew we couldn't trust you not to bring BIL on Saturday, so we had to make the tough decsion to leave you out of our celebration.  We know you don't feel the same way about him as we do, and that's your right.  But we also have the right to our feelings on the subject, and if you can't respect our feelings, then we can't spend time with you."

That's perhaps a bit blunt, but I'm sure you get the gist of it.  OP, good luck, and next week, give thanks for holding your ground and maintaining your peace and safety by keeping BIL away.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: JoyinVirginia on November 16, 2012, 10:58:06 PM
I do not think you should ask her at ask for sat. She has already shown that, to her, bil of course should go where she goes. Don't ask her over at all for a while.
She had to learn that her actions have consequences
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: LeveeWoman on November 16, 2012, 11:43:21 PM
Amylouky, is it possible for you to suggest that  your MIL get in touch with Al Anon?
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: doodlemor on November 17, 2012, 10:54:03 AM
Amylouky, is it possible for you to suggest that  your MIL get in touch with Al Anon?

This is a wise idea.  Amylouky and DH would probably benefit from this organization also. 
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: MyFamily on November 18, 2012, 11:08:48 AM
I absolutely understand why you want a relationship with your MIL.  But until she shows that she will respect your boundries, you should not have her in your house.  Meet her only at a neutral place until you know she won't bring your BIL to your house.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: SPuck on November 18, 2012, 11:31:43 AM
Meet her only at a neutral place until you know she won't bring your BIL to your house.

Or if your ready to turn her and BIL away at the door if the come.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: miranova on November 18, 2012, 12:14:49 PM
I guess I am in the minority on this one but I don't think it's necessary to specifically respond to that invitation.  I have a blatent boundary trampler in my life, someone who will quite literally ask the same question a dozen times in an attempt to get the answer he wants.  Answering the question over and over and over again DOES. NOT. HELP. as all he will do is ignore the answer if it's one he doesn't want.  He will just ask again a day later.  The only thing that works is answering ONE TIME and then ignoring all further requests.  I had to stop playing the game.  I HAD to "rudely" ignore the repeated requests.  I got accused of ignoring his request, I even got threatened with "well since you aren't responding I can only assume you are fine with me coming"....interesting tactic that one....but I didn't give in and call back with a response since I already responded and we both knew it.  And when he showed up at my door and wouldn't leave, the police were called.  I must say, he has stopped disbelieving me now.

OP and her DH have in effect already answered this invite by preemptively saying no to all invties at MIL's house.  They don't need to respond because they already did.  If she asks in person, I'd act confused and say "but we already told you we wouldn't be coming to your house while BIL is there." and then change the subject completely.  There is very little risk here, because the invitation is to her house...she will get the message when they don't show up.  I don't care how surprised she acts, she has already been told that they won't be coming.

I would be wary of inviting MIL to my home at this point.  I would not extend any invitations to my home until she proves that she can show up elsewhere without bringing BIL a few times.  If that means that MIL doesn't get to see them this Thanksgiving so be it.  But I would not invite her to my home until she had a track record of respecting my boundaries.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: gramma dishes on November 18, 2012, 12:27:34 PM

...   OP and her DH have in effect already answered this invite by preemptively saying no to all invties at MIL's house.  They don't need to respond because they already did.  If she asks in person, I'd act confused and say "but we already told you we wouldn't be coming to your house while BIL is there." and then change the subject completely.  There is very little risk here, because the invitation is to her house...she will get the message when they don't show up.  I don't care how surprised she acts, she has already been told that they won't be coming.

I would be wary of inviting MIL to my home at this point.  I would not extend any invitations to my home until she proves that she can show up elsewhere without bringing BIL a few times.  If that means that MIL doesn't get to see them this Thanksgiving so be it.  But I would not invite her to my home until she had a track record of respecting my boundaries.

Excellent post!!
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: buvezdevin on November 18, 2012, 12:57:09 PM
I agree with miranova.  Having explained to MIL that OP and her family will not visit MIL's house with BIL present is a blanket response.  If questioned/invited further, OP or her DH can, of course, restate their position, but replying at all allows MIL to infer that continued invitations could possibly lead to a different answer.  Not replying would be - I think - clearer in conveying that the position of OP's family is not going to change simply through repeated invites.

I also agree with PP's noting that MIL's circumventing the position of OP's family is likely to continue unless there are consequences rather than even partial acquiescence to being around BIL. 

And I particularly agree with a PP who suggested making it expressly clear what, if anything, *would* change the position of OP's family, i.e. BIL holding a job and being clean for a defined length of time or other specifics.  While it may be difficult for MIL to accept OP's family's firm position to not socialize with BIL, if she knows that there is a chance for BIL to change that position through his own long term behavior it may help her "get" that the position is not a "punishment" of BIL, but protection against his choices/behavior negatively impacting OP's family *and* a desire to not enable BIL to continue behavior destructive to himself and others.

I have seen similar situations of addicts and family members who cannot bring themselves to let the addict be homeless, or hurting.  It is difficult for all.  Years ago, I cut off contact for some time with a family member with substance abuse problems, and for months I worried whether the choice to not offer continued support would contribute to their downward spiral.  In my case, the person eventually (after some years) turned their life around, and I don't believe my support or lack thereof was a significant factor in the matter. 

I can understand well how MIL may not be ready to leave BIL to his self-made fortunes, due to her own fears for where his path may lead, and wanting to do what she can not only in an attempt to "help" him, but to avoid feelings of guilt (not that she would be responsible for his actions, but she may *feel* responsibility).

OP, if your DH does speak to MIL about Al-Anon, maybe he could offer to go with her to some meetings? 
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: amylouky on November 19, 2012, 08:55:09 AM
Amylouky, is it possible for you to suggest that  your MIL get in touch with Al Anon?

This is a wise idea.  Amylouky and DH would probably benefit from this organization also.

I have suggested it many times, but no luck yet. My father was an alcoholic (got sober when I was around 10), and Ala-teen was very helpful for me and my sisters. Mom went to Al-Anon also, so I'm very familiar with the benefits it can bring. I've offered to go with her, but I think she thinks she's doing fine on her own. Which, I guess she is, since everyone else is just playing along with her enabling.

The more I think about it, the crazier it seems. She has family gatherings and tells everyone to lock their purses in their cars. Who does that??

I couldn't get on this weekend (sorry, internet problems) so I'm just catching up on all the replies, but I wanted to say thank you all! They are definitely helping me to strengthen my spine, and to give DH some pointers on what to say to MIL. We haven't called her back yet, I think DH is afraid to because he doesn't want to get in another fight with her.

Here's where Ehell has REALLY helped.. I explained JADE to him (love it!) I told him that she already knows our position, she knows why we have taken that position, so there is no reason to explain it again. If she brings up Thursday, just say, "Mom, you know our feelings on that, it won't be possible. Now, about Saturday.."  I also like the wording of, "Please don't invite or bring BIL. He will not be allowed in the house, and it will just be embarrassing and hurtful to everyone." We also talked about giving her a definite time limit, 9 months or a year, and we'll re-evaluate. Hopefully that way, this dilemma doesn't keep coming up every time there is an event.

Another thing I wanted to address.. I have told DH that he is free to maintain a relationship with BIL, if he wants to. I am not going to make him choose between me and BIL, or MIL for that matter. He is in agreement with not having the boys around BIL, or at MIL's house while BIL is living there. He agrees with not seeing BIL either, I think he's just having a hard time with doing things that will hurt his Mom, which I definitely understand.

Thanks everyone for your help, and I'm sorry if this subject has brought up painful memories.

Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Minmom3 on November 19, 2012, 12:03:39 PM
Does he see that his Mom is doing things that hurt him?  Because her refusal to recognize that you and your DH have a right to refuse to be around BIL is causing your DH pain, as I see it reported here.  It sounds like he thinks the causing of pain is one directional, from him to his mother.  He needs to see that it goes both ways...  IMO  :-\
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 19, 2012, 12:23:59 PM
My sympathies to your DH!  That's really tough.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: amylouky on November 22, 2012, 10:53:16 PM
Well, disappointing update. DH tried to call MIL several times this week, but had to leave a message every time. He just said, "Hi Mom, give me a call when you can".. didn't want to leave anything detailed on her vmail since  BIL has access to it.
She never called back. So, DH knew that she had to go in to work for a few hours today (yes, on Thanksgiving..) so he stopped up there to tell her Happy Thanksgiving, and invite her over for Saturday. She was nice enough to him, no big blowout (probably because it was at her work). But, when he asked if she wanted to come over Sat, and added, "And please remember, this invitation is only for you.", she said, "Well, that's probably why I won't be there, then".
So, I guess she's made her choice. Which I find very sad. Incidentally, we are not the only people in her life that this has happened with. She has a brother who she used to be close to, and now never speaks to, because he dared to say she was an enabler.
I'm kind of of the "fine, let her be alone with BIL then" mindset right now, but I know that this is hurting DH, even though he says it doesn't.
*Sigh* I'm hoping she'll think about it tomorrow, and decide to come over (alone) after all. I just can't believe she would choose not hurting BIL's feelings, after everything he has put the family through, over a relationship with her other son and her grandchildren. Oh well.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: Iris on November 23, 2012, 12:10:46 AM
Well, disappointing update. DH tried to call MIL several times this week, but had to leave a message every time. He just said, "Hi Mom, give me a call when you can".. didn't want to leave anything detailed on her vmail since  BIL has access to it.
She never called back. So, DH knew that she had to go in to work for a few hours today (yes, on Thanksgiving..) so he stopped up there to tell her Happy Thanksgiving, and invite her over for Saturday. She was nice enough to him, no big blowout (probably because it was at her work). But, when he asked if she wanted to come over Sat, and added, "And please remember, this invitation is only for you.", she said, "Well, that's probably why I won't be there, then".
So, I guess she's made her choice. Which I find very sad. Incidentally, we are not the only people in her life that this has happened with. She has a brother who she used to be close to, and now never speaks to, because he dared to say she was an enabler.
I'm kind of of the "fine, let her be alone with BIL then" mindset right now, but I know that this is hurting DH, even though he says it doesn't.
*Sigh* I'm hoping she'll think about it tomorrow, and decide to come over (alone) after all. I just can't believe she would choose not hurting BIL's feelings, after everything he has put the family through, over a relationship with her other son and her grandchildren. Oh well.

(((hugs)))

I have a theory; Sometimes people in this situation realise - at least subconsciously - that if it wasn't for them no-one at all in the whole world would like Junkie McJunkerton and they just can't bring themselves to be the one that leaves them with NO-ONE, no matter what the cost or how much they deserve it. I also think that that's why they pressure other people into including the enablee, so that they aren't the only one shouldering that load. I honestly don't believe that she has thought "Hmmmm, who do I like better, DH or BIL?" and decided on BIL. I think she is just trying to be that one link back to a normal life no matter what the cost.

Of course that's stupid and futile and actually makes things worse most of the time but you can't make her see that. All you can do is take care of you and yours. MIL will never ever see that her problems are of her own and BIL's making because that would force her to recognise what she just doesn't want to see.  :(
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Deetee on November 23, 2012, 12:39:37 AM
I'm sorry to hear your update, but you do know that you made the only possible decision, right?

I hope your MIL relents and comes over alone, but if she doesn't I hope you and your DH continue to reach out to her and invite her for lunches or other small things that won't make her feel like she is abandoning BIL.

This enabling sounds somewhat similiar to an abusive relationship, so I think its important to keep the lines of communication open so caring for her addicted son doesn't become her entire life.

Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Lynda_34 on November 23, 2012, 01:28:02 AM
Sometimes pain in the short term must be endured.

This woman doesn't want to lose either child/son.  Give her a while, keep those boundaries.  Hopefully she will come around and be able to maintain separate relationships with both children/adult sons.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: Queen of Clubs on November 23, 2012, 07:03:15 AM
*Sigh* I'm hoping she'll think about it tomorrow, and decide to come over (alone) after all. I just can't believe she would choose not hurting BIL's feelings, after everything he has put the family through, over a relationship with her other son and her grandchildren. Oh well.

I agree with Iris in that your MIL is trying to keep your BIL linked to a normal life, probably in the hopes that he'll see the light and get himself clean.

I also wonder if it's not a case of choosing between her two sons but of your MIL thinking she can have both.  If she pushes hard enough or holds out long enough, then you and your DH will cave and then things can go back to how they were.  So (in her mind) she's not going to lose your DH...she's just trying to wait you out.  I doubt she realises how seriously you view this situation (and rightly so!) or how determined both of you are.

Either way, you did the right thing.  Your MIL can choose to enable your BIL, but she has to take the consequences that come with that decision.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Twik on November 23, 2012, 08:32:22 AM
It's a common way of dealing with difficult people - you expect the "normal" (as in, rational and socially well-adjusted) person to make the sacrifices, because asking the difficult person to make compromises isn't going to work, or will lead to all sorts of unpleasantness. So, everyone tiptoes around the person who's making the problem, and the problem becomes assigned to the people who do not create it in the first place.

It's a version of "Sammy, give your toy to the baby, because otherwise the baby will scream, and that'll be your fault."
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: weeblewobble on November 23, 2012, 08:47:05 AM
Queen of clubs and Iris make some very good points. Its not necessarily who MiL loves more.  In the enablers head, its usually "who needs me more." She sees Dh with a family and spouse, while BIL is alone. She figures he needs her more and DH will be ok without her.

I am sorry she responded the way she did. It sounded both snarky and confrontational.

You just have to keep on as you are. She's either going to understand you aren't backing down from your stance or she won't. Either way you are doing the right thing.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: weeblewobble on November 23, 2012, 08:48:13 AM
It's a common way of dealing with difficult people - you expect the "normal" (as in, rational and socially well-adjusted) person to make the sacrifices, because asking the difficult person to make compromises isn't going to work, or will lead to all sorts of unpleasantness. So, everyone tiptoes around the person who's making the problem, and the problem becomes assigned to the people who do not create it in the first place.

It's a version of "Sammy, give your toy to the baby, because otherwise the baby will scream, and that'll be your fault."

Pod. Poddity pod!
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: buvezdevin on November 23, 2012, 08:57:15 AM
Queen of clubs and Iris make some very good points. Its not necessarily who MiL loves more.  In the enablers head, its usually "who needs me more." She sees Dh with a family and spouse, while BIL is alone. She figures he needs her more and DH will be ok without her.

I am sorry she responded the way she did. It sounded both snarky and confrontational.

You just have to keep on as you are. She's either going to understand you aren't backing down from your stance or she won't. Either way you are doing the right thing.

This is so true, particularly the "who needs more" - which, in an enabling mindset can lead to resenting those who do not also cater to the addict.  The resentment can be two-fold, that the enabler's choices are not validated by others doing likewise, and the "feeling" that others without the addict's problems (even where self caused) are not given priority over those without such "need".

OP, sat strong, you and DH have good reasons for *your* choices, even though your MIL may not be seeing it yet.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: TootsNYC on November 23, 2012, 09:29:11 AM

I have a theory; Sometimes people in this situation realise - at least subconsciously - that if it wasn't for them no-one at all in the whole world would like Junkie McJunkerton and they just can't bring themselves to be the one that leaves them with NO-ONE, no matter what the cost or how much they deserve it.. . . . I think she is just trying to be that one link back to a normal life no matter what the cost.



 I hope you and your DH continue to reach out to her and invite her for lunches or other small things that won't make her feel like she is abandoning BIL.

This enabling sounds somewhat similiar to an abusive relationship, so I think its important to keep the lines of communication open so caring for her addicted son doesn't become her entire life.


I agree with both of these.

Remember one of the lines from my proposed "script"? The idea of "don't make it worse by rubbing our noses in it" and "it won't get better if you pick at it"?

Every time your DH actually says, "This invitation is only for you," he is saying, "I don't even want my own brother, the member of your household, in my home." That's got to be hard for her to here.

So just don't even go there--don't even issue invitations that make it necessary to say that. Put some time in thinking, and find ways to get together with her that won't involve the conflict.

What a tough situation for everyone!
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: gramma dishes on November 23, 2012, 09:42:25 AM
...   It's a version of "Sammy, give your toy to the baby, because otherwise the baby will scream, and that'll be your fault."

Wow!  This is no doubt the best analogy I've ever seen to explain this kind of 'social' interaction.   
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: amylouky on November 26, 2012, 09:38:43 AM
Every time your DH actually says, "This invitation is only for you," he is saying, "I don't even want my own brother, the member of your household, in my home." That's got to be hard for her to here.

So just don't even go there--don't even issue invitations that make it necessary to say that. Put some time in thinking, and find ways to get together with her that won't involve the conflict.

What a tough situation for everyone!

I'm not sure how to do that, though, without completely cutting her off which we don't want to do?
If we just invite her somewhere, and don't tell her that it is just for her, she WILL bring BIL.
I know it is hard for her to hear that he is not welcome, but I don't know how to still try to keep communication lines open, and let her know that we do want to maintain a relationship with HER, without inviting her to do things but specifying "No BIL"?

Also, mini-update, haven't heard anything at all from MIL since DH went to her work on Thursday.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: Iris on November 26, 2012, 02:54:46 PM
Every time your DH actually says, "This invitation is only for you," he is saying, "I don't even want my own brother, the member of your household, in my home." That's got to be hard for her to here.

So just don't even go there--don't even issue invitations that make it necessary to say that. Put some time in thinking, and find ways to get together with her that won't involve the conflict.

What a tough situation for everyone!

I'm not sure how to do that, though, without completely cutting her off which we don't want to do?
If we just invite her somewhere, and don't tell her that it is just for her, she WILL bring BIL.
I know it is hard for her to hear that he is not welcome, but I don't know how to still try to keep communication lines open, and let her know that we do want to maintain a relationship with HER, without inviting her to do things but specifying "No BIL"?

Also, mini-update, haven't heard anything at all from MIL since DH went to her work on Thursday.

I'm a big fan of saying what you mean where possible. Perhaps DH can find some neutral territory to speak to her and put it all out there "Mom, I will always love my brother, but you must understand that I need to put my children and my wife first. Because of specific examples A, B, and C I have decided that he can't be around my family and so sadly I can't be around him either. This is not up for discussion. It won't change until Specific Acts X, Y and Z have happened. I'm here though to talk about you. It breaks my heart that I have to lose my mother because of this. It really hurts that you're cutting me off when I've done *nothing* wrong simply because I won't indulge your favourite child. I've made a decision to protect my family because YOU raised me to take care of the people I love. I don't want that to cost my children their Grandma." Then, if she doesn't respond or just continues to argue then you at least know you've done all you can. Sadly, it looks like you may lose TWO people to BIL's addictions but in the end, all you can do is your best and take care of your own.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: MerryCat on November 26, 2012, 03:05:50 PM
OP, I'm sorry that your MIL wasn't more understanding of your position. At this point I think the best thing you can do is to give her a little space to process things and think about whether she's really willing to cut off you and her grandchildren just because you won't spend time with BIL.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: weeblewobble on November 26, 2012, 06:02:14 PM
Every time your DH actually says, "This invitation is only for you," he is saying, "I don't even want my own brother, the member of your household, in my home." That's got to be hard for her to here.

So just don't even go there--don't even issue invitations that make it necessary to say that. Put some time in thinking, and find ways to get together with her that won't involve the conflict.

What a tough situation for everyone!

I'm not sure how to do that, though, without completely cutting her off which we don't want to do?
If we just invite her somewhere, and don't tell her that it is just for her, she WILL bring BIL.
I know it is hard for her to hear that he is not welcome, but I don't know how to still try to keep communication lines open, and let her know that we do want to maintain a relationship with HER, without inviting her to do things but specifying "No BIL"?

Also, mini-update, haven't heard anything at all from MIL since DH went to her work on Thursday.

With all due respect to Toots, amylouky is right on the money.  Unless you specifically outline your boundaries every single time, these personalities will use that as a loophole to put you right back at square one.  i.e. "Well, you didn't SAY that BIL couldn't come!"
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: Deetee on November 26, 2012, 06:39:46 PM


I'm a big fan of saying what you mean where possible. Perhaps DH can find some neutral territory to speak to her and put it all out there "Mom, I will always love my brother, but you must understand that I need to put my children and my wife first. Because of specific examples A, B, and C I have decided that he can't be around my family and so sadly I can't be around him either. This is not up for discussion. It won't change until Specific Acts X, Y and Z have happened. I'm here though to talk about you. It breaks my heart that I have to lose my mother because of this. It really hurts that you're cutting me off when I've done *nothing* wrong simply because I won't indulge your favourite childignore what BIL is doing. I've made a decision to protect my family because YOU raised me to take care of the people I love. I don't want that to cost my children their Grandma." Then, if she doesn't respond or just continues to argue then you at least know you've done all you can. Sadly, it looks like you may lose TWO people to BIL's addictions but in the end, all you can do is your best and take care of your own.

I think this is perfect except for the small change I made. I agree with a previous poster that it isn't that MIL loves BIL more, it's that he needs her more (or she thinks he needs her more) and the favorite child wording is a little bit attacky when everything else is perfect.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. **disappointing update p52**
Post by: Iris on November 26, 2012, 10:52:37 PM


I'm a big fan of saying what you mean where possible. Perhaps DH can find some neutral territory to speak to her and put it all out there "Mom, I will always love my brother, but you must understand that I need to put my children and my wife first. Because of specific examples A, B, and C I have decided that he can't be around my family and so sadly I can't be around him either. This is not up for discussion. It won't change until Specific Acts X, Y and Z have happened. I'm here though to talk about you. It breaks my heart that I have to lose my mother because of this. It really hurts that you're cutting me off when I've done *nothing* wrong simply because I won't indulge your favourite childignore what BIL is doing. I've made a decision to protect my family because YOU raised me to take care of the people I love. I don't want that to cost my children their Grandma." Then, if she doesn't respond or just continues to argue then you at least know you've done all you can. Sadly, it looks like you may lose TWO people to BIL's addictions but in the end, all you can do is your best and take care of your own.

I think this is perfect except for the small change I made. I agree with a previous poster that it isn't that MIL loves BIL more, it's that he needs her more (or she thinks he needs her more) and the favorite child wording is a little bit attacky when everything else is perfect.

I will admit I do get a little  >:( at people like this, obviously I'm not as well controlled as I like to think I am  :P
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. *hopeful update p69*
Post by: amylouky on December 18, 2012, 01:28:13 PM
So.. MIL called out of the blue, after no contact since Thanksgiving, last week. She asked if we wanted to meet for dinner at a restaurant. DH asked her, "Just us?" and she huffed a little and said, "Yeah, yeah, I get it. Just us."
Dinner was really nice, no PA behavior on her part, and best of all.. no mention at ALL of BIL or his latest antics. I'm more hopeful about Christmas, maybe she'll actually come over to our house (we've invited her).
So, maybe just maybe there's some hope after all.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Deetee on December 18, 2012, 02:57:45 PM
Good update and keep those spines polished!
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: JoyinVirginia on December 19, 2012, 10:53:57 AM
Thanks for the update amylouky! I can imagine out was a relaxing visit to NOT have the BIL antics be the main topic of dinner conversation.
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: amylouky on December 19, 2012, 01:45:58 PM
Thanks for the update amylouky! I can imagine out was a relaxing visit to NOT have the BIL antics be the main topic of dinner conversation.

It really was! It reminded me of the times before BIL got so messed up.. I really did love spending time with MIL. Hoping that this will continue!
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Lynda_34 on January 02, 2013, 03:51:42 AM
Been following this thread, glad for the positive update.  Keep firm, baby steps and maybe in the long run things will work out. 
Title: Re: Have to have not-fun convo with MIL.. we're not coming for TDay.. help?
Post by: Nora on January 02, 2013, 06:19:41 AM
That sounds promising, I hope she continues like this!