Author Topic: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?  (Read 14879 times)

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weeblewobble

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2012, 09:35:40 AM »
Nope,  sorry, he laid hands on your child and screamed in his face. He can't be trusted around your children. All social niceties are off.  Tell MIL you will see her at some other time around the holidays or she (and only she) can come to your house.

Speaking as someone whose family did avoid inlaw holiday gatherings for two years because of a problem relative, trust me when I say that making this sort of stand, and putting your own family/feelings first is liberating and totally worth it.  Your BIL is the elephant in the room.  You're all expected to tiptoe around the elephant and not mention the elephant's insane behavior, because that will make the elephant rampage.  You can't reason with him.  You can't expect rational behavior from an elephant.  And the pattern does not change because an elephant never forgets how to control the people around him.

First, DH needs to stop trying to "work things out" with BIL.  BIL wants DH to chase his approval and apologize and grovel because it puts BIL in a position of power.  DH needs to take that power back.  BIL doesn't have time in his schedule to meet?  Fine.  BIL doesn't want to talk about the real issues?  Fine, allow him to blame his bad behavior on the actions of small children.  That makes him look awesome.  He doesn't want to apologize?  Fine. 

Second, you need to stop going to family gatherings where BIL will be present.  Does it suck that you could temporarily lose contact with some family members while BIL gets to enjoy parties/events without consequence?  Yes. But it does two things.  1) It shows family members the consequences of denying/enabling BIL's bad behavior (the consequence being that you are not present and they are stuck dealing with BIL alone) and 2) It takes away BIL's argument that all problems are based on your sons' bullying his. (Really?  A 4 and 5 year old are bullying a 7 year old?  Really?)

Third, if you do go to a family gathering, don't wait/expect/hope BIL will acknowledge you.  This is what he wants, to hold some power of approval/validation over you.  Ignore him as he ignores you.   It's the worst thing you can do to someone like this.

Fourth, don't allow other family members to pressure you into "making nice" with BIL. This is the peril of being the "reasonable" sibling, you're expected to make all of the compromises. BIL had made it clear he doesn't want to see you or the boys anymore.  You're just giving him what he wants.

You would not believe how much easier and calm life if once you draw the line with these personalities. MIL may be upset that all of her family isn't getting together at once, but you've got to put your kids and family first.  Good luck.

MrTango

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2012, 09:39:42 AM »
Don't go.  I would completely cut BIL1 out of your and your childrens' lives.

Your DH constantly trying to patch things up with BIL1 is giving BIL1 all sorts of control over your lives that he doesn't deserve.

My suggestion would be for your DH to stop contacting BIL1.  No "goodbye" letter or call.  Nothing, just a sudden silence.

weeblewobble

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2012, 09:40:39 AM »
and POD to Foxpaws.  One of my problem relative's favorite weapons was the power of "forgiveness."  She would run roughshod over boundaries and then when you objected, say, "But I've forgiven you for all of the things you've done to me!" 

(Still scratching my head over what we possibly could have done to her.   Apparently, saying no and putting up healthy boundaries were horrible offenses. )



despedina

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2012, 10:04:00 AM »
Thanks for all the advice.
I'm still not sure what resentments my BIL1 has against my husband/us but I have a few theories.
My DH is very successful in his job, BIL1 worked at several places unsuccessfully before finally landing in the family business (where my FIL said he just socializes most of the day).  Since my FIL passed the buisiness is not doing well, and according to other relatives is because BIL1 is not good with customers.
BIL1 only has one child by his wife. She refused to have more and insisted he get a vasectomy. We all thought this was a bad idea with him having only 1 child (it was her 2nd).  We really wonder if he regrets this and sees our 3 kids as reminding him of this.  I have 3 kids, my daughter is 15, Son1 is 8 and Son2 is now 5 (this is the one that got grabbed by BIL1)
Their childhood together was pretty average.  DH and BIL1 spent a lot of time together because MIL was a nurse and worked odd hours and FIL had the family business and worked long hours also.

After posting this last night, my BIL1 finally responded to my DHs last text. He said that he had nothing to talk about because he feels the "issue" with the kids is solved. He refuses to see that there are issues well beyond that. He also said that DH and I shoudl come to xmas eve otherwise we are being selfish and hurting MIL and BIL2!  DH just responded that he didn't agree and left it at that.

Also, I didn't mention this, but next summer my MIL has planned a big family vacation for all of us. Right after FIL died, she confided that FIL really wanted a last vacation with everyone (we were hoping for a period where he would be better before the tumors started growing again). We agreed only because MIL booked 2 vacation houses so we could have our own spaces. 1 house for our family of 5, and 1 for MIL, Bil1, Bil2, SIL and Nephew.  We were going to that location that week anyway and we figured that DH and BIL1 could reconcile.  Right now it looks like we won't be spending much time with BIL1 at that vacation which is fine with me.

I think what we're going to do about xmas eve is just go over and give it a try only because this is the first xmas after FIL died. My DH is going to tell MIL that he's tried and that we will not be tolerating any bad behavior or people ignoring us. This is our holiday too.

Danika

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2012, 10:21:43 AM »
Also, I didn't mention this, but next summer my MIL has planned a big family vacation for all of us. Right after FIL died, she confided that FIL really wanted a last vacation with everyone (we were hoping for a period where he would be better before the tumors started growing again). We agreed only because MIL booked 2 vacation houses so we could have our own spaces. 1 house for our family of 5, and 1 for MIL, Bil1, Bil2, SIL and Nephew.  We were going to that location that week anyway and we figured that DH and BIL1 could reconcile.  Right now it looks like we won't be spending much time with BIL1 at that vacation which is fine with me.

There's still time to cancel. You can change your mind, if you want to. It's sad to let MIL down, but again, like a PP said, your kids' feelings and your happiness are your first priority.

I think what we're going to do about xmas eve is just go over and give it a try only because this is the first xmas after FIL died. My DH is going to tell MIL that he's tried and that we will not be tolerating any bad behavior or people ignoring us. This is our holiday too.

Be prepared to leave quickly. Don't bring your good casserole dishes that you want to take home that night, bring tin foil pans instead. Have your jackets near the door. Don't park your car on the driveway where it can get parked in. That way, if BIL1 causes a scene, you and DH can very calmly grab your kids, quickly say "MIL, it was nice to see you" and you can make a very quick getaway with as little drama as possible.

JenJay

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2012, 10:32:05 AM »
From an outsider's point of view your DH is practically begging his brother to make up while BIL sits on his throne and poo-poos your DH's every attempt, and I imagine he's loving every second of it. How important he must feel to treat your family so terribly and still have your DH trying to reconcile. Jerk!

BIL is being extremely passive-aggressive so I think it's time you stopped trying to figure out how to give him what he wants (Hint- what he really wants is your DH falling all over himself to make up for these ridiculous, imaginary slights!) and give him what he's showing you he wants - no contact.

He doesn't speak to you in public, doesn't take your calls, doesn't acknowledge your texts, etc. He is saying "I do not want a relationship with you right now." So hey, there ya go, you're off the hook! Of course we all know he's being a giant tantruming baby, but it buys you some peace so I'd cash that check!

Your DH should call his mom and decline Christmas Eve. Make plans to see her before or after. When she gets upset calmly say "Mom, I don't like it either, but Bro has been very clear that he doesn't want to see me right now and we need to respect his feelings. If we try to get together it'll just ruin the holiday for all of us. We're grown men so let us handle it."

Otterpop

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2012, 10:53:15 AM »
OP, I agree with your decision to go but go with a strong united front.  YOU are the aggrieved parties.  YOU should not tolerate BIL's bad behavior and then grovel afterward (that was a mistake that validated his tyrannical stance >:().  Be polite, distant and easy breezy with BIL.  "Ignore" his ignoring you, don't chase, and enjoy everyone else's company.  I like Danika's plan for a quick escape if the evening degenerates.  Should you have to leave, have a family debriefing afterward to let kids know they are not to blame.  Then reward yourselves (nice walk, movie, ice cream, miniature golf...) for getting through it.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 10:55:35 AM by Otterpop »

bopper

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2012, 10:58:11 AM »
If you do decide to go, don't think "BIL shouldn't be ignoring us", think "Thank God BIL is ignoring us!".  Plan ahead of time strategies for dealing with him.  Don't initiate conversation.  Stay around other people.
Be prepared to leave it gets too bad.

On the other hand, others are going to imply that you should forget what BIL does.  It is easier for them.  So if you want to set very firm boundaries, you could tell MIL that you can't make Xmas eve but what other time could you stop by this Xmas season?  If you set your boundaries and aren't around when BIL is around, then the others will put more pressure on BIL to stop his antics.

Also realize that BIL may be mentally ill and would not respond to you like a typical person, so stop expecting him to.  Also keep in mind that when he says "your kid bullies his" that he is most likely "projecting", that is, projecting his kids behavior on to yours, so what he is really saying is "my kid bullies yours."

despedina

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2012, 11:34:44 AM »
You know I just remembered, at church that night they are saying a mass for FIL.  I completely forgot that we were going to do that with the family.  I guess I shouldn't worry and we can just sit away from BIL1 at that.

For the vacation, the house we are staying in is 1/4 mile away from the other rental house so I'm not so worried. We'll just have to tell MIL that we won't all be gathering together like a big happy family.

As far as the gifts, are we required to purchase gifts for BIL1, his wife and nephew? DH tried telling BIL1 that we shouldn't exchange gifts considering what is going on but BIL1 responded "Well we're getting you gifts, so do what you want". This makes me cringe becuase last year DH told BIL1 not to purchase gifts for him anymore, since BIL1 was going to the toy section and last year bought DH a Darth Vader mask.  The year before that was some other sort of toy, so last year DH calmly told BIL1 to not worry about buying a gift for him anymore since it was apparently hard for them. 

BarensMom

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2012, 11:47:28 AM »
OP, here's the facts as I see it:

Your BIL abused your son by shaking and screaming at him. You should have called the police.

He says that your children are bullying his child.  No one else has corroborated his statement.

Your DH is practically begging your BIL to talk out the issues.  BIL is getting off on this. 

Why is your DH trying to make up with someone who abused your son and is behaving like such a jerk?  You must know that your children are unsafe around this man.  I wouldn't go within a country mile of him, no matter how your MIL feels on the subject.

DH needs to cancel any plans that involve BIL being present.

 

mj

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2012, 12:09:15 PM »
Please don't go.  I agree with all the reasons why PP are advising not to go.  Since BIL did not apologize for assaulting your son, I would never give BIL the chance to do it again and especially, especially not on Christmas. 

Taking a stand won't make everything all magically better, but it will help your family.  Personally I think any gifts he sends should not be accepted either.  If sent by mail, I would return to sender.  If left at MILs house, I would not touch it or take it with me. 

No more calling and trying to make amends. 

FoxPaws

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2012, 12:41:10 PM »
I think what we're going to do about xmas eve is just go over and give it a try only because this is the first xmas after FIL died. My DH is going to tell MIL that he's tried and that we will not be tolerating any bad behavior or people ignoring us. This is our holiday too.
Your daughter and elder son are old enough to be briefed on what is going on beforehand. Let them know that if Uncle starts getting out of hand, your family will be leaving and they need to cooperate and move quickly when you say it's time to go. You could also use the LIFO technique - Last In, First Out. Do something pleasant -  like drive around and look at Christmas lights - before going and then leave at a prearranged time.

In my experience, just having an exit strategy and a backup plan often means not having to use them. I don't know if it's some weird law of social physics or that just knowing you aren't stuck increases your confidence and sense of control and diffuses the general tension.

Edited to add:
I would get a gift for your nephew. It isn't his fault his father is a jerk. If you and your DH are presented with gifts you can graciously turn them down since you didn't get anything for them.

Best of luck to you.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 12:46:45 PM by FoxPaws »
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cicero

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2012, 12:51:27 PM »

As far as the gifts, are we required to purchase gifts for BIL1, his wife and nephew? DH tried telling BIL1 that we shouldn't exchange gifts considering what is going on but BIL1 responded "Well we're getting you gifts, so do what you want". This makes me cringe becuase last year DH told BIL1 not to purchase gifts for him anymore, since BIL1 was going to the toy section and last year bought DH a Darth Vader mask.  The year before that was some other sort of toy, so last year DH calmly told BIL1 to not worry about buying a gift for him anymore since it was apparently hard for them.
well, i still think you shouldn't go no matter what, but I respect your decision to do so.

however, you both need to stop letting your BIL control you.

he was abusive to your child, he is mean to you and your DH. Your DH *told him* that he doesn't want to exchange gifts - there is no need for your DH to get his brother's approval for this. (let me say, that this isn't always the case, in a *normal* family situation you would both *agree* on this or compromise, but this isn't a normal situation). so, no, no gifts are necessary. i *might* buy something for the nephew because children shouldn't have to suffer, but that is it.

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BeagleMommy

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2012, 12:56:59 PM »
OP, I don't know what to tell you about the gift situation.  That's a tough one.

However, if you feel you must go to support MIL I would make sure BIL1 is not left alone with your kids.  Make sure your kids know that they do not have to play with nephew and that it is okay for them to tell BIL1 no.

POD to having an exit strategy.  If BIL1 can't keep his act together for one night so MIL can have a pleasant holiday after losing her husband he will look like the bad guy.  You may want to tell MIL that you will leave if BIL1 starts making problems.

Danika

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Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2012, 02:37:07 PM »
I would not get BIL1 any gifts. Not even a card. I agree with the PP who said you could get nephew a gift, though.

You and your DH sound like you don't want others in the family to think you're mean. You're trying to be the bigger people. But the rest of the family is not the judge and jury. You know in your hearts that you're good people and that there was no way to fix this. Your options were to be doormats and let your children get shaken and yelled at by BIL1 or to say "hey, stop" and now you feel like you're being punished for defending yourselves and your child.

The family dynamic is very messed up. Others have allowed BIL1's behavior for too long. It's very likely too late for him to change or be fixed. He doesn't sound like he's owning up to anything.

Stop feeling responsible for the happiness of the extended family. Stop believing all the stuff they're spewing like "call BIL" or "just ignore him." Do what's best for your children and know that you have clear consciences.