Author Topic: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42, #87  (Read 19750 times)

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Coley

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When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42, #87
« on: March 20, 2013, 02:31:09 PM »
This post is sort of an add-on to the one about my Easter dinner quandary: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=125597.0.

In a nutshell, when he arrives for Easter dinner, my brother intends to surprise my family (DH, DS, and me) with an announcement that he got married a couple of weeks ago.  He told my mother last week. She told me.

My mother informed me that he has been involved with this woman for several months, although we don't know for certain how long. My mother found out last fall from my brother's ex-W that he was living with her. My brother apparently sat on this fact for a while. When he told my mother that he was living with his GF, my mother told him that she already knew and had heard it from his ex-W. He hit the roof and was mad both at my mother and his ex. The irony is that he thought my mother should have told him that she already knew.

We saw my mother and brother at Christmas, and neither he nor my mother said a word to us about him living with his GF or that he even had a GF. The first I heard about her was last week. He e-mailed me and asked if I would set two extra places at the table for Easter dinner. I said I would. He didn't provide me with any other information except to say he'd tell me more later.

My mother isn't remotely happy about this marriage. She is very disappointed that my brother handled it this way. I'm keeping an open mind; however, I'm wondering how I should handle this on Easter when they arrive. I already know the big news, so ...

Should I:

a) Feign surprise on Easter when I meet my brother's wife (and stepson)?

b) Not acknowledge the attempt at surprise at all since I won't really be surprised. In other words, just welcome them to our home, congratulate them, and move on with the dinner plan?

c) Tell my brother now that I already know? Note: If I do this, my brother will be mad at my mother for telling me. He may be mad at me for not telling him sooner that I know. And my mother probably will be mad at me for telling him I already know.

It isn't lost on me that the big news will be announced during a dinner party that involves the couple mentioned in my Easter quandary post. It also won't be lost on this couple that we don't know my brother's wife and will likely be going through the entire getting-to-know-you exercise right there with them. This feels awkward now, and it's still 11 days until Easter.

Ugh. Any thoughts on how to make this less awkward?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 10:55:00 AM by Coley »

hobish

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2013, 02:43:03 PM »

Ummm...Hmmmm...that is a toughie. How would it go over if you pressed your brother to tell you who is coming? It is your house, after all...?

It's alright, man. I'm only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can.
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Coralreef

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2013, 02:49:36 PM »
I would simply let him say his piece, congratulate them on the news and offer more chocolatey dessert goodness.  No need to jump up and down or go through oops.  You don't have to say  you already knew/guessed or that your mother told you.  This may be case of the less said, the better it is, specially if your brother may hit the roof and be angry at your mother for telling.

If he can keep important things from you, you can do the same, specially if it would cause useless conflict. 


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Hmmmmm

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2013, 02:53:07 PM »
I'd try to press your brother on who he is bringing.

But I wouldn't let on that you already know about the GF, the living together, or the marriage.
I'd also tell your mother that you weren't planning to let him know you spilled the beans.

I feel so sorry for his new wife though.  How uncomfortable to arrive at a home with your son in tow and "Suprise! I'm your new SIL that your brother didn't want you to know anything about!"


Kaypeep

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2013, 03:17:50 PM »
I'd stay mum and let him spring his surprise.  You can all say Congratulations and wish them well, perhaps offer a toast (using beverages already on the table) and then see what they say.  If they seem willing to talk a bit about the elopement you can ask a few basic questions "When, where, how exciting for you, yada yada" and then carry on with the rest of the dinner.   He shouldn't be allowed to hijack the holiday with his wedding news.  If he wanted all the glory and attention then they should host their own celebratory dinner.

lowspark

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2013, 03:18:58 PM »
I would have asked who's coming when he called to ask me to set a couple of extra places. But at this point, considering all the potential for people getting mad, I'd probably just suck it up and act surprised. I mean, you don't have to drop your jaw to the floor or faint dead away, just smile broadly and say something like, "Congratulations! That's wonderful! Welcome to the family!" And then continue the conversation as you would naturally have, meeting her for the first time.

WillyNilly

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2013, 03:25:10 PM »
I would just go with a "oh my goodness, congratulations!" remark. And realize it can be honest while vague - after all you probably are the type of person who would immediately congratulate someone on getting married right?  So waiting several weeks/months is one of those sort of shocking 'I can't believe I haven't congratulated you already' moments. Let that emotion come out honestly. But let them believe its shock due to their news.

Coley

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2013, 03:26:41 PM »
I'd try to press your brother on who he is bringing.

But I wouldn't let on that you already know about the GF, the living together, or the marriage.
I'd also tell your mother that you weren't planning to let him know you spilled the beans.

I feel so sorry for his new wife though.  How uncomfortable to arrive at a home with your son in tow and "Suprise! I'm your new SIL that your brother didn't want you to know anything about!"

Yes, exactly. I feel for her. I want to reduce the awkwardness for everyone involved, but for her especially.

My mother is so upset, and when I talked to her the other night, she was lashing out at my brother's wife even though there isn't any evidence for blaming her. My brother is an adult, and he is responsible for his own choices. I told my mother that I intend to welcome my brother's wife as a member of his family. That's who she is, and we need to respect that. By the end of the conversation, my mother was repeating the same messages I was saying, so I hope she will carry through on that line of thought on Easter.

I did hint to my brother about being curious about who he is bringing. He wouldn't spill it. I was happy at the thought that he might be seeing someone. I would be happy if he is happy with his new wife. It's just a lot to swallow all at once.

MindsEye

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2013, 03:33:42 PM »
I would refuse to play this game altogether.

Tell you mother that you are going to tell your brother that you know the big secret.
Tell your brother that you know the big secret.
Tell them both that you don't appreciate all of the petty game-playing about who gets to know what and when.

Honestly, I think that you missed your chance when your brother asked you to set out plates for his 2 mystery guests.  That is where you should have pushed back and told him that you weren't going to set out any extra plates without knowing who they were for.


Coley

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2013, 04:32:38 PM »
I would have asked who's coming when he called to ask me to set a couple of extra places. But at this point, considering all the potential for people getting mad, I'd probably just suck it up and act surprised. I mean, you don't have to drop your jaw to the floor or faint dead away, just smile broadly and say something like, "Congratulations! That's wonderful! Welcome to the family!" And then continue the conversation as you would naturally have, meeting her for the first time.

This is a gracious way to handle it, and it would probably be the most comfortable for everyone.

Honestly, it didn't occur to me to ask who he was bringing. I was thinking GF, and at that point, she was still his GF and not yet his wife. I was excited about the possibility of meeting his new GF. Never in my wildest imagination did I think he would bring a new wife!

blarg314

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2013, 08:05:16 PM »

I really wonder what your brother was expecting for a reaction, if he's planning to introduce his wife and step-son to close family who didn't even know he was dating?  Anyone with even a vague understanding of human nature should expect "What the $@$" vs "Congratulations! I'm so happy! Welcome to the family, um, what was you name again?"

I think you'd be fine with an "Oh.  Congratulations". That's about as good a response as he can really expect.

lady_disdain

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2013, 08:09:28 PM »
Actually, I am wondering what your new SiL is thinking! Surely she knows that she has never met his family before and suspects that he has not told anyone? And she is going along with this? Personally, I would refuse to be sprung on his family like that.

Miss Tickle

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2013, 10:58:11 PM »
If your brother asked you to set two extra places for dinner and said nothing else, he either knows you know or he's not nearly as good at surprises as he thinks he is.

edited to add:

Obviously, I vote for B.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 11:35:21 PM by Miss Tickle »

Lindee

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2013, 11:05:29 PM »
He gets married without telling his family, let alone inviting them to his wedding and you are worried about him getting mad at you for knowing about it?  He will be cross you didn't tell him as soon as you knew about his secret marriage but he can keep an apparently serious relationship totally to himself..... Good grief!   If you are willing to entertain, congratulate and be civil to this charmer you will be doing better than I could do.

strawbabies

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2013, 11:07:24 PM »
That stinks for the new wife!  Is there a reason he's keeping her a secret from his family?  In her shoes, I'd be afraid he was ashamed of me.