Author Topic: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42, #87  (Read 18881 times)

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kudeebee

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2013, 11:16:43 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.

i would do this right away, as in tomorrow.  That way he has time to get mad and hopefully get over it before the Easter dinner.

bopper

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2013, 08:21:56 AM »
I would just say "How wonderful!  Oooh, tell me the story of how you met."

Why start your relationship with your new SIL with negativity?  There is nothing to prove by saying you already know.

MrTango

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2013, 08:57:50 AM »
At this point, I'd go with the OP's option B.

When the OP's brother gets miffed that she doesn't seem surprised enough, the OP ought to say something along the lines of "I figured something like this was up when you asked me to include two extra place settings."

Coley

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2013, 09:35:05 AM »

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.


DH and I were talking about the situation this morning, and the bolded probably would be my most natural reaction if this news were sprung on me as a surprise. I would be stunned by hearing the news, and in the moment my reaction would probably be rather subdued. After I'd had the opportunity to process it, I would probably be able to come up with, "So, how did you meet," "Tell me about yourself," etc.

I shared everyone's responses in this thread with DH. He sees merit in telling my brother now that I already know. DH suggested his own unique approach: "Look, Slick, we already know the truth. No need to 'surprise' us." Of course, I wouldn't really say that. I believe strongly knowing my brother as I do that if I told him now that I know, it is likely that the whole Easter plan would blow up.

DH is very irritated that my brother is setting us up to host his awkwardness. DH feels it is terribly unfair to us. (I think it's also unfair to my new SIL as well as our other guests.) I told DH that if my mother hadn't spilled the beans, we probably would not be feeling awkward right now. DH agreed with that. And then he pointed out that if this news were sprung on us when they walked in the door, we would be completely shocked. There would be quite a lot of awkwardness.

Yes, I believe he's right. So that brings me back to "Oh. Congratulations." or "Oh my goodness, congratulations!" as WillyNilly suggested.

lowspark

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2013, 09:41:55 AM »
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.

Yeah, I agree, that's pretty crummy. But we don't know all the background of the family dynamics to understand why the brother would do this. And I agree, it's crummy all around -- bad for the mom who knows and is put in the middle, bad for the OP who knows and has to decide whether to say she knows or not, and bad for the new wife who is put in an uncomfortable position at a family holiday dinner.

The potential for a blow up is pretty substantial. So I put myself in the OP's spot. I'm hosting a holiday dinner for my family. Do I want to risk anger and hard feelings before and during or do I just try to go with the flow and try to manage a friendly peaceful dinner?

I'm guessing there are other issues at play here which compelled the brother to choose this way to announce the wedding (probably Mom's displeasure is playing a prominant role in this communication collapse) and they are probably not going to get solved at the dinner, or even in the week before.

EmmaJ.

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2013, 09:54:35 AM »
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!"

I was actually wondering if the new wife was the one who wanted to surprise everyone.  The whole situation seems really "off" though. 

Coley, please promise to update us after Easter. 

Lynn2000

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2013, 11:29:08 AM »
I think I would go with B. "Congratulations! Welcome to the family!" but not actually faking surprise--hopefully there will be things to get excited about (how did you meet, cute kid, beautiful ring, etc.) that will make the woman and her son feel welcome and make the meal go smoothly. Actually, much more smoothly than if it had really and truly been a surprise, and you were left stammering and blanking on what to say next, getting angry, etc.. Plus, there will be other guests at this meal for whom it is truly a surprise, right? So if Bro is looking for a jaw-hits-the-table moment, he can get them from other people, while you have prepared in advance to smooth over rough spots.

You don't have to tell Bro it was Mom who told you (I would bet he could figure it out), and if he chooses to get mad that you didn't faint dead away with shock and make the entire dinner extremely awkward, then so be it. I just think his behavior is rather silly; maybe you could try to elicit what he thought would happen if it was a total surprise to everyone, and then paint a more realistic picture for him of what would have happened, if you hadn't been in the know.
~Lynn2000

BeagleMommy

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2013, 12:18:02 PM »
I would go with the more natural "Oh. Congratulations.".  If you know he'll get angry that Mom told you, why invite discord to your home on a holiday.  Some things are just not worth it.  Coley, let us know how things go.

Coley

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2013, 07:54:48 AM »
UPDATE: My brother still has not told me his big news; however, he posted photos of their big day on Facebook. So the cat is out of the bag as of last night. I learned about it at the same time as his other 700 Facebook friends.

My mother e-mailed me last night to say that she expects this big meeting on Easter will be uncomfortable, and she wants my ideas on how to handle that. She also asked if I thought we should acknowledge the marriage in some way. I told her that as far as I'm concerned, my brother still hasn't told me. Am I still supposed to be surprised? Should we purchase a gift? I have no idea.

I guess I could comment on his photos with "Congratulations" to acknowledge that I am aware of his marriage.

JenJay

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2013, 08:03:03 AM »
UPDATE: My brother still has not told me his big news; however, he posted photos of their big day on Facebook. So the cat is out of the bag as of last night. I learned about it at the same time as his other 700 Facebook friends.

My mother e-mailed me last night to say that she expects this big meeting on Easter will be uncomfortable, and she wants my ideas on how to handle that. She also asked if I thought we should acknowledge the marriage in some way. I told her that as far as I'm concerned, my brother still hasn't told me. Am I still supposed to be surprised? Should we purchase a gift? I have no idea.

I guess I could comment on his photos with "Congratulations" to acknowledge that I am aware of his marriage.

That is exactly what I would do and that is all I would do. If he wanted a party and gifts he should have invited people to celebrate his marriage. The message he sent was "We want this small, quiet and private." so let him have what he wanted.  ;)

cheyne

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATE #23
« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2013, 08:23:40 AM »
If Bro posted photos on Facebook, you're in the clear.  Write "Congratulations" as a response to his photos, and set the 2 extra places for dinner.  No need to do anything more except warmly welcome and congratulate them when they arrive.

I have to ask though, why is your mother dreading the dinner?  Is there something about the new wife she doesn't like?  Is your mom wishing that Bro and exwife were still together?

RubyCat

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATE #23
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2013, 08:48:21 AM »
I can understand if you're hurt by your brother posting his marriage on Facebook before letting you know. I certainly would be.

As far as Easter dinner goes, you may (or may not) want to do what my in laws did for dh and me.  Our situation is different because dh & I had been dating for quite a while & the family knew me. They also knew that we would be getting married & that we were just going to go see the justice of the peace and would let them know afterwards - which we did.

At the next holiday gathering, we were shocked to find that they had decided to give us small wedding presents and to toast us. While the gifts were very thoughtful and appreciated, the toast congratulating us and welcoming me to the family touched me so deeply that I still tear up over it.

Now that you know that you're supposed to know ;) maybe taking a moment to toast the happy couple and welcome your new sister in law to the family would be a nice gesture that would help smooth over some of the awkwardness.  (Though if you wanted to limit your congratulations to Facebook, I could hardly blame you)

Winterlight

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATE #23
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2013, 09:03:53 AM »
If Bro posted photos on Facebook, you're in the clear.  Write "Congratulations" as a response to his photos, and set the 2 extra places for dinner.  No need to do anything more except warmly welcome and congratulate them when they arrive.

I have to ask though, why is your mother dreading the dinner?  Is there something about the new wife she doesn't like?  Is your mom wishing that Bro and exwife were still together?

This. I don't think this is an event where making a fuss over their wedding would be a good idea.
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gingerzing

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise.
« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2013, 09:12:58 AM »
UPDATE: My brother still has not told me his big news; however, he posted photos of their big day on Facebook. So the cat is out of the bag as of last night. I learned about it at the same time as his other 700 Facebook friends.

My mother e-mailed me last night to say that she expects this big meeting on Easter will be uncomfortable, and she wants my ideas on how to handle that. She also asked if I thought we should acknowledge the marriage in some way. I told her that as far as I'm concerned, my brother still hasn't told me. Am I still supposed to be surprised? Should we purchase a gift? I have no idea.

I guess I could comment on his photos with "Congratulations" to acknowledge that I am aware of his marriage.

No gift.  Just no.  You weren't told of him even having a GF, let alone that he got married.  So no gift required. 

Still with the plan B of "oh congratulations and welcome to the family" and leave it at that.   Or maybe a comment later about seeing something on his facebook page.
I am not even sure I would have a toast for the couple - not out of spite but that this isn't really the time nor dinner for that. 

Oh and if he gets mad at whatever your reaction - and he might no matter how you react - I think I would be very tempted to calmly raise and eyebrow and say "But you are the one who negleted to mention your lovely <wifename> even existed." 

audrey1962

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATE #23
« Reply #29 on: March 22, 2013, 09:18:30 AM »
Why does your mom think the Easter meeting will be uncomfortable?