Author Topic: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42, #87  (Read 19557 times)

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*inviteseller

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #60 on: March 22, 2013, 06:48:14 PM »
I would not feed into any drama...mom or bro.  The shame is, you decided to have everyone at your house for Easter and now this!  I would congratulate them and welcome them, but there would be no toasts, gifts, or actually, talk of the actual wedding.  Bro and Sil decided to keep this to themselves and then play little games about letting you and your mom know, so I would stay in that mode with them.  You chose not to include us in it?  Fine, congratulations, so how do you think our favorite baseball team will do this year?  You can be very pleasant and welcoming to the new members while still keeping a tight rein on YOUR hosted holiday.  If they want everyone to fall over themselves about their marriage, they can host a party themselves at another time.  And while your mom may be concerned with appearances and how things are done, your brother and Sil are adults, so she is not responsible anymore for their perceived etiquette faux pas and she is only responsible about how she acts in this.

turnip

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #61 on: March 22, 2013, 07:55:39 PM »
Do posters really want this to be the Easter dinner where the OP frostily held her new SIL at arm's length?   They eloped and posted an announcement on facebook, they didn't rob a bank for Pete's sake.    She's a new member of the OP's family -  I would welcome her, talk to her, and ask her about herself, their wedding, their relationship.   In my family we aren't so full of urgent Easter topics ( baseball? ) that it's like other important conversations might be missed if we let ourselves be distracted by our brother's wedding.

camlan

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #62 on: March 22, 2013, 08:24:48 PM »
Do posters really want this to be the Easter dinner where the OP frostily held her new SIL at arm's length?   They eloped and posted an announcement on facebook, they didn't rob a bank for Pete's sake.    She's a new member of the OP's family -  I would welcome her, talk to her, and ask her about herself, their wedding, their relationship.   In my family we aren't so full of urgent Easter topics ( baseball? ) that it's like other important conversations might be missed if we let ourselves be distracted by our brother's wedding.

I agree.

One of the messages we send here on EHell is that you are free to do what you want in a lot of cases, as the brother has done here. But when you depart from accepted social customs, you need to expect some fallout from family and friends.

I don't think the brother is handling the elopement well. If I were the OP, I'd want to have a good, long talk with him at some point about how his attitude and the way he announced the marriage affected me, and our mother.

But I don't think that the event where the new spouse and her child are introduced to the family is the place to do that.

This Easter dinner, for better or worse, is when the family meets the new spouse and step-child and the new spouse and step-child meet the extended family. They just got married. To *not* acknowledge the marriage in some way is doing exactly what the brother has just done--not following accepted social protocols. And it most likely will affect the way the new wife and child view the extended family for quite some time. And not in a good way.

I'm not saying make the entire dinner about the newly-weds. And I think that having a specific point where you acknowledge the marriage publicly, and offer a toast to the couple or a public welcome to the new wife will help to contain the wedding talk to a small portion of the day. Put the spotlight on the newly-weds for 10 minutes or so, and then move on with the usual Easter dinner events.

The way I see it, there's the opportunity to welcome a new family member and give them an impression of a family willing to invite her in. Or there's the chance to do the exact opposite. Both choices will have long-reaching repercussions. "Punishing" the brother by refusing to acknowledge his marriage will most likely upset both brother and wife. How long do you want this to continue?
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sammycat

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #63 on: March 22, 2013, 08:26:31 PM »
I would not feed into any drama...mom or bro.  The shame is, you decided to have everyone at your house for Easter and now this!  I would congratulate them and welcome them, but there would be no toasts, gifts, or actually, talk of the actual wedding.  Bro and Sil decided to keep this to themselves and then play little games about letting you and your mom know, so I would stay in that mode with them.  You chose not to include us in it?  Fine, congratulations, so how do you think our favorite baseball team will do this year?  You can be very pleasant and welcoming to the new members while still keeping a tight rein on YOUR hosted holiday.  If they want everyone to fall over themselves about their marriage, they can host a party themselves at another time.  And while your mom may be concerned with appearances and how things are done, your brother and Sil are adults, so she is not responsible anymore for their perceived etiquette faux pas and she is only responsible about how she acts in this.

I agree. 


snowdragon

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #64 on: March 22, 2013, 08:42:58 PM »
I would not feed into any drama...mom or bro.  The shame is, you decided to have everyone at your house for Easter and now this!  I would congratulate them and welcome them, but there would be no toasts, gifts, or actually, talk of the actual wedding.  Bro and Sil decided to keep this to themselves and then play little games about letting you and your mom know, so I would stay in that mode with them.  You chose not to include us in it?  Fine, congratulations, so how do you think our favorite baseball team will do this year?  You can be very pleasant and welcoming to the new members while still keeping a tight rein on YOUR hosted holiday.  If they want everyone to fall over themselves about their marriage, they can host a party themselves at another time.  And while your mom may be concerned with appearances and how things are done, your brother and Sil are adults, so she is not responsible anymore for their perceived etiquette faux pas and she is only responsible about how she acts in this.

This.  but I would talk to bro first and see what he wants. He may not want a fuss made. If he does, perhaps the family can have a welcome party after Easter

I agree.

KB

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #65 on: March 22, 2013, 09:12:25 PM »
I would suggest having a list of other topics that can be discussed during the meal and which have no connection at all to Brother/SIL because, regardless of rights and wrongs, I think there will be lots of moments of awkward silence during the meal. These also have the benefit of providing lots of bean-dip should there be anger or other unpleasantness on display.

Drunken Housewife

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #66 on: March 22, 2013, 09:27:10 PM »
Quote
This Easter dinner, for better or worse, is when the family meets the new spouse and step-child and the new spouse and step-child meet the extended family. They just got married. To *not* acknowledge the marriage in some way is doing exactly what the brother has just done--not following accepted social protocols. And it most likely will affect the way the new wife and child view the extended family for quite some time. And not in a good way.

I'm agreeing with Camlan.  Yes, the brother hurt the OP and their mother's feelings, and yes, he should have known better.  Eloping isn't rude (I did it once myself), but it was not handled well in this case (when I eloped, everyone knew my fiance, and we called everyone on the same day to inform them that we'd run down to City Hall).  But when it comes down to it, there is an innocent child here, as well as a new sister-in-law, and if the OP wants her relationship with her brother to be close again, this is a moment to proceed carefully.  I would recommend being warm and friendly, having a toast for the newlyweds, and making sure the new SIl and child feel welcome. 

This does NOT mean making the meal about them; it doesn't mean running out to get a wedding cake.  It just means trying to get past the ill feelings understandably generated by the turn of events and being warm and welcoming to new members of the family, despite the brother's faux pas.  Later you can tell the brother that he hurt your feelings.
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GrammarNerd

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #67 on: March 22, 2013, 09:41:30 PM »
By all means, I wouldn't condone being frosty to the SIL or the step-nephew.  Be gracious and welcoming.  Try to get to know her and the stepson as much as you can.

But for the thoughts that I had regarding my personal take from my own relative, I would entertain the possibility that gracious and welcoming might not be enough for this brother who would get married in secret and then announce it to a close family member via Facebook (when he certainly had the opportunity to come clean when he asked OP to set two more places for dinner).  I could imagine my relative, in this case, asking several times throughout the course of the dinner things like, "Were you surprised?", "What do you think of the news?", "What did you think when you read it on FB?".  And each question would be asked ad nauseum.  And any attempt to redirect the conversation would be viewed as being rude and unsupportive.  It's all meant to create drama.

Now, I'm not saying that OP's brother is like this, but I would be prepared for this.  Having lived through many situations like this, it's where my mind goes.  And forewarned is forearmed. 

(Said relative of mine was once in a car accident and was unconscious for several days, during which we didn't know what was going on or when she might wake up.  No explanation, transferred to a major hospital...etc.  So when relative finally woke up, she didn't really ask much about the accident, or how her kids were taking it, or anything like that.  She kept asking if we notified this friend or that friend that she was unconscious, that she'd been intubated.  She was more concerned with the drama and the attention that she got from being unconscious and intubated than with anything else about her accident or her health.  And this was par for the course with her.)

ClaireC79

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #68 on: March 23, 2013, 04:44:59 AM »
Is it possible the brother expected the mother to tell the OP? In some families communication goes like that - it often does with my brother and I - some goes direct to each other, others go via mum

Steve

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #69 on: March 23, 2013, 04:52:00 AM »
The way you respond now will greatly influence your future relationship with DB and SIL. If you decide you want it to be good I would suggest you meet your DB alone before easter and explain to him how this has made you feel. Bring him a weddinggift at this occasion and wish him all the best in his marriage.  I would conclude with a statement that you are honored though that he has picked your house and hosting for his announcement and you will try to make it as memorable for him as you can, so you guys can start (re) building your relationship from this.

He will get enough flak from your family-members and he will need a champion. Your new SIL will definately need a champion for her on this occasion. If you can find it in your heart to be that for them it will be easier and better in the future. It is what I now wish I could have done (even if you do not feel all the grace yet, trust it will come).



Coley

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #70 on: March 23, 2013, 08:20:51 AM »
I get you being upset, Coley, or at least miffed.  And, having had a relative that would frequently do things similar to this to direct the attention to herself or to create drama, I have to wonder if this is your brother's way to do this.  Maybe when he asked you to set two extra places, he expected more questioning from you (attention).  And then when he didn't get it, he announced everything on FB, now expecting you to give him some of the attention that he didn't get before. 

I'm thinking that he's going to expect *something* at the Easter dinner....a gift, a toast, some fawning...something.  So I would just be prepared for that, and have some ways to redirect the conversation if you don't feel like doing the expected fawning.

(In this situation, my relative would be all smiley and happy when she showed up for Easter, and would keep directing the conversation around to her secret wedding.  If I didn't fawn over her, hang on her every word, ask a thousand questions and change the entire focus of the gathering to her and her new marriage, we would hear about it later; she would whine and complain to someone else about how rude I was, how I hated her, etc.  Never mind the fact that she created the drama (or lack thereof) herself by how she handled informing close family members about an important life event.)

There is a strong possibility that the bolded could be on the mark. It is very likely that he told my mother ahead of time because he knew she wouldn't react well either to the elopement itself or being surprised by it. It is possible that he attempted to maintain the element of surprise with me because the odds were better that he'd get the reaction he wanted (read: attention and celebration) from me. It's also possible that he is hoping I will be the one to smooth this over for him. The dynamics in our family are complicated at best. A PP in this thread made the suggestion that I not play the game. Not playing the game has been my M.O. with my family for about six years. They don't like that I don't go along anymore. What that means for my mother and brother is that I don't involve myself in their nonsense. They have to deal with each other directly. They don't like that I'm not the go-between. I am typically very firm about this boundary.

Right now, I am feeling as if I'm being dragged into the nonsense, which I strongly dislike. It seems difficult for me to enforce my boundaries in this particular situation because this is a new marriage, which in polite society should be a cause for congratulations and celebration. I'm trying to sort that part out and be logical about it.

Of course, I say all of the above fully aware that I have no idea what was going through my brother's head, and I can't assume his motivations or how family dynamics played into them.

Coley

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #71 on: March 23, 2013, 08:48:47 AM »
I would not feed into any drama...mom or bro.  The shame is, you decided to have everyone at your house for Easter and now this!  I would congratulate them and welcome them, but there would be no toasts, gifts, or actually, talk of the actual wedding.  Bro and Sil decided to keep this to themselves and then play little games about letting you and your mom know, so I would stay in that mode with them.  You chose not to include us in it?  Fine, congratulations, so how do you think our favorite baseball team will do this year?  You can be very pleasant and welcoming to the new members while still keeping a tight rein on YOUR hosted holiday.  If they want everyone to fall over themselves about their marriage, they can host a party themselves at another time.  And while your mom may be concerned with appearances and how things are done, your brother and Sil are adults, so she is not responsible anymore for their perceived etiquette faux pas and she is only responsible about how she acts in this.

DH is very unhappy about all of this. Yesterday, he said that we are now in the position of holding a dinner party that could easily become awkward and unpleasant not because we would be poor hosts but because we can't control the behavior of the other people who are attending. We've had unpleasant family get-togethers over issues that were much less significant than an elopement. I honestly don't know whether my mother will be able to keep it together. And by "keep it together," I mean that I am very worried that my mother could dissolve into tears or throw a tantrum or both. My brother is very well aware of this possibility because he has been there before when it has happened. In addition, he may (or may not) be expecting that he and his wife will be lavished with attention. I can't be sure of how he will react if my mother behaves poorly or if he doesn't get the reaction he wants from us.

On one hand, it seems PA to deliberately bypass discussion about their elopement. On the other hand, it seems that we would be feeding the attention-seeking beast if we entertain that discussion throughout the meal.

It seems safer to have some element of celebration but to keep in confined in some way so that it doesn't hijack the dinner party or become an elephant in the room.

Coley

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #72 on: March 23, 2013, 09:03:28 AM »
... snip ... I'm not saying make the entire dinner about the newly-weds. And I think that having a specific point where you acknowledge the marriage publicly, and offer a toast to the couple or a public welcome to the new wife will help to contain the wedding talk to a small portion of the day. Put the spotlight on the newly-weds for 10 minutes or so, and then move on with the usual Easter dinner events.

The way I see it, there's the opportunity to welcome a new family member and give them an impression of a family willing to invite her in. Or there's the chance to do the exact opposite. Both choices will have long-reaching repercussions. "Punishing" the brother by refusing to acknowledge his marriage will most likely upset both brother and wife. How long do you want this to continue?

It does feel "punishing" to me (or at least PA) to refuse to acknowledge the marriage, and I'm not comfortable taking that route. The idea of giving them a few minutes in the spotlight seems like a reasonable middle ground. I had planned to serve mimosas after everyone arrives, so maybe we can give them a semi-champagne toast that way and then move on with the day.

GrammarNerd's point that it may not be enough is well taken. My brother can be prone to that sort of thing, but I don't know for certain that he's leaning that way about his elopement. I don't think he would explode at the dinner party if he didn't get the attention he wanted, but it is possible that he would explode later in a phone call or e-mail. I have been on the receiving end of that before.

Coley

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #73 on: March 23, 2013, 09:14:42 AM »
The way you respond now will greatly influence your future relationship with DB and SIL. If you decide you want it to be good I would suggest you meet your DB alone before easter and explain to him how this has made you feel. Bring him a weddinggift at this occasion and wish him all the best in his marriage.  I would conclude with a statement that you are honored though that he has picked your house and hosting for his announcement and you will try to make it as memorable for him as you can, so you guys can start (re) building your relationship from this.

He will get enough flak from your family-members and he will need a champion. Your new SIL will definately need a champion for her on this occasion. If you can find it in your heart to be that for them it will be easier and better in the future. It is what I now wish I could have done (even if you do not feel all the grace yet, trust it will come).

I am a person who serves frequently as advocates for others both professionally and personally. Taking the advocate role is natural for me. If anyone is going to champion the cause of the underdog, it is usually me. My ability and natural inclination to advocate for others comes from the environment in my FOO: I have overdeveloped inclinations toward empathy and fairness. I have learned that I have to protect those inclinations and ensure I am a good self-advocate as well.

In this situation, acting as my new SIL's champion right now is probably the highest road that could be taken. I find myself not ready to take on that role with her yet. The difference for me at present is that I don't know her. Once I know her, I might have a better idea of how to advocate for her or even if she needs my advocacy at all. Maybe that grace will come with time and an understanding of who she is.

*inviteseller

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Re: When it isn't really a surprise. UPDATES #23, #42
« Reply #74 on: March 23, 2013, 09:33:10 AM »
It should be acknowledged, but if they want to turn your dinner into a wedding celebration, I would not let them.  It is nice you feel charitable towards a person you have never met or know anything about.  I would take my cues from both of them before deciding on what course of action to take.  She may be a sweet quiet woman who wants no fuss...she may be a drama queen who is looking for an audience. But, she has to know the game that your bro is playing.    From your updates though, it sounds like your mom and bro have issues between themselves that they want to drag you into.  If your family is like mine, you will constantly be cornered by one of them trying to get you to their 'side'.  I would talk to him before he shows up just to schuss out what he is thinking.  Don't interrogate him, just ask some basic questions about the new wife and see where he goes with it.