Author Topic: Inviting half of a social "unit," when their "other half" is rude/disrespectful  (Read 13523 times)

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Twik

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They are called social units for a reason. That reason is that, in traditional etiquette you invite both, or neither.

Yes, there's often a situation where that is not what you want to do, but that's the point of principles - they're what you should do when you don't want to do it. Of *course* you will invite your sons partner if you like her; we don't need a rule about that. But there is a rule that you need to invite her (or be seen as rude) when you don't.
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Virg

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MineralDiva wrote:

"While there may be issues on both sides, I really think you summed it up very nicely here.  Her way of handling things may not always have been the most....prudent.  But she loves those boys and never wanted anything more than to be a part of their lives."

The problem here is that "imprudent" is a severe understatement for this.  Splitting a couple in an invitation to a wedding isn't just a big faux pas, it's a very obvious snub.  For many, such an action would be a dealbreaker.  Given the rest of the history you've described here, it was just about the worst move she could have made if she ever wanted a decent relationship with her son or her granddaughter.  Given this action I find myself thinking that it's not just her ex-husband who's poisoning the well, and if she wants to have an ongoing relationship with them she'd better think long and hard about how she's affecting her chances.  Her son's girlfriend might be as bad as she portrays but she's got reasonable justification right now in my eyes for cutting your sister off.

Virg

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Yeah, if I were the GF, this would probably be a deal breaker for me too.  If my DH did not stand up for me after being snubbed like this, there would be serious problems between us.  But the son is standing up for his GF.

The OP's sister had two polite options---to invite both or neither.  Instead she chose to make her son choose between her and the mother of his child.  Due to her actions, if he chooses for his family not to have any more contact with her, that's also his choice.  Personally, I would want expect my DH to do the same if someone were to snub me this badly.

Why would the OP's sister want to put her son in a spot to choose between her and his GF?  Surely she didn't think that he would choose her over his family, did she?  I can't imagine what positive outcome she could have expected by inviting only him to her wedding.

I was wondering how OP's sister made it known that her son was invited but not his GF.  Was the invitation simply only addressed to him?  Did she write or say specifically that GF wasn't invited?  Did the son hear about it through the grapevine?  On these boards, we all know that invitations are only for those listed on the envelope but many people do not know this.  In fact, if we received a wedding invitation with only my DH's name on it, he would assume that I was invited also (and I'd have to let him know otherwise).  Do you know exactly how the son and his girlfriend learned that he was invited but she was not?

shhh its me

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MineralDiva wrote:

"While there may be issues on both sides, I really think you summed it up very nicely here.  Her way of handling things may not always have been the most....prudent.  But she loves those boys and never wanted anything more than to be a part of their lives."

The problem here is that "imprudent" is a severe understatement for this.  Splitting a couple in an invitation to a wedding isn't just a big faux pas, it's a very obvious snub.  For many, such an action would be a dealbreaker.  Given the rest of the history you've described here, it was just about the worst move she could have made if she ever wanted a decent relationship with her son or her granddaughter.  Given this action I find myself thinking that it's not just her ex-husband who's poisoning the well, and if she wants to have an ongoing relationship with them she'd better think long and hard about how she's affecting her chances.  Her son's girlfriend might be as bad as she portrays but she's got reasonable justification right now in my eyes for cutting your sister off.

Virg

I went back and read some of OPs post about her sister and family.  From my personal point of view......There are circumstances were I may/did act much like this GF.  My own mother and ex mil were both very  controlling and extremely pushy people ex mil was also extremely over dramatic.  I have almost no tolerance for manipulation or drama , probably to the point of being overly ridged.  I'm nice , pleasant and polite but if you give my child a gift I forbade I'll ask you once not to , then tell you not , then give the the gift back and then start throwing it away.  IF you don't show for parties you RSPV yes to , by calling during the party with a "dramatic" excuse and then ask to speak to 1/2 the guests to tell them the dramatic story REPEATEDLY I'll just stop inviting you to parties even if you're grandma and even if its Christmas.

 If you sister sometimes annoys the heck out of you(sometimes) , a person who has had 50 years to bond with her and 50 years of good memories imagine how annoyed a "new" person feels.  Maybe GF is the devil incarnate and your sister is a stain. Maybe they are both completely average but have utterly incompatible personalities, maybe their both really annoying. I'm bring this up because I don't think it would be rude to advise your sister at some point , " Your sister can't change GF she can only change her reaction to GF's actions and her own actions." Even a the most polite people sometimes are generally disliked  and this is isn't  remotely close to polite; Returning gifts on someones door step and inviting 1/2 of s social unit to a wedding are the "guaranteed mutual destruction full on nuclear  war" of snubs.



Aeris

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I think OP's sister is getting flamed bad here.  Son & DIL throw away her gifts to the baby but everything a former step mother gives is just peachy?  Nobody but former step mother gets invited to babies events, or if they are invited they are humiliated?  I had the former husband from hell also who did everything in his power (along with his evil mother) to turn my older DD against me, causing such problems that I had to take legal measures because of their shenanigans and this is what it sounds like is going on in the family.  OK, OP's sister is a bit of a Special Snowflake, but she tries to be part of hers son's life and is rudely snubbed...along with the rest of the family.  I have a feeling former step mother and daddy loooove telling son and DIL how horrible OP's sister is and how much better they are.  Bet they shower them with everything to keep them as the favorites.  I have lived that and I don't care if they are adults or not, being caught in the games parents play in a divorce is hard, no matter the age.  This DIL has even snarked at OP for no apparent reason, other than she sounds like a big word that rhymes with witch.  And as I said before, they dangle the grandchild in front of OP's sister. There is no evidence OP's sister has ever done anything to make then feel unsafe to have their child around her..they want to use an innocent child as a bargaining chip.  They need to either cut OP's sister (if they honestly cannot deal with her) or try to take steps to get along, but saying if I don't get my way (allow my gf to be rude and nasty to you and your family) you don't see your grandchild.  That shows they are the toxic ones IMO

Right on.  While there may be issues on both sides, I really think you summed it up very nicely here.  Her way of handling things may not always have been the most....prudent.  But she loves those boys and never wanted anything more than to be a part of their lives.  Her former husband did - and is doing - his best to see that never happens.

I don't see what the ex-husband has to do with any of this, at all. Is he a puppet-master, controlling the every movement of his oldest son and the girlfriend? These two people are adults, and are making their own fully conscious decisions.

And frankly, I have yet to see any decision either the oldest son or the girlfriend has taken as being so incredibly horrible as to be deserving of the terrible characterizations being thrown at them. All you've indicated so far:

1) Some vague notion of the GF favoring the ex-stepmom over your sister at a christening. I'm not even entirely sure what this means. It sounds like she has a great relationship with the ex-stepmom and a terrible relationship with your sister. That, in and of itself, is not rude, wrong, or in any way inappropriate.

2) The girlfriend abandoned her own home to avoid contact with someone she finds unpleasant. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this at all. The OLDEST SON was phenomenally stupid to reveal to his mother the full truth, ever. But this isn't toxic/rude behavior, it was a stupid and thoughtless decision by the son. And so whatever blame there is for this rests *entirely and completely with the eldest son* - none at all with the girlfriend.

3) Girlfriend was snippy with someone at some point on facebook. If this is an offense of epic proportions, we're all going to burn in hell.

4) Toys from your sister are returned to her or disposed of. This is the most serious issue you've given, but this is not wrong or rude on it's face. It sounds like they have made a decision to limit contact, rather severely, with your sister. As painful as that is, that's their right as adults and as parents. Whether they are 'justified' in doing this is not an etiquette issue - it's a relationship one. But frankly, just from your posts in this and the other wedding thread alone, your sister sounds unstable, manipulative, controlling, and domineering. All of which make it seem entirely plausible that her son and girlfriend limiting contact is at least somewhat justified.

4a) It really doesn't matter that the oldest son and GF accept presents from his father and ex-stepmother. Apparently they have a good and stable relationship with both of them. Accepting presents from someone you are close to, and refusing presents from someone you are limiting contact with is not rude, wrong, or inappropriate. In any way.

So, again, nothing you've dragged out as evidence of the GF's horrible behavior actually reads as automatically bad. Most of it calls to mind a number of perfectly reasonable explanations. And absolutely none of it seems to have any ostensible connection to your sister's ex-husband, so I can't imagine why you and your sister seem so fixated on him.

Steve

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I have to agree with Aeris, and I would like to add that I feel we are only receiving very subjective and biased information on the situation.

The fact that 2 sisters are discussing one of their DIL's in this way does not seem helpfull to me at all: it does not sound like either of them is even trying to see DIL's issues or point of view. It seems DIL's actions are magnified while SIS's actions are being downplayed. 

I am having a hard time giving any advice in this situation, ettiquette or otherwise, due to the lack of information.



MineralDiva

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UPDATE:

Well, I have returned from the adventure in family dynamics.  The wedding was, after a minor dress mishap that delayed the ceremony for a little while, nothing out of the ordinary.  Eldest son did not attend.  Youngest son was in the wedding, as was new step-daughter.  I got to visit with some relatives I haven't seen in years.

I saw Eldest son a couple days later, when he brought the baby to swim at another sister's pool.  GF was not there.  Eldest son and I had an opportunity to chat casually about things, and I told him that I could see both sides of the issue.  He told me that he was unsure about his relationship with GF, as he has had to turn down certain career opportunities, because she will not agree to leave the immediate area for any reason - even if it means he would making more than enough money to support the three of them and able to visit often, vs staying where they are, and being unemployed or working odd jobs with teenager wages, that have nothing to do with his degree or his being able to provide for his new family.  He is feeling rather frustrated and a bit trapped. 

I told him he needed to work it out if he can with her.  It was important.  But if they couldn't work it out, remember that wives and girlfriends may come and go, but moms - and daughters/children - are forever.  He should not give up on his dreams, because that will only cause even more resentment toward GF later.  AND just because "Mom" will always be "Mom," that DOES NOT give her (or him) the right to behave like an bacon-fed knave.  He wants to take care of his little girl, but he can't do it the way he should be, if he continues turning down opportunities to make life better for all concerned.  She's (GF) going to have to come to the party on a commitment to their new family as well.  If not, sooner or later, he will have to make a decision, so that he can take care of his daughter - and any  future children with whomever else (preferably a loving wife and supportive partner) - financially.  He's not asking her to move to another part of the world and never see anyone again.  I understand completely, having been through several corporate cross-country moves with my former husband.  (My divorce was due to his infidelity, NOT our moving away from family.)  You work it out and GO, because that's what's best for the family you've created together.  (Unless the other spouse is a doctor or lawyer - or something of that nature - with an established practice, making even bigger bucks...which is not even close to being the case here.)

As to the former stepmother, it's nice that he has a relationship with her.  I too have good relationships with the children of two former partners.  HOWEVER, she is no longer a part of his father's life.  (As I am no longer a part of their fathers' lives.) While it's great they've maintained a relationship, her 'position' as a 'friend', does not trump that of blood relatives - especially parents and grandparents.  She should not be invited to the exclusion of them - to anything - ever.  If they all can't get along, then SHE is the one who should be excluded.  Family comes first...and SHE is NOT family.  Period.  Any more than I am 'family' to my step-daughter now.  And I said this with full disclosure that my former "step-daughter" (her father and I were never actually married, but we were together 11 years) AND her mother were coming the following day, to enjoy an afternoon and swim in the very pool in which we were dangling our feet as he and I talked.

It wasn't an explosive conversation.  It really was just a casual observation - one adult to another - from someone who's had to deal with similar issues in my own marriage and most recent relationship.  I wasn't accusatory.  It was very matter of fact, low key (despite how it may read here) and we actually shared some laughs about "crazy relatives."  I'm sure he will do whatever he needs to do with the situation, to resolve it for the best of all concerned - but mostly for that little girl - whatever that may entail.

To answer the questions about my sister's ex-husband above:  He has done anything and everything he could, to destroy the relationship my sister has or could have with her sons.  There has been soooo much ugliness on his part, for so many years, that if he died tomorrow, I would probably quietly get drunk to celebrate - much the same way I did, when I heard the news of my former MIL's passing a few weeks ago, 10 months following the passing of my former FIL.  Etiquette approved?  Probably not - even though nobody was around to see the celebration but me.   >:D
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 02:57:36 PM by MineralDiva »

*inviteseller

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Glad to hear you were able to have a nice adult conversation with your nephew.  It sounds like he is conflicted because everyone is pulling him in to many different directions...his mom, his gf, his dad, his former step mom.  He needs to step back from them all and make the best decision for him and his child.  I too had to uproot for my ex..I hated leaving but it was the only option for his career and I made the best of it and grew to love where we lived..and then we had to do it all over again.  It is hard, but if it means the difference between scraping by and being comfortable, you do what you got to do.  Good luck to him.

PastryGoddess

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I'm going to have to disagree with part of your post.  Sometimes the family that you are born into is not the family of your heart.  Keeping someone in your life simply because they are related to you by blood can be more trouble than it's worth.  If son feels that a blood relative is too toxic he absolutely should remove them from his life and replace them with people who can bring positivity and peace into his life. 

Son may feel the same way you do MineralDiva, but espousing the "blood family trumps all" is not always the best option.

MineralDiva

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I'm going to have to disagree with part of your post.  Sometimes the family that you are born into is not the family of your heart.  Keeping someone in your life simply because they are related to you by blood can be more trouble than it's worth.  If son feels that a blood relative is too toxic he absolutely should remove them from his life and replace them with people who can bring positivity and peace into his life. 

Son may feel the same way you do MineralDiva, but espousing the "blood family trumps all" is not always the best option.

I understand what you're saying, and I don't entirely disagree with you, actually.  However, I don't feel it's fair or appropriate to basically "punish" the rest of the extended family (including grandparents) for whatever disagreement he may be having with his mother, by cutting them off as well - unless he needs something from them, in which case, he knows exactly how to pick up the phone or show up for a "visit."  Not cool - and I told him that as well.

We all make choices...but there are consequences for those choices.  No matter what they are.  As an adult, you work it out.  If it can't be worked out, you move on. However, in this case, that doesn't mean a blanket "cut direct" to others who continue to support him, care about him and have done nothing to deserve such drastic action - whether they are the "family of his heart" or otherwise. 

His former step-mother falls into that "otherwise" category.  I didn't say he couldn't have a relationship with her.  It's nice that he does.  But he also needs to recognize that is NOT the relationship she has - or has fostered - with anyone else.  Which means, if it is a "family function," the step-mother needs to stay out of it and have her own visit at another time, if that's what he wants to do.  Nobody is telling him, or has told him to cut her off completely (except maybe his own mother - and I can understand why she feels the way she does).  She just is not welcome to interact with the rest of the family, at what are considered to be family events.  Not now.  Not ever.  As it turns out, he lied to his mother about the former step-mother not having been invited to the baby's christening, and when my sister got to the event, she was ambushed by embarrassing drama from the former step-mother AND the GF, who teamed up against her together!  Wrong, Nephew.  Sorry.  No good.  I don't care WHO you think you are.

I would be welcome at any family function involving my former step-daughter, as I had and still have a lovely relationship with her mother.  If that was not so, I would never DARE to insinuate myself into a "family" event - even if step-daughter had invited me there.  It would not only be wrong, but probably qualify me for the lowest level of E-Hell to do so.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 05:03:47 PM by MineralDiva »

PastryGoddess

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She just is not welcome to interact with the rest of the family, at what are considered to be family events.

For events that he is hosting, you or the rest of the family have no say in who he invites. 
For events that others are hosting, I agree that him inviting her is stepping over the line of etiquette

MineralDiva

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She just is not welcome to interact with the rest of the family, at what are considered to be family events.

For events that he is hosting, you or the rest of the family have no say in who he invites. 
For events that others are hosting, I agree that him inviting her is stepping over the line of etiquette

That is true.  Though given the dramatic history involved with this person, I would hope that he would choose to avoid creating more, by leaving her invitation unwritten.  There is no reason to include her as "family."  She is most decidedly not.  Nor is it fair to the rest of us, to have her forced into our orbit at every turn, when it can clearly and easily be avoided for a pleasant time to be had by all.  Hers can just come at another time, WITHOUT us.  It would be different, if she'd demonstrated that she could be trusted to behave - WE certainly can.  But she can't, she hasn't, and she won't - ever.  So why continue to force the issue and have her there?  I am slowly beginning to understand why there is such a problem with so-called "family events," if he insists on not getting a clue here.  Nobody wants to attend what should be a happy event - and be subjected to THAT.  It's bad enough, when the person is IN the family.  But when they're not?  Oh, E-Hell no!

ETA: And for the GF to buy into the drama, to the point of ganging up with the former Step-mother against the future MIL...  Well, I am also beginning to understand why she wasn't included on  the nephew's invitation to his mother's wedding.  I also blame him.  He could have stepped in to mitigate it all - and he didn't.  It's no wonder he has the problems he's having.  They're of his own making.  But they can also be of his own repair as well.  He just has to be strong enough and man up, in order to do it. Hopefully he will.

« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 05:35:41 PM by MineralDiva »

shhh its me

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She just is not welcome to interact with the rest of the family, at what are considered to be family events.  Not now.  Not ever.  As it turns out, he lied to his mother about the former step-mother not having been invited to the baby's christening, and when my sister got to the event, she was ambushed by embarrassing drama from the former step-mother AND the GF, who teamed up against her together!  Wrong, Nephew.  Sorry.  No good.  I don't care WHO you think you are.

I would be welcome at any family function involving my former step-daughter, as I had and still have a lovely relationship with her mother.  If that was not so, I would never DARE to insinuate myself into a "family" event - even if step-daughter had invited me there.  It would not only be wrong, but probably qualify me for the lowest level of E-Hell to do so.


But you don't get to declare this for him. No one gets to declare this for anyone , its not up to you when a stepparent stops being family.   BTW attended an event you were invited to isn't rude or insinuating yourself, although sometimes its not the most gracious thing to do.  I have complete empathy for your sister , an ex of my ex who I hate being a mother figure to my son would make me want to chew nails too.   But she, you, no one has the right to dictate his relationship with his former step mom , he can invite her and your sister can go and behave or chose not to go that's it.

I'd glad you had a talk with your nephew but I would suggest to anyone giving advice about conflict with a SO to be much more diplomatic about the continued relationship.   " gfs come and go" , It doesn't sound like you were rude but these statements tend to be remember for lifetimes.   I would advise anyone in that circumstance to speak assuming they will stay together and the SO will hear everything you say.   

LifeOnPluto

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I'd glad you had a talk with your nephew but I would suggest to anyone giving advice about conflict with a SO to be much more diplomatic about the continued relationship.   " gfs come and go" , It doesn't sound like you were rude but these statements tend to be remember for lifetimes.   I would advise anyone in that circumstance to speak assuming they will stay together and the SO will hear everything you say.   


I agree with this. And she's not just his girlfriend. She's the mother of his child. Even if they do split up, she will always be part of his life, due to their shared connection to the child.

Winterlight

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Quote
But if they couldn't work it out, remember that wives and girlfriends may come and go, but moms - and daughters/children - are forever.

Honestly, if someone told me this, I would write off the rest of what they have to say. Girlfriends when the relationship has only lasted a month, maybe. But wives aren't permanent family? I'd like to hear my dad's response to that- their fiftieth anniversary was last month. And this GF is the mother of his child. He's got that forever tie to her.

Quote
I would advise anyone in that circumstance to speak assuming they will stay together and the SO will hear everything you say.

Agreed. If he repeats this to GF, it's not going to end well.
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