Author Topic: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?  (Read 23166 times)

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Shoo

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #30 on: September 27, 2013, 10:18:47 AM »
I have to ask why on earth you would even go on these vacations with your BIL.  So your husband wants you to go.  So what?  Stand up for yourself and make your OWN decisions.

You have TWO problems.  One is your BIL, the other is your husband. 

TootsNYC

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #31 on: September 27, 2013, 10:37:53 AM »
I think it's possible that he's attracted to you.

And yeah, you only have so much vacation money and time--that's a pretty low ROI (return on investment) if you have to spend any part of them on a vacation with this guy.

You don't have to make it be about "Your brother is mean to me, and I want to cut him out of our lives." Make it be about, "I want a vacation that's just us, you and me."


As for what you can say when he tries to talk to you--you want plausible deniability, too. So answer in the shortest possible way, and don't look at him. "Did you enjoy the day, Susan?" say "Yes." and walk away. Go pick up a book or a brochure. Also feel free to say to him the same phrase over and over when he crowds you: "You need to keep your distance."

Pen^2

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #32 on: September 27, 2013, 10:50:53 AM »
I think it's possible that he's attracted to you.

And yeah, you only have so much vacation money and time--that's a pretty low ROI (return on investment) if you have to spend any part of them on a vacation with this guy.

You don't have to make it be about "Your brother is mean to me, and I want to cut him out of our lives." Make it be about, "I want a vacation that's just us, you and me."


As for what you can say when he tries to talk to you--you want plausible deniability, too. So answer in the shortest possible way, and don't look at him. "Did you enjoy the day, Susan?" say "Yes." and walk away. Go pick up a book or a brochure. Also feel free to say to him the same phrase over and over when he crowds you: "You need to keep your distance."

I like this. Other people have suggested various come-backs and so on, but I don't think engaging with this guy is the way to go at all. Stick to responses like, "Yes," "No", and, "Mmmhmm." Asking, "Why are you whispering?" etc. to a bully doesn't often work. He'll always deny it. He is a bully and is probably quite used to or able to defend himself to make his victim look bad. Plus, you don't want to have a conversation longer than is absolutely necessary with this creep. Get up and leave the room if possible. Don't converse. Nothing good can come of it. It sounds like he's very skilled at being manipulative and creepy, and it's not worth purposefully going up against that unless you're feeling very strong and confident.

Don't record him. He's not going to say, "Oh, wow, now I can't bully you anymore! Too bad!" He'll just switch to another form of bullying. And a lot of it is non-verbal already. Recording him is a big fat red herring and wouldn't help anything.

But I still stand by this: if you don't want to go, don't go. That is 100% reasonable. The fact that your husband is not only willing for you to be bullied, but is now insisting that you be bullied, is very concerning, and this is the real issue here. I realise that this trip has some meaning to him, and that's fine. But it doesn't mean he gets to dictate that you are mistreated. He can go wherever he likes, but if he's not willing to ensure your safety after he has been made aware of what's been happening, then it's unreasonable for him to insist that you come with him.

Luci

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #33 on: September 27, 2013, 11:17:09 AM »
Hugs! I agree with most of what has been written.

Avoid, avoid, avoid.....then if your husband doesn't help and support you, don't be around him at all. Life is too short (and vacations to expensive) to lose even a week in a horrible situation that you don't have to.

I love the line "Please speak up. I can't hear you."

The thing I love about kitchens is that when I get trapped in there by someone I want to avoid and is crowding me, he's always in my way. If he is standing between me and the sink, I need to get to the sink; between me and a certain cabinet, I need something from it...you get the picture. It doesn't take long before he figures out he is in the way or realizes I am really busy and just leaves. (The people I am talking about are generally kind-hearted but just generally intrusive bores. No real reason to cut them out of my life.)

TootsNYC

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #34 on: September 27, 2013, 11:23:29 AM »
The other nice thing about kitchens is that it is socially acceptable to chase people out of them.

I also think if he starts the mocking exchange outlined in the opening post, the OP can say, immediately and firmly, "Get away from me." Loudly. So her DH can hear it in the bathroom.

delabela

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2013, 12:13:37 PM »
Don't go anywhere where you have to be with him.  That's the only answer.  No Christmas, no vacation, no nothing.

If your husband wants to go, fine, you'll see him later.

At a certain point, you have to be responsible for not subjecting yourself to this man. 

Susan45

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2013, 12:50:05 PM »
Thank all of you so much for your replies.   I have read each one here and I appreciate each one of you for taking the time to respond.  You have no idea how distressed the BIL has made me over the past 5 years. 

Sharnita, yes, DH and the BIL's parents are deceased.

There are many people who commented who I want to respond to.  All of you, really, and you all said things that have already helped me think in new ways and I'm reading going:  "Yeah!  That's right!  They understand!"

I agree with those who said DH is just as responsible.  Yes, he is a nice man, but all of you are right, he should have fixed this long ago and straightened it out with his brother.

DH always wants me with him in the presence of BIL because he says he thinks that otherwise, BIL will think I am "scared" of him (BIL).  I assured my husband that I am most definitely not afraid of his brother, I have just reached critical mass in how much more of his creepy (what a fitting word to describe it, someone used it here -- perfect description! Ha!)  I think DH never had the courage to stand up to the BIL before and he thinks that together we will do that.

However, on the other hand, I completely agree with those who say that no matter what I say to the BIL, it won't change his behavior one bit.  I agree with the person who said he's obviously been at this sneaky abusive behavior for a long time, and is an expert at not getting caught.

I also agree with the comment that the only thing BIL'd really fear would be being exposed to his circle as being what he truly is - an abusive, deceitful bully.  He wants everyone to see him as such a good 'Joe Citizen' type.  If they only knew.

DH and I had a long talk this afternoon about how to proceed.  You all have no idea how much I want to put BIL in his place.  But this man is so entrenched in the art of denial.  He says, "What did IIIII do?" and makes a face like the person accusing him is crazy.  Some of you here have already made mention that bullies/abusers do that.  Oh yes!  This man is the same.  So- DH and I decided it's hardly worth a confrontation because - as yet another poster explained - BIL might "get off on it".  And the BIL does seem to take great delight every time he thinks he has intimidated or upset me.  It's like he strives for that.

I agree also with the poster who said keep anything said to this man as short and terse as possible.  "Yes."  "No."  There is no reasoning with him - he will never accept responsibility - why waste your breath?

So DH and I have begun the distancing procedure.  We are both in agreement with it.  It actually involved me having a birthday dinner for the BIL next month, which, according to DH is the very last time I do this.  The same for the Christmas meal (one of them) as well. 

By the way, what really cinched this and goaded me to finally post today is, BIL misled DH and I and played us against each other, that he had been invited to our house for Christmas.
I am meticulous about my invitations.  So I wrote BIL and said:  "Things have been so hectic here lately, I can't even remember sending you an invitation.  Can you please tell me if dinner was at 4:00 p.m.? --- we look forward to seeing you at 4:00 p.m.!" --- he wrote back, and completely ignored my question.  This clued DH and I in to the fact that something was very dodgy.  DH spoke with him, and asked if he had been sent a Christmas invitation by me and a menu.  BIL said no!  He said:  "I just thought I was supposed to come over there for a meal."  DH said:  "Who told you that?" and BIL said:  "I thought we were going out to eat at one place before Christmas then I was coming around to your house."  BIL never committed himself to who invited him.

Of course I was livid.  He had misled us and yet I had already welcomed him (stupidly!) in good faith to come for dinner since he alluded to the fact that he had been invited.  What happened was, we were all discussing possible alternatives to eating our on Christmas.  He (said) he took that to mean he was invited to our house.  He wasn't.

So, the blatant untruth did it.  DH wants me to cook BIL's birthday dinner and a Christmas dinner for the 3 of us - then next year, there will be no birthday dinner and no Christmas dinner.  He has promised to talk to him less on the phone (he gave me specifics) and see him less regularly (specifics on that, too).

All of you have helped me so much.  What a wonderful moral support, because really, I was so miserable over all this and at my wit's end.  I don't really have anyone to talk with about this.

I really appreciate every one of you for replying.  I will be updating about how things go, and later on I will read through other posts and if i think I can help in some way, I will respond.

All of you really gave me great support when I needed it most.  I mean it, thank you every single one.

P.S. To those who said just let the husband see BIL any time he wants and just don't go yourself, I am in complete agreement!  But DH often insists I be there.  He has this thing about not wanting BIL to think I am afraid of him.  I have really pushed the issue that they can go out anytime together wherever/whenever - but DH has said:  "I don't want to be with him!"  Isn't that peculiar?  But yes - I would totally sanction them going on vacation together - but it's clear DH doesn't enjoy his company much either.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 12:57:34 PM by Susan45 »

TootsNYC

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2013, 12:59:38 PM »



I agree with those who said DH is just as responsible.  Yes, he is a nice man, but all of you are right, he should have fixed this long ago and straightened it out with his brother.

Be careful of those words. Asking your DH to "fix" the situation is simply not effective. It's asking too much of him. He can't change your BIL, or "straighten him out," and you shouldn't ask him to.
   
He should *protect* you. He should stop pressuring you, and stop pressuring your BIL, to have a certain kind of relationship.

He should stop pressuring you to be in his BIL's presence.

Quote
DH always wants me with him in the presence of BIL because he says he thinks that otherwise, BIL will think I am "scared" of him (BIL).  I assured my husband that I am most definitely not afraid of his brother, I have just reached critical mass in how much more of his creepy (what a fitting word to describe it, someone used it here -- perfect description! Ha!)  I think DH never had the courage to stand up to the BIL before and he thinks that together we will do that.

It is time for you to tell DH that safety comes first. That change is not important to you.

It's time for you to give up on this:

Quote
  You all have no idea how much I want to put BIL in his place.  But this man is so entrenched in the art of denial.

The goal is not to change BIL. It's to avoid the negative interactions completely.

Forget all his past offenses, and parsing them, etc.

It's time to simply remove the problem from YOUR life.

Your DH can still get together with his brother now and then--don't insist that DH have the same relationship with his brother that YOU do.

You and DH are separate people, and you each get to have your own relationship with BIL.
   In your case, that's never being around him.

lady_disdain

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2013, 01:03:46 PM »
Why would you cook dinner for him on his birthday? Let DH take him out somewhere or cook it himself.

EllenS

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2013, 01:09:14 PM »
What a charmer, I can't imagine why he never married.  ::)  Your BIL sounds like he is twelve. 

Somehow he has taken all your DH's and your power as rational adults and dragged you into his ridiculous, immature mind-games.  Any notion of exposing him, or putting him in his "place" is just perpetuating and participating in the game that he created.  It's like Vegas - you can never beat the house in the long run, because they make the rules.

My perspective is, just don't play. I like the a) avoid and b) "minimal answer" approach, even escalating to "ignore". Your DH worries that BIL will think you're afraid of BIL?  How convoluted and bizarre is that?  Pardon my French, but who gives a flying flip what BIL thinks about anything?  There is no reason why you have to ever see him again, and I can't understand why your DH wants you to "taper" off from this situation like cigarettes.  If DH wants to see him, bully for DH.  He's a grown man, he can see who he wants.  You just don't have to go, and if DH wants BIL over to the house, you can leave and go have your Christmas lunch elsewhere, with people you actually like.

He has used his intimidation and bullying to make himself into a large and powerful presence in your life, even to the point of being a divisive influence in your marriage.  But remind yourself who and what he actually is.  He is a pathetic, lonely, ridiculous jerk.  Take your power back and just let the annoying fly buzz. It has nothing to do with you, not really.

Hope things continue to get better for you.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2013, 01:09:24 PM »
Why would you cook dinner for him on his birthday? Let DH take him out somewhere or cook it himself.

YES!!!

Twik

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2013, 01:11:21 PM »
Quote
DH always wants me with him in the presence of BIL because he says he thinks that otherwise, BIL will think I am "scared" of him (BIL).

This phrase worries me. Does he fear that BIL will be offended if he thinks you are scared? Or does he (consciously or not) sense that showing BIL fear is sort of like showing fear in front of a wild animal, making it more likely to do something dangerous?
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

lkdrymom

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #42 on: September 27, 2013, 01:16:17 PM »
Seriously...you are not cooking that man a birthday dinner. Tell your DH that you are stopping this year.  As a compromise you will go out to dinner that DH arranges. Why would you cook for a person who is so mean to you???

Might I suggest next time he makes a snarky comment at you that you burst out laughing. That will really through him off.

Pen^2

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #43 on: September 27, 2013, 01:18:05 PM »
Why would you cook dinner for him on his birthday? Let DH take him out somewhere or cook it himself.

POD.

You are already doing too much for this bully, and it's part of why he likes to push you so far. But this isn't major. If you want to cook dinner for someone who won't appreciate it and will cause you stress and grief, then go for it. But I think it's completely ridiculous. If your DH wants BIL to have a birthday dinner, then that's his responsibility, not yours. I'd book a restaurant. If you don't want to cook a dinner for a bully, then you absolutely do not have to.

It's time for DH to stop worrying about what BIL thinks ("he thinks that otherwise, BIL will think I am "scared" of him") and focussing more on what you think. Whether BIL thinks something is completely irrelevant if you're being mistreated. Again, I'm worried that this is an issue. Your DH should absolutely not be putting his brother's opinions before his wife's safety. Next time your DH brings up that he's worried that BIL might think something bad, just say something like, "That's not the issue. He bullies me. What he chooses to think is irrelevant. My safety is more important, don't you agree?" And keep repeating the last bit to any objections which might be raised.

NyaChan

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Re: Mean-spirited, devious, brother-in-law -- must I even respond to him?
« Reply #44 on: September 27, 2013, 01:20:13 PM »
I think you should suggest to your husband that he take his brother out to dinner for his birthday and you can decide whether you will tough it out for another night or have "other plans." 

For Christmas though, I think there is a really easy way to make things better for you - why does Christmas dinner have to be just the 3 of you?  Invite at least one or two more people and you'll have added buffers so you won't be left alone with him and will have someone to talk to that isn't a total creep.