Post # 1
This is a bit of an interesting one. My husband’s family have been very welcoming and friendly, and despite a few minor hiccups I cannot really complain too much overall. Something has changed however when it comes to my brother in-law (i.e. my husband’s brother). My husband insists that he has always been this way but agrees that it is getting worse and doesn’t understand what his problem is, and I guess now that I’m “part of the family” it is no holds barred so I am seeing this side of him.
He very much embodies the kind of person that I have worked very hard to keep out or cut out of my life. I’m 30 years old and I do not have time for people who are cocky, loud, or discriminate against others who are different/think differently than they do. He treats his brother (my husband) very poorly despite the fact that he was the best man at our wedding, and while my husband often stands up for himself, it often does little to deter or make things better. He shoots him down, argues with him, and is VERY vocal about his opinions on matters that really do not apply to him but are very important to others (for example, thinking its OK to speak out as anti-gay if it is part of your religion even if its hateful…or refusing to recognize allergies as a condition but rather a choice). To top it all off, he’s not a loser or a loner, he’s got a girlfriend who’s quite beautiful and from what I can tell quite sweet. He seems to make friends easily. Others in the family (cousins, etc.) LOVE him too. But he doesn’t treat these other people this way or say a lot of this stuff in front of them (that I can tell). He’s a bully once the immediate family are alone and his mother often tells him to “cool it” but also insists that’s “how he shows his love”. It is to the point where I am afraid I’m going to look like I have an issue with the whole family because I hate being out there and just want to leave. As far as I can tell the only way to stay on his good side is to 1) not argue with him on anything 2) make fun of or shoot down someone else who is either present or not present to defend themselves 3) be someone he doesn’t know well because he’ll still be trying to impress you.
The thing that gets to me the most out of all of it, is what happens when my husband and I have kids? I will probably lose my shit if he starts into his bullying or strong opinion rants once there are kids in the picture….whether it is because he’s bullying my husband, me or the kid. I cannot stand by and watch that happen.
Anyone out there with a similar experience? I realize I might be coming off as a crazy person but I’m seriously at my wits end. If this was just a friend of my husband it would be a non-issue.
Post # 2
My BIL and I do not get along, he has always made snyde comments about me and how I want things (they grew up extremely poor and my parents weren’t rich but well off). It is to the point now where when we are at family functions, he and I can tolerate each other, but we do not really speak to each other. I’m like you and waiting to see what happens when we have kids, but the fact is, we can’t change them, we can only change how we act and things that we can physically change. Don’t worry about the kids right now if you don’t have them, if you have to, you can sit down with your husband and have a discussion with him about it when you have kids.
Post # 3
letsdothis2013: Yikes, that sounds pretty brutal. I haven’t been in this situation, but the principles I’d keep in mind are:
1) Avoid spending time with him when possible.
2) Be quiet and confident about standing up for yourself and your family. There is no point in engaging him in arguments (I’m sure he’d LOVE that). It can be powerful to calmly say, “We aren’t going to stay here if you continue treating my husband this way” or “Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I’d appreciate if you don’t use that sort of language in front of me, I find it offensive” if you are ready to back it up. I think you want to establish now that you are not a doormat so that when you’ve got kids in the picture he’s seen a hint of “don’t mess with me” before you go full mama bear on him. It will make things a little awkward but IMO that’s better than you having to constantly repress your feelings in the long term.
3) Don’t worry too much about kids right now. Your relatinoship with him may change before that happens (or before they are old enough to know what’s going on). And if it doesn’t – kids are going to have to deal with assholes in their lives too. They will learn from you how to deal with these people. You can model that behavior for them both by avoiding your BIL and by the way you react to him when you do hang out.
4) You can’t change him. Remember that and repeat it to yourself when you are about to explode.
5) You should pitty him. This behavior FOR SURE covers up his insecurities. He doesn’t feel whole, or loved, or good enough in some way and that’s why he needs to hurt other people. He feels shame and covers it up with bravado. He’s lacking in empathy which will prevent him from leading a full, rich life. It’s hard to be angry at someone when you feel sorry for them. This could also be a useful framework for talking to your kids about the hateful opinions Uncle A-hole spews.
Post # 4
I know people that get like this and one strategy that always works for me is: When they start spewing hate about you/your husband or whoever (this is assuming they are talking to you not the general group) just look away and strike up a convo with someone else like they stopped existing and vanished right from the room. Some people continue to talk for a bit but soon realize they are only talking to themselves. Others in the room can follow suit and the offenders behaviour seems to change quite quickly. I don’t feel like this is rude either, it’s just an appropriate response to the other person’s rude behaviour.
Post # 5
Thanks – both helpful perspectives. I need to remember to focus more energy on the people who do love us and not the ones that make us feel this way. Which also isn’t a bad message for the kiddos either as long as I can practice what I preach. Cheers.
Post # 6
- Wedding: April 2013 - Rhode Island
cbgg: This is fantastic advice. I can’t think of anything to add.
Post # 7
Christy42213: cbgg: I agree. Very well said.
Post # 8
letsdothis2013: I would have no trouble speaking up and setting limits when he is in my home. I cannot control the way he thinks but I can define acceptable behavior in my own home. I think this is especially important when you have childen, because you will be seen by them to be tacitly endorsing what he says if you allow it in front of them.
If he chooses not to come to our home, DH can visit with him elsewhere.
Post # 9
letsdothis2013: I have an acquaintance like this who I rarely see anymore, thank goodness. We were semi-friends in high school, but he is exactly like this. I can respect anyone’s views, though I may not understand them, but when this guy would talk it would just be hateful, misinformed, and for the sake of arguing. I wouldn’t engage with him and that stopped a lot of it. He would bring up a subject that we knew would lead to him saying horrible (racist/prejudiced/etc.) things and none of us would let it say. We would simple say “We’re going to talk about something else” and not even let him get the words out. Eventually, he stopped trying. I love having good discussions with people on controversial topics, but when they become bullies and are downright rude, then there is no point. Good luck!
ETA: Oh, and I completely agree wtih PPs. If he does start to target your husband or you then I would clearly and confidently say “BIL, you are entitled to your opinion. You are not entitled to speak to DH or myself this way. If it happens again, we are leaving.” Follow through too. If he starts in, leave. I’m sure he’ll begin getting an earful from his gf, mom, and others.
Post # 10
I don’t like my BIL at all. Nor his wife. I avoid them in family functions and simply just don’t spend time with him. But DH isnt really friends with him either. i obviously can’t stop my husband hanging out with him, but I don’t need to let it affect my relationship with my husband or anything else. I basically just ignore him and do my own thing. Ive found it gets easier with time to know your limits with ppl.
Post # 11
I’d (verbally) slap him back into line the next time he oversteps. I did that to my husband’s obnoxious brother. The rest of the family can’t fault you for sticking up for yourself.
Post # 12
I would say,”today is not asshole day. Can we please talk about something else?”
Post # 13
Thanks everyone. I already feel better having unloaded some of those thoughts and hearing your wise words 🙂 This will be a great post to come back to when I’m feeling this way again.