- 2 years ago
TLDR: I’m writing anonymously to please get objective input (particularly a woman’s) because my fiancé is deeply upset my brother is planning to propose to his girlfriend in a timeframe equating to a month and three weeks after we got engaged. She’s now said, among other things, she’s “not excited to be engaged anymore” and “I wish you hadn’t proposed to me.” The way she’s expressing all this really hurts (second to last paragraph) and right now I can’t even tell where the line in the sand is between where emotionally charged statements end and emotionally abusive ones begin. I’m doing my best to be supportive- it all really hurts.
Backstory: A couple months ago in one of our brotherly conversations, my younger brother shared he had started arranging for a ring and communicated his plans on getting engaged. I then communicated to him my plans to “tentatively” get engaged on an upcoming vacation (hadn’t picked out a ring yet). This vacation, which had been in the works for several months, just happened to be a month and three weeks before his planned time to get engaged. We both revealed to each other how we’d been waiting until after our sister got married this June until we proposed. We both felt “past due” to get engaged. The timing felt perfect for both of us: my brother is getting a house with his girlfriend this month, feels it’s the right time for them and has been with her almost exactly as long as I’ve been with my fiancé. On our end, I’ve been living with my fiancé for 11 months. We’re older (32 and 30) and want to take steps to start a family sooner than later. In any case, my brother and I both left the conversation very happy for each other.
Knowing there are a lot of traditions around weddings/engagements I may have been walking into blindly, just to be sure, I ran my brother and I’s engagement plans by my dad to ensure I wasn’t going against any traditions if we were to both get engaged at approx. 2 months apart. He said exactly what I was thinking: “You can’t put your life on hold for anyone else. “
Back to the main story: In short, my fiancé and I were recently engaged in a truly amazing, destination engagement (the vacation I mentioned). Total surprise to her and all was like magic. Everyone in our circles are over the moon thrilled.
Within a week after we were engaged, the topic of when my brother might pop the question came up naturally in conversation. I told my fiancé my brother’s plans to propose….. which are to get engaged at a deeply cherished family retreat at Thanksgiving, with his girlfriend’s family there (effectively a highly important family location we have been going to since we were children). This will also coincide with my fiancé’s family attending this family retreat for the first time, too. The plans to invite her parents were made months before I proposed.
Ever since my fiancé learned of this news- irrespective of also being aware my brother presented his plans to me first- she’s had periods of being upset so strongly it’s taken my breath away. The first day she learned of it, the evening culminated in her expressing she “wasn’t even excited to be engaged anymore.” My fiancé has a history of what feels like it could be anxiety (though I’m no doctor/therapist nor do I proclaim to be), so the first outburst seemed like an opportunity to just be supportive, make sure she knew she was listened to and just let her emotions run their course until logic kicked back in (as it generally does), at which point we’d talk about it and move on like adults. At first, it felt like things were going this way, too…
… But that’s not the way it went. Her point of view is she wanted “just one” holiday season with my family without having to share it so it would be “her time” with my family to connect. In full disclosure, I’ll mention she didn’t grow up with a lot of family support, so she was really looking forward to the bonding factor being “all hers.” I can empathize with that, and have continued to do so. The extent to which this has all played out though, which I’m about to describe, feels strongly unhealthy and I literally feel shell shocked.
For the sake of whatever brevity I can still muster at this point (if you’re still reading, thank you), I’ll spare non-constructive spiral this has gone down in the weeks since (despite my best efforts) other than to say where we are now is, due to my brother running into her in public and being thoughtful enough to ask my fiancé her opinion on him getting engaged soon, this lead to her inviting my brother over last night to talk and hang out.
Her goal, since he asked for her opinion, was to ask if he’d consider waiting until after the holidays. The concept of this conversation alone pressed me to my limits of comfortability given how she’d been choosing to express herself lately and because he announced concrete plans to get engaged before I did. I truly feel if my brother feels it’s right for him and, not to mention, he had more concrete engagement plans before I ever did, he’s completely in the right for moving forward. At the same time, I take relationships seriously and want to be supportive to my future wife- especially in public even when I may disagree with her on the inside. However, because my brother was asking for her opinion and she agreed she’d keep things respectful along the general lines of telling him “I respect your decision ultimately and know you can’t put your life on hold for anyone else, but since you’re asking my opinion…”, we went through with it.
She held composure, the conversation was very cordial with the general tone being extremely caring on all sides. It honestly seemed (at the time) like a very constructive conversation. My brother had listened intently, empathized as much as I could reasonably expect with her story of her family situation, but ultimately he didn’t convey any sense one way or another he was going to change his mind (I’ve since learned he hasn’t). He did say he wanted his wedding to be after our mid-summer 2019 wedding, and that they’d be waiting all the way until 2020 (which I didn’t feel was necessary, but a nice gesture). When the conversation naturally started to change topics, I even jumped in and asked her outright, “did you get to say everything you felt like saying?” Her answer was “yes,” and for a fleeting moment it felt like the issue was settled.
We made it about 2 minutes into a new topic (totally unrelated to marriage) and I could see her eyes start to tear up. It wasn’t long before she excused herself for dinner, which suddenly meant she was leaving. Via text, she refused to come home until later that evening until after my brother left ( it got awkward as he ultimately figured out what was up) and she expressed how livid she was.
She’s now saying she’ll hold a grudge against my brother for years, she’s upset he wasn’t listening, she wished I hadn’t proposed to her, that I need to ask my dad to get involved, I need to figure out “who’s team I’m on,” she’ll be cancelling the engagement photos, she doesn’t want to attend Thanksgiving and wants to disinvite her parents, that her aunt (who announced her divorce within the last week) completely agrees my brother should wait, if my brother and I understood her history we’d be more supportive, since he’s having his wedding so long after ours now that he should be able to hold off on the engagement (yes, this completely disregards the fact here that had I not been engaged and set a date my brother would be looking to get married next year, too) and also saying “this will never be right.”
I’m feel I’m being stretched to the limits of patience while trying to listen and lend support. I’m 100% there to the extent we can have a conversation like mature adults, with the line in the sand being disrespectful, non-constructive, belittling talk.
This really hurts. Thoughts?