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Problem with controlling brother in law

(21 Posts)
flaxwoven Thu 21-Jan-21 12:23:25

My husband's eldest brother and his wife live about 2 hours away from us and are very wealthy and have no children. The live a very sheltered life, are kind people but very controlling. They refuse to let us pay for anything which makes us feel like the poor relations (which we are, having had 3 children). Their ideal holidays are a remote self catering cottage where my sister in law can practise her excellent cooking skills. Exactly the sort of holiday I hate. We don't see them all year and my husband never arranges to meet them, but as soon as the elder brother says "jump" my husband obeys immediately. Five years ago or so they invited us to one of their remote holiday cottages abroad and we went. They never eat lunch which posed a problem as my husband is diabetic. No matter how many times he has said he needs to eat lunch, (comments like - why do we need this?) they seem unable to understand this, they are so set in their ways, so my husband ended up nibbling cracker biscuits. The same with my refusal to drive - brother in law nagged me over and over every time I saw him "when are you going to drive that car?" I never responded as I didn't want to seem rude, just suffered in silence. I'm a hopeless driver.
In 2019 they asked us again to a remote cottage abroad and I refused to go which caused an flaming row with my husband, who said I was obstructive and difficult and why did he always have to apologise to his brother. I told him to go on his own, we are not joined at the hip, and he said he would, but in the end he did not go, saying now he "did not want to". Now the brother and his wife have booked another remote self catering cottage abroad for the end of August and have invited 2 brothers and 1 sister and their partners. I know my husband wants to go, but I am hoping and praying we will not be allowed to go due to Covid. I am hopeless at standing up to bullies, never know what to say, don't want another row with my husband over it, and have resolved to keep quiet, but it's on my mind all the time, I'm an anxious person. I can't understand why my husband always obeys his brother but at the same time is unable to stand up to him. A complicated relationship. How do I deal with it?

timetogo2016 Thu 21-Jan-21 12:57:52

Don`t go flaxwoven,they sound like hard work and your dh shouldn`t jump to his brothers ideas.
They both sound like they have never had anything go wrong in their lives and expect people to jump to order.
Plus your dh being diabetic as you say and his food is very important.

Toadinthehole Thu 21-Jan-21 13:06:58

Aww, bless you, what a horrible situation. You may not be good at verbally expressing yourself....but your writing is very articulate. You've explained yourself very well. Why not just show your husband this post, and then say enough is enough. Your life sounds wonderful to their's, which sounds quite dull. Don't be put down, you're worth much more than that🤔

crazyH Thu 21-Jan-21 13:12:39

I don’t think you should go. If it wasn’t for the fact that the holiday cottage is so remote, I would suggest that you go with them and then, do your own thing. But that’s not the case, so, just say ‘no’

Smileless2012 Thu 21-Jan-21 13:17:46

Go with Toadinthehole's suggestion flaxwoven and show your post to your H. Wait until you've had several responses which will I'm sure, all say 'don't go'.

Instead, make plans with your DH about what you would like to do once restrictions have been lifted and where you want to go.

NellG Thu 21-Jan-21 13:21:27

What an awful situation, I really feel for you. I don't think there is an easy way out, from what you've written it's a case of choosing who you upset ( including yourself) But... bear in mind these people are choosing to upset you by not seeing that you are a separate person with different needs. Having been in similar situations in the past I used to choose to put up with it for the sake of peace by realising that their behaviour was very much about who they are and not about who I am. However, over time the stress of tolerating it all made me physically ill and I chose to walk away. Not so easy when your husband is still invested. All I can say is that life is too short not to do the things that make you happy. There is absolutely no harm or insult in just saying 'Thank you so much, it's a really kind invitation but those kind of holidays are not for me but I hope you have a wonderful time' Your husband can choose to stay or go - but you matter too!

Septimia Thu 21-Jan-21 13:29:34

Is there any mileage in saying you'll go for a day or two at the beginning or end of the holiday and going on to, or arrive from, somewhere you've 'always wanted to visit'. That way you could spend some time doing what you enjoy. Or go off for a few days in the middle for the same reason. You could pick something affordable.

Grandmafrench Thu 21-Jan-21 13:30:50

How do you deal with it, Flaxwoven? I am not sure you can.
Read ToadintheHole's suggestions. Excellent advice. Problem is you are an anxious person, obviously not good at standing up to bullies - and this is what's happening here, let's not sugar coat it. Your DH, has clearly spent his life shouting "how high" when the older brother says "jump". A very hard thing to stop doing now, but for both your sakes and to keep the peace between you both, he needs to be the one to say, thanks but no thanks. AND STICK TO IT. It's a choice, not a command. If your DH doesn't stand up for what you both want, or he wavers, then you have no chance. For anyone to be thick-skinned and rude enough to think they can get you to drive when you don't want to, for a family member to remain blissfully ignorant of responsibility towards your diabetic DH says more about these two than you need to.

Be the two worms that turn. Think how important you are to each other, think how unhappy you feel, marching to someone else's drum at your time of life. Just do what you want, for heaven's sake. If others don't respond to your wishes and won't respect them, tough. That's their problem. This should have been addressed so many years ago - it never gets easier once people are used to having their own way.

You have to do this for yourselves. Honestly, self assertiveness sounds difficult. It's not - the first time you say No, mean no, and simply refuse to discuss it further, you'll never look back. The relief is incredible! It's much worse worrying about it - they're not, they're getting what they want any old time they want and it's time you gave their behaviour a huge shake-up. You can do it if you work together. Show your DH this thread. Good luck, you both deserve so much better.

Madgran77 Thu 21-Jan-21 13:55:44

Well... the first thing is to sit down with your husband and discuss it calmly, (maybe after showing a version of your post above) not criticising him but talking about how you feel. Say things like ( will sound stilted here, but you can use your own version, avoiding anything "accusatory".)

"I know that you feel you would like to go if invited."
" I understand that you feel that I am obstructive and difficult because I don't want to go."
" I would like to explain how I feel and then we can discuss the best solution, as I think both of us are upset by this. Is that ok?"
"|I really don't enjoy being in a remote cottage because .....!" (the lunch problem, the remoteness, with them for too long ....)
" Do you enjoy staying in a remote cottage? What do you like about it?"
"Last time I was very worried about the problem with food for you. Were you happy to just nibble crackers?"
"I think that if we are invited you would like to go wouldn't you?"
"If you want to go can we work out a way for that to happen without me?"

If you do end up going some suggestions for dealing with intransigence:

"I know you don't eat lunch. * has to eat lunch. I will make a cheese sandwich!" (maybe bring some cheese and other supplies , put in the fridge whilst making that statement) When queried just repeat "I understand you don't eat lunch. * has to eat lunch. I will..."

Driving ..." I don't like driving, I choose not to!"
"Why do you keep asking that question? I don't like driving. I choose not to!"
"I understand that you like driving. I don't! I choose not to!" " I know practice can make perfect but I don't like driving. I choose not to!"

Hope that you can get it sorted [flowers}

EllanVannin Thu 21-Jan-21 14:02:55

Some people just don't understand do they ? I'm blowed if I'd go anywhere or even do anything that I didn't want to do, certainly not at the risk of my health for the sake of others.

Jaxjacky Thu 21-Jan-21 14:04:28

I agree with others advice, particularly if you and your husband present a united front, they may then realise that bullying won’t work any more and stop.

Redhead56 Thu 21-Jan-21 14:36:23

If you get invited just say thanks for the offer but we will make our own arrangements. Does your husband go because it’s been paid for? You need to be straight with your husband and have your say about what you want to do for a change. That’s exactly what I did a few years ago. It was a disappointment for my husband as enjoyed the trips away we had with friends.

We went abroad for a weeks holiday with five friends for a quite few years. We let them pick destinations hotels or country houses to stay in. They started going a few days before us. As we were running a business and didn’t want an extended holiday.
The last holiday was not very pleasant at all for me. We were left with the smallest bedroom in loft space and a shower which I could not step into. Which our divorced able bodied friend should have had. I had a hip replacement months earlier and it was difficult enough getting up to the room.
We don’t go away with them now we just do our own thing happy days!

flaxwoven Thu 21-Jan-21 14:52:57

Thank you all a million times for your very helpful and encouraging comments. The points of view of people not personally involved has helped me realise that tip toeing around my brother in law and his wife, afraid of being rude, afraid of causing a family upset, afraid of speaking out, is just letting him (and his wife) carry on regardless. All comments very welcome. Thank you grans net.

hellymart Thu 21-Jan-21 15:03:39

Not quite the same situation (these were friends not relatives) but friends of ours had a boat in a hot part of Europe and kept insisting that we should holiday with them on it - and bring our dog. The dog would (apparently!) 'love it!' But I knew it would be incredibly stressful, we didn't want to take the dog, we didn't even really want to go (having spent a few weekends away with them, which was a nightmare, as we all wanted different things from the trip). We made excuses, we said it would be too hot for the dog (true), etc but they wouldn't take the hint and kept badgering us and in the end my OH had to be quite rude and blunt and say, "We DON'T WANT TO GO!" Of course, it helps if you're a united front and both feel the same! Anyway, it was never mentioned again. Hurrah. I hope you manage to sort it out. They are bullying you, as others have said and the only way to treat bullies is to stand up to them, firmly and politely. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

M0nica Thu 21-Jan-21 15:45:24

If all else fails, just pull out at the last minute for health reasons.

Lolo81 Thu 21-Jan-21 16:18:23

Does you DH perhaps want to see the other siblings invited? If so could you maybe go for 1 or 2 nights out of the week and create prior engagements which mean you can’t stay the whole time? I do wholeheartedly understand why you don’t want to go and ultimately if you do t want to then don’t. It’s DH’s family so it’s really up to him isn’t it? I’d be inclined to look for compromise, but only you know how much you can tolerate. All the best x

David0205 Thu 21-Jan-21 16:30:16

Flaxwoven you need to be far more positive, arrange the holiday you want to go on well in advance then you have a good excuse for not joining BIL, if hubby wants to go, let him, you go on a singles trip elsewhere, you would be surprised how many women do just that.

The trips I’ve been on about half are married women doing their own thing often with a friend sometimes solo.

cornishpatsy Thu 21-Jan-21 16:44:02

If you deal with the situation now you will save yourself months of anxiety.

It might cause a row or unpleasantness with your husband for a short time but then it will be over. You could tell him you are not going and then he can choose to go alone and tell his brother you will not be going or he can say neither of you are going. His brother, up to him to deal with him.

It only has to be dealt with once then it will be all over. Wishing you well in whatever you decide.

Davida1968 Thu 21-Jan-21 16:53:42

There is a great deal of good advice here from GNs here, flaxwoven. So much so, that all I can say to you is, (just as cornishpasty advocates), that dealing with this now, could save you a great deal of anxiety and worry over this issue. Good luck!

eazybee Thu 21-Jan-21 17:10:37

Does your husband really want to go? It seems as though it will be a family reunion with his siblings,, and he wants you with him. Could you consider a compromise: go for half the time then move on elsewhere; that doesn't seem too difficult.
He can make himself a sandwich midday surely, without involving you, and if he doesn't, then he is the one who suffers the consequences. You simply have to say, politely, I don't drive; no one is going to make someone use their car when they are a poor driver, particularly in a foreign country.
It all seems a little childish; are there other reasons you don't want to go?

Tizliz Thu 21-Jan-21 18:00:29

I have a slightly different point of view. I am not very keen on visiting my BIL, they live a bit too rustic for my liking. First visit I was woken up by the cat chasing a mouse across the bed. But my OH does not like big gatherings and I have a big family. A few years ago we had a family weekend of 35 of us. He couldn’t really refuse to come when I had visited his brother. Swings and roundabouts.