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Sassy 03-17-2015 07:31 PM

Family drama
 
My homophobic SIL has become insulting to my partner. I want to cut her out of my life but I don't want to lose my relationship with brother or nephews.

I haven't talked about SIL's nastiness with my brother because it seems tacky to ask him to take sides.

These days I feel like I'm unwelcome in my own parents' home because she holds the keys to the kingdom as the mother of the grandkids. I'm just the black sheep.

Rock >> Me << Hard Place

Argh. I'm so utterly sad and flustered I'm not even able to articulate how sad and powerless this makes me feel.

Anyway. Not that I would wish this drama on anyone, but if anyone has advise I'm listening. I certainly haven't come up with any solutions and I've been wracking my brain since Xmas.

:praying:

TruTexan 03-17-2015 07:50 PM

I'd talk to your brother about it and maybe ask him if he thinks it's a good idea or would help matters if all of you sit down together, as Adults and discuss the issue. I"d even go so far as to tell SIL myself we need a sit down with all adults and take it from there.

MsTinkerbelly 03-17-2015 08:05 PM

It's never a good idea to ask family members to choose sides...would you choose your brother over your partner if he asked you to dump them? Chances are, no one wins in that situation!

But...if your partner is important to you, you don't want to ignore the disrespect, right?

What i would do (notice i said i), is sit down with your brother and his wife and let them know that you will not tolerate disrespect towards your partner. Let them know that should the disrespect continue, you will have no choice but to visit your family at times that they will not be around. You don't want to lose contact with your brother and nephews, and chances are he doesn't want to lose contact with you either.(f)

GeorgiaMa'am 03-17-2015 09:17 PM

I'm sorry you're having such a difficult time. It is so stressful when some person decides to get all self-righteous and upset the family.

It's difficult to give you an answer without knowing more about the dynamics within the family. I will also qualify my answer by saying that my family is all from the South, and how we do things is not how they are done everywhere. For instance, we're not very direct.

So the first thing I would do is confront the SIL in a non-confrontational way that lets her know you have noticed her behavior. I would take her aside and ask her in a confidential tone, "Have you been feeling alright lately? Is something the matter?", implying that she can confide in you. She will probably say nothing is wrong, or she might tell you what is wrong, or about some other problem she's having altogether; it's up to you to respond appropriately. But at some point, let her know you asked because she's "not acting like herself". Stay non-confrontational - don't put her on the defensive.

I'm not saying to be disingenuous with your SIL. I'm saying it might keep the drama to a minimum, and make everyone feel better, if you consider starting the conversation with some compassion - whether she deserves it or not. Even if she says she doesn't have a problem, this will put her on notice that her behavior is unacceptable, and it may be enough to make her step up to the plate and act like an adult.

If this doesn't work, then proceed to the sit-down, at another time. However, I would still keep it between me and her. Inviting other people to join the conversation just causes more drama, more defensiveness, and less communicating. I would still try to use non-blaming language - don't attack her beliefs - just address her behavior. "Your remarks really hurt my partner's feelings and mine too." This allows her a chance for an out without losing her dignity.

If none of that works, then once you call her on the carpet for a sit-down with your brother, you're creating a situation where she will feel shame. Expect defensive behavior. Expect to have to make ultimatums, like, "We will visit the family when you are not around." And be prepared for the possibility that your brother will take her side - that is his job, after all.

One more thing: don't let her push you away from your family. They are _your_ family, and she will always be an outsider, at least a little bit. (That may be why she feels like she has to compete with your partner - the _other_ outsider - and not get homophobic with you directly.) You have personal power too, as the daughter of the house, remember.

Of course your mileage may vary. Perhaps some tidbit will apply to you and you will find it helpful. Best wishes to you.

Sassy 03-18-2015 05:40 AM

Sad situation
 
My family is from the south, and yes, it's some unspoken rule that we don't discuss anything that makes anyone uncomfortable, at all, ever.
If this were a new relationship I would at least better understand the tension. But my partner and I have been together over four years and are planning a wedding for later this year. It's as if the more SIL realizes this isn't a "phase" the more she distances herself and pulls her family away.
I've known her since she was 17, about 15 years now.
I called her on her birthday and she wouldn't pick up the phone. She texted later and accused my partner of picking out a present for one of her kids that would intentionally upset him. My Love would never do that. But I was the one who picked out all of the Christmas gifts for my family, especially the kids - I don't have kids of my own so it's the best part of Xmas to me, shopping for the nephews.
I know she was making an excuse for her behavior. I'm just struggling to accept this situation. I'm a fixer, and this won't be fixed. She's gone back to church and started quoting republicans and Duck Dynasty people in the past year.
I think that she blocked me on social media just after we announced the wedding plans.
Anyway. Thank you to everyone who has offered suggestions, and any other suggestions that come.
I suspect that all I can do is distance myself from the pain and continue to be a loving sister to my brother in hopes of not losing that relationship.

:praying:

Femmadian 03-18-2015 06:58 AM

There's always one in every family...
 
Ohhh, what a shitty situation to be in. No one deserves this. My heart goes out to you and your partner, Sassy, and I'm angry on your behalf! :rant:

Disclaimer: I'm currently going through a similar version of this in my own life with immediate blood relatives so apologies in advance if this comes off as a bit militant. ;)

Now, I actually really like Georgia Ma'am's somewhat sneaky (in a good way!) suggestion of going in kind of covertly so as to not put her on the defensive right off. That does strike me as a very Southern tactic. Kill her with kindness! :p

As for me, I personally would approach it in steps. Depending on the dynamics at play and how hateful she's been lately, I would go with GM's suggestion first, being sure to use plenty of "I" statements (ie - "I feel hurt when blah blah blah" or "I feel disrespected when [...] ") so as to give her the benefit of the doubt and the option to save face if she's the kind of person who would respond to that sort of thing. After that, I would wait a while to see if there's any change in behaviour. If not, I'd go to the brother, explain the situation, and ask him to speak to her. Wait again. If no change in behaviour, then confront both of them at the same time, firmly and leaving little doubt as to how unacceptable this situation all is. If that's ultimately all for nothing, then only you can decide what the next best course of action will be.

If it gets to the point that you're considering cutting her out, I would suggest making it known that you are, in fact, actively deciding to cut her out (as opposed to just "growing apart") and why you are doing it so as to leave no room for doubt. You want the focus to be on her behaviour, not your reaction. Your SIL has to know that her shitty actions have consequences. And if they refuse to change, you have to be able to call their bluff. Your presence in their lives is your only real trump card here that I can see (and the ultimate one at that). If they value you as a person, then that will matter to them.

At its crudest, removing yourself from her life explicitly for this reason is like classical conditioning. SIL learns that when she says X, you do Y, and Z results for her (where Z stands in for unpleasant family discord). Do it enough times and she'll get the hint. She may never stop entirely and she may always be homophobic on some level, but at the very least you want a change in behaviour and how she treats you and your partner. Eventually if your family respects you and has your back, she'll learn to ease off at least in your presence if only to minimize the discord in her own life. The key to this is your brother and also your parents. It really depends on how far you want to take this.

One thing to remember is that your relationship with your sibling will likely be your longest relationship in your life. Don't let her ruin that for you, not without a fight. If your brother chooses her side, that's on him, but I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of sitting there and taking it by default. It's one thing for your own family to turn against you in this way. It's quite another for an outsider, as GM said, to turn the family against itself (which may very well be what she's doing or will do eventually). Keep in mind that while she may be causing some of her homophobia to rub off on your brother (because why hasn't he confronted this on his own yet...?), she's most definitely infecting your beloved nephews with her prejudice too, either directly or indirectly. If you don't confront it, it will get worse. If for nothing else, think of the kidlets involved. They deserve better. What if one of them is gay themselves?

Also, fuck "tacky." You deserve better than this. Tacky is when she decided to be insulting to your partner. Tacky is when she decided to block you on social media. Tacky was when she decided to quote Duck Dynasty (seriously, that's really fucking tacky). You're just standing up for your self respect and for your partner's dignity and rightful place in the family. There's nothing whatsoever that's tacky about that.

I actually don't think there is such a thing as a "neutral" side in family matters like this when one side is clearly being a bigoted, hateful douchebag like your sister-in-law is at the moment. If someone isn't condemning the hateful speech or letting you know they support you and not the other person, then they're tacitly giving their endorsement to the hateful douchebag and the bigoted things they're saying/doing. I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect your own family to take sides on this because really, they will anyway, and you should be able to count on their support. It's your human rights and your family of origin on the line here. If they won't support you on this, then what the hell good are they? You're just putting a finer point on it. If not rocking the boat is bought at the cost of your own dignity, then what good is it?

Shame them. Shame the fuck out of them. Make them examine their own relationship with her and the kind of asshattery they're supporting by letting it go unchecked. You have the moral high ground here. Use it.

You know, she may be disrespecting your partner but from what I understand, she's also disrespecting you. The thing she's denigrating your partner for is one thing you share with her (and the one thing your partner likely represents for her as the human embodiment of) and so I would take it very personally if I were in your shoes. This is the side she's showing you to your face. What do you think she's saying about you on the same matter when you're not around?

I say this all as someone who has gone for long periods without talking to several homophobic family members. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I have never regretted standing up for myself. Ultimately you have to do what's right for you.

I would also like to heartily recommend the following two posts on the Captain Awkward advice column about the whole "not taking sides" thing. They really helped to change my thinking on the matter and I think they're worth reading for anyone who is or has been in this situation.

Best of luck! http://www.picgifs.com/smileys/smile...hug-902607.gif

TruTexan 03-18-2015 09:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Femmadian (Post 978668)
Ohhh, what a shitty situation to be in. No one deserves this. My heart goes out to you and your partner, Sassy, and I'm angry on your behalf! :rant:

Disclaimer: I'm currently going through a similar version of this in my own life with immediate blood relatives so apologies in advance if this comes off as a bit militant. ;)

Now, I actually really like Georgia Ma'am's somewhat sneaky (in a good way!) suggestion of going in kind of covertly so as to not put her on the defensive right off. That does strike me as a very Southern tactic. Kill her with kindness! :p

As for me, I personally would approach it in steps. Depending on the dynamics at play and how hateful she's been lately, I would go with GM's suggestion first, being sure to use plenty of "I" statements (ie - "I feel hurt when blah blah blah" or "I feel disrespected when [...] ") so as to give her the benefit of the doubt and the option to save face if she's the kind of person who would respond to that sort of thing. After that, I would wait a while to see if there's any change in behaviour. If not, I'd go to the brother, explain the situation, and ask him to speak to her. Wait again. If no change in behaviour, then confront both of them at the same time, firmly and leaving little doubt as to how unacceptable this situation all is. If that's ultimately all for nothing, then only you can decide what the next best course of action will be.

If it gets to the point that you're considering cutting her out, I would suggest making it known that you are, in fact, actively deciding to cut her out (as opposed to just "growing apart") and why you are doing it so as to leave no room for doubt. You want the focus to be on her behaviour, not your reaction. Your SIL has to know that her shitty actions have consequences. And if they refuse to change, you have to be able to call their bluff. Your presence in their lives is your only real trump card here that I can see (and the ultimate one at that). If they value you as a person, then that will matter to them.

At its crudest, removing yourself from her life explicitly for this reason is like classical conditioning. SIL learns that when she says X, you do Y, and Z results for her (where Z stands in for unpleasant family discord). Do it enough times and she'll get the hint. She may never stop entirely and she may always be homophobic on some level, but at the very least you want a change in behaviour and how she treats you and your partner. Eventually if your family respects you and has your back, she'll learn to ease off at least in your presence if only to minimize the discord in her own life. The key to this is your brother and also your parents. It really depends on how far you want to take this.

One thing to remember is that your relationship with your sibling will likely be your longest relationship in your life. Don't let her ruin that for you, not without a fight. If your brother chooses her side, that's on him, but I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of sitting there and taking it by default. It's one thing for your own family to turn against you in this way. It's quite another for an outsider, as GM said, to turn the family against itself (which may very well be what she's doing or will do eventually). Keep in mind that while she may be causing some of her homophobia to rub off on your brother (because why hasn't he confronted this on his own yet...?), she's most definitely infecting your beloved nephews with her prejudice too, either directly or indirectly. If you don't confront it, it will get worse. If for nothing else, think of the kidlets involved. They deserve better. What if one of them is gay themselves?

Also, fuck "tacky." You deserve better than this. Tacky is when she decided to be insulting to your partner. Tacky is when she decided to block you on social media. Tacky was when she decided to quote Duck Dynasty (seriously, that's really fucking tacky). You're just standing up for your self respect and for your partner's dignity and rightful place in the family. There's nothing whatsoever that's tacky about that.

I actually don't think there is such a thing as a "neutral" side in family matters like this when one side is clearly being a bigoted, hateful douchebag like your sister-in-law is at the moment. If someone isn't condemning the hateful speech or letting you know they support you and not the other person, then they're tacitly giving their endorsement to the hateful douchebag and the bigoted things they're saying/doing. I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect your own family to take sides on this because really, they will anyway, and you should be able to count on their support. It's your human rights and your family of origin on the line here. If they won't support you on this, then what the hell good are they? You're just putting a finer point on it. If not rocking the boat is bought at the cost of your own dignity, then what good is it?

Shame them. Shame the fuck out of them. Make them examine their own relationship with her and the kind of asshattery they're supporting by letting it go unchecked. You have the moral high ground here. Use it.

You know, she may be disrespecting your partner but from what I understand, she's also disrespecting you. The thing she's denigrating your partner for is one thing you share with her (and the one thing your partner likely represents for her as the human embodiment of) and so I would take it very personally if I were in your shoes. This is the side she's showing you to your face. What do you think she's saying about you on the same matter when you're not around?

I say this all as someone who has gone for long periods without talking to several homophobic family members. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I have never regretted standing up for myself. Ultimately you have to do what's right for you.

I would also like to heartily recommend the following two posts on the Captain Awkward advice column about the whole "not taking sides" thing. They really helped to change my thinking on the matter and I think they're worth reading for anyone who is or has been in this situation.

Best of luck! http://www.picgifs.com/smileys/smile...hug-902607.gif

Great Post Fem! Its a very well thought out way to handle a situation even non phobic in my opinion. I am more of a direct in your face confront you right off the bat person, and your post may help me with another family issue concerning behavior of one of my cousin's whom has totally disrespected me and so did his grandmother(my aunt) and his aunt(my cousin). I shall think this through, refer back to it and see if this is a route I want to take to get my aunt and cousin to see why I have been so angry and feeling so disrespected about how their family member(my younger male cousin) treated me in front of them in which he just ran the floor and no one would step up to help me stand up to him when I asked them for help in the matter, they just stood idly by and let him rant and rave and completely put me down, them down and a bunch of other things and refuse to do what he was supposed to do with me concerning pay me a bunch of money he owed me for helping his sorry ass fix his truck. Sorry for the side track, just wanted to let you know I think your post helps me to figure out how to possibly mend fences with family members I have disowned that do not get why. Thanks a lot.

Daktari 03-18-2015 11:05 AM

Speaking only from my own pink sheep of the family experience...
 
Have your parents said you're unwelcome in their home? Or is that just a feeling borne out of this current frustration? Remember feelings are fleeting, they can come and go as quick as a bad lover! ;)

A little background
I have a family situation. Not because I'm queer but because of how I behaved as a teenage addict. I'm now 51yrs old and the siblings [ages 50 & 45yrs] have held 31yr silent-treatment grudges.

The solution for me
What I've learned in recent years is that I have no control AT ALL over people [what they say, do or think], places or things. The things I have any control over are myself and my perception of the world.

Talking through other folks long held prejudices has never gone well for me. So instead I work on my own stuff. In some places they call it 'Keeping our side of the street clean'; I work hard on seeing my own part in such difficulties. After that I let the situation go and concentrate on making my life as happy as it can be for myself and the family I've chosen to be in my life. Giving other folks rent-free space in my head to bring me misery is a really unhealthy place and I take steps to make sure I don't hand over that level power over my thinking to anyone else nowadays.

If I was in your shoes
I would continue visiting my folks with my partner. I would be civil with the irritant. I would do my best to be kind to everyone and behave in ways that I would wish to be treated. In other words I would lead by example. Actions speak way louder than words.

:chaplin:

Sassy 03-18-2015 01:54 PM

My family is just a hot mess
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Daktari (Post 978691)
Have your parents said you're unwelcome in their home? Or is that just a feeling borne out of this current frustration? Remember feelings are fleeting, they can come and go as quick as a bad lover! ;)

My father is a narcissist who has never liked anyone I brought home. And he has said some passing untoward things in my presence since having a stroke two years ago. His personality just isn't the same and he's less emotionally stable. (Tough situation that will probably only get worse with age.)
He also thinks the sun rises and sets on his grandsons heads so he makes excuses for their mother. "Your SIL loves her children and just wants to be a good mother. There's no harm in them going to church. It's something social to do." (Except it's more than social. It's a Baptist church that drinks the hate koolaid each Sunday while their Glenn Beck loving preacher talks about the evils of the liberal agenda.)

My mom is loving and generous and has never said an unkind word to me or my partner.

My issue with talking to my brother has to do with how little time he gets to spend at home with his family. He travels so much For work and has 5 children at home. I dread the idea of ruining any of his time with family.

Yes, at some point I'll have to make a point of discussing the issue. It's not like anyone seems worried about my comfort, or my partner's comfort, when spending time with family.

At least I'm starting to shift from sad to mad - taking into a little anger can't hurt at this point. I have just been SO heartbroken that i couldn't get past wanting to just "fix" ... something. But there's no "fixing" to be had. Only various degrees of communication, boundaries, acceptance and tolerance all around.

TruTexan 03-18-2015 03:50 PM

Sassy, just don't let the anger mode consume you during your processing things. Good luck and hope things go well for you.


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