Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Brother-In-Law Makes Unreasonable Demands of My Husband”

When my husband, Jack, and I brought our 8-month-old daughter to Jack’s home state to introduce the baby to extended family and friends, Jack’s brother, who lives a three-hour drive from where we would be staying, invited Jack (and only Jack) to come see him instead of driving in to see us. Jack turned down the invite because it would take up an entire day of our visit for him to drive there and back (alone). Plus, the whole reason we flew out there was so everyone could meet the new baby in person. We were only in town for a short amount of time and his brother knew months in advance that we were coming and didn’t invite my husband until the week of our trip.

Jack wanted to spend time with his brother while we were staying at their parents’, which is why he wanted to know what day his brother would be visiting so we could plan to all hang out. We would be in town for less than a week and wanted see all the family. We did drive out to some people (those in the area who couldn’t drive/elderly relatives not able to get out), but nothing more than thirty minutes away. Most family came to us. My mother-in-law planned our group visit days, so we hung out at her place all day with the baby while family would drop by throughout the day.

My brother-in-law is now extremely angry and hurt that my husband turned down his invitation. Both my husband and I found it rude that his brother didn’t invite the whole family unit. Yet the brother-in-law is extremely angry at his brother for not making it a priority to see his new place (he recently moved into a group-type home) while we were sort of nearby.

Jack wants to fix the relationship with his brother. We are coming back to the area again for a wedding that is four hours away from where the brother-in-law lives, and an aunt has suggested that Jack go out by himself to visit his brother and see the new house when we are out there. Should he? — Mad at the BIL

Is there some reason the brother-in-law doesn’t want to see you or doesn’t want you to see his home? What is your history with him like? What type of “group home” is this? Does he live independently or does he have some sort of assistance?

He’s upset that we didn’t invite him to stay at our place, when he and the mom visited us/baby on the west coast last year, not long after I had my baby (we have a one-bedroom, one-bathroom home). He also got angry at me because I was wearing earrings and none of the girls he knows wear earrings. He said I put on airs because I dress nice and wear jewelry and I should be cooking meals since he was visiting us and feels uncomfortable that we were taking him out to eat all the time. (Never mind that we paid for all their meals and he did not complain about the meal-paying until near the end of the visit; we paid for both his and the mom’s meals). Again, my baby was a few months old; I was focused on breast-feeding her. (A side note: The mom paid for his flight and hotel, so it was not like he was out any money on this trip.).

I have been married four years now and my interactions with my brother-in-law have been few and quite volatile. I do my best to try to connect, but we really don’t have anything in common. He basically just talks to my husband during the majority of our visits and they talk about sci-fi stuff, which I try to contribute to, but, eventually, I get bored because I don’t know what they are talking about and they don’t seem to care whether I’m there or not.

In other instances, he has sent very angry emails in the past (to the whole family, not just me) and then won’t talk/email/text the family for months. We will all try to call or contact him, with no response. I think the longest stint was eight months without contact. Then he starts contacting people and apologizes and we forgive him. He seems to be a very emotional person and seems to get hurt easily by things that would not even bother me. Maybe I am thick-skinned?

“Group home” is probably the wrong description for where he lives. He is not physically disabled — he has a full time job and a car. The home he lives in is called a co-op home, basically. Everyone pools resources, pays a small rent, pitches in for food and household expenses, and takes turns doing domestic shores like cooking and cleaning.

Ok, so it sounds like your brother-in-law has some emotional or mental issues that make life and relating to others a little more challenging than for a “normal” person. Beyond likely having limited financial resources (small income and/or problems with money management), it sounds like he also has trouble managing interpersonal relationships and lacks empathy and perspective about various lifestyle challenges and situations that may hinder other people’s ability to be there for him in the way he thinks they “should.”

Whether your BIL’s issues are diagnosed or confirmed by a professional or not, I would think all his family is aware that something out-of-the-ordinary is going on and should adjust their expectations and their way of interacting with him, thusly. Expect that your and your husband’s relationship with him will likely always be a bit strained and that, in order to have interactions with him, you will have to meet him more than halfway because he is more limited than you are. I would not take his limitations personally, but I also would not inconvenience yourself beyond reason to meet your BIL’s special needs.

If driving four hours out of the way is doable without sacrificing too much to see your BIL while you’re out that way for a wedding, go. You could go together, with your husband and your kid, or, if you have a comfortable place to stay for a night or two while your husband visits his brother, let him go on his own. On future visits when you see him, ignore his criticisms of you like you would a young child who doesn’t know any better. Limit your interactions with him and make maintaining the relationship between the two brothers the priority of get-togethers. On future visits to your husband’s home state, plan an extra day into the visit so that Jack can drive the three hours to see his brother while you and your kid stay with your in-laws and visit with other family. That way, Jack maintains the brother relationship and you don’t have to deal with him. If he comes out to visit you all, encourage Jack to make a “guys’ weekend” of it, while you stay home with the baby. Maybe Jack and his brother can even stay in a hotel together — or meet somewhere between their two homes — and watch all the sci-fy they want without your BIL being “offended” by your jewelry-wearing and lack of cooking him some lasagna.

In a perfect world, we’d all have totally normal, healthy family and wonderful relationships with all our in-laws. We’d feel loved and accepted and everyone would get along famously. But, the world is not perfect; we are all damaged and flawed, and many of us are ill in various ways. We cannot meet everyone’s needs while also supporting our own, as well as taking care of any children we may have. Be gentle with yourself — and your husband — when navigating this delicate family situation. Understand that there may be times that you do heavier lifting at home, or are inconvenienced, while your husband is dealing with his brother and trying to maintain a relationship with him. And one day, you will likely be in a position of needing your husband’s support while you’re called to handle a situation with your family (a sick or dying parent, a sibling in need, or even a very close friend going through something traumatic where your time and love and attention are especially appreciated). This is the give-and-take of a marriage that hopefully spans many decades.

Your BIL is an inconvenience, yes. But he’s also the person your husband grew up with, with whom he shares a bond he does not share with anyone else — a bond he has interest in maintaining. Support him as much as you can, even if it means some sacrifice on your part. And overlook slights from your BIL that, coming from someone with more functional social and emotional tools, could be perceived as personal. They aren’t. It sounds like he’s weird with everyone. And it sounds like he’s probably doing the best he can with what he has. Practice compassion, and I think your husband will especially appreciate your effort and will return the favor when you need compassion from him.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

70 comments… add one
  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine September 22, 2016, 8:58 am

    WWS. He clearly has some issues that have nothing to do with you LW. I can certainly empathize with not being keen on him (earrings = airs + get in the kitchen woman wouldn’t endear him to me either, yikes) but keeping a polite distance while giving your husband space to connect with his brother is the way to go here.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 22, 2016, 9:38 am

    “Dear Wendy. My Brother in Law is CLEARLY mentally ill — if not downright mentally challenged… But THAT’S no reason not to act like a sane, rational grown up! Oh, Lawd. It’s all just such a terrible inconvenience for me to go out of my way to accomodate him once or twice a year… Please help.”
    .
    Sigh…

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    • avatar

      Arra September 22, 2016, 10:21 am

      I’m glad you said this. I’ve noticed that a reoccurring common theme lately, seems to be, “Help me because I can’t tolerate being inconvenienced for the smallest amount of time, even if it means damaging family relationships”. It’s all beginning to sound so very petty. Learning how to be (or not to be) around other people is part of being a freakin’ adult. Who has the luxury of going through life without having to encounter or interact with someone they don’t particularly care for, especially when that interaction is for such a small amount of time? Who can’t manage sucking it up for 4, 8, 10 hours or a weekend, out of a whole year?! It’s obnoxious!

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 22, 2016, 10:48 am

        The same can be said about the brother. If they were doing the activities planned by the MIL and see all of the extended family and the brother was invited but chose to not come and then was angry that the husband chose to not drive to see the brother they both chose the same thing. Neither agreed to do the drive to see the other.

        If it comes down to having a limited amount of time and a large number of people to see you have to make choices and prioritize. I can understand choosing to drive to see those who can’t drive to see you while expecting the brother to make the trip. You end up having to choose which relationships to let slide so that you can maintain the others. If they feel that he can’t deal with being in the group of relatives then maybe every other trip the husband drives to see him. At the same time if the husband drives four hours does he spend the night and the one day becomes two days and is that two days out of a seven day trip. If the MIL has invited the aunts and uncles to come on either of those days are they all insulted the the husband blew them all off and wasn’t even there when they made the effort to come see them. It really isn’t all so easily cut and dried. I think the MIL assumed that the brother would drive to see them so she felt he was very capable of doing that.

        Maybe the two brothers could meet somewhere in the middle and hang out somewhere like a restaurant or park or mall or coffee shop. That way it is a two hour drive, spend maybe four or five hours together and then a two hour drive back. That would give the brother one-on-one time and the husband would only give up one day of the week seeing the brother and save the second day to see other relatives.

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        Mad at the BIL September 24, 2016, 12:33 am

        What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
        #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
        “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

        The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

        #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 24, 2016, 10:18 am

        He doesn’t sound mentally ill. He sounds self-absorbed. He considered it more important for his brother to spend a day driving to his house rather than spending that day taking his own baby to meet relatives. It comes down to seeing brother’s house was considered more important than husband introducing baby to family.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant September 22, 2016, 12:46 pm

      I mean, yes, he sounds off-balance, and in need of mental health.

      But by the same token, do you continue to capitulate and indulge in unreasonable demands, instead of say, making sure he gets the help he needs?

      What good is it for anyone to continue to just go along with whatever he wants? It’s not helping the BIL get better, that’s for sure.

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    • avatar

      Mad at the BIL September 24, 2016, 11:32 pm

      What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
      #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
      “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

      The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

      #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

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  • avatar

    Unwanted_Truth September 22, 2016, 9:53 am

    Wtf with getting mad at you , LW, for wearing earrings ?? He legitimately got angry because he knows not ONE woman in his life who wears them, why was that even a problem? Guy sounds like he will end up one of those old hermit ,cranky neighbors once he’s a senior citizen

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark September 22, 2016, 9:57 am

      The guy is CLEARLY not all there mentally. That both you AND the LW somehow fail to grasp this boggles my mind.

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        Unwanted_Truth September 22, 2016, 1:47 pm

        I already figured out he wasn’t all there…but the earring thing, i mean, apparently he is enough there to work and drive a car

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        Unwanted_Truth September 22, 2016, 1:49 pm

        and to add, this guys attitude and the complaints the LW has about him, aside from the earring bit, actually reminds me of my asshole father, who is ALL THERE but is just an asshole who thinks the world revolves around him and his needs should be before everyone else is. That’s a possibility too here

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        dinoceros September 22, 2016, 2:44 pm

        How is that clear? I know plenty of people who say rude stuff and they aren’t mentally ill/challenged. I don’t know why this guy is supposed to get a free pass.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark September 22, 2016, 3:24 pm

        NEWSFLASH: People who are ALL THERE mentally tend to NOT live in group homes. Although I must admit — the thesis floating by some down below that this is commune of sorts and that the brother is just some earring hating hippie is vastly entertaining even as it is a grim testament to low levels of reading comprehension and common sense.

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        ele4phant September 22, 2016, 3:30 pm

        They’re probably getting it from the letter writers own words:

        “Group home” is probably the wrong description for where he lives. He is not physically disabled — he has a full time job and a car. The home he lives in is called a co-op home, basically. Everyone pools resources, pays a small rent, pitches in for food and household expenses, and takes turns doing domestic shores like cooking and cleaning.

        I mean, sounds like that could easily be a hippie commune to me, I know plenty of people who have/do live in those situations and it’s a lifestyle choice, not a necessity for their mental well-being.

        Not saying it’s absolutely clear it’s a hippie commune, but it seems just as likely as what you think it is, a group home for those with mental health issues.

        I do think this guy has mental health problems, but I’m not necessarily convinced he’s living in care facility or is otherwise currently receiving treatment.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark September 22, 2016, 3:41 pm

        Um, yeah, that sounds EXACTLY like group homes for the mildly retarded or high functioning autistics that my cousin runs. PS — Considering that the LW has never even bothered to fucking visit, I find it laughable that everybody thinks she knows what she is talking about…

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        ele4phant September 22, 2016, 3:54 pm

        I would also say it sounds EXACTLY like a co-op my crunchie hippie friends lived in during college because they wanted the communal living experience.

        I don’t know which one of is right (or perhaps neither), but given what we’ve heard from the LW I’d say it’s still unclear and either explanation is seemingly valid.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark September 22, 2016, 4:07 pm

        Did they also exhibit multiple behaviors that are CLASSIC examples of autistic spectrum behavior?

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        ele4phant September 22, 2016, 4:14 pm

        Well, they were social weirdos.

        No diagnosis that I know of, but we also do not know definitively that guy has one either.

        We’re all just a bunch of people here with no mental health training trying to diagnosis a guy based on a brief written account, so while I know you *really feel* like you’ve got it right, it’s still speculative on your (and everyone’s part) what kind of living set-up he’s actually in.

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        mertlej September 23, 2016, 11:45 am

        This sounds exactly like the home where my (high ranking tech company employee) friend lives. He’s not disabled or “not all there”, he’s just granola. We may not have all the facts, but you don’t either. Stop armchair diagnosing.

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        dinoceros September 24, 2016, 12:15 pm

        “Co-op house” means something very specific. I get that a lot of people may not know people who live in them, but to a good chunk of the population, it’s a fairly clear and recognizable term. Especially since her description matches it exactly. Just because you aren’t familiar with it doesn’t mean other people aren’t.

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        Mad at the BIL September 25, 2016, 12:26 am

        What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
        #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
        “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

        The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

        #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

        It is a co-op house. I just couldn’t remember the correct term of the place he lived on my initial email to her.

        We see the brother-in-law for most visits. Basically only visit didn’t see him, was the one, he refused to have any contact with the family, despite all our calls, emails, etc. I hope this sheds light on the situation.

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        Mad at the BIL September 24, 2016, 11:40 pm

        He lives in what is called a co-op. I didn’t remember that was the correct term. I knew he lived with about 15 other people in some old Frat house, but was not being used as a Frat house anymore.

        What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
        #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
        “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

        The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

        #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph September 22, 2016, 9:54 am

    WWS. And, actually, what BGM said, too.

    You said yourself that your husband wants to repair the relationship, so it seems like a no-brainer to actually do that. Surely you can manage to entertain yourself and your kid for a day while he drives out to visit his brother.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star September 22, 2016, 10:00 am

      Exactly. “Jack wants to fix the relationship with his brother.” Well, what’s the question, then? The LW’s husband isn’t asking HER to do anything—she just needs to not stomp all over his plans to visit his brother for a day.

      Seems like an easy thing to do, here.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros September 22, 2016, 2:43 pm

        The LW didn’t indicate that her husband wants to give in to the brother’s demands and that she stopped it. It sounded like the husband chose to set boundaries. I don’t think she’s stomping on anything.

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        SpaceySteph September 22, 2016, 3:34 pm

        The LW says “Jack wants to fix the relationship with his brother.”
        I have no reason not to take this at it’s word. It’ll be inconvenient to drive out to visit the brother, but it seems to be what is required to fix the relationship. If the husband thinks it’s not worth it, he shouldn’t do it. If he thinks it is and it is feasible given their vacation schedule, he should do it.
        I don’t think the LW is stomping on anything, but she asked whether he should go. Given what we’ve been told about “Jack” wanting to resolve things and this being an opportunity to do that… I think he should.

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  • avatar

    keyblade September 22, 2016, 10:06 am

    Yes, and if the visits with her brother-in-law are always awkward and taxing for the lw, isn’t it kind of a relief that the BIL is only inviting his brother?

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  • avatar

    ktfran September 22, 2016, 10:06 am

    Wendy, you gave great, thoughtful advice. I have nothing to add, except that I hope the LW takes it to heart and heeds your advice.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom September 22, 2016, 10:31 am

    If your husband wants to maintain the relationship then let him go if he feels it isn’t too inconvenient. Take your lead from him. If it comes down to having a limited amount of time, which most long distance visits include, and he has to choose between people he will have to choose the one that is most important. If it was a choice between visiting his grandmother or his brother I’d personally go for grandmother, as long as they have a good relationship, because she isn’t likely to live as long and has more trouble getting out to come see your husband and the baby. Your husband may have to choose between seeing aunts and uncle or his brother. Who does he want to see most? Maybe he takes turns. One trip the brother and the next trip the aunts and uncles.

    Does your husband’s family feel that the brother is mentally ill or perhaps on the autistic spectrum? Was he the golden child of the family whose whims were catered to and someone like mom always made excuses for bad behavior?

    My husband and I each have a sister who was favored by our moms. They were golden children who couldn’t do anything wrong and both moms felt that people just didn’t understand them and how special they were and both made excuses for rude and selfish actions. My MIL now wishes she hadn’t done that because my SIL isn’t a nice person and doesn’t have friends. My mom would never admit that my sister is anything less than perfect and loved and admired by all who know her. Both his sister and my sister have demanded that we travel to see them when we visit our parents. Seeing his sister is an hour drive and so we will do it once per trip. We’ve already traveled across the ocean to get there but she isn’t willing to travel the hour to see us. There are no longer any other relatives besides the mom to go and see. When we see my parents it is a 20 hour drive that we split over two days to see them. My sister is a further five hours beyond my parents. We refuse to do the five extra hours. I also have aunts and uncles in the area that I want to see and don’t want to spend the time on the extra drive and the overnight stay, probably two nights, that would hinder our visiting the other relatives.

    Your decision is based on how much your husband wants to see his brother and how willing he is to do that based on his brother’s demands. If his brother is doing the best he can you should make special accommodations, as long as they don’t hurt other relationships. My grandmother’s brother was a paranoid schizophrenic and grandma allowed him a leeway that she wouldn’t have permitted with anyone else. He did the best he could and she met him where he was meaning he came to family dinners well after the dinner was over and grandma sat with him while he ate while the rest of the family was outside. He didn’t come to family dinners in the winter when the whole family was inside. He couldn’t have handled that. Grandma would never have fed anyone else dinner if they arrived after the meal was over but her brother couldn’t sit at the table with the huge family and eat the meal.

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    • avatar

      Mad at the BIL September 24, 2016, 11:36 pm

      What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
      #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
      “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

      The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

      #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

      I do agree with you. He seems to be the golden child that has all his whims catered to.

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  • avatar

    Baccalieu September 22, 2016, 11:00 am

    Mostly what WEES. It seems incredible to me that the likelihood that BIL has a mental illness (and therefore deserves some accommodation or at least the absence of blame) doesn’t seem to have occurred to the LW. As someone else mentioned, accommodation does not mean that you have to do everything a mentally ill person wants and I am not blaming the LW and her husband for not taking a long drive to see him during their short visit. The actual question was whether on another trip her husband should go out of his way to visit his brother. Well, does he want to? If he does, the LW should not object or resent it. If he doesn’t want to, of course, he doesn’t have to, but if he really wants to repair the relationship, it might be a good idea. Either way, I really think this isn’t much to do with the LW – she certainly doesn’t have to visit the BIL and anyway he doesn’t appear to want her to.

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    • avatar

      Mad at the BIL September 25, 2016, 12:33 am

      What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
      #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
      “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

      The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

      #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

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      • avatar

        Baccalieu September 25, 2016, 10:47 am

        I’m sorry, but your new information doesn’t change my opinion. the piece of information I would like to have from you is whether your husband wants to go and you are trying to convince him not to (which I suspect is the dynamic here) or whether he also doesn’t think he should make this detour. If he does want to go you should let him and not persuade him otherwise. If he doesn’t want to go, then he doesn’t have to, but, even if BIL is not mentally ill, but just very spoiled, I still don’t think it would be a bad idea for him to do so: BIL is not going to change his view that your husband should have severely inconvenienced you all to visit him; your husband wants to repair the relationship; and you live far enough away that BIL’s demands on you are unlikely to amount to more than the occasional visit. What you want is what a lot of people who write in to this site, which is just to tell you who is right. What I (and I believe many of the other commenters) are trying to tell you is that in this case (and many others) it doesn’t really matter who is right and shouldn’t control your decision-making. You don’t have to agree with us, but I hope you at least understand what we are saying. Do you?

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        Mad at the BIL September 25, 2016, 2:39 pm

        I wrote because my husband and I were unsure on the best course of action. My husband told my BIL that he would not be able to see his co-op house on this visit particular visit. Not that he would never go out there to see the brother’s house. I will of course support my husband no matter what his decision is. I don’t want him to lose his relationship with his brother. The whole situation has been very trying on my husband that his brother can’t even try to see his point of view and understand that saying “not this trip” does not mean “never ever coming to see your house.” THe BIL now won’t take any of my husbands calls or answer any emails recently, trying to fix this. My husband is just very frustrated and at wits end. Hard to fix something, when the other won’t talk to you.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar September 22, 2016, 11:03 am

    Why are you offended that a person you don’t particularly like, have nothing in common with and who doesn’t particularly like you doesn’t want to see you? Sounds like just inviting the husband alone is a win win. Embrace it! Surely you can be without your husband for a day? This truly is the situation that a guys’ day/night/trip was invented for. Whether he is mentally ill or just an ass, your husband loves your bil – so encourage that….perferably away from you.

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  • avatar

    Kelly L. September 22, 2016, 11:12 am

    For what it’s worth, some of these group living situations don’t allow women visitors. I’ve known a few guys over the years who lived in what was sort of an all-men boardinghouse.

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    • avatar

      Mad at the BIL September 25, 2016, 2:45 pm

      Hi,

      The co-op that my BIL lives in is 50% female, 50% male. The MIL has been to visit, so it is not a question of no female visitors allowed.

      What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
      #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
      “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

      The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

      #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros September 22, 2016, 12:01 pm

    This raises similar questions to me as yesterday’s letter. Where’s the line of deciding someone is mentally ill and needs you to accommodate their demands and when are they being difficult?

    I feel like the LW’s mistaken use of “group home” has sort of colored the responses to an extent. I lived in a co-op house. It’s not anywhere close to a “group home” or a boarding house. It’s essentially a modern and smaller-scale version of a hippie commune. Nothing about his living situation should affect any of this unless his hippie leanings have also led him to not own a car.

    I guess I have trouble seeing why he in particular seems mentally ill when there are plenty of other people who say even more ridiculous things and they tend to be written off as a jerk.

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      dinoceros September 22, 2016, 12:06 pm

      And yeah, I realize the earring comment is pretty bizarre, but I’m not sure that it immediately indicates that he is unable to drive for a couple of hours or be asked to make an effort himself.

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        RedRoverRedRover September 22, 2016, 12:43 pm

        The earring comment to me seemed to indicate the kind of people he was hanging around. Maybe hippies, maybe dirt-poor. Definitely a group of people who don’t wear earrings and maybe even look at them as “ooh la la, look who’s so fancy they wear earrings”. That’s kind of how I took it. So he’s ascribing some kind of attitude to the LW for it. I didn’t get that he was mentally ill, at all. Just that he’s odd.

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        dinoceros September 22, 2016, 2:15 pm

        Same.

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        Gwyneth6 September 24, 2016, 11:07 pm

        Maybe not a real mental illness but where do these people come from? Where I come from hippies absolutely wear earrings. And if that wasn’t their style, did they not grow up in the U.S. ? Were there not pierced and non pierced earrings on girls from kindergarten up? Women who dress butch, hippie, sporty, classic, trendy, professional and from many cultures all are more likely than not to wear earrings at least sometimes. You can probably get earrings at the dollar store and you can get them at charity thrift shops . That particular comment sounds so out to lunch to me. Not an illness perhaps but an intense social problem at least- complaining about a host not cooking when she’s been paying for your restaurant too , something is not clicking

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      ktfran September 22, 2016, 12:10 pm

      Even if he isn’t mentally ill, I would still agree with Wendy. Some people are just ass holes. Or socially inept. If the LW’s husband wants a relationship with his brother, it seems like certain concessions need to be made. Does it suck? YES! But not everything in life goes exactly how we prefer and sometimes you might have to put up with a shitty person for someone else you love. I would encourage the LW to be there for her husband and support him, not hinder him in having this relationship. Really, if it’s one or two side trips a year, is that so bad? Especially if the LW will have plenty of help from her in-laws for that one day her husband pays his bro a visit.

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        ktfran September 22, 2016, 12:11 pm

        Now if the husband didn’t want a relationship, I would obviously tell them not to worry about the visits, or whatever.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 22, 2016, 12:35 pm

        At some point you might say shitty person you aren’t worth the hassle. Shitty person I have more people in my life now and am getting stretched thin so you need to meet me halfway. Shitty person I’m trying hard to like you and maintain our relationship but when you make me choose between you or my family I don’t particularly like you.

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        ktfran September 22, 2016, 12:57 pm

        But I think that is the husband’s call. Not the LW’s.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 22, 2016, 1:52 pm

        It is but they are also a couple so it is a couple decision. Partly it depends on how strongly the husband wants to do this and it also depends on how much of a bother it is to them as a couple.

        If they attend a wedding and then have to spend two extra nights, one the day the husband drives to see the brother and then the second the day he drives back do they have to pay for a hotel? Do they have to give up two vacation days that they would use in some other way. Does it mean less time with his family or less time with her family or maybe two less days as a nuclear family at Christmas? When it affects both of them it has to be a joint decision.

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        ktfran September 22, 2016, 3:36 pm

        I think it’s the husband’s call as to what kind of relationship he wants with his brother… not the LW’s. I was answering your specific statements about when to cut of a shitty person. That’s the husband’s call. The LW should hinder her husband from having a relationship with his brother if that’s what he wants.

        It’s also the husband’s call about how he wants to handle his brother.

        I agree that together, the couple should come to a agreeable compromise on how to make that happen. I don’t agree with cutting out the brother just because he and the LW don’t get along. She stated that her husband wants to repair his relationship. Help him do that.

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        dinoceros September 22, 2016, 2:18 pm

        I got the impression that she’s asking for advice on behalf of both of them. Certainly if she were trying to unilaterally tell him to cut off the brother, that would bad. But the two of them seem to have been on the same page so far, and it seems like they both are trying to decide the right course of action. So, I imagine that her opinion matters. I know for a lot of letters on here, it’s written from a point of the two partners being at odds, but for the select few where the couple is dealing with annoying circumstances together, I think a lot of spouses do make those decisions together and trust each other for their opinions.

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        ktfran September 22, 2016, 3:24 pm

        All I’m saying is that she should tell him to go, as long as it doesn’t provide extreme hardship. She said her husband wants to repair the relationship with his brother. She can help by encouraging him to reach out, even though the brother may suck and he and the LW don’t get a long.

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        Mad at the BIL September 25, 2016, 2:49 pm

        Yes, you are correct. I am asking for him. I will support his decision on what to do. I believe it is best if they can keep the relationship. Just the BIL is making that difficult currently by refusing to take calls or respond to any emails from my husband.

        What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
        #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
        “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

        The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

        #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

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        Northern Star September 22, 2016, 3:22 pm

        The LW definitely does NOT get to make that call with her husband’s family members, unless there’s a serious problem that’s abusive or dangerous. A trip they’re already planning to take, when the husband takes one day trip to visit a cantankerous relative, is nowhere NEAR that benchmark.

        And the LW is not asking on behalf of both of them. An aunt in the family has suggested a doable way for Jack to repair the breach (caused by the BIL, but a breach, nonetheless). The LW should encourage the husband to go, if he wants. She should certainly NOT be a barrier getting in the way of her husband and the difficult family member he loves and sees only once or twice a year.

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      SpaceySteph September 22, 2016, 12:45 pm

      The line I think is very simple: Does the husband want to continue the relationship enough to inconvenience himself by catering to the brother’s terms? Seems like the answer is yes, so then he should.

      If the husband was annoyed by his unreasonable brother and the LW was asking if it would be ok to blow him off, then my answer would be yes. It’s ok to not go out of your way to cater to demands you find unreasonable, as long as you are willing to accept the potential consequences.

      I doubt he is incapable of driving, more unwilling. But if the brother is willing to make the drive in order to keep a relationship with his brother, then he should and that’s really all there is to it.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom September 22, 2016, 12:18 pm

    I wonder if the brother is resentful that the husband has his own nuclear family now and feels replaced. An attitude somewhat like it should just be the two of us and how dare you bring a wife and child into our life. I refuse to see you with them because I don’t want them in my life.

    My sister and sister-in-law just don’t like the inconvenience of traveling even if we have traveled much further. I figure we have moved away so we go back to visit but both of them have also moved away and they don’t want to make the effort to go back. My sister usually manages to skip holidays with my parents. Her husband’s parents live an hour away and so it is easier to go see them but they supposedly take turns spending holidays between the two families. When it is their turn to go to my parent’s house for a holiday she will call the day before and say that they all have bad colds and can’t travel and then when the holiday is over she will call and say that they are better and ask my parents to drive to see them. That happens every single holiday. She goes years without visiting my parents.

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  • avatar

    hobbesnblue September 22, 2016, 1:18 pm

    I think it’d be nice that if the wife assumes full baby-care duties so her husband can take a day or two to visit his brother, that the husband correspondingly offers to take care of the baby solo for a day or two soon, so LW can visit HER family or friends.

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    • avatar

      Mad at the BIL September 24, 2016, 11:34 pm

      What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
      #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
      “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

      The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

      #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 September 22, 2016, 2:38 pm

    I’m just not sure why when your brother goes to visit, he says “ok, Bonnie, myself, and the baby will be over to see you. It’s that simple, if the Brother says no than it’s on him. Clearly everyone pointed out that he is mentally challenged, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around and be treated like an asshole by him If everyone in his family are going to bury their heads in the sand, because they are afraid of whatever stigmatism might be out there against mentally challenged people. I’m not on the bandwagon here that says you have to put up with the brother, if his own family doesn’t ever want to put up with him, because he treats everyone like this.

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      Northern Star September 22, 2016, 3:24 pm

      She doesn’t HAVE to put up with him. Nobody’s asking her to. The LW has to put up with a single day when her husband will be gone visiting his brother. That’s what she has to put up with.

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      • avatar

        Mad at the BIL September 25, 2016, 12:35 am

        What Wendy left out of my email to her was this:
        #1 The brother in law and the brother Did see each other on that trip. They spent 2 hours of one on one time when we were out there for the baby visit.
        “My brother-in-law did come out to the city we were staying in to visit some of his friends and stayed overnight, and then came visit us because he was in town from visiting his friends.”

        The brother comes into town to visit his parents (who we were staying with on that trip) quite often in fact.

        #2 The brother in-law was upset that even they got to see each other on that visit (they see each other on all our visits out there. Which is a good thing. they don’t see each other often), it was that my husband did not use one of the few days we were there to travel to see his house. The issue was that my husband, was not willing to drive to see the house on this visit.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy September 25, 2016, 5:46 am

        Tell us again what I left out of your email.

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        MissDre September 25, 2016, 8:39 am

        I love you Wendy 😀

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      • avatar

        dinoceros September 25, 2016, 11:44 am

        I genuinely was on your side in the beginning. But if you feel that strongly that people’s advice to you is misguided or wrong, then you just have to simply not follow it. It seems like a waste of energy to convince them that they misunderstood and should therefore change their minds.

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        dinoceros September 25, 2016, 11:47 am

        Also, I really hope you’re copying and pasting and not typing it all dozens of times because that would be a serious waste of time.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 22, 2016, 3:33 pm

    EXACTLY. I dunno why, but this LW just rubs me the wrong way. She is either too dim to realize that her brother in law has mental issues — or I don’t know what else. That said — I have to admit the fact that so many on here seem to be siding with me confounds and astounds me…
    .
    This whole letter is such a vapid me! Me!! ME!!! problem that it just SCREAMS fucking millennials… The most narcissistic and vapid of any generation ever. Sure, there are exceptions to this, but my God, what an annoying batch of twits twitter has seemingly spawned.

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      Ron September 25, 2016, 11:01 am

      I think that Millenials get a bad rap. There are vapid people in each generation, just as there are those lacking in empathy for others. The youngest generation passing through late teens to adulthood has always gotten a bad rap from their elders. The older we get, the less comfortable we are with change. What you are complaining about is not really a change between prior generations and Millenials, it is comparing one age-point for Millennials to a different age-point for other generations. Of the 3-4 generations now living, the current differences will prove to be vastly bigger than any same-age differences looked back on from 60 years from now when the Millennials are dying.

      I’m a Boomer. The exact same criticism was leveled at us. The WW II generation couldn’t get it through their heads that the Viet Nam war was different from WW II. They couldn’t understand why segregation, lack of full rights for women, lack of equality for gays, and having the government promote an in-your-face Christianity in the public square could be objected to. For them, it was just the way the country was and how it should be, in the views of many from the older generations.

      Today, the bulk of my generation plans to vote for Trump, because change is too rapid for them to be comfortable. Well, welcome to the shoe is on the other foot.

      Generational warfare within a country is stupid, pitiful, and ultimately destructive. It takes a self-induced amnesia about one’s younger self to fight this war as a middle-aged or older adult.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 22, 2016, 3:34 pm

    EDIT: SIDING WITH HER! NOT me. HER!

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  • avatar

    saneinca September 25, 2016, 1:17 pm

    At what point should a person say to his/her relatives, you are done treating my spouse like trash and start respecting us as a family unit ?

    At what point indulging tantrums should stop ?

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      Ron September 25, 2016, 2:38 pm

      Mental problems are a real thing, not a lack of politeness problem. IMHO, the brother has obvious problems and this is the best he can be. New people can be a problem, too many people at once can be a problem, change in general can be a problem. It is not a question of just saying “cut out those tantrums buster, and treat my new wife properly.” The brother isn’t capable of that. If he were, he wouldn’t be living in a group home.

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        dinoceros September 25, 2016, 4:00 pm

        This has been commented on several times, but a co-op house (compared with her initially calling it a “group home”) isn’t for people with mental issues. The people who were my roommates in one were mostly just hippies who wanted the communal living experience. It actually took a lot more social skills than most other living situations because you had a lot of dynamics to deal with among the group and governance of the house. And stripping away the structure of it all, it’s essentially just living with roommates, except in a well-run co-op house, you are sharing meals and groceries and stuff like that.

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