My husband has a brother who is two years younger than he whom he’s always been close to. His brother has been with his wife since high school, and my husband, and many others in his family, have had a difficult relationship with her. My husband feels that his SIL has always purposely tried to isolate his brother from him to prevent them from being close, and he describes her as being negative, unhappy, and critical of everyone. For many years, though, my husband tried to maintain a friendly relationship with her so that he could maintain a relationship with his brother and niece (now 8 years old).
Two years ago, my husband left his then-wife after years of unhappiness, and he and I started dating fairly seriously shortly afterward. Clearly, the timing looked bad to some people, and his SIL took it as an excuse to cut my husband out of her life for good. She was the only person in my husband’s family that had an issue with our relationship, and she is not close with my husband’s ex-wife. In the months following, she has refused to attend a family Thanksgiving at our apartment with my husband’s mother (his brother and niece did come), as well as our wedding this summer (brother attended, niece was not allowed). In addition, my BIL’s treatment toward me the couple times I did meet him was fairly cold and aloof. Then, my husband and he got into an argument the day after our wedding because the extent of my BIL’s interaction with me was a handshake and that’s all. My husband was very upset and hurt about his brother and SIL’s treatment of both of us.
A couple of weeks ago my BIL came to our apartment (in DC) for dinner when he was in town for work, and he was fairly pleasant. For the first time ever, he engaged me in conversation, made jokes and was in general good humor. Both my husband and I were optimistic that this was a good start in building a better relationship with him and his wife. However, we still have never heard from the wife in any capacity, and I have never met her.
Last night my husband received a text from his brother asking if we would be in DC on January 20th and 21st and if they could crash on our couch. At first I thought it odd that they would want to crash in our small one-bedroom apartment when they have enough money to get a hotel. Then I realized, that is inauguration day and there likely is very little hotel availability that is affordable for the average person. My BIL’s wife works for the RNC in North Carolina. I am so morally opposed to everything that Trump stands for, and my feelings about the RNC, especially in North Carolina with the HB2 law, are not better. Their anti-women, anti-gay, anti-equality, anti-transgender, anti-everything-I-was-raised-to-believe positions about how EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, just make me physically ill. And now my husband’s brother and SIL, who have treated us so poorly from the beginning, want to come and stay with us so that the SIL (whom I have never met because of her refusal to meet me) can participate in RNC activities in DC during Trump’s inauguration.
On the one hand, my strong Canadian upbringing tells me to be unfailingly polite, to invite them into our home, and to be a gracious host so that we can do our part to mend our relationship with his brother and SIL. On the other hand, while I know that on a good day I could probably do this, the emotionally charged atmosphere of this particular day means that it seems like the likelier outcome is that there would be arguments that do irreparable damage to an already tenuous relationship between my husband and his brother. I want to mourn and wallow in the great loss that America is suffering that day, not host a gleeful RNC staffer. I truly think their staying with us that weekend is the worst decision. My husband is in large agreement with me, although I know that he is torn in wanting to see his niece and, likely, the fear that telling them they can’t stay with us will make his relationship with his brother worse when it was just starting to get better.
My instinct is to just tell them we won’t be in town for inauguration and leave it at that. I’d really appreciate it if you could provide any other suggestions/advice. — Not Up For Hosting the Trump Fan
I agree with you that hosting your BIL and his wife during the inauguration weekend is the worst thing you could do. This woman has refused to meet you and been such a jerk to both you and your husband. Even your BIL has been cold toward you. And now they want you to extend some hospitality to them so they can celebrate when Trump is sworn in (barf, barf, barf)? Fuck that noise. As you said, on a good day you might be able to be gracious and hospitable to them for the sake of mending the relationship between your husband and his brother. But this won’t be a good day. This will be a horrible day, made a hell of a lot worse if you had to actually host a gloating Trump supporter.
You cannot let them stay with you. But, whatever you do, don’t tell them you’ll be out of town! Then they’ll just ask to stay in your vacant apartment where they can enjoy free accommodations without the baggage of complicated family dynamics. Do not give them the satisfaction and comfort! Tell them instead that, while you would like to see them while they’re in town, you already have people staying at your place who plan to march in the Women’s March on Washington and you won’t have room for additional guests.
I’d suggest even trying to find someone to crash at your place who IS going to the women’s march (and you and your husband should go too!). There are SO many people going and trying to find places to stay. Lots of people are taking chartered buses from their respective cities and just crashing in said buses for a couple of nights. Maybe you and your husband know someone like this whom you could invite to stay with you. It would be a way of creating a truthful excuse for not having room for your BIL and his wife, while also being active in the resistance against Trump. Two birds, one stone.
In the meantime, I would encourage your husband to seek opportunities to spend time alone with his brother — like a guys’ weekend — where they can work on repairing their relationship without distraction.
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