Clash of the titans

Earlier this year I made a vow to have a really heal my family.  What was I thinking?  Well, it sounded good anyway.  My younger sister is trying to move here from the South to be with my mum and me.  Soon.  Real soon.  It appears my eldest sister may put in appearance very soon as well.  We were never really close and we’ve been separated by thousands of miles for so long.  And now it seems we may actually converge in the same time zone.

I love my sisters, but we’re very, very different in temperaments and attitudes.  I think I understand them somewhat, but we never really hung out together. The last time my eldest sister came here was 7 years ago when our mother first went into the home.  She doesn’t call and she doesn’t communicate more than once a  year.

The last time my youngest sister was here her and DH got into about racism.  My sister subscribes to the view that black people can’t be racist because of the dynamic of privilege and power.  He called bullshit on that and long story short, he believes she doesn’t like/approve of him because he’s white. I’m not going to tell you how many times we’ve argued about my sister. He also believes that she’s never been a help to me, after all I’ve gone through and he believes our relationship is one-sided.  I’ve tried to tell him that I’ve never depended on either of my sisters for emotional support so it doesn’t really matter to me.  However, the years of dealing with my mother took a great toll on me and he feels that both of them could have helped more.  True.    I’ve defended her, tried to explain her and hubby feels like I should call her out on the carpet.  I just want peace.  I can’t stand this tension.

I called my sister on Sunday when she emailed me to let me know she wanted to come and visit.  Meaning visit and stay with us.  That’s not going to happen.  I explained to her why and of course, she’s surprised and taken aback.  She felt their disagreement 2 years ago was a non issue.  She told me her side which of course sounds nothing like what my husband said.  Of course, it’s not what she said, it’s more like what she didn’t say.  She said that she always speaks well of him and it’s not that she doesn’t like him. She never said she liked him though. I remember coming home from work that night and feeling the tension.  Hubby eventually talked to me, but she never said a word.  I could barely get her to spend alone time with me so that we could talk.

Hubby does not hang out with people he doesn’t like.   He likes her husband and adores her son, but he’s always felt an insincerity from her.   He doesn’t like it when people pretend to like one another.  He would prefer it people just admitted the truth and leave it at that.  That he can respect.  He prefers to know where people stand right away.

I am in the middle of this and I hate it.  I find it enormously stressful and exhausting.  When I was talking to my sis I was actually shaking.  I’m highly conscious of not getting dragged into well he said/she said when I actually wasn’t there at the time of the argument.   I don’t want to referee, I don’t want to know what was said, what I want to know is what they want to say NOW.  Frankly, I have my own feelings on the matter which I have no problem expressing, but most of the time I just ignore stuff  in the name of keeping long distance peace.  This is how my family has always operated.  We report events, we don’t share feelings.  However, this is about to change. I just prefer to go about in a more peaceful, reasonable manner.  I’d love it if everyone just LOVED each other, but I’ll settle for mutual respect.

Hubby and his family thrash things out in a more vocal manner, if you know what I mean and then it’s over.  I have sisters however, not brothers, and women never forget anything.  Small slights go down in the history book, ready to be brought to the forefront 20 years later if needed.  Sigh.  Honestly, I think they should be thrown into a cage and let them sort it out, one way or the other.

They’re supposed to have a phone conversation tonight.  I’m going to do something absolutely ridiculous and expect them to conduct themselves accordingly.  Still, as usual, I will have to go into my mother’s money and put them up at a hotel.  Sigh.

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7 thoughts on “Clash of the titans

  1. Good for you for setting a boundary. So many people have trouble with the boundaries between primary family and family-of-origin.

    “He doesn’t like it when people pretend to like one another. He would prefer it people just admitted the truth and leave it at that. That he can respect.”

    I so sympathize with that.

    Reading an interesting book right now … Force To Be Family, A Guide To Living With Sinister Sisters, Drama Mamas, And Infuriating InLaws.

    Just started, but it’s about bullying … subtle and not … ‘female-style’ aggression/”relational agression” (think Mean Girls)… in the context of the family instead of the school yard. It’s the BS behaviors you’ve never named or quite put your finger on … that keep non-optional relationships tense and distant.

    It’s refreshing to see it acknowledged and examined formally for the negative force that it is … when we’re all so used to living around the people who employ RA (and maybe even using RA ourselves), that we never call it out, we just eat the badness.

    You sound like you’ve got your feet on the ground, though. My money is on you.

    “I have sisters however, not brothers, and women never forget anything. Small slights go down in the history book, ready to be brought to the forefront 20 years later if needed.”

    The author tackles that issue and others related to it.

    “I am in the middle of this and I hate it. … However, this is about to change. I just prefer to go about in a more peaceful, reasonable manner. I’d love it if everyone just LOVED each other, but I’ll settle for mutual respect.”

    The book I just finished, Toxic InLaws (which applies to your own family as well as your partner’s fam) … has a lot of suggestions for how to get out of the middle and how to articulate your concerns and your wishes in a productive way — how to diffuse triangulation and other problems. No self help book is a cure-all, of course. But I am finding these helpful for perspective and brainstorming.

    Putting relatives in a hotel is just good common sense sometimes. A little room to breathe (NTM retreat occasionally) can make a big difference in how gracefully everyone can manage.

    Good Luck!

  2. Oh I totally feel for you with this. I’m sorry you have to deal with it 😦

    I have a similar situation going on that is somewhere in the closet at the moment but the further we get into life the bigger it is bound to get. I have a great relationship with my youngest sister and I really want it to stay that way. I dread the future tension…

    Just wanted to wish you luck. I hope they are able to magically work it all out tonight.

  3. That’s a really rough situation to be in. I hope everyone can be grown-ups about it. If not, I think your idea of a cage match kicks *ss.

    Good luck.

    ~ICLW #31

  4. Oh wow, I can sympathize. My dh has issues with my mother. She can be kind of demanding & set in her ways (as is he!!), and she is NEVER on time, which drives him NUTS. It seems to be OK when we visit there (or at least better), but whenever she comes here, he can be so pissy. I think he feels like the house (& probably me too) is not his while she’s around, & he resents that. He doesn’t like having his little routines disrupted. And of course I’m caught in the middle & it’s absolutely awful.

    The hotel is probably a good idea.

  5. Empathy…I send you much empathy. Families are rough. Especially in “special cases…”

    Thanks for stopping by. I’ll take your assvice anytime! 😉

    Big hugs.

  6. Wow, do I relate to what you wrote. In my family it is my brother and husband. One time when I offered to put brother up at a local hotel, he had such a hissy fit that he canceled his trip. Things were very awkward for a looonnng time. Now all I hear is how my husband has “changed”, how he isn’t “fun” anymore.

    Husband just grew up, something brother hasn’t done yet.

    I think when your sister and husband get on the phone, you and adorable baby need to pop out of the building for a bit…out of hearing range. The problem is between them, so let them try to figure it out. Heck, by they time they are done, she will want to stay at a hotel 🙂

    If your relationship with your sister(s) is like mine with my brother, we have the obligatory phone calls off and on and talk about serious matters like what the temperature is here, and what aches and pains he has now. Superfluous stuff….nothing important. Sometimes it is better that way.

    • I just want them to call a truce and start afresh. I don’t expect either of them to be best friends, but it’s amazing to me how people can be so uncommitted to improving a tense situation because they both feel that they are “right”.

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