General chatter - Why Can't We Get Along: Adult Sibling Relationships




FreeBird3
12-31-2011, 03:21 AM
My brother and I are in our early 30s. We do not have a good relationship and it has been this way for many years. Both he and I have said some hurtful things in the past to each other. My sister in law and I don't have a close relationship either, but that is due to her following/listening to whatever negative things he says to her about me and believing everything he says about me. Of course she will always defend/believe him because they are husband and wife.

Tonight, she called me up and told me she was pregnant. The baby is due in July. I am SO excited about being an aunt for the first time in my life! :) She had the phone on the speaker mode and I was telling her to let me know if there's anything I can do to help her out during her pregnancy. My brother said "What can you do to help out? You don't cook or clean. You just sit around, watch tv, and give mom and dad and everyone a hard time." WTF?!!! My sister in law started laughing at what he said. I'm not good with coming up with witty insults quickly, so all I could think of at that moment was "Whatever! You have me confused with someone else!"

My brother gets away with these insult/jabs because he is known as the "jokster" in the family. I don't find his insult funny at all and have repeatedly told him in the past to stop it. I'm accused of being overly sensitive. I've brought this issue up to my parents several times with the hope that they would say something to him. They have approached my brother in the past, but it's not as if they actually get angry at him. It's as if they use the same tone of voice as making the random statement "the sky is blue". If that means any sense.

Anyway, after much therapy, reading self-help books, and confiding in close friends, I've finally convinced that his behavior towards me is NOT my issue. It is his issue. I don't know why my 31 year old brother, who is married, considered the "good looking one" when compared to me (I'm considered the "fat and ugly one that no man wants and that's why I'm still single at age 33" by most family members), financially stable, and looks to have a good life overall treats me in such a negative manner.

My therapist and friends say it's because he resents the fact that I can go live away from my parents and "be free" from their pressures and running the family business. I think my brother's years of insults towards me is his method of passing on the abuse/frustration that he feels....after all, it's not as if he would take it out on his wife or parents. It doesn't justify his behavior towards me though! :mad:

Anyway, sorry for rambling. I just feel...sad about this situation. I don't understand adult slibling rivalry and resentment. I resent him because he treats me with disrespect, but I've learned that he is the one with issues. He still gets to me (like he did tonight). This is/was suppose to be a joyous annoucement....and now all I will remember is how he and my sister in law were laughing AT me. :(

I wish I had my own supportive spouse to defend me. God knows my parents don't do a thing about it.

My concern is the effect his behavior will have towards shaping the way my future niece/nephew regards me. Children learn behavior through their parents. Growing up, my parents use to bully me about losing weight. They no longer do that. I am concerned that my brother and sister in law will inadvertently train their kid to dislike and make fun of me. :(

I want to be a good aunt and have a healthy relationship with my brother's kid. How can I do this if my brother continues to disrespect me?


KatTheAmazon
12-31-2011, 04:25 AM
My brother and I are in our early 30s. We do not have a good relationship and it has been this way for many years. Both he and I have said some hurtful things in the past to each other. My sister in law and I don't have a close relationship either, but that is due to her following/listening to whatever negative things he says to her about me and believing everything he says about me. Of course she will always defend/believe him because they are husband and wife.

Tonight, she called me up and told me she was pregnant. The baby is due in July. I am SO excited about being an aunt for the first time in my life! :) She had the phone on the speaker mode and I was telling her to let me know if there's anything I can do to help her out during her pregnancy. My brother said "What can you do to help out? You don't cook or clean. You just sit around, watch tv, and give mom and dad and everyone a hard time." WTF?!!! My sister in law started laughing at what he said. I'm not good with coming up with witty insults quickly, so all I could think of at that moment was "Whatever! You have me confused with someone else!"

My brother gets away with these insult/jabs because he is known as the "jokster" in the family. I don't find his insult funny at all and have repeatedly told him in the past to stop it. I'm accused of being overly sensitive. I've brought this issue up to my parents several times with the hope that they would say something to him. They have approached my brother in the past, but it's not as if they actually get angry at him. It's as if they use the same tone of voice as making the random statement "the sky is blue". If that means any sense.

Anyway, after much therapy, reading self-help books, and confiding in close friends, I've finally convinced that his behavior towards me is NOT my issue. It is his issue. I don't know why my 31 year old brother, who is married, considered the "good looking one" when compared to me (I'm considered the "fat and ugly one that no man wants and that's why I'm still single at age 33" by most family members), financially stable, and looks to have a good life overall treats me in such a negative manner.

My therapist and friends say it's because he resents the fact that I can go live away from my parents and "be free" from their pressures and running the family business. I think my brother's years of insults towards me is his method of passing on the abuse/frustration that he feels....after all, it's not as if he would take it out on his wife or parents. It doesn't justify his behavior towards me though! :mad:

Anyway, sorry for rambling. I just feel...sad about this situation. I don't understand adult slibling rivalry and resentment. I resent him because he treats me with disrespect, but I've learned that he is the one with issues. He still gets to me (like he did tonight). This is/was suppose to be a joyous annoucement....and now all I will remember is how he and my sister in law were laughing AT me. :(

I wish I had my own supportive spouse to defend me. God knows my parents don't do a thing about it.

My concern is the effect his behavior will have towards shaping the way my future niece/nephew regards me. Children learn behavior through their parents. Growing up, my parents use to bully me about losing weight. They no longer do that. I am concerned that my brother and sister in law will inadvertently train their kid to dislike and make fun of me. :(

I want to be a good aunt and have a healthy relationship with my brother's kid. How can I do this if my brother continues to disrespect me?

Good luck. The only thing I can suggest is to be active in your niece/nephew's life. Try not to let your brother's comments effect you.

I'm so lucky to have a wonderful family and I love both my nephew and my niece. My SIL has issues with her sister and all she can do is be a positive influence in her niece's life. Good luck.

MissGuided
12-31-2011, 05:17 PM
Focus on the baby and establishing a relationship with him/her. I promise it is a reward in itself and you will forget about everything your brother has ever said. Heck, maybe the child will even give him a wake up call. They say there is always that one thing that molds a person. Let's hope it is the baby?

As for being hurt by his words, retaliate with kindness. Don't try to come back with some witty insult. You'll only be swooping to his level.

Good luck. I rarely speak to my brother so I know the feeling. It's hard, but it is what it is. As long as I continue to have a relationship with my nephews, I will be okay.


theox
12-31-2011, 09:17 PM
Why do you want to maintain a relationship with your brother and his family if they're consistently so hurtful to you?

Sinoia
01-01-2012, 03:05 AM
I am totally estranged from my family for valid reasons. I wish it was not so and I tried hard over the years in all sorts of ways to establish a relationship with my sisters. I have several nieces and nephews and tried to stay close to them, also.

It has not worked and sometimes it hurts.

As you say, you are the one who lives away, established your own life and perhaps this makes you a little outside of their day to day interactions. I know my family exists in a bubble and anyone not in that sphere is an outsider and fair game. The fact is my family just does not care enough to be kind and I suspect your brother, given what you say he says and how he behaves, simply lacks care. Perhaps it is because he is "good looking one" financially stable, and looks to have a good life overall that he simply has never been forced to empathise or had to supportive and he is just a jerk. And, as you say, the problem is his, not yours. Have you read "I'm Okay, You're Okay" by Thomas A Harris MD? And "Families And How To Survive Them" by Dr Robin Skynner and John Cleese?

You can approach your brother and explain how his behaviour and words hurt and you and your fears that you will not have a healthy and loving relationship with your niece or nephew ... which is important to you. You will know, from your therapy that communication, in a real way, is the only way someone will know how you feel. It is risky and he may be unable to respond in the same way because his actions and reactions are fairly well established over the years. Or, he could hear you, and your relationship could improve but it really does mean changing the way you two interact, not just once but from that point onwards.

The measure of how much risk you take and the amount of work that is needed to change family interaction is how much energy you need to put into it for the reward offered.

I gave up on my family when my brother in law told me that they had decided I was not a part of it. The reason they did this is because they are born again christians and I am an atheist. Everything else was irrelevent. I told them that if they are in trouble or need sanctuary or comfort, they have my contact details but they decided not to even let me know when my sister had cancer, only when she died and then to not attend the funeral.

I think their attitude is destructive and unhealthy and every time they touch my life they leave it poorer and more painful so it is with regret that I had to resolve to live without them. That is how to judge how to continue. If a relationship just continues to hurt you have to realise it is not a good, healthy one and you need to let it go. Not easy.

You have to hope that no matter what they do that one day your niece or nephew will make up their own mind to form a connection with you. You cannot influence that other than remaining positive in your dealings with him or her.

Your family are just people. It is sometimes hard to step back and just see them in that light. If they are people you would want to be friends with, to persevere in knowing and relating to then you take risks. If they are people that you realise you just don't like and would not spend time with then you step away.

One thing you will know from therapy already is that you do not live in the past and cannot suffer future fears. And, trust me, I do know how difficult that is in practise.

You have big decisions to make and they do not have to be that hard. You may not currently have a supportive partner but you do have you and, when it comes down to it, you need to rely mostly on you, your positive regard of yourself and a healthy self image. These things are not dictated by your brother, his wife, your family or anyone else at all you cannot allow them to influence how you feel about yourself, no matter how much negativity has existed in the past.

Stay brave, continue the therapy until you reach a good place and read those books!

MissGuided
01-01-2012, 11:49 AM
I gave up on my family when my brother in law told me that they had decided I was not a part of it. The reason they did this is because they are born again christians and I am an atheist. Everything else was irrelevent. I told them that if they are in trouble or need sanctuary or comfort, they have my contact details but they decided not to even let me know when my sister had cancer, only when she died and then to not attend the funeral.


:hug:That's horrible. They seem a bit confused at being 'born again' Christians.

dragonwoman64
01-01-2012, 01:37 PM
I could relate to your post. I live on the opposite coast from my family, have 2 older brothers and an older sister. My sister has developed a high level of bitterness and feeling that she has been short changed in life. The truth is, she has a decent career with a good paying job (her work paid for her to go back and get a masters degree), a nice house with a pool, 3 nice girls. I'm not saying her life if perfect, and I'm sure there are details I don't know. But she can't stand to see my father do or give anything to me (and believe me, she's gotten much much more from him than I have).

I agree with the thought that you should concentrate on your own life, building friends and family, career, interests of your own, and be extremely flexible about your expectations from your family. There have been times when my family has surprised me in a nice way, I hope you experience that as well. Everyone wants the ideal family, with the closeness and support, and the reality is not every family is that way. The dynamics may be too overwhelming to change (the comment above about the energy is a good one).

Plug in as much as you can, but try not to let it overwhelm you or make your worse for the effort.