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In 2 weeks I will have a new sister in law as my brother is getting married. I knew her before they dated and thought that she talked a lot about herself, but that otherwise was friendly and pleasant.

My mum can get exciteable and my brother was worried when the gf came around for her first dinner with us that my mum would be too intense. My mum really surprised both of us, and was very calm and relaxed (as well as friendly and engaging). Since then the gf has been at our house on numerous occasions and I can honestly say that we've been really nice to her. She's still talked about herself a lot, never asked about us or how we were, but otherwise been pleasant.

When my brother and his gf eventually talked about getting married, he began to work hard and save money. She had some money but spent it all on a huge holiday for herself. So when she came home and they actually got engaged he already had a lot of savings and she had very little. She then didn't get a job (she'd quit for the holiday), so the wedding is really being paid for by my brother and generous relatives and friends from both sides.

My parents had a wedding anniversary when my brother and the gf were almost 6 months dating. The gf did not acknowledge the anniversary by gift, text or card. My mother was hurt by this, but didn't let it show out of the home.

My parents have tried really hard to help my brother and his fiancee out. When his car broke down and he had no money (because, wedding) they gave him their car. They could only afford a cheap banger of a car for themselves, which they now drive. My mum also bought them a beautiful engagement gift with lots of personal and practical items. I gave them quite a large amount of money and a personal card. I also feel that I've always jumped to help when they've asked for it, given her lifts in my car (she doesn't drive) and otherwise made myself available. We've worked hard to make her feel welcome and introduced her to our friends as they're going to be living near us.

We were invited to the wedding 3 weeks before the wedding. In fairness, so were most of the other guests. This was the only 'job' my brother's fiancee had to do, he'd handled the rest.

We know the same amount about the wedding as the other guests do. We also haven't been invited to the bride's hen party - even though her mother is going. I understand that the bride can invite whoever she likes, but my brother invited her brother to his stag night. He also having her brother in the wedding party but she isn't having me.

I don't need to be best friends with my sister-in-law to be, but I feel that she is very uninterested in us and is making no effort. My brother has a great relationship with us and says that her mother is a nightmare, but he's worked hard to stay friendly. He also says that his wife-to-be is quite unorganised, and seems to pin most of it on that. My biggest concern is that she is really hurting my mum, who has tried to welcome her to the family.

I feel like the wedding is too soon to be starting any kind of drama, but my mum only has one son and I'd hate for her to be unhappy on his big day. There are other members from my side of the family who have been incredible to my brother and I growing up, and also were very generous with wedding gifts. They haven't been thanked yet, and I'm concerned they will not be acknowledged at the wedding either. How can I address this with my sister-in-law and/or my brother?

  • Does your brother realize this is how you all feel? How did he react to this when you told him? – scohe001 Sep 21 '18 at 19:12
  • He's very tired and stressed from working long hours and we're trying not to put any more pressure on him. He can be a little thoughtless himself, so he prob didn't think anything of the missed anniversary moment (in fact in the past I'd always organise a gift from both of us and then remind him to pay half!) but he did express some surprise when I said "I take it we're not invited to the hen then?" since he made the effort to invite her brother. @scohe001 – Ceefra Sep 21 '18 at 19:19
  • @Ceefra I think another alternative was to focus on your mom, help her 1) to keep expectations low, and (if necessary) 2) to handle disappointment. But if I understand you correctly, this is not what you're asking for in this question, right? – Arsak Sep 21 '18 at 21:07
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    @Marzipanherz I think it may be a little late for the expectations unfortunately, that would have been a good idea if I'd thought of it months ago. I thought she'd make more of an effort after the engagement, and then as time went on I kept waiting for her to take a step (ie the hen night invite or similiar) that would show appreciation for my mum and show that she wanted to be in our family. I'm hoping that some kind of gentle comment or intervention might still prevent major disappointment at the wedding? For example, to make sure we're included in some of the photos? – Ceefra Sep 21 '18 at 21:34
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    You bring up a lot of issues here (my sympathies!), I'm a little unclear on what exactly you want to talk to her about. Is it the immediate concern of making sure your mom/family are appreciated at the wedding, or more generally about her long-term behavior? – Em C Sep 23 '18 at 1:06
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You can choose your friends, not your family

From what you say, you have acted very well. Keep friendly with the future bride. You don't want to start a war with her: she is soon to be part of your family.

You brother choose her. That's it. He probably sees everything you say, but because of other factors, he still thinks she is the One. So respect it and trust him in his choices.

Now, what you could do is:

Propose your help for the organisation

Hi brother, I know you are very busy, and probably your fiancee too. Would you like me to help with something? The "Thanks" cards maybe?

By doing this, you show him that you care for him. And you give to discreet hints:

  1. A reminder about thanks cards (or whatever you choose to ask) and
  2. They seem to be a bit late about organisation, they both seem too busy (and he knows if his fiancee is really busy or not).

Involve your mother

If you fear that she will be unhappy, try to do positive things about the wedding with her. Show her that you are happy, it's contagious.

  1. Go together to buy a dress/hat for the wedding
  2. Plan together about going to the hairdresser on the day of the wedding, just before.
  3. Prepare together a personal gift/talk for the wedding. (childhood pictures of your brother, funny story that happened to him, ...)

I'm sre the wedding will be great, and that your brother is thankful that you care for him. Maintaining a good relation with his wife will help you maintain a good relation with him.

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Well, you may not welcome this answer, but it seems to me that you're looking to find fault with this woman. Of course she has picked up on that and is keeping her distance. The solution is for you and your family to avoid seeing everything she does as about you and designed to hurt you.

One thing that stands out about your comment is that she talks about herself a lot and doesn't take much of an interest in anything. I obviously don't know her, so can't judge for myself. So I'm going to assume you're right about this. We all know people like this and that means we're all faced with a choice: (1) be mature and deal with that one problem or (2) use that one problem as an excuse for making OTHER criticisms of the person and blowing things up to be unpleasant for everyone.

You and your family seem to be choosing (2) right now--using this woman's selfish attitude as a reason to find fault with everything she does. I can understand why you'd do that. Selfish people are annoying and it's tempting. But if you want your brother to be happy, if you want family gatherings to be about fun instead of drama, then you have to choose (1).

So how can you deal with her selfishness? When you see her, ask her how she is doing. Ask her specific questions about her life. That way, you're giving her an opportunity to feel valued as a person. I'm guessing that right now, she feels like she has to fight for attention because if she doesn't, none of YOU will take an interest in her. Then after she has said her piece, make sure not to talk about things that exclude her. If you talk about people she doesn't know, include her by explaining who they are. Make sure to discuss topics that aren't just people, but hobbies, the news, etc, that she can join in on. That way, she won't feel she needs to fight for attention. Then if she continues making everything about her, gently redirect the conversation to topics that aren't her.

You've mentioned some specific situations that are a problem. Every single one of them falls under "none of your business." Her relationship with your mother is your mother's business. Her wedding plans are your brother's business and hers. They don't involve you and you can't use them as an excuse for disapproving of her.

Let me explain that a bit more. I understand your position. Of course you want your family members to be happy. But she is also your family member now. And also, I think your brother is not behaving as a man mature enough to get married should. He should NOT be criticizing her to you guys. He should not be pretending that he isn't responsible for decisions about the wedding, etc. If she has spent her money and he doesn't want to spend his on something (not just the wedding but anything), then he needs to man up and be responsible for deciding whether to still get married to someone who doesn't have the same financial goals as him and how much to spend. If people were invited only three weeks before the wedding, then he is also responsible for that. Also, people had the freedom to decline to attend if they found it inconvenient.

As for your parents' wedding anniversary, why would she care about that? It's a celebration between a couple. I barely know when my own parents' anniversary is and can't imagine being expected to make a fuss of someone else's parents' anniversary.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that you need to step back. You need to stop making your brother out to be a helpless victim. He is responsible for his own relationship. It is his job to smooth the way between her and your family. You are making a very common mistake right now, which is to demonize her and act like your brother is a saint--and say just enough to him that he starts having doubts about her. This is not helping your brother. If you make his marriage unhappy, he will not be happy and he will not enjoy being around your family if he starts associating you guys with stress. I sound critical, but I genuinely am trying to help. I hope you have the maturity to look at what is going on and examine your family's role in this situation. You'll all be happier for it. Good luck.

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You may not like this advice, but before I begin I will tell you that this comes from someone who has been divorced, and once I was in a very similar position to your brother. So I'm not telling you any of this from some abstract point of view. I understand your position, and you might even be right, but I see it from the other side and I want to give you a balanced answer.

With weeks or days to go before your brother gets married, I promise you that if you were to approach your brother with the subject of "are you sure about this woman?" or raise any other negative feeling about her then chances are it will lead to the biggest upset of your lives. He will be beyond offended. He will tell his wife-to-be. You may all be cut out of the wedding.

You need to consider the following:

1. That she isn't as bad as you think

Perhaps you are expecting too much from her because of how much you love your brother. As a close family unit you are all similar, but that doesn't mean your brother has to marry someone who behaves exactly like his own family. Nobody is perfect. You yourself (and your brother) will have flaws. You want to point out her flaws, but is she doing that to you? If you say what you are thinking, you will come off as the baddie, not her.

2. That your brother is an adult

If he's old enough to marry, he's old enough to make this decision. She might be a bad match, and it might go horribly wrong, but you can't tell him that at this late stage without insulting his decision-making process and his right to his own choice.

3. That marriage might be the making of both of them

Lots of people marry too young, too hastily, or are just blinded by love to their partner's bad points. But a successful marriage is not so much about how similar you are, but about how you deal with differences. Both of them are going to have to make adjustments for it to work. It might just be that after a year or two of marriage, she is a better person if she loves your brother enough to make those kind of adjustments. Being "self-centered" just doesn't work in any kind of partnership. So even if it is a bad match, it doesn't mean it will fail. If they both try hard to make it work, then it can, and some of the strongest marriages are forged that way.

4. That if it is a mistake, it is your brother's mistake to make

This is the bit you may not like to hear. But as a divorced man I can tell you that while I admit I made a bad choice now, if my family had told me that at the time I would not have listened. In fact I would likely have supported my wife because that's what married people do. If you brother is serious about this girl, she's his chosen family now, so he will always take her side and he will defend her.

Unless you had a serious, tangible concern like you've uncovered proof of a secret past or something equally as dramatic, then you should support your brother's decision to marry. Because if it does fall apart (and I hope it doesn't) then he'll need you all and your support then, too. Make divisions now, and should the worst happen down the line he could spiral into self-oblivion if he believes he has no support.

I often mention in answers a useful psychotherapy model known as the Karpman drama triangle. In short, it explains how, in a real-life "drama" those involved are forced into three roles of victim, persecutor and rescuer. If you make one of the roles, the other two will emerge. What I believe is that if you "attack" his wife-to-be then you will become the "persecutor", she will be the "victim" and your brother will naturally rush to her aid as her "rescuer". Don't make yourself into the bad guy. If she does have a problem with you (and she might not; she might just be a bit self-centred right now) and she says negative things about you to your brother then he will naturally defend you. Let it be that way around, if anything.

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