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Background:

My brother has a manipulative wife, which has essentially turned him against our mother. I want to keep the story short and won't go into too much detail. Essentially, his wife has jealousy and insecurity problems (diagnosed by professionals) and, from the beginning of their relationship she has been jealous (as acknowledged by himself) of our very close relationship (our mother, my brother and myself have always been very close and relied on each other).

At the start of the relationship, my brother was able to keep his boundaries, but the situation has gotten worse due to some recent developments and my brother has started blaming our mother for all his problems. Examples of her manipulative behaviour include threatening my brother with suicide (when my brother openly proposed separation as an option) and blatantly lying about how my mother had behaved.

This has led to him thinking that it is his relationship with our mom that is toxic, and whenever it should be noticed that my brother does not look happy, quite the contrary, he looks rather depressed, and I feel that he is just unable to emotionally accept that his wife has tried to destroy our relationship from the beginning. It also looks that he is trying to deny his own feelings by trying to believe that the problem is our mother. I have tried to address the situation, but my opinion has been discarded as "I am myself manipulated by our mom, and thus I am not objective". I have tried saying that I am here to support him, but he does not want to talk or share his feelings anymore.

Current Conflict:

For me, this is a painful situation. My mother lives alone (father died) and I live abroad with my partner, while my brother lives close to my mom, in the same town. Some weekends I visit my home town and I stay in mom's house. Whenever I come my brother always invites me to go visit them (he and his wife). I have noticed that he has started inviting me only when his wife's family is there. He does not invite our mother.

What I Want

I am smart enough to understand that this is a no-win situation (several answers in this site back this up), you can't essentially convince someone so emotionally involved with someone into thinking rationally about his relationship and boundaries.

However, I want to say no. No to meeting with him and his wife's family while my mom is left aside. I want to do it in a non-confrontational way. I have previously used excuses (I have work to do, I am not feeling well...), but now I want to be sincere and express my feelings to him: This is an injustice for our mom, and I want to stay with her. I am open to talking to him, helping him, and supporting him with whatever he needs, but I will not participate in leaving our mom alone while the rest of the family spends time together. I am willing to spend time with him, but not like this and not leaving aside our mom. I feel like doing so would be accepting and supporting an injustice.

How do I do it? How can I be sincere while still conveying that I am not rejecting him or want to destroy our relationship?

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  • Hi. Do you think you can propose a familiar activity in any place instead of waiting him to invite you to his home? So you can invite anyone you want (including him and your mother, to help to fix that relationship). Or your objective is to reject this especific invitation from him?
    – Santiago
    Sep 27 at 19:15
  • If he and your mother aren't getting on, why do you think bringing the two of them together is a good idea?
    – Stuart F
    Oct 31 at 13:41
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I'm a son of divorced parents. While this only distantly relates to your experience, there was a time where I believed two relatives I loved could live together if only they gave themselves an honest look.

The next events proved me love isn't a transitive relationship though. I'm still today in good relationship with both, despite my early attempts to make them reconcile.

These failed attempts were met with harsh rejection. I was in essence told to mind my own business. And while I was in a child position while you are siblings I would think you could meet a similar reaction attempting to mend a relationship you're not part of.

I believe the will of your brother to see you without your mom could be a valid attempt to avoid a possible conflict.

Going to meet your brother could be your best chances to hear and understand him and possibly mediate the conflict. If your two motivations are finding solutions and showing support to your brother, it seem difficult to justify to him a refusal without sparking conflict as these objectives are better met meeting him.

While it's your freedom to refuse, the honesty you propose as to justify why is what nonviolent communication calls jackal honesty: opinion and judgements of someone, as opposed to personal need reasons that would motivate you to prioritize something else than going.

In conclusion i would question whether or not to intervene at all in this conflict is contributing to your personal goals, knowing that refusing the invitation is probably not an efficient way to solve the conflict between them, and considering if you feel uneasy about going, bringing in a judgemental appreciation would be inefficiently dodging conflict.

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