Carolyn: I think I overstepped the in-law boundary. My loving wife has a younger brother who lives near us. Brother is in his mid-30s, but still lives at home with (off) their mom. I tried to encourage him to move on and out of mother-in-laws house, to no avail. The three of them my father-in-law is deceased are always arguing about his lifestyle, the women he dates (much younger), and how he doesnt clean up.
So, heres the issue: My mother-in-law spends lots of time in warmer climates. Brother waits until mom is away, goes wild, and it upsets my wife. Well, Mom was away, and my wife asked her brother to baby-sit for us (two kids under 5). He said he was busy (new girlfriend), but I called him to encourage him to baby-sit for us.
He did, but after the kids fell asleep, he called someone else over to baby-sit a 19-year-old cousin we dont trust. We came home to a different face in our home.
My wife was upset, so I had a few not-so-kind words with Brother. He hung up on me.
Well, it has been over a month with no contact. Mother-in-law is back, and she and my wife are upset that he wont attend any family functions because I told him not to come over to our house unless he apologizes and starts getting it right.
I guess I should have let their family drama play out as a spectator, but now that I am in it, how do I gracefully get out of it and return them to their previous dysfunctional selves?
I see overstepped boundaries, but kicking out your brother-in-law till he starts getting it right wasnt one of them; you had standing and justification to do that.
It was not your place prior to that, however, to encourage him to support himself or even encourage him to baby-sit after his initial refusal. I also question your wifes asking a man to baby-sit with whom shes in a pitched battle over his immaturity.
You two cant get up in his business and then ask for favors. You just cant. Each action undermines the other, because hes either irresponsible in your eyes or not; he cant toggle between the two based solely on what you need from him at the moment. Not if you value your integrity.
Likewise, your mother-in-law cant absolve him of adult responsibility while also chastising him for his irresponsibility.
And, neither she nor your wife has any right to browbeat the son/brother for his choices and then get upset at the one person who actually holds him accountable.
I realize the latter two issues are not yours to resolve, but I include them to illustrate that inconsistency reigns throughout.
Your path out of this dysfunction is for you to get consistent, starting now: Buy Brother lunch, and spell out that youve been wrong to pressure him, be it to move out or baby-sit your kids or change whatever aspect of his life you all have opined on uninvited. Its his life.
Then explain that, with the baby-sitting bail, it wasnt his life anymore, it was your children. Say youd like to hear that he gets that. Then listen.
Obviously, this assumes Brother will agree not only to meet you, but also examine even one of his dubious choices a lot of assuming. You can only try though, in earnest, and if trying fails, then you can only wait.
Carolyn: My husband and I live in an expensive East Coast city, my hometown. I have a lot of friends and family here, and we both have graduate degrees and good jobs.
He just got a job offer in his Midwestern hometown, where a lot of his friends and family are, for more money. This is pretty much his dream job. But it means I have to give up my job and friends for him to have his. Also, we have a baby and cant afford a house in a good school district here both would be fairly easy, even if I didnt work, in his hometown. So it would probably be better for him and the baby if we move.
Im just worried that I wont be able to find a job or friends, and Ill miss my family and friends here. It really comes down to me. How do I figure it out?
It sounds as if its two well-beings against one meaning theres no way you can oppose relocating without being selfish. Everyone who uproots from a beloved place misses friends, and harbors fear that new roots wont grow.
Tell him youll go and give it your best meaning, actually try versus toughing it out in return for his willingness to move back to your home town in X years if youre miserable. Deal? And while youre there: Save, save, save.
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