Familiar trauma

"...my partner and I have a good relationship but I dread visiting his family as although I get on ok with them the brother's girlfriend is absolutely vile."

Arguments by Jeff Eaton released under Creative Commons.

Adele Barnett-Ward

Adele Barnett-Ward

Friday 17 March

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A bit of advice needed as I’m really lost right now: my partner and I have a good relationship but I dread visiting his family as although I get on ok with them the brother’s girlfriend is absolutely vile. I have had the displeasure of spending lots of time in her company and all she does is make me feel like an idiot by the way she answers me in conversation, she is rude about other women (commenting on random ladies’s weights, looks etc). She’s also one of those if you’ve climbed a hill, she’s climbed Everest. She even f’s and blinds in front of the family which to me is just odd and disrespectful. The brother is the opposite he’s just such a nice man.

The brother has broken up with her in the past but she just kept turning up at their house all the time and blokes being blokes he just took the cake that was offered to him anyway now (you can probably see where this is going)… she’s ended up pregnant (apparently she didn’t realise that if you take St. Johns Wort it messes with the pill – even though she’s extremely intelligent and it’s written all over instructions and the box). Anyway when I found out I was devastated for the brother who is just in the process of getting his first flat share with his friend and spends all his cash going to gigs and in the pub… so not what you would class as at that stage in his life where a baby is a good time… I have stated my concern for the brother and said how I feel she’s trapped this man (to my partner no one else). I’ve agreed to be civil to this girl but I don’t want to actively meet up with her and waste my weekends with somebody like that… My partner is fuming at me for not congratulating her on this pregnancy and making a fuss but I personally feel this goes against all of my morals, as in my head I’m thinking “Why should I congratulate someone who has messed with someone else’s life and trapped this poor guy?”…. She even told us all that when her ex boyfriend broke off with her she stole his money out of his bank account! I can just her having child after child with this guy and cleaning him out sadly. The strange thing is no one else seems to notice how bad this girl is it’s like I’m looking at something completely different to everyone else, everyone else is acting like this is normal….

What do I do in this situation do I… A) Suck it up and go against my morals of what I believe is acceptable

B) Hope I can just keep my distance but be polite if the moment arises or

C) Cut my losses in this relationship because of the type of people in this family….

Any advice is welcome because I really don’t know what to do anymore and I’m sick of this girl ruling every argument I have with my partner of 6 years…

The short answer is ‘B’. Explain to your partner that you are willing to be polite during family occasions, but it takes two people to make a friendship and this woman’s attitude towards you means you cannot be friends with her. You don’t say how often you meet up as a family. If it’s just special occasions like birthdays and Christmas, you should be able to smile and avoid her for a few hours for the sake of family harmony. It is also basic politeness to congratulate a couple on a pregnancy. You don’t need to go over the top, if she has a baby shower it’s fine to have an unavoidable diary clash, but your partner has the right to expect you to join him in giving a card and gift, and visiting to admire the baby.

If your contact with your partner’s family is more frequent than that, you may want to skip some family meet-ups. Do not, however, put the extended family in a position where they are chosing between you and her. It sounds like they have welcomed her into the family and tolerate her behaviour so, unless you are being expected to host her in your own home then it’s not for you to say whether it is acceptable or not.

Which brings me on to what you say about her and your partner’s brother. Any man who leaves contraception as solely the woman’s responsibility has to accept the consequences of that. If it was important to him to not become a father there were steps he could have taken. This woman does not bear sole responsibility for this pregnancy. You write about your partner’s brother as though he has been a passive victim in this situation. He is an adult, he made choices that lead him to where he is, and he is now living with the results. He is as responsible as she is.

You clearly cannot stand this woman, and if spend too much time with her you may end up sparking a family row that causes your partner to choose option C. Keep your distance when you can, be  polite when you can’t, and remember that this is not your circus and they are not your monkeys.

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