My brother’s considered a black sheep in our family. He doesn’t commit to plans, nor actively engage in social events, nor spend lots of time with my parents.
However, he and I have been very close. We’ve traveled the world together on backpacking trips that were extremely adventurous and joyful.
I’ve always loved his company and consider him one of my best friends.
But over the last decade, I’ve felt that slipping away and I don’t know why.
I always invite him to join my husband, our kids, and me on holidays, cottage weekends, dinners, but he rarely accepts and rarely invites us.
Last year he got married and I thought that things might improve, but they’ve worsened.
I want my kids to know their uncle - he lives very close by! And I want a real relationship with him, but it seems he doesn’t want that with us.
I cannot think why he’s so distant and it really hurts.
My parents now blame his new wife but I disagree and I don’t want this becoming a family rift.
I don’t know how to talk to him about it.
It sounds like your brother experienced a different relationship with your mutual parents, from the one you had. That difference could’ve involved anything from an incident to an attitude, from years back.
He’s unlikely to share that information with you.
Meanwhile, you can reach out to his wife in a natural way, without pressure, to show your warm, non-judgemental, undemanding interest in seeing her and your brother from time to time.
This is also a good example to set for your parents who are apparently quicker to judgment than you (which may contribute to their son’s distancing from them).
Since the couple live so near, proceed casually, with as simple a reason as having overbought some fruit on sale and would love to share it… or whatever suits you.
Slowly try to build a relaxed way of seeing each other periodically and spontaneously - taking a walk, for example.
Don’t push for a full family get-together including your parents. Your brother may eventually ease up on his distancing if your smaller circle becomes comfortable.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding dealing with passive-aggression:
“I enjoyed the company of a clique of women who periodically gathered for lunch and outings.
“I considered several as close friends including one woman who seemed upset with me.
“She always had a reasonable excuse for why she couldn't attend at any personal invitation from me.
“I worried that I’d upset her in some way. She was extremely sensitive and had her feelings easily hurt.
“I asked her if she was upset with me. She denied it.
“I said that I felt she was avoiding me and wanted to make sure all was okay.
“She burst into tears, accusing me of attacking her. I tried to calm her, saying that I didn't mean to be accusatory.
“But I obviously played right into what she was actually after, because she soon informed our entire group of my “vicious and unprovoked assault.”
“I was promptly ex-communicated.
“I later realized I wasn't the first person she’d done this to - playing the passive-aggressive victim to turn others against another and justify the break-up of a friendship.
“Now, when dealing with anyone who seems extremely passive and/or passive aggressive, I keep them at a distance, handling all interactions with kid gloves.”
Something happened when I was 12 when two girls (classmates) said they wanted to walk home with me and visit.
My mother worked and wouldn’t be home till 6pm, so I was happy to have company.
But once alone in my bedroom they started to touch me physically and wanted to kiss. They were both big girls and I felt overpowered and scared. They touched my private area which started me crying, and they hurried away.
I never told anyone, not even my mother as I didn’t want to cause trouble for the girls or me at school. I didn’t consider it as a #MeToo incident, which I had thought was about men sexually harassing/abusing women. Until now.
I don’t know why it’s suddenly surfaced in my mind.
There are website and therapists specializing in past sexual abuse situations. This memory is calling for your attention. Try Ontario.ca/sexual violence, and/or womenshealth.gov in the US.
Tip of the day:
Siblings may have had different experiences while growing up with their parents, which they don’t always share with each other.