Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Try one more time to reconcile with brother, and forgive him
Q: My brother and his now-fiancee "ruined" my wedding day by (her) causing a huge scene at my reception. We never received apologies, and have heard they're telling people we exaggerated what happened that day, and that we're just as much to blame (completely false).
Since then, my brother became engaged to this wretched woman, and now wants me to help him prep for his big day. We haven't spoken much since my wedding. I can't get over that they won't even acknowledge their wrongdoing. At what point do you forgive, forget and "move on"? It feels as if that would be saying to them: "What you did is okay. All is forgiven." I ... just ... can't. I want back the (extremely close) relationship with my brother that I had before she entered the picture. But I feel all hope is gone.
Carolyn: With so little information I can only speculate, but the major attention-seeking behavior, the disinformation and your brother's withdrawal from a close sibling relationship suggest he's in a relationship with an abusive woman.
So, while I get your despair and reluctance to lie ("All is forgiven"), I urge you to restart some sort of communication with your brother. Does he live close enough for you to buy him lunch?
Family Matters again: He lives a few minutes away. I've offered to get together for lunch, but since I refused to help him with wedding prep, I think a chance for reconciliation is gone.
What's worse: I've known this woman for six years, he's known her a year; they met at a party I took him to. I've seen her mentally/emotionally abuse other men, and I warned him she would "act out" at the wedding.
I know divorce is in their future, but he'll need to learn the hard way. I realize the more I push him away, the tighter grasp she has on him.
Carolyn: That doesn't mean reconciliation isn't worth trying. There's just too much of a "harrumph" tone to giving up — with a pinch of I-told-him-so. The central issue is your brother's well-being. Please try this: "Look, you might not want to talk to me since I refused to help, and maybe I shouldn't have — I'm still upset. What I really want is to talk to you. Meet for lunch?" Be the sib he can talk to honestly without fear of touching off a crudstorm.
Anonymous: "They're telling people we exaggerated what happened." Maybe she really is overreacting?
Carolyn: Always worth considering, thanks.
Family Matters again: She screamed obscenities at him because he was on the dance floor with everyone, and she chose to pout at the table. That's fact, no exaggeration. People came by to say, "Your brother's girlfriend is screaming at him." My husband asked her to leave — and my brother chose to stay and keep on dancing. The only problem is: The next day, they made up.
Carolyn: That sounds pretty open-and-shut, thanks. My original advice stands, but now I'll add: Forgive your brother. Your antagonism does make her stronger — because she can credibly say to him, "I'm the only one on your side." Don't make it so easy for her to isolate him.