My younger brother and his wife of 11 years split up four years ago. We stayed close to his two sons. They live weekdays and every other weekend nearby with their mother, whom we always liked.
My brother also brought them to see our daughter and son who are close in age to their cousins (all adolescents and good kids).
My brother met and married a younger woman after a whirlwind romance … he’s now 40, she’s 27. She had their first child — a girl — a couple of months ago. We received the birth announcement, but no invitation to visit them and their baby, though the home they bought is only an hour’s drive away.
My wife sent flowers to welcome the baby and called our new sister-in-law to ask for a good day/time to visit. She burst into tears and handed the phone to my brother who immediately lectured me about “not giving a new mother a chance to breathe.”
I was stunned, but my wife heard me say we weren’t wanting to intrude. She then said we’re happy for them, congratulate them, and know the baby’s step-siblings and cousins will be thrilled.
That’s when the new mom started crying again. And when my brother said “You’re an idiot. Leave my wife alone!”
I can’t get over it. My wife says the new mother may’ve gone through a difficult delivery, could be feeling overwhelmed by everything suddenly required from her, etc.
Okay, I can understand that, but not my brother’s anger. We hadn’t just shown up! I texted him, asking what’s really going on — but no reply. How do my wife and I deal with this rejection?
Sudden Family Rift
It’s clear that you value your relationship with your brother and wanted to show your family’s happiness for him and his wife.
But the more important relationship requiring attention, is that of mother and newborn.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, most new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth, (commonly including mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping). It can happen within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks.
But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. And, rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.
The website advises women directly: “Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.” Text your brother again, saying that you’re wishing everyone in his family well.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the “Complicated Friend” (June 3):
“Author Gary Chapman has the best books on Relationships and Love Languages, even including one directed to teens. They are spot on and so helpful.
“The information would go deeper for the reader and give her helpful suggestions to maneuver forward with this sometimes difficult situation. It may be something she can research.”
Reader #2 – “Regarding advice from the other friends of the letter-writer: “(They) tell me to develop a stronger relationship with her one-on-one.”
“But, as a reader, I think it’s time to do a serious pro-con (cost-benefit) evaluation and analysis of this friendship group.
“Maybe start with some slight separation/distancing from the difficult person. Your slight separation may generate constructive discussion.
“Or, it’ll confirm that this “friendship group” isn’t for you.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the “boring sob story” (May 26):
Reader – “Your statement, “Your idea of friendship is totally self-serving,” sounded overly harsh.
“The writer’s been supporting her friend. Asking how long this is needed, is valid, since their few-months’ relationship included mutual interests and commonalities.
“She now calls the friend “boring” because their time together is no longer mutually pleasant. If friends for years, a lack of empathy would be apparent. But that isn’t so.
“The woman’s repetitive emotional/psychological dig into her broken relationship, is outside the letter-writer’s comfort and tolerance level.
“Not all friendships include such discussions. It doesn’t mean she’s any more “self-serving” than her new friend to continually re-hash the same things. While her friend is hurt, the writer doesn’t have to be her counselor.
“She could see the behaviour as a red flag, such that self-serving might be a good thing.”
Ellie - Thanks. It’s clearer now that both women became self-serving!
Ellie’s tip of the day
All relationships can have weak spots. When a sibling’s involved, emotions can go deep. Tread carefully.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.