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I have a brother and SIL in another state. (Not far enough that they can't visit frequently, but they don't.) My other 3 siblings and I either don't or rarely answer the phone anymore when we see my brother's name on the caller-id. He likes to supervise from a distance when it comes to Mom's care. We live it every day. He doesn't. At the same time, when he calls, it sounds more like our SIL talking. She is very controlling, and he can't seem to think for himself. (Mom used to say that she would hate to have her as a mother-in-law. To which we would all laugh.)

At Christmas, Mom was getting up from her chair. My brother got up to help, and his wife yelled and told him not to help her. (I am assuming because she thinks she hurt her back helping her mother, so he will do the same... Hard to tell. But, that is how she is.)

My main complaint is that when I would call my brother (which I have stopped doing now), my SIL would be in the background, telling my brother what to say. Did he have us on speaker phone?? How would she hear what I was saying??? She has done the same thing when my sister called recently. My sister told my brother that she called to talk to HIM, not her. He took offense to that.

The other night, I had it out with my brother (and then my SIL). I told my brother that when we call, we want to have a private conversation with HIM, and we do not appreciate her interjecting when we are trying to talk. My SIL told me that she will continue to give my brother her opinion on Mom's situation until he tells her not to.

I told her (and him) that I don't care if they talk about the situation after the phone call, but to talk while we are trying to have a conversation, is flat out rude. My brother told me that none of their conversations are private and that they are "a team."

Everyone else has also stopped calling him because of her -- whether it is her talking in the background or listening to my brother sounding like her. It would be good to be able to keep my brother up-to-speed on Mom's decline. At the same time, we want to talk only to HIM. We don't want her telling us what we should be doing. If I text him, she reads the texts. If we email, she reads all the emails. So, what do we do???

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Thanks, countrymouse, HolidayEnd, and rose122.

Funny, rose, my husband calls my brother Wilbur Milktoast.

My son reminded me yesterday that he, my daughter, and their other cousins never liked my sil either...
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Let it go! If your brother has made the decision to not call or come, that is his choice. Regardless how he feels towards his siblings, if he really cared about his mother, he would visit her no matter what. It sounds like your brother needs to put on big boy pants and not be so wimpy. Good luck to you and your mom.
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Watch the classic movie “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” (1955). What you have is a “Sister Woman” on your hands. She’s domineering, controlling and determined that your brother is going to get ‘their’ part of the estate.

My condolences. I am an only child married to an only child.

I have cousins, lots and lots of noisy cousins.
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You most certainly are not alone, Mapotter.

You get what you're given when it comes to your siblings' spouses. There really isn't anything you even have any right to do - as my FIL used to put it: "NEVER interfere between a man and his wife."

Well. I can think of lots of reasons why you ought to, actually; but they certainly wouldn't include the frustration of your SIL sticking her stupid nose into everything and getting in your way and irritating the heck out of everyone and being A GIANT PAIN IN THE BEHIND.

I don't have to put up with mine any more, since my mother passed away. Every cloud...
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Thank you, blannie. Again, it sounds like I am not alone.
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I feel for you. My brother and SIL were a unit as well. I was lucky as my SIL didn't try to tell me what to do for mom or dad (I'd have told her to go pound sand), but I could never talk to my brother alone. As soon as I called, they'd both be on the phone. And they had one email address, so no way to contact him alone. They were retired, so no work email either. My brother didn't visit my mom for the last 8 years of her life, even though he's wealthy, retired, and has no kids. It was his loss. It was very frustrating for me. Sounds like you've got it figured out at this point. I'm glad your other siblings are all sticking together, that's a great support.
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My brother called my sister today, and told her that he won't be calling or coming down anymore because he doesn't feel comfortable, and feels like no one wants to talk to him. (He also said that he and his wife "are one.") He's been down twice since Christmas (if you count on Friday when he visited Mom in the nursing home. That was after my other brother told him to, so I can't say he really wanted to...). He still wants to be updated on Mom's condition.... So, my sister will do that. Like my sister said, he doesn't get what we were trying to tell him....
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Thank you all for your responses! It is good to know I am not alone and that others have experienced the same thing.
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You are taking good care of your Mom bro and SIL are not so let SIL's advise going one ear and out the other, or you could turn the tables and ask for her advice. You don't have to take it and as she is not there she won't know if you did or not. "By the way telling me to give Mom deadly nightshade was a bad idea so I didn't do it but thanks for careing'
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Sounds like they have been married for a long time, nothing is going to change on that front. Save your sanity and send emails stating the facts as unemotionally as possible, she has shown you all, many times that she and he are what they are, believe her and let it go.

This is a very hard situation to be in with your mom and trying to control the situation with your brother & SIL is only adding stress. Take care of your mom and be thankful that you have the support of your other siblings. (When i have to listen to unwanted advise i pretend im chatlie brown and hear - wahwah wah wahwahwah wah!) Gives me perspective that they are just babblers.

May God give you strength to do what you need to for your mom.
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Wow, sounds like me. And like others have said, as crazy as my SIL is I blame my brother for allowing her to get away with it . His logic he has to handle her with kid gloves as she will get mad otherwise. Mad otherwise? She gets mad anyway. Basically my brother is a wimp and will do anything to avoid confrontation, but his enabling just makes things worse for him, and more importantly for his little girls who are suffering in a stress filled home. (no sexual or physical abuse, but constant fighting).

Then today she comes to my dads NH and despite good intentions mucks things up there, yelling at the nurses and aids, etc.

So your brother needs to stand up, and yea, you cannot make him. I am just drawing the line on how she effects my dads situation now. Also worry about my little nieces, but that is not the point of this thread.
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Maybe someone can get guardianship of your mother? That way not everyone has to be involved in decision-making—not saying one person should get to decide but if there is no medical POA and your mom can’t consent to one, perhaps guardianship would help here? I’m a SIL whose MIL is on hospice and at first it was hard figuring out what my role is in all of this. I don’t want to overstep my bounds as she is not my mother but at the end of the day, I love her and I care about her. So if I disagree with how she is being cared for, I Will say something to my husband but not his siblings and he can agree or disagree, I just feel I have a duty to tell him what I see and hear when he is not around. But that’s as far as I will go. Anything else is overstepping my bounds.
It sounds like SIL may have some control issues. Just my opinion but I don’t think she needs to have any input in your mother’s care at this time. Ultimately it is up to you and your siblings to decide what is best for your mother and your SIL should not interfere. Your brother needs to stand up to his wife and tell her to back off.
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polarbear, I agree. It is my brother who is the problem. I understand that when my sil told my brother not to help Mom at Christmas, he sat down. So, that should tell you something about him. He has no backbone. He goes along to get along.

My brother is retired, but does teach part-time at a college, so I can't call him there. My sil does not like to be left alone (after she had a seizure and later cancer treatment). So, when he isn't teaching, he is home. But, her behavior started way before her medical issues. I sent her flowers while she was going through cancer treatment and my brother told me, "While 'we' appreciate the sentiment, 'we' don't want cards or flowers because it reminds us of what 'we' go through every day." That was really her speaking, but my brother used "we" to indicated he is going along with what she said. They could have just said "Thank you" and thrown them away.

jeannegibbs, I have financial POA for Mom, but she never set up a medical POA, so we all have to be contacted if something happens.

I don't get unwanted advice from others. (I am retired, too, so there are no co-workers.) I talk to family members and my friends. My friends (and hairdresser) have been through similar things with their parents, and they just indicate how hard it is. They tell me what they experienced and realize every situation is different. They never say, "You need to do this or that."

Last year, when Mom was still pretty good and able to do things for herself, my brother said (or sil said through my brother) was "Mom needs to be in a nursing home." We (the siblings living close to Mom) had decided to keep Mom in her home. After having her in a nursing home for the past 5 days for respite care, I am still of the mindset to not put her there. I don't want her left in a hallway, sleeping in a wheelchair, head bent over. Maybe if she was bedridden, we would feel differently. But as long as I can handle her at home (with help), I will. I doubt that she has that much time left (maybe months).

JoAnn29, if my brother had his own email account, I could email him, but my sil has the account in her name. Yes, she knows where her opinion stands with me and the rest of my siblings. We all feel the same way.
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Like the Carebridge thing. Don't see why you just email him. You can welcome his input but not carry thru on it. Nice you got it off your chest with SIL. She now knows where her opinion stands.
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I don't think you have any authority to change the nature of your brother's relationship and interactions with his wife. It is what it is. If he wants to deal with this situation as a "team" that is his prerogative, don't you think?

You didn't get to pick your brother, nor did he pick you. You are stuck with each other. You did not get to pick your SIL, but she is now part of the family, entitled to come to family events, etc. Unless it is a really toxic relationship we all just grin and bear it with our relatives, right?

In this case it sounds like you've chosen to minimize contact. That is up to you. Does it seem to be working?

SIL offers suggestions and opinions, or channels them through your brother. You probably get unwanted advice from other people, too, like a co-worker or a club member or your hairdresser. You can always say, "thanks for your input." And then you can completely ignore what they said. Or you might choose to explore an idea further. Why should it be different with your SIL?

Who has financial and medical POA for mother?

I wanted to keep family and close friends updated on the progress of of my husband's dementia. I opened a CaringBridge account (no charge) and put the information there. That way everyone got the same information and I didn't leave something out to someone by mistake. They could leave comments, which were mostly in the nature of "Thanks for the update. I hope you can get some sleep now!"
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Sorry, but you're mad at the wrong person. YOUR BROTHER allows her to listen in and give her unwanted opinions. HE lets her. She wouldn't be able to do it if HE didn't let her.

HE even told you: "... that none of their conversations are private and that they are "a team." "

Either your brother has no backbone and doesn't dare standing up to his mouthy and rude wife, or he's really the type that prefers to have the wife take the lead (it's not uncommon you know, in fact it's very common.) Unhappy wife makes for an unhappy home. He knows which side of his bread is buttered, etc.. Whatever the case might be, you need to accept them as they are and decide if you want to share any information to that "team."

My suggestions: call your brother at his work, or where/when you know he is by himself, or just text or email knowing that they both will read what you write, but at least you won't have her interjecting in the background. Or just don't contact them at all.

Caring for your mom is stressful enough without making an big issue out of this. So, let it go. Or else you will just make your blood pressure go up an stay up. And you don't want that.
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