Estranged siblings - both sides of the family


#1

My husband and I are each from a two-sibling home. Both of us have younger brothers, and we do not have a good relationship with either brother.

After a misunderstanding at a Christmas Eve dinner five years ago (for which an apology was immediately offered and declined), he has refused to speak to either of us. He actively avoids us when we come to the town where he lives, and has hung up on my husband if my husband answers the phone at their parents’ home. As a matter of explanation, my husband’s parents are Catholic, and while he and his brother were baptized, they were never truly catechized. My husband was confirmed as an adult. His brother is not a church goer to our knowledge. I have a wonderful and dear relationship with both of my in-laws, and they are very moral people. Both of them are from a former Communist nation, and their own religious education was curtailed or non-existent when they were growing up. They are very disappointed that the younger brother has absolutely nothing to do with us, and in fact, he often does not make time for them. The younger brother is very wealthy – a truly self-made guy – with one failed marriage and no children. Money has indeed changed him, and the very humble circumstances from which he came seem to be a source of shame for him. My husband is currently working for a short-term contract, and his brother could help him with finding new employment, but point blank refuses to even circulate his resume.

I come from an entirely Protestant (mostly Baptist) background, and converted to Catholicism in 2001. I am the only Catholic in my entire extended and immediate families for many many generations. My brother and his wife are independent Baptists at a rather exclusive and wealthy church. While we are not estranged, we are not close. Months may go by without us talking or seeing one another. The last time my husband and I visited them in their home, we felt as if we were merely tolerated and not particularly welcome. My husband refuses to go back to their home. My brother manages to make at least one snide remark about Catholicism whenever I am around. When they come to my parents to visit, I will come over to visit them, but it’s a very uncomfortable setting for me. My brother will watch television with my dad and barely say anything to me. His wife and I – while we have lots in common – do not have a close relationship.

My husband and I have reached the point where we do not want to do anything to worsen our relationship with our only siblings, but do not want to be walked on, made fun of, or humiliated. We have tried to reach out to my husband’s brother and been rebuffed at every turn. My brother invites me and my husband to events he knows we cannot afford.

My husband and I are not troublemakers, and in fact, try to stay out of most people’s way, and just lead a quiet, self-sufficient life. There’s no drama, just tension and silence.

What do we do??? We pray for reconciliation, but that has not yet happened. What more can we do??? My husband is so sad, and I am, too. Thanks much!


#2

All you can do is pray and do your best to keep lines of communication open.

You’re not responsible for your siblings’ actions.


#3

Prayers for you and for healing for your families.

You mentioned a misunderstanding five years ago. It sounds like it was probably much more then a misunderstanding if someone would treat you this way for five years and completely take you out of their life. Prayers for this it sounds awful.

As for your brother, it sounds like you have a cordial relationship but it is not as deep as you would like. This is okay. I have had to reconcile this in my own life. I have relationships where we talk about the weather and don’t see one another much and I need to be content with this. When you hear snide comments about the Catholic church, try and respond with love as best as you can.

Sorry I am not offering much, but your problems probably go much deeper and have gone on for so long that an internet forum cannot likely give you the answers you seek. Please be assured of my prayers, take care and thank you for posting.


#4

You and your husband are a family. The two of you, as husband and wife are a complete family :slight_smile: You guys get to shape how your little family functions and love each other. Your extended family, it seems, prefer to be relatives and not “family.” That is fine.
I think you are being very charitable to keep contact with them, even if it is minimal. Continue what you are doing because there is a peace of mind that comes with knowing you are not cutting people off. Leave the window open for changes of heart on their end, but don’t put too much stock in it. As far as anti-Catholic remarks, just feel pity for their blindness, pray for them and live your live as you know God inteneds. As St. Francis said, preach the gospel always, when necessary use words. Your kindness and dignity will speak louder than his snide remarks.


#5

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