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Not Really Sm, Exactly, But Could Use Your Advice

OK, so this isn't really related to a sexless marriage. Although maybe it is. But I could really use your thoughtful advice on this.

My mother is in her second marriage. I believe it to have been largely sexless, they've been in separate bedrooms for 15 years, maybe longer. I think she often denied my dad as well, although he was a hopeless drunk - so I'm not sure how much was her being a narcissistic refuser and how much it was him being a hopeless drunk - though I guess the two may be intertwined.

The marriage is certainly sexless now. My stepfather is dying. She seems to have moved on to victim number 3 already. If there isn't something going on, she certainly seems to have a crush on him. When she was visiting me this summer it was Joe this and Joe that. She spent her birthday with Joe (and maybe some other people). She sees him several times a month at a class they're both involved with. For the record, I've met Joe and he seems like a nice enough guy. I don't believe there was anything going on at the time I met him over a year ago.

My brother is visiting them right now. When he walked in the house she was working on a large oil portrait of Joe. It's very visibile and very obvious. My brother is very upset by this. He's less upset by the fact she may be seeing someone than he is by this blatant disrespect to a dying man. Especially since she'll be free to pursue whatever in probably 3-9 months.

My brother wants to say something, but he knows she's a narcissist who really doesn't care about other people's feelings. He wants to her to take away the painting and to watch her behaviour a little bit to cause our stepfather less distress.

Any advice on tiptoeing around this subject would be greatly appreciated?
elkclan elkclan 41-45, F 9 Responses Sep 17, 2012

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I'm with GeeDiddy on this one.

The relationship between your brother and mother is entirely their affair.
The relationship between you and your mother is entirely you two's affair.
The relationship between you and your brother is entirely you two's affair.

You have nothing to gain by sticking your oar in. If your brother wants to engage your mother over this matter, that's entirely on his own head.

Tread your own path.

He does want to engage her. I spent an hour last night trying to calm him down. He's furious, but engaging her with anger is not something that he should do - it's counterproductive.

Brilliantly handled on your part if I might say so. Within your relationship with him you counselled him. What he now does within his unique relationship with his mother is down to him, and no-one else but him. My post above wasn't clear now as I re-read it. What I was suggesting that YOU not engage your mother with your brothers agenda. Thats HIS responsibility.

Just because somebody is a narcissist you do not make excuses or tip toe around issues. You tell it how it is and if they have a problem with it tough shi...t.

Tip toeing around the issue only covers up the problem and inadvertantly keeps feeding the narcissists bad behavour.

Stay Strong & Good Luck

If your brother is close to your step-father, he could consider telling him )Step father) how he (brother) feels about his other's behaviour. Your step-father obviously knows exactly what sort of person your mother is. It might help your step-father feel better about it if he knows his step son and you both condemn yor mother's behaviour.

Speaking to her about it is unlikely to result in anything except uproar in the household and your step father does NOT need his peace disturbed in the last days of his life.

BTW, how about you have a quiet word in Joe's ear .. . ? Seems kind to help him avoid being another "victim" of your mother.

Having spent FAR TOO MUCH time around narcissists, I can tell you there's nothing you can say or do that will ever get through to your mother. All you can do is protect yourself. It's honorable to want to be kind to your stepfather, but the best way you can do that is to be kind TO HIM, directly. If he needs to be loved, then love HIM. You can't change someone with NPD. Totally hopeless.

It doesn't sound like she will change .. Accept and chose your own actions.. Your mom is responsible for her self and is not who you are!! You are a caring loving person.

Your Brother should be there for him. If I were in your Brother's shoes, after your Stepfather has died, I would kick Mom to the curb. She will never get how her behavior affects others so don't waste your time.

Hands and opinions off: Your Mom is a big gurl and anyone who got involved with her would know how she acts and who she cares about. If you and your brother care about the dying person spend some extra time with him and show it. It is about him, right?

I don't know if it is completely about him for my brother? For me it is, maybe I'm also concerned for my brother. I'd probably just make a sarcastic comment to my mom and be done. But I live in another country and across an ocean. My stepfather and I aren't that close... but I don't bear ANY ill will toward him.

You're right though he's probably figured it out by now. As he's become less useful to my mom (though his illness, honestly he's a very decent bloke who's treated her well) she's treated him less well. That's who she is.

I'm older than my brother and I think he's yet to fully work out just how awful our mother is and how little she cares about other people. He's starting to realise it now and it's not an easy process. It sometimes still distresses me when she treats me or my son badly. And I hate to see her treat her husband this way.

My brother is close to him and is driving over 5 hours each way to make regular visits.

You and your brother are wonderful caring people. How did you achieve that with such a terrible mother? It's wonderful that you care that much for your step-father. However, he was the hopeless drunk that may have driven your mother away....on the other hand, your mother may have driven him to drink. While it is a very unfortunate situation there really is not much you can do for him or her. If your brother needs financial help and you can afford it, you might offer to help him with his travel expenses. You and your brother have given your step-father respect and admiration and that's the best you can do, the only thing left is for you and your brother to keep close, because you have this common goal.

You can't control your mothers actions... but maybe you can let your stepfather know you & your brother are there for HIM, if he needs anything, even if it's just to talk, or even to move away from your mom...

At this point, I can't believe he'd want to move. He's shutting down. Many days he sleeps 20 hours a day. Good days he's awake no more than 6-8 hours. So really just putting the painting away would be enough.

I can't be there for him and frankly am not that close to him. But he's a decent guy who looked after my mom very well when she was very sick with cancer. I don't think he deserves to be treated like this. I don't want my brother to have a big confrontation with my mom because I think that will be worse for my stepfather if he gets wind of it - as in it takes it away from the plausible deniability stage.

My brother is close to him (he really grew up with him - they didn't marry until I was out of the house already). And he finds this really upsetting.

Well, let your brother know you agree, & can talk to him about it. If you think you can discuss it with your mom without escalating the problem (i.e., without making it worse for either your bro or stepfather) then you should try, as nonconfrontationally as possible.... best of luck

Is your stepfather distressed over the painting, or content that she won't be lonely after his passing?

I don't know. I can't imagine that he'd be too happy about it. But maybe a bit of both? It just feels wildly disrespectful. I know it's very distressing to my brother.

Discretion!

You know the old Kenny Rogers song "Ruby...don't take your love to town". I never blamed Ruby for cheating, but she could have been less obvious about it. That's kinda the way I feel here.