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Old 03/08/10, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 329
Adult siblings STILL fighting - is this normal?

My husband is 45 and has one sibling, a sister who is 50. They were bought up in a rather stressful house with a mother who was very angry and verbally aggressive, and a father who basically came in from work and sat in a chair all evening ignoring everyone. They both still feel very bitter about how their mum treated them even though she died 20 years ago, and how their dad never got involved and stuck up for them. The other problem is they really seem to resent each other too. About once a year something or other starts a huge row and they explode at each other. Last night it happened again. His sister stays during the week at his dads house in London and my hub had been there at the weekend cleaning his old bedroom out, and after hoovering he left his old matress leaning against the door of her room. She wasn't in London at the time and he didn't realise she was coming down mid-afternoon but then he got a message on his mobile of her absolutely hysterically screaming "I H-A-T-E Y-O-U!!" He went around and she was flipping out about where he had left the matress. Now she is 6ft 2" and as strong as an Ox so would have no trouble moving it but she exploded about it, he exploded back - the pair screaming at the top of their lungs with every swear word and insult, then he stormed into his old room with her following and he slammed the door (accidentally) on her hand. Now I wasn't there but he told me all about it and I am just horrified that anyone other than stroppy teens or drunks in a bar could ever fight like this!! I honestly don't know anyone else who fights like this at their age, but when I said it to him he totally rubbished what I said, and now it's got me thinking maybe other people do behave like this? Would any of you think this is normal?
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Old 03/08/10, 07:25 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 2,375
I can't say I think it's "normal" but my two brothers were pretty well enemies from a very early age. I can see why the animosity - the older of the two has always looked out for #1, regardless of the impact on others, and the younger has always been more altruistic. Elder brother was somewhat "holier than thou" and a royal pain at times when pontificating about the perceived shortcomings of others. Younger brother was - shall we say - one to enjoy his shortcomings. I can't say that I had a deep love for the elder brother, either, but I tried to at least be civil. After he discovered he had inoperable cancer, we reconciled and in the end spent a lot of time on the phone together when he was well enough. But it took a great deal of "persuasion" from my parents and his wife to get the younger brother to even attend the funeral of the elder. When there, he didn't even give formal condolences to our widowed sister in law, and wouldn't have sent flowers except his wife ignored him and sent some anyway. He refused to visit him in hospital, and never spoke to him. He even refused to accept the letter that elder brother wrote to him a couple of days before his death. It was a very sad situation. I just think that one day he will regret his behaviour.

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Old 03/08/10, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 667
Probably not normal, but it's very common. Sad.
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Old 03/08/10, 08:22 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Location: KY South Central
Posts: 3,512
Well I don't speak to my sisters but we don't and never have had a big fight since we are grown. We more or les just drifted apart after my mom died. There were some hard feelings afterwards and it was never resolved. I have reached out to one sister but she doesn't seem interested in a relationship. Either way fighting your husband's way or silently it is sad.
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Old 03/08/10, 08:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Southeastern US
Posts: 396
Some of us have been on the outs but it didn't last. Things happen but it wasn't because of a mattress leaning against a door.
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Old 03/08/10, 09:04 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: WI
Posts: 4,277
Given the childhood you described, I'd say they never learned to fight fair. Nothing is likely to change unless one of them decides to change.
I have six siblings - I love them dearly, but they can push my buttons like no one can!
Marvelous Madame
Be kind to others. You do not know what burdens they are carrying.
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Old 03/08/10, 09:17 PM
Suburban Homesteader
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Posts: 2,559
My first thought when I read this thread is, whose definition of "normal" are we using? For people who came from a difficult family background, bitter arguing can be "normal" because they've done it all their lives. For people who came from happier families, such behavior may seem quite abnormal.

Of course, it's easy to say "but they are adults and they should know better." However, brothers and sisters don't stop being brothers and sisters as they get older. As Madame pointed out, siblings grow from childhood to adulthood knowing which buttons and how to push them to get the reaction they want from their brothers and sisters.
Ever tried? Ever failed? No Matter, try again, fail again. Fail better.

- Samuel Beckett
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Old 03/08/10, 09:37 PM
Alice In TX/MO's Avatar
More dharma, less drama.
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Texas Coastal Bend/S. Missouri
Posts: 30,594
Absolutely normal for their family.
* * *
"No great thing is created suddenly." ~Epictitus
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Old 03/08/10, 10:41 PM
CF, Classroom & Books Mod
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 9,936
Yep -- welcome to the world of dysfunctional families.

I hate to tell you this, but your DH is half of the problem. If he's screaming back at her, he needs to get some help -- not for her or for the family, but for him. Growing up in a dysfunctional family makes everything look distorted. The behavior they indulge in doesn't even seem odd to them -- as it would if they saw someone else acting that way, but it's very destructive.
Ignorance is the true enemy.

I've seen the village, and I don't want it raising my children.
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Old 03/08/10, 10:47 PM
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Accidental Farmer
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Indiana
Posts: 14,837
Sounds like life in my "mother's" home. I'd rather eat dirt and worms then ever go back to that anger.
It's not that I don't like mankind, I just like nature a whole lot more.
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Old 03/08/10, 10:58 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 458
Typical behavior in my family except it's more me and my Dad. My siblings and I mostly stay out of each others business now, but having a really scary screaming match on the verge of physical violence is pretty common between me and Dad. It's how I grew up and in my defense he is the one doing the pushing of buttons every chance he gets. It's one reason I moved 1000 miles away, life is so peaceful now

For most people this behavior is unbelievable, my husband thought I was joking when I told him about how volatile my family is, he learned quick. lol

I've managed to work through issues and learned to stay calm for the most part these days, but Dad still tries to pick fights with me when he's angry at others. I'm the only one not scared of him anymore.
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Old 03/09/10, 07:44 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: michigan
Posts: 23,896
Yes, it happens alot. Things from the past can manifest into other things thru the years.
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Old 03/09/10, 08:27 AM
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wife,mom,taxi driver,cook
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Near Charlotte NC
Posts: 6,677
yes for them its normal. They're both probably very comfortable with it. Changing things would probably make it worse at least for awhile and only if both are willing. Things are much the same in my family. I have one sister(youngest) I'm very close to and another that doesn't speak to me. From birth the two of us were put against each other...always compared and told "be more like her" ...the youngest sister i was immediately in charge of taking care of. I am just to a point in life though that i don't want the stress or I don't go around my middle sister. It infuriates her even more sadly. Dysfunctional families are lousy but sadly they are common.
You can say what you want about the South,
But you never hear of anyone retiring and moving North.
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Old 03/09/10, 08:36 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone 9b
Posts: 4,898
No screaming from my siblings any more but too many put downs and snide remarks...some siblings are a relief to avoid.
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Old 03/09/10, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 304
No one in my family fights like that.
My brothers wife's family does though. They scream at each other one minute and the next minute seems like nothing even happened.
My brother thinks this is healthier than the way my family handles conflict.. we just avoid each other until we cool down.
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Old 03/09/10, 09:10 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Kansas
Posts: 1,190
My brothers and I came from such a disfunctional family it is amazing that we get along. My father was an abusive alcoholic, my mother suffered from chronic depression divorced when I was 3 and my older brothers lived with various relatives. My younger brother was spoiled rotten, breast fed til he was 4 years old and still thinks we owe him anything he wants. My poor mother died at 48. I work hard at keeping us all together as a family. We are all in our 60's now and we try to see each other , help each other and love each other, as we are all we have left and only a short time remains for us to live on this Earth. I was told that most siblings do not get along as well as we do but we had many years of being apart when we were children. We still look up to the eldest brother and still try to help the youngest brother if we can do it.
Living the good life in Kansas.
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Old 03/09/10, 09:13 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,981
I honestly think most families have at least one child that is difficult and impossible to get along with. My oldest brother is like that. In fact, he is not speaking to me and refuses to acknowledge my existence if we are at the same place. I am not the only one he treats this way, though. He does the same thing to his 2 son-in-laws and has done it to his daughters.
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Old 03/10/10, 12:16 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Cold Mtn, W NC
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My MIL (who is visiting us now for a few weeks...) is 78 and still constantly rehashes old grievances she had with her 79 yr old sister. They fight like cats and dogs - I have to suppose this is normal for them. But pretty aggravating for the rest of us.
I'm not easy to live with, I know that it's true. You're no picnic either baby...

Don Henley
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Old 03/10/10, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: MN
Posts: 1,885
DH hasn't spoke to his brother in years....some habits are hard to break, if not impossible.
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Old 03/10/10, 09:45 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Kansas
Posts: 3,236
Yep, seems fairly normal. We grew up in a family that was not dysfunctional, but that doesn't stop fights from breaking out. I have one sister I get into it with because of the way she treats my kids like second class citizens. I take it for quite awhile until it gets to be too much, but she's living with my parents and they want to see the grandparents, but she can be an over bearing witch at times to them and it's uncalled for and yes, we have been known to have it out about it.

I have to remember Joseph. Remember, his brothers threw him down and well and then sold him off to Egypt. At least my siblings haven't done that yet, but I wouldn't put it past them.
"Be still sad heart, and cease repining. Behind the clouds, the sun is shining. Thy fate is the common fate of all. Into each life, a little rain must fall." -Longfellow
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