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Man berates sister; 'Your feelings about my wife's assistance dog DON'T MATTER.' AITA? UPDATED 3X

Man berates sister; 'Your feelings about my wife's assistance dog DON'T MATTER.' AITA? UPDATED 3X

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When this man is upset with sister, he asks the internet:

"AITAH for telling my sister it doesn’t matter how anyone else feels about my wife’s assistance dog?"

My wife and I live in a different state to my family, however we often travel back to my home state for special family occasions, birthdays and Xmas for example.

My wife is a 22 year military veteran and when she discharged it was medically, she has been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression and has spent several stints in psychiatric hospital, one for four months.

She was prescribed an assistance (service) dog who we have trained up under the supervision of a registered organisation and she (we’ll call her Daisy) is formally qualified and papered.

She goes pretty much wherever we go, including interstate flying in the cabin of the plane, with my wife in an ambulance to hospital, and also was interned with her at psychiatric units. My family are all aware of this and mostly supportive.

However the last time we visited for my niece’s 21 st birthday, I was questioned by both my sister and my niece about whether Daisy was accompanying my wife to the party, which I responded that she was, as my wife really struggles in loud crowded environments (there was about 80 people and loud music together in one room).

My niece suggested several reasons why Daisy shouldn’t go, loud music , balloons, lots of people… which I assured her Daisy was fine with - and they already know this being very familiar with Daisy’s very calm temperament.

My sister then spoke to me after my niece and also said similar things, not outright saying, but heavily suggesting it would be better if Daisy didn’t attend. I just said if my wife feels she needs her, she will be attending.

Sometimes my wife has been able to do small things without her, but never big events like parties, even shopping centres and restaurants Daisy comes with her.

Anyway, the party came and went, my wife had to take 4 Valium to cope, but managed to sit through the evening with Daisy by her side at her feet at a table, other people throughout the evening went over to talk to her and most didn’t even notice Daisy was there.

For myself, I’m used to my wife’s conditions and knew that although she was struggling, she was coping and even enjoying talking to people at times. I danced the night away, periodically sitting down beside my wife and checking in.

After the party was over, we had a few days at my sister’s house where the topic of her son’s impending wedding came up. Again I was asked by my sister if my wife would be taking Daisy. I again said yes, more than likely (for the same reasons as the 21: lots of people, loud noises, crowded environment).

Again if was inferred that the event wouldn’t be suitable for Daisy, the tables were really crowded, lots of people, plus my sister suggested that if my wife didn’t have Daisy she would be able to get up and dance!

Before my wife had her breakdown, she was not a dancer and now with her anxiety, there’s no way she’d be comfortable out on a dance floor! I was so taken aback I didn’t know how to respond.

My wife heard my sister talking to me and so she suggested she only go to the ceremony and skip the reception to avoid my sister getting stressed out about her dog. My sister snapped ‘they’re at the same venue!’ then softened it with ‘of course we want you to come’.

Both my wife and I felt very uncomfortable and kept reassuring my sister Daisy would be fine as she has been taught to sit under my wife’s chair out of the way… it felt like the concerns raised weren’t genuine concerns but just a way to feel like Daisy was unwelcome.

We flew back home not long after and this is where I may be TA. We woke up the next morning and the first words out of my wife’s mouth were ‘maybe and should just stay home for the wedding and you go by yourself so I don’t stress your sister out by taking Daisy’.

I felt so bad for her, it’s taken such a long time for her to feel comfortable in going out in public, and Daisy has been instrumental in that, and now my family were making her feel like she wasn’t welcome with her assistance dog.

I reassured her but later in the day I rang my sister and told her what my wife had said, and that perhaps more care could be taken to make sure my wife wasn’t left feeling that her conditions were not considered.

I told her my wife had said perhaps she shouldn’t go to avoid stressing her out and my sister just said ‘yes and?’ To which I replied that she had been prescribed a dog for a reason, and without her dog my wife would likely not go anywhere (like she used to).

My wife said well she was better last time she was down, she didn’t take her everywhere, I explained that mental health goes up and down, last time she was doing a bit better however she’d just been sick and was put on medication that messed with her regular meds and so was only just coming out of that.

Also I reminded my sister the last time we didn’t really go out apart from to a restaurant , to which Daisy also came. I just feel like I’m constantly trying to ‘prove’ my wife’s medical conditions, even her PTSD has been questioned as (my sister’s words) ‘she didn’t go to Afghanistan’.

She even had her best friend question me about it. I’m tempted to tell them some of my wife’s horror stories, but I just keep it general so they don’t get second hand trauma.

My sister also said that she ‘had to think about other people’ and I said why? Does someone have a problem with Daisy attending, and she said her son (my nephew) and his future wife had spoken to her about it. I said well I’ll ring them then, which she hastily replied, no you can’t, they spoke to me in confidence.

I said I just don’t understand what you are trying to achieve, and she said it’s not just about you, I have to think of other people.

I said well you wouldn’t be asking Nonna if she was bring her wheely walker, and she said actually Nonna might be in a wheelchair so I’ll have to put her at the end of the table, to which I snapped and said yes, but you wouldn’t tell her she’s not allowed to bring her wheelchair!

And she replied, I didn’t say you couldn’t bring Daisy! I said back that it was disingenuous to pretend that your questions aren’t designed to make us feel like she shouldn’t be coming. To which she replied that she couldnt handle this stress I was causing her and she said goodbye and hung up.

So aitah for calling my sister out on all her questions regarding my wife’s assistance dog? Am I too sensitive (like my sister said)?

Before we give you OP's update, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

aghtyew writes:

I’m actually going to say YTA. This whole post comes off as you begging and pleading in a round about way. No one is being direct and it’s causing more issues. As a spouse you have a responsibility to take up for your wife but it feels like a last resort hear.

How many times are you going to let your family hint that daisy isn’t welcome for the same bs reasons before you straight up confront your family by asking is daisy not welcome/ wanted.

There’s a lot of hemming and hawing going on, cut to the chase and let them know that all three of you are a package deal. Since they don’t want daisy to attend it means that it won’t be possible for you and your wife.

You’re slow to be decisive and probably contributing to your wife feeling like a burden. Respect their boundary for no dogs but take a stance and say that you both wont participate.

Stop giving your relatives the power. They don’t get to determine the state of your wife’s mental health or her needs. Shut that all other way down.

festiy writes:

NTA. Your wife needs an assistance dog to be able to do things. She has some good days where she can do things without the dog. But that dog is literally medically prescribed, leaving the dog at home is literally ignoring medical advice in a way that will likely significantly worsen your wife's conditions.

I think you need to make it clear that you're a package deal - you, your wife and the dog. If one of the three isn't welcome, none of the three are welcome. If the dog can't come, neither can you or your wife.

Also, your sister is very clearly lying about your nephew and his partner talking to her about this. Call your nephew, ask him directly whether the assistance dog is accommodated for and welcome. I bet he'll say yes and be truly surprised you have to even ask.

Call your sister out on her lie, and don't lie to the nephew about where the doubt about the dog came from. Your sister backtracked enough to try to get you to not call your nephew because she doesn't want the drama of him finding out she lied, using him as an excuse, to exclude two of his invited guests and cause drama at his wedding.

Your wife is doing great and is clearly working hard to not let her conditions rule her life. The dog is a huge part of that, as well as the unwavering support of her husband.

Your sister clearly doesn't understand or accept mental health issues as a disability. I mean, you don't even have to be a military vet to suffer from PTSD, let alone a vet who saw action in a place like Afghanistan, like that's the only place you could go through traumatic experiences in the military!

I have minor PTSD myself, and I was never military, it's related to a mic of childhood trauma, witnessing a death and an abusive relationship. Mine is very mild, I don't really have issues from it anymore, just an occasional nightmare or flashback.

Your wife is putting in the work to cope and get better, that should be commended, not treated as if she's faking simply because she wants her pet with her.

felinet5 writes:

I don't know if you're wrong for calling her out, but I do know if you care about someone, you sacrifice to make their life easier. Your sister sounds like she's a pretty selfish person and lacks empathy.

If I knew someone was suffering, I wouldn't think about depriving them of what they need to get through the day, unless it was a dangerous habit like drug use. Even if I didn't want the dog there, I would never consider suggesting it.

As adults, we all have to come to terms with compromise and accepting that we rarely get exactly what we want. It seems your sister hasn't learned this lesson.

In your place, I would be far more aggressive with my sister. I would also tell her that if the dog or wife isn't welcome, you won't be attending either. I would be absolutely livid with her, but I'm not you. If it were me, I would've called my nephew immediately. I suspect he didn't actually say anything.

To a kind person, a wedding would never be more important than the suffering of others. It's also a big wonder to me that the dog is an issue at all. I wish that was the worst of my problems, it would be the best day of my life.

I can see that someone might have a genuine fear of dogs, in which case it's something that needs to be negotiated. Their fear wouldn't be less valid than your wife's needs.

creimee writes:

Call your nephew. If he did talk to her in confidence, then he deserves to know that confidence has been broken and his mother can’t keep her mouth shut. If he didn’t talk to her in confidence, likely meaning he didn’t talk to her at all, then he deserves to know his mother is using him as an excuse to kick up a fuss about something that should be a non issue.

NTA, and good for you for standing up for your wife. I can’t imagine having ptsd on top of my anxiety and depression. I’m sure she struggles a great deal. She sounds like a sweet unselfish woman, and I wish her (and you) the best.

The only problem I can really think of with Daisy being there is if someone in attendance is highly allergic.

I would think that would be something that would already be known about any family members or close friends who may be attending. Even if that is the case, there’s no reason that can’t be worked around. Seat them and your wife at opposite sides of the venue and everyone should be fine.

dawnshakar writes:

NTA. And don't heed your sister - call your nephew. It's his wedding. You shouldn't say anything about his or his bride's feelings, because you heard about them second hand and in hints rather than statements.

What you can and should do is tell him your sister has been talking to you, and she's hinting that Daisy can't come to the wedding. Sadly, the only way your wife can come is with Daisy. So you want to know whether they want you, your wife and Daisy to come, or prefer all of you to stay away.

I wouldn't even suggest that you come without your wife and Daisy. Their wedding, their choice, but a wedding invitation is not a command. If they cannot accommodate your wife's needs - especially since these needs stem from her serving her country - you don't need to come.

fastaaaa writes:

NAH. This isn't the typical therapy dog situation, your dog actually has training. Daisy has also demonstrated the ability to remain calm in crowded situations. The fake therapy dogs people try to pass off don't have training or the ability to remain calm.

Ultimately it's not your wedding though. It's not your sister's wedding, either. She can either let the bride and groom speak for themselves or she can shut up and stop speaking for them. Honestly, the way it sounds is like she didn't want the dog there, not the bride and groom. Why else wouldn't she want you to confront the issue?

You should ask your nephew and his fiance. Cut your sister out of the discussion entirely. Just say, there's rumors that Daisy isn't welcome at your wedding. We don't want to cause issues for you, but since wife can't be in crowds without the dog, she wants to be able to respectfully decline the invitation without upsetting anyone.

We don't want hard feelings and we don't want to take away from your big day, but we want to make sure of your wishes before listening to rumors from the grape vine.

You do not have to prove your wife's medical condition to your sister at all. Just tell her she's free to educate herself on the matter, but it's not your job to explain what she doesn't understand.

beatbrokent writes:

Sister is jealous of Daisy and your wife. The dog attracts attention and then they ask your wife about her time in the military. Wife is a hero.

Your wife is getting some positive attention and compliments. And, because other people attending have told your sister and her family how proud and impressed they are with her sacrifice. And, they should be because it is brave.

Your wife should receive every kindness when she has the courage to stand with others to serve and protect. Shame on your sister and anyone else who makes life harder for someone whose life is currently really hard.

They think your wife is lying or they are exaggerated accounts of what went on. If you have sister and BF trying to pick apart your wife’s accounts , this is exactly what is going on and they are being vocal about it and she has tried to recruit others onto the way she thinks.

There will always be other idiots who believe the worst without thinking it through. And, there are others who will see it for exactly what it really is…jealousy. They think these are lies or exaggerated stories. And, make no mistake, they are JEALOUS.

I would call them out for their jealousy and tell them one story. And, then of said story say, this is one of the more tame ones because I don’t want to frighten you. This will shut most of it down.

Call your cousin. That part is a lie. Sister is counting on your good manners to dictate how you behave. Not rocking the boat. At the end of this, I would go low to no contact.

And now, OP's update:

After reading the supportive comments from (almost) everyone, I ended up ringing my nephew. Firstly, a few clarifications. One, I am a woman, it’s a same se% marriage so am not her husband but her wife.

Two, her Valium is only 2mg, she took 4 that night which is 8mg, which means she was nowhere near ‘whacked out of mind’ like some suggested. She has 5mg tablets as well but prefers to titrate the dose herself in 2mg increments for precisely that reason.

Three, yes I was up dancing the night away, and this does not make me a monster, we rarely go out, and when we do my wife loves seeing me enjoy myself and letting my hair down, as much of my life is in service to her and her conditions.

She gets enjoyment from me having fun too. Plus the dance floor was like 3 metres from where she was sitting and I could see her watching me and smiling.

Four, please refrain from calling my sister nasty names, yes she is out of line here but she (and her kids) are my only immediate family and are very important to me. Going NC would hurt me as much as her.

Anyway, for the update. I rang my nephew and asked him if he and his bride had a problem with Daisy accompanying my wife to their wedding as my sister was suggesting they did. I said that while my sister hadn’t directly said Daisy couldn’t go, it was being heavily implied that she wasn’t welcome.

My nephew seemed kind of confused initially and didn’t really answer the question other than to say he hadn’t really thought about it.

I wondered then if he was being cagey so I asked him for his total honesty and he said that when he spoke to his mum… then he stopped and said ‘actually, mum spoke to ME’ he also told her he hadn’t thought about it. He then said he hadn’t even asked his fiance yet.

I told him my anxiety was really high over this and I just needed to know how he felt, and he said, ‘I guess I just assumed Daisy would be going with (your wife), as they’re kind of a package deal’ I got quite emotional hearing this, and he told me not to worry, that everything must have been blown out of proportion, and so long as my wife was ok.

He’s always been a really caring kid which is why I had my suspicions that my sister wasn’t being totally honest. Anyway we chatted some more, he told me to stop crying otherwise he’d cry at work and all his mates would laugh at him, which made me laugh. He said he’d ring his mum, so I guess s is going to hit the fan.

I have several stress related conditions because of what I’ve been through keeping my wife alive so I really struggle these days with anxiety, I have MINOCA and have had a heart attack in the past from stress (Takastubo).

I’ve been having really bad chest pain from this and stomach upset so although I was tempted to tell my nephew not to call his mum, I need a resolution one way or another. The limbo is too difficult to manage. So I guess there will be another update.

Update 2:

Thank you so much for your considered reply and your service too. My wife is on medication that helps (it’s taken a few years to get it right) and she sees a psychiatrist and psychologist every fortnight, and is linked in with other VA services. She has also given up alcohol (she drinks zero percent beers now which she says are great), and she undertakes an exercise program.

It’s taken a looog time and a ton of effort of her behalf to get to this point, and a lot of input and help from me. That’s why I’m so protective of her, I know the hell she has been through to get to the point where she can even consider going to big events.

Everyone else just thinks ‘she’s fine’. I still see her nightmares at night, her sitting in the car willing the courage to get out with Daisy at the shops, her anxiety rising in crowds, her bad days in the privacy at home , etc etc… you know the story.

I’ve tried to encourage her to link up with other veterans but she finds some people too triggering, and we’ve had a couple of instances where vets have been inappropriate (because they are unwell).

She may consider it again but right now she keeps her bubble small. Thank you for your kind words, I’m not the perfect partner all the time but I do give it 100% effort that’s for sure. She deserves it. And so do you.

Update 3:

My wife has had a seizure in the past from PTSD nightmares, but it was only once. My sister knows she’s been hospitalised, she’s seen her not be able to get out of bed for days with migraines… but it seems when my wife is functioning ‘better’, that is all forgotten.

My wife is very good at hiding her illnesses too (years of being in the military teaches you that!). But I don’t think it’s specific to my wife, when I was in hospital with a perforated bowel I felt that was minimised by my sister too.

Unless it’s happened to her she seems to struggle to empathise at times. But is very caring sometimes too… it’s really confusing.

My sister is a very complicated person. She has suffered the trauma of losing my mum, like I did, quite young, and her death was quite horrific, my sister has very bad anxiety and I guess that’s where the extreme need for control comes from too.

I have control issues too, although not to the same degree, and I work really hard on letting go. My sister seems to be getter worse, but she won’t recognise the problem, and won’t get help. And no one ( apart from me, occasionally) stands up to her. My niece tries too but it doesn’t go well at all.

Sources: Reddit
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