My name is Dennis Stuart. Since elementary school, my brother Dan and I have been very competitive. It was more on his part to best me at everything we did. We made good grades, played sports and worked hard on every project we were assigned. Both mom and dad were teachers so it was a given that we were competitive. I got a bachelor’s degree in engineering and Dan as well, but Dan one upped me and my parents. He got a bachelor’s and M.D. degrees. By the time we were in our mid-20s, I was so tired of this silly rivalry game, but Dan was as competitive as ever. I was concerned that our younger twin brother sister were starting to become like Dan. I just observed and mentioned to my parents that Dan took love competing with me for some reason. My mother did sometimes have my father step in when she thought Dan was going a bit too far. But it had been years since I had heard her say anything to my father or Dan about his need to be out in front on everything. I hope they would stop this with the twins.
I stopped protesting and let Dan go on with his games. I stopped telling him anything about my plans because all he would do was find a way to diminish it and throw insults about what or how he could do something better. I remember when I said I was going to take guitar lessons. Dan said that he had already taken guitar lessons years ago and learned piano too. Why couldn’t he just say something nice? This was the scenario with everything I did or said.
When I started dating my wife Courtney, Dan was nice to her and thought she was pretty, but he was determined to get a prettier girlfriend. The girl he was dating named Anne, was very attractive and super nice despite Dan’s obsessive behavior. He opted to trade her in and go for a prettier girl. Dan found Jin in the gym where he worked out every day. She is actually half Chinese and half British. Jin is smart, getting a master’s degree in International Business and was on her way to run a fortune 500 company. Jin stood up to Dan. They debated a lot but seemed to genuinely love each other. I didn’t get involved in their lives at all. I was too busy courting my wife and preparing to propose after about 10 months. I made the mistake of sharing my plans with mom. After all, it was mainly mom who taught me how to treat Courtney and win her heart. She was overjoyed and told Dan how happy she was for me and that she would be getting some grandchildren sooner than she thought. Dan could not stand the fact that I was so happy and getting married before he would, so he set out to sabotage my plans.
About four weeks passed. On the day that I proposed to Courtney, she accepted over a nice quiet dinner. We invited our families to dinner the next night to officially make the announcement. Everyone came including Courtney’s parents and two younger siblings. Dan and Jin invited her parents who were visiting from Hong Kong. I announced that Courtney and I were officially engaged and planned to be married in about a year. My father stood up and toasted us. He blessed our engagement with all kinds of compliments and told us he already loved Courtney like a daughter. Courtney’s mom cried and her parents came over to hug us both. Mom cried too and told her future in-laws how happy she was to increase our family by five people. I tried to ignore Dan’s fake smiles but wondered how he would try to out-do me. I expected him to say something nice even if he was insincere. Well it only took ten minutes and Dan made an announcement of his own. He stood up, congratulated me, and announced that he and Jin were also engaged and getting married in Hong Kong, in three months.
Everyone was in shock but applauded Dan and Jin. He did it again. Dan’s competitiveness now included innocent parties. My parents and I knew exactly what he was doing and I was seething, but I contained my anger and was determined not to let Dan completely ruin our night. Dan totally manipulated the situation by asking me to be his best man. Not only did he try to steal my joy, Dan was bullying. I quickly turned the attention back to our announcement and said that Courtney would be planning her dream wedding and that I was leaving everything up to her. Courtney stood up and announced that I made her the happiest woman in the world. She also showed class in congratulating Jin. I finished my dinner in a fake, festive mood.
(Continue reading in the book When Family Does You Wrong).