First; a little background. I recently started dating a guy and it looks promising. So promising, that he have on several occasions introduced me to his family (closest family consists of his father, sister w/husband and two kids aged 3 & 5, and their aunt w/ husband and two kids in their early twenties).
Everyone is nice and welcoming and always positive towards me. I do have a hard time getting along with the sister. It works fine at family functions, we talk about the weather and the roast and the beautiful cake and all things mundane and I play with her kids and all is good. But we never really talk, she does NOT EVER tell anyone what she means, just smiles and nods and move on and comes back with an ever bigger smile. This would be great if she was such a person that forgives and forgets but sadly that is not the case. Instead for voicing her opinion she just smiles and nods and smiles even more until she drops a bomb some time later about how offended/sad/etc she feels about a particular situation. She NEVER confronts face to face and she never really talks about things, just smiles and nods.
The particular event I would like to describe to you happened during Easter holiday. I and my boyfriend made plans to stay at his winter cabin, do some skiing, etc. for the entire holiday. His sister, husband and kids would come up to visit and have dinner one day and I really looked forward to it. I brought my dog along since he loves to play in the snow, and the kids had a good time playing with the dog. I and my boyfriend’s sister cooked dinner and chatted and generally everyone had a good time. (I thought that everything went VERY well at this point and I actually felt that got a bit closer to her).
After dinner we sat down to relax and the dog went to sleep in a corner. I made point of putting the dog down for a nap as he was getting a bit worked up by the kids constantly playing and giving him commands.
I need to point out that the kids are not at all used to dogs and did not know how to properly behave around him. Thus, when they tried to approach the sleeping dog and started poking him, I politely, but sternly told them to please leave him alone, he has laid down to rest in his bed and seems to want to be left alone. He is a big dog and even though I completely trust him around kids he could easily knock them over or something like that if awoken abruptly, and I did not want the kids to be scared or get a bad experience.
The kids backed off, the dog kept sleeping and I avoided a potential dangerous situation and everyone was happy. I thought nothing of it afterwards. My boyfriend’s sister and her husband did not even flinch when I confronted their kids, no reaction at all and I thought I was well within my right to tell them to leave the dog alone.
The young boy, however, kept his interest on the dog and I had to tell him one more time to leave the dog alone, but that’s how kids are. I did not raise my voice or use foul language, just sat down with him and explained why we need to respect the dog’s space when he sleeps.
In my eyes it was completely called for because it was my dog and it is completely up to me if I want the kids to play with him or not, and secondly no one in my boyfriend’s family are particular familiar with dogs hence I thought it a good opportunity to teach the kids a little bit about how to treat a large dog as I did not want them to approach him unattended.
However, a couple of days or so later my boyfriend got a call from his sister, where she told him that she probably stand to spend more than a couple of hours with me at the time because I was too harsh and rude and berated her kids. Apparently she was furious! My boyfriend kept a polite spine, and told his sister that she was out of line reacting like that and then relayed the conversation to me later on. I was devastated since I want nothing more than a happy and friendly relationship with my future sister-in-law and I love her kids very much. It just bothers me that she did not speak to me at the time, or if she didn’t want to bring up the subject in front of the kids, made no effort to speak to me afterwards.
Is there any way I can handle this situation gracefully without insulting the sister? I really wish she had spoken to me at the time, and I would have adjusted my manners accordingly but she did nothing of the sort, carrying on as nothing ever happened and being all cheers and joy. And then she starts yelling at her brother because of my apparent rude behavior, not trying to confront me or even talk to be about the subject.
I have noticed that they seldom really talk to each other in my boyfriend’s family, everyone just keeps their mouth shut and then complain to everyone else than the actual persons involved. Therefore I am not sure it will go down well if I approach his sister on the subject, I have consulted my boyfriend and he said that I am more than welcome to confront his sister but I will not get a sincere response, she will be happy as ever and then call and shout at him for telling me.
I am quite furious myself as I think that it was well within my right to tell the kids not to disturb the dog and in addition avoid a potential hazardous situation.
Do you have any ideas on how I handle this and hopefully the same situation in the future? Should I keep low and forget about it all and then risk similar situations in the future or should I keep my ground and tell the sister that if she has an issue with me she can take it up with me? All I really want is an open and honest relationship with my boyfriends family.
Yep, lots of thoughts. Sister is a drama queen and over time she has been allowed by her family to get away with these post situational rants behind people’s backs.
The way to mitigate her behavior is for both you and your boyfriend to commit to never hearing secondhand rants about other people. And I mean *anyone* ranting to either of you about anyone else in the family. Your responses when the drama gossip starts is to halt the conversation and say, “I do not want to hear it. If you have a problem with XXX, you go talk to XXX. Do not speak to me until you do and if you cannot resolve the conflict together, I will help moderate between you two to come to a peaceful resolution.” You want to force her to either address her offenses with the person she claims has offended her or force her to cease the backstabbing gossip.
Your boyfriend should view his sister’s drama gossip as a very divisive tool to sow discord between you, him and various family members. I do not believe he should listen to any of it if his sister is unwilling to address her offenses directly with the person she claims has offended her, i.e. you. I think you should release your expectation that you and boyfriend’s sister will become bosom buddies and accept that civil but superficial interactions may be all that can be expected from this relationship. I would certainly be discreet in what you choose to tell her about your personal life or opinions, btw.