Drama Queen Defensive Tactics…or How to Exercise Your Mind

by admin on August 9, 2016

I previously submitted this story http://www.etiquettehell.com/?p=3754

I also took the advice from that post, but now we are back to square one. I know that this is a long post, but I really need your input. I partly need to vent but I also need some advice here. Having tried the firm but polite answers suggested in your reply to the previous submitted story, I must say that it helped a while but now it is worse than ever.

Since submission of the previous story, my boyfriend and I have married and I am now pregnant with our first child. A few months after the initial backstabbing and drama, my boyfriend brushed off his sister’s rants and it worked to some extent. And everything wound down over time, and we have lived almost two years in blissful peace. But then it started again, first at our wedding, some 14 months ago. We live in Scandinavia, and there are generally no rules on who is supposed to organize what in a wedding. I might be the couple themselves, it might be the mother of the bride, a professional wedding planner or anything in between. It was considered well within etiquette rules for me to plan the reception myself, and because I am an extremely organized person and I planned the reception down to the last minute for several reasons;

1) I did not want serving of food not interrupting the speeches (or food sitting out waiting for speeches to finish)

2) Due to legislation regarding serving of alcohol we only had access to the venue until 2 AM – therefore I wanted the actual sit-down dinner to be as short and delightful as possible for everyone. I have been through more than enough wedding dinners that drag on for hours and hours and then there is almost no time left to cut the cake, dance etc

3) As a couple, we felt that it was very important to us to actually spend the evening with our friends and family, speaking and interacting with them instead of sitting down all night

Everyone who wanted to say something or contribute in any way were given the opportunity, and was allocated 20 minutes. This was in my opinion more than enough for a speech, toast or whatever they might have planned.

Future SIL then tried to hijack the reception stating that we were “ungrateful brats” not accepting her three (!!) speeches and a song into the schedule, and that her speech(es) would last for however long she wanted it to. I said that she could have as many songs and speeches as she possibly would want, but that she would have to keep it under 20 minutes, due to the aforementioned reasons. She continued to state that her wedding reception had gone for 8 hours and no-one had complained (at least not to her face….) and that I was crazy thinking that I would get the chance to talk to everyone in person during the evening. She almost went flat out saying that I was selfish for wanting to spend time with my guests instead of accommodating her requests! There was a couple of days of mayhem where she berated my fiancé, stating that the schedule would never hold up, but when it came to it the reception was over in 5 hours on the dot, nothing was rushed and as far as I can tell people felt welcome and happy. SIL then grudgingly accepted the fact that she had to silently eat her words and apologize. The next year went by without any more arguing or complaining.

Fast forward one year, and the drama starts again. Here, I want to give a little background: My husband and I live on the farm that he has inherited through his family. Is mother is deceased and his widowed father is retired, also residing in a house on the farm. SIL and her family lives 3 hours from us. My husband and I keep a small herd of cattle and also grow grain and feed for the animals, in addition to pursuing separate careers. SIL works part time as a nurse while her husband is a full time farmer. This basically means that she has all the time in the world on her hands and is as close as a stay-at-home mom you can get while still working the occasional night shift in a nursing home, while me and hubby are fighting the clock from time to time. We travel for work and we have long hours and whenever I am traveling he has to be home with the animals and vice versa. We love the lifestyle and it works for us. Some change will have to come with the baby arriving, but we are prepared for that. I grew up on a farm myself and take part as much as I can, but there are certain physically demanding tasks (heavy lifting etc) that I cannot do and some machine operations I do not dare to do (because I don’t have the proper training yet). But in principal, I can manage the farm on my own for shorter or longer time periods if it came to that, given that there are no emergencies or extraordinary circumstances.

My beloved father- in-law is amazing to have around, and he helps out a lot and we are extremely grateful for that. He runs errands that have to be concluded during business hours (while we are in the office) and he almost always takes part in the annual harvest and daily supervision of the animals. He also has a very strong sense of responsibility, and hardly ever leaves the farm except for day-trips or the occasional weekend away because “he might be needed at home”. This is built into his behavior and it is very hard to have him change his ways and understand that he can let go if he wants to. He is also starting to get old and his memory isn’t what is was – I believe that the routine he keeps up at the farm helps gives him a purpose and a reason to get up every day. My husband and I are in no way exploiting his efforts on the farm or guilt him into contributing. We are stating over and over again that he is completely free to do whatever he wants to do with his time, that is his right and privilege, and profusely thank him every time he helps out. One of the ways we show our gratitude is to invite him to our meals. Since widowed, he haven’t put much effort into cooking for himself (his wife was the one who did the cooking) – so my husband and I try to have him for dinner as much as possible, to show our gratitude, keep him company and include him. It is my pleasure to help care for him and he is an extremely polite and graceful old man, always grateful for whatever we serve. This however, does not goes home well with the sister in law.

And here comes the actual issue:

For some reason my SIL finds it necessary to undermine my contribution on the farm and to the family, and the relationship with her father. She called up my husband one day out of the blue and had to make a point of the fact that “our father don’t eat at yours as much as you say he does”. Okay… whatever. He is an old, forgetful man, and when someone asks him on a Wednesday what he did on the Monday he might omit to mention that he had dinner at our place, he might not even remember. She then went on to say that my cooking wasn’t all that anyway, so don’t be thinking that my contribution is significant in any way. And it goes on and on and on…. statements like, “ …is not much use at the farm, because we have so much help from… ” and that I am keeping my husband under the heel of my shoe and he has become a doormat since marrying me, etc, etc, etc. And the ranting never ends! She states that my husband is a pushover/less manly for wanting to take part in caring for the baby to come, because she never made her husband do that. Meaning that her husband never changed a diaper in his life while I have been stern from the beginning saying that if we are having children my husband will have to pull his weight around the house just as much as I am contributing on the farm work. It’s a team effort!! This however makes my husband “whipped” in her eyes. By that time in the conversation my husband was fed up and said on the phone that he did not want to discuss the matter further. She just hangs up on him. The calls and arguments have been happening regularly for a couple of weeks now, concerning some variations of the themes above and now it is really starting to get to me. How do I handle this?

One time she was home visiting andstated that both my husband and I are morons for wanting to redecorate the nursery for our upcoming baby (the wallpaper was black and silver.. very stylish but not nursery style!) and picked a huge fight over this, in front of her kids! Calling names and even hitting my husband in anger. My father-in-law had to intervene and tell her to back off the subject in order to have her calm down.

Not to get ahead of myself but I sort of get the feeling that she is jealous in some way, for shortcomings in her own family life or that she feels the need to be better than me? I just don’t understand why she has the stamina to get all worked up over things that clearly has no effect on her life what so ever? I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but come on, get over yourself already! It must be very exhausting to get so agitated over small stuff all the time… She have also tried berate my husband about baby name choices, pushing him to choose one 4 months before I am due – again none of her business!

My question to you is; what do I do? Whenever she is in vicinity of me, or know that I might be within earshot of any call she makes to my husband, she acts like the sweetest thing and that nothing have happened. If I am not present or she is talking to him without me within earshot she completely changes attitude. Him telling her that, “I will not discuss matters about persons not present in this conversation or listen to second hand rants,” should be enough to have her back down, but oh no, it gives her more fuel to the feed fire of her looking at my husband as an un-opinionated spineless wimp. The truth is that he is completely the opposite, always keeps his integrity and stands up for what is right although he tends to be very diplomatic instead of stern with people. The problem is that normal polite answers does not work with this lady! If I ever tell her, “sorry, we are unable to accommodate that request,” we are rude and inconsiderate of her. If my husband tells her that he refuses to listen to her rants he is a pushover. It annoys me more than I dare to admit that she does not respond to a stern talking-to like normal people!

I have confessed this to my mom, and she says call and confront SIL. That is in my experience completely impossible, because she will be happier than sunshine whenever I call and deny the whole thing claiming that my husband is making mountains out of insignificant molehills. I don’t care who SIL decides to talk to, she can complain all she wants to all her friend and whoever happens to be listening as far as I am concerned, but now it is hitting too close to home and it is seriously getting on my nerves! I really want to set the record straight (preferably with my husband listening) and tell her that if she has a problem she can talk directly to me, not go behind my back. I have accepted the fact that our relationship will be superficial, at best – but does it make me a bad person wanting to stand up for myself?

Do you have any advice on how to handle this? I fear that we will have to go through the rest of our life with her opinion about our doings and actions hanging over us at all times.

You are reacting like a person who cares whether someone has a good opinion of you.   Everyone of us in this world will encounter persons who do not like us and often for inexplicable reasons.   Some people, I am convinced, simply love having an enemy to target their aggression towards.  As a semi-public figure I’ve been the recipient of people’s angst over the years and if I cared one iota about these people’s opinions of me, I’d be a mental mess.   But I don’t care about the opinions of those who are not loved ones so these people never take up residence in my mind.   A quick mental flush and it’s as if they never existed.

With family that is harder to accomplish since it is nigh on impossible to mentally flush these people from your thoughts.   I’ve been there, too, (I think we all have at least one oddball family member) and my solution is to so diminish this person’s influence in my life that my perspective changes to being amused at the antics.   Mentally step aside from the drama and analyze the situation for what it really is….drama.   And either ignore the drama or enjoy the drama as comedy.   In our family, we utterly and completely ignore one particular family member’s attempts to ignite drama by acting as if the bombshell comments were never said.  We don’t change our conversation, we don’t acknowledge what was said , we don’t look at the person, we act as if the drama is happening on another dimension we can’t see or hear.   Nothing frustrates a drama queen more than not having an appreciative audience.

Our other tactic, which my husband is very skilled at doing, is to view these dramatic situations with amusement.   Isn’t it cute that so-and-so is having a meltdown?  Chuckle to yourself because sometimes things are so absurd all you can do is laugh at the ludicrousness of it all.   We have been known to respond to a rant with a small laugh and quirky smile and say, “If believing that makes you happy, have at it,” and then continue our conversations or whatever else we were doing thus implying that the drama queen is welcome to stew in his/her rant juices but we decline to hop in that cauldron with them.

I do admit though to being completely flustered by one incident.   Years ago several of us were involved in a legal dispute that did involve a family member and I had been the calmest person (other than the lawyer) while interacting with said person.   That is, until we were several hours into arbitration, I had just testified with some devastating evidence that simply could not be refuted, and the response to my evidence was the person said something that struck a deep nerve in me.  We could see his attorney advising him not to do it. He did it anyway.  It was a deep emotional and ad hominem knife in the back that had no relevance whatsoever to the evidence presented or even the arbitration itself.  Witnesses said I looked like daggers were coming from my eyes and after arbitration was over and we were alone with our attorney at a restaurant, I collapsed into a sobbing mess.  That was how profoundly I had allowed that comment to invade my mind.  Meanwhile our attorney was practically dancing with joy and high fiving us because that one comment targeted at me summed up the entire reason why we had sought legal remedy and was the single most damaging thing the defendant could have done.   The scene in the restaurant was interesting…there I was with my head in my hands crying and everyone else was hooting and hollering with joy.   It took me about 30 minutes to readjust my perspective to match theirs …what I considered to be devastatingly hurtful, they viewed it as if it was winning goal for the Super Bowl.   Our side won everything we wanted…..it was a devastating loss for the other person.   And I learned several very valuable lessons that day which were that I should never allow my mental defenses to drop and allow someone who I neither respect nor love that kind of access to my mind and heart, and that while I may initially have the perspective that this is a hurtful situation, the same situation from an orthogonal perspective could be viewed quite differently.  Addendum:  The memory of this does not haunt me nor elicit any emotional reaction other than what I would loosely describe as “contentment”.

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Dyan August 9, 2016 at 10:36 am

she seems like a very unhappy person..very negative, do you really want to be around that? do you really want your baby to be around that…I would cut all ties with this woman..you owe her nothing. I would say do not come around here, if you can change fine, if not leave and don’t call and don’t come back..
LIFE IS TOOOO SHORT for people like this in your life

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padua August 9, 2016 at 10:54 am

agreed with admin. and stop answering the phone calls. if she is less confrontational face-to-face, then make all her interactions in person.

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Elle August 9, 2016 at 11:21 am

You should never have heard all those hateful remarks, and your husband needs to quit listening to the sister. He is enabling the abuse and drama. He needs to interrupt his sister the moment she starts complaining and say, “I will not discuss my wife with you. Our relationship and our life together are none of your business. If you would like to talk about something else, we can continue this conversation. Otherwise, I am going to hang up the phone without saying goodbye, and that is how I will react from now on.” Then he needs to make good on that promise. Some people (e.g., people with borderline personality disorder) feel dead inside unless there is drama happening in their lives. You said, “It must be very exhausting to get so agitated over small stuff all the time.” In fact, it probably is making your SIL feel calm and/or exhilarated to start spewing her venom. It helps her to feel alive. You are expecting a baby, and you and your husband will need all your energy to focus on that child and keeping him/her safe, both physically and emotionally. Your SIL is an abuser, and your husband needs to be the front line to protect his family — you and the baby — from someone who grew up in the same house with him and has a track record of being abusive.

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Dyan August 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm

so true a total bully this woman is

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Lara August 9, 2016 at 11:32 pm

Yes, this is what I was thinking. Your husband just needs to hang up to the phone when she does this. Tell her once that this is what he will do if she starts to complain about you, then do it, every time. Or if she yells at him about something. No arguing, no anger, no stressing. Just hit that button. Also let her know that she will not be welcome in your home again until she has stopped criticising you. If she is at your house and begins to complain about something, show her to the door immediately, no exceptions. If you meet her at someone else’s house and it starts, leave the room and the house if necessary.

It sounds like your husband has done a great job trying to stand up for you and in not letting his sister’s attitude affect his. However, he is still tolerating her behavior, and is not yet doing enough to actively shield you from her. He needs to let his sister know that if she wants a relationship with him, then she needs to quit it, and every single time that she begins to complain or create drama surrounding you and your choices, she will be cut off and cut out.

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Cat August 9, 2016 at 11:40 am

I came to the conclusion some years ago that there are times that I forget I am a lady and a Christian and the demon within emerges and roars. This SIL would have summoned it.
It is not for you to call Sis. It is for your husband to say to her face, not on the phone, “You gossip about us, making up lies and being hateful. It is going to stop.
Think what you like, but I don’t want to hear one word from you criticizing my wife, my children, our choices, our lifestyle, or me. I have had it with your constant harping on what is none of your business. Back off and shut your mouth!”
If others try to tell you what she is saying behind your back, tell them that she is a liar and a meddler. You have no interest in anything she says so they can save themselves the trouble of repeating it.

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JD August 9, 2016 at 11:45 am

I realize she’s family, but it sounds to me like your husband, since she won’t confront you but only him, is going to have to tell her that hateful comments such as she is making are not allowed anymore, and if she continues to make them, he will not be taking her calls or allowing her to visit his house until she ceases, and apologizes. That’s the very extreme, of course, but if all the regular suggestions don’t work, extreme is all you have left. And follow Admin’s advice. Determine to let it roll off of you.
We have a drama hog in the close family who doesn’t issue hateful remarks, but who deliberately says controversial things plus gets offended at the drop of a hat. I’m quiet, so I’ve walked on eggshells a good bit around this person, but finally, I’ve started confronting this person on occasion, saying, for instance, “Are you calling me a liar?” in a cold, deadly calm voice, which has had the surprising effect of making this person who claimed to be the only one “courageous enough to say what needs to be said” back off and back down, at least on that particular subject. Maybe not so courageous after all, hm?

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Kirsten August 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

OP, your sister-in-law isn’t rational. Calling your husband names and hitting him over a disagreement about wallpaper (that isn’t even her wallpaper!) is beyond sibling arguments or family drama. It’s assault. I would say have as little to do with her as possible. Don’t try to stop your husband interacting with her, be polite and friendly when she’s there, pay as much attention to her husband and kids as you would if she was normal, and other than that, put her from your mind. If she phones to tell you you’ve painted the bathroom the wrong colour, “we like it. Got to go feed the cows. Bye.” If she corners you in the kitchen to tell her you’re sharing the childcare in a way she doesn’t like, “it works for us. I need to take the recycling out now.” If she hits your husband, phone the police and report an assault, or at the very least, get her out of the house and don’t let her back until she apologises and tells you what sort of help she’s getting for her anger. She’s only a problem if you let her be a problem.

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Michelle August 9, 2016 at 12:09 pm

OP, I vote for the direct cut. Cut your SIL out of your life as completely as possible. When she comes to visit her father, be civil or if possible, have an appointment that takes you away from the farm.

Also, why does your husband continue to speak with her? After all the things she has said and done, he should just not talk to her. He could start with ” I will no longer listen to you complain about my wife, our choices and our lives. If you begin to complain or rant, I will hang up the phone/not speak with you”. He needs to STOP giving her an audience for her rants. I’m sure this stress is not good for you or the baby, so this needs to happen NOW.

Why did you not call the police when she struck your husband over nursery decorations???? A few nights in jail may have changed her perspective and helped adjust her attitude. I don’t care what anyone says- if someone is going to physically assault me, my husband, my kids or my mom over something that does not concern or affect them in anyway, they are going to jail. If they hit my kids or my mom, we are both going to jail because I will stomp a mud hole in them and walk it dry. Retaliation is not the answer to violence, but I will not watch someone hit my mom or my kids. Period. If that earns me a place in E-hell, I will be roasting.

A hard lesson I have learned is that just because someone is family does not mean that they love or respect you and they don’t always have your best interests at heart. Your SIL is a mean, manipulative, hateful, spiteful, unhappy drama queen. As long as your husband continues to listen to it, she will dish it out. The direct cut has brought many households peace. It’s a harsh measure, but it’s also a valuable tool.

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secretrebel August 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

This is a really interesting post and a really insightful comment from the admin.

I wanted to add a comment about neurolinguistic programming and cognitive behavioural therapy. Both these mental health exercise emphasise that you can’t change other people’s behaviour, all you can change is your own response to that behaviour.

OP’s SIL is an unhappy person. She sees her way of doing things as the right way and takes other people’s life choices as a challenge to her belief structure. Her behaviour is emotionally and physically abusive. OP can’t help or change her SIL but she can draw firm boundaries and refuse to be drawn into discussion of her life choices. Remarks like “I’m sorry you feel that way,” “thank you for your concern” or “we’ve got that covered” can gracefully extricate you from a conversation and if she insists on continue to argue, bring the conversation or the gathering to a close.

Remember the film War Games? Sometimes the only way to win is not to play.

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Vic August 9, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Where do I start? Your SIL sounds like a nutcase. I think your real problem is that your husband is still humoring her to some degree by not shutting her down immediately when she gets started. It sounds like he tries to, but continues to argue when she won’t back down. That’s where he’s going wrong. Remember, you can’t change her or control her actions. You can only control your own reactions. When she starts up with your husband, he should tell her one time, and only one time, that he will not discuss this topic. When she inevitably tries to continue with her rant, he should then say goodbye and hang up the phone without hesitating or waiting for her to reply. If they’re talking face to face, he should leave the room. And he should do this every single time without fail. It takes two to argue. If he refuses to engage, she’s left arguing with herself. She knows she can get a rise out of him, and gets some weird pleasure out of winding everybody up. So she’s going to keep doing it as long as she continues to get something out of it.

She hit your husband! That’s the part I can’t get past. If it was me, the relationship would be over. I would refuse to speak to her on the phone or be in the same room with her. I would even return mail unopened. I know the fact that her dad is a big part of your lives complicates matters. But, letting yourselves get sucked into the crazy isn’t doing anyone any good. Once it escalated to violence, she would be dead to me. Figuratively of course. The point is not to let the situation escalate any further. She’s pushing you guys to see how far she can go. She’s already resorted to hitting with no repercussions. What’s next?

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Kat August 9, 2016 at 5:15 pm

FIL doesn’t NEED to complicate matters. He’s an adult and can make his own choices, including taking an afternoon away from the farm to see the sister, if he wishes. You’ll just need to make clear to him that due to her physical violence, she’s no longer allowed on your property. How he handles those new boundaries is up to him — he might find it a relief, or he might opt to visit her off the farm on his own. You don’t really need to concern yourself with his choices, unless they violate your clearly established boundaries, and he sounds like an easy-going guy who probably wouldn’t do that.

I also vote for cutting the toxic out. She doesn’t have an inherent right to your (or your husband’s) company just because “she’s family.” Toxic doesn’t become less toxic because of some shared DNA. Take her at face value — she is irrational, aggressive, hateful, and physically abusive, and is not interested in changing. So you have to deal with her on those terms.

The husband really, REALLY needs to hammer home the boundaries. He’s letting her get away with garbage he told her he wasn’t going to let her get away with — no wonder she doesn’t believe him. I’d say it’s fine if you want to spell out the new, bright-line boundaries with her ONCE the next time she calls (“I told you I will not listen to you disparage my wife, my lifestyle, or my choices, and if you do it again I’m hanging up and won’t be taking your calls”). But after that, if she calls again to complain, he needs to HANG UP (no comment, no goodbye, not a word, just hang up) as soon as she starts. If he tries to reason with her, she draws him into an argument because she IS NOT REASONABLE. For every “that’s not true” your husband can come up with, she’ll have another reason why it is too true. Don’t play her game. He doesn’t owe her an explanation.

As for the OP — her opinion of you isn’t worthy of respect. It’s not even remotely grounded in reality and is therefore not a valid opinion. You don’t need to try to change her opinion, because her opinion of you Does. Not. Matter. At all.

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Flaxon August 9, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Are we just ignoring the part where she said this woman hit her husband over the wallpaper in the nursery? Is something being lost in translation here? If that happened to us, my sister in law would never be allowed in our home again.

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Michelle August 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm

I’m not ignoring it. I would have called the police, pressed charges and asked for a restraining order. Maybe she could get the help she so obviously needs if she was incarcerated for a bit. I really don’t understand why OP & husband are still talking to this woman.

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Dee August 9, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Well, I agree with SIL that OP’s husband is spineless, since he won’t do cut off his sister when she becomes offensive. A simple hanging up of the phone and walking out of the room when sister is out of line would do the trick. But he is playing both sides in order to have his cake and eat it, too. This is prolonging and exacerbating the problem, to the extent that the husband is now actually the problem.

I also don’t understand the need for all the details in the stories. It doesn’t matter what specifically happened, just that SIL does not respect boundaries. Again, the solution is simple – just stop talking to her and leave when she is offensive (and only ever meet SIL in her home or in public, not in OP’s home). She may adjust her behaviour because of that but even if she doesn’t the problem is solved because OP and her husband are no longer listening to the garbage.

And then there’s the bias of the OP – “SIL works part time as a nurse … this basically means she has all the time in the world on her hands …”. Wow. That’s a whole lot of judgement right there that throws a different light on all the drama. OP’s attitude is a big problem that may be part of this issue. I would not want to be friendly with a person who thinks/acts like that. That sense of judging is so out of line. Could it be that SIL is reacting to an aura of superiority on the part of the OP? I caught whiffs of it in the first, original letter and now here, again, in this update. That attitude would make it very difficult to be in OP’s company for any amount of time. I think all three people – OP, her husband, SIL – have significant issues that need to be addressed.

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JD August 9, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Dee, while I neglected to mention that remark about “All the time in the world”, you are right. That remark struck me as a bit odd when I read it, too. SIL works a night shift on occasion — many nursing types work 12 hour shifts and then get some time off. It’s not an easy job, day or night. Speaking as a former stay-at-home wife, then mother, who transitioned to outside part time then full time work with young kids still, I never found myself with all the time in the world on MY hands. Even as a SAH, I babysat, helped with VBS, taught Sunday school, cared for an ailing relative, baked bread, made meals from scratch, sewed my own and later the kids’ clothes, gardened, worked in a women’s service organization as a volunteer…. I knew no one who sat around and, as the old cliché goes, ate bon bons all day.
I have a whole lot of sympathy for the OP, dealing with a drama queen who cuts her down every chance she gets, but I hope OP isn’t giving SIL that attitude about having nothing to do, because that is not going to help the situation.

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Dee August 9, 2016 at 5:05 pm

JD – I, too, have been a SAHM, and often with a very busy schedule doing the things that “working” moms would not and could not. I never wanted to be competitive with “working” moms but so often I was put down for not having a “job”, which was often quite bemusing given my lifestyle and theirs. And that’s what the OP seems to be doing, with her comparisons. Unless she lives at SIL’s house she does not know what SIL actually does all day (and night). The belittling won’t endear her to SIL, that’s for sure.

In her original letter she points out how knowledgable she is with dogs whereas “no one in my boyfriend’s family are particularly familiar with dogs” so she is the expert and must instruct the others on how to behave around her dog. How does she know what the others’ experiences are in that area? She just assumes she is an expert on dogs and they are not. That’s a lot of attitude to put up with. OP has her issues, which may be exacerbating the situation. She can’t change SIL, but hubby can put his foot down with her and OP can amend her attitude to be more palatable. If they work as a team they may be able to handle SIL. SIL doesn’t need to change in order to fix the situation, just OP and her husband.

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Kirsten August 10, 2016 at 8:30 am

Working a night shift “on occasion” really doesn’t sound like much of a commitment.

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Dee August 10, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Kirsten – OP also says that SIL works part-time. I suspect, in OP’s view, working part-time is the same as “occasional”. Her language suggests she finds it easy to denigrate others. And what if SIL “only” works occasionally? That doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t much of a commitment. That’s for SIL to judge, not OP.

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Lanes August 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Re: “all the time in the world”… yes, I caught that too. Very judgmental, and I suspect some jealousy from OP about the fact that she works when SIL gets to stay home with her kids.

I had to laugh, though. OP is about to become a mother. She’s about to learn that “all the time in the world” doesn’t exist when you have children.

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Erm August 9, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Honestly your SIL sounds like she might be mentally ill. I would keep her at arm’s length. Limit your contact with her as much as possible and just ignore her drama as much as you can.

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Anonymouse August 9, 2016 at 1:46 pm

I agree… she sounds very much like my MIL (stage 4 dementia, as well as some other issues).

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AppleEye August 9, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Sounds like your sister in law and mine could be the same person. Be thankful that at least your husband has the spine to defend you (mine doesn’t) even if she does think that makes him “whipped.” (For what it’s worth, my SIL thinks my husband is whipped anyway). And e-hell dame is right, people like that eventually out themselves anyway, if you just stay above the drama.

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lakey August 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm

” It took me about 30 minutes to readjust my perspective to match theirs …what I considered to be devastatingly hurtful, they viewed it as if it was winning goal for the Super Bowl. Our side won everything we wanted…..it was a devastating loss for the other person. ”

Administrator, this is an important lesson in life that the OP needs to learn. When someone is behaving badly, you aren’t the only one who sees it. Others see the person for what they are, and it does hurt that person.

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lakey August 9, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Also, if OP has caller ID, he needs to stop taking his sister’s calls until she straightens up and acts reasonably. It takes two parties to argue. Hang up, don’t answer the phone, or in person, walk away.

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Cat2 August 9, 2016 at 1:58 pm

You need to take this in and remember it.

You cannot control her response.
You cannot control her response.
You cannot control her response.
You cannot control her response.

Trying to control her response, is much in the same category as her trying to control how you do things. The only thing you have control over here is how *you* react to her.

You can’t change her mind for her, you can’t find some magical path that will make her do X, or Y, or Z. All you can do – and I mean literally all – is to decide how you will let who she is, what she says, and what she does, impact your lives.

That said – feel free to ask her to leave, to hang up on her, to leave yourself. Calmly and in control of yourself. “I’m not willing to continue to have this conversation. I’m going to leave/hang up now, I’ll talk to you later.” You neither have to continue to try and change her mind and defend yourself and your choices, nor continue to listen to her when she’s holding forth

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Amara August 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm

I don’t understand why you and your husband simply hang up on her. This is a toxic person. Just dump her out of your life. If she tries to get to you through her father, just take the admin’s suggestion to look at this as some kind of weird Shakespearean drama comedy and enjoy the show. Or get up and leave your seats. You don’t have to stay for the performance.

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Anna Wood August 9, 2016 at 2:02 pm

There are Toxic people in our life and this site has given me the tools to live my life without giving these people house room in my head. My life is so much calmer now. Thank you admin for your very good advice.

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Shannan August 9, 2016 at 2:02 pm

I don’t know why your husband allows her an audience to say these things. I also don’t know how you haven’t both gotten to the point where you just laugh or roll you eyes at her. That’s all you can do. Believe me, it will piss her off, which seems to be her mood of choice.

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Mike August 9, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Do an internet search for “gray rock method 180 rule”. That is one of the better articles about dealing with the SIL’s type.

The gray rock method means avoiding the sick person, and showing no reaction to outrageous statements or behavior. It removes the satisfaction a perpetrator gets from poking victims.

-Mike

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Elle August 10, 2016 at 10:04 am

Thanks for the website suggestion. Good ideas there.

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Wild Irish Rose August 9, 2016 at 3:07 pm

I can see where you would want to get along with your husband’s family (and congratulations on the coming Blessed Event, by the way), but some people just aren’t worth the work. My husband’s brother is such a person. He has a very successful career and boatloads of money, and he isn’t even a little bit subtle about looking down on us. (And those are his good points.) It bothers my husband, but I couldn’t care less. His opinion of me matters not even a little bit. Personally, I like this quote by Coco Chanel: “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.”

Even if you don’t say it out loud, THINK this to your SIL. She’s a very toxic person and won’t stop playing these stupid games until your husband puts an end to it. And for my money, the place to start there is with your coming child: “Whatever you want to do about your sister, go ahead, but just please understand that I will NOT permit her anger/depression/poison/negativity/yougetthepicture infect our home and our child. Until she gets help, she’s not welcome here.” Repeat as necessary. Please don’t expose your child to this horrible person.

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Karen L August 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Yikes, thanks for the heads-up on Scandinavian wedding receptions!

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Lanes August 10, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Yes, 20 minutes for ONE speech? Seems very gratuitous.

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ErinAnn August 9, 2016 at 3:42 pm

Too much back story. Learn to create boundaries and enforce them.

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NostalgicGal August 9, 2016 at 3:48 pm

I have a SIL (the other two are great) that has hated me since I started dating her baby brother, and now that we’re approaching our 40th fast, I’m still not leaving. In our first few years of marriage she ALMOST managed one night to break us up (I had to work for her, this wasn’t good) and in mid evening she would sit in the office, call brother, and make mountains out of molehills, then I’d come home at 4 am after 11-12 hours on my feet and get the distilled version where I’d been accused, tried, convicted and sentenced, and that one night after that one discussion then still had to work the shift and she called him with a fresh load… and he got told the other side of it while I had a brown paper grocery bag in my hand at 4 am. Why the bag? So I could put his unmentionables in it and drop him off at her doorstep. If she was SO worried about him, she could have him.) He told her to quit calling. She decided I was preventing her from access to her brother. Continue for about 30 years. He finally told her to SHUT UP and he was going to support his wife (only took 32 years for him to do that). She hates me with a fine vitriolic passion, but. Both parents are dead, so no more histrionics there (and did she raise a stink when she found out she was totally cut out because of the loans her dad cosigned and they went chapter 7 on and left him holding them-THREE TIMES. Call ME golddigger, eh?)

Cut the ties OP. It won’t get better. Ignore her. Even when she’s in person, the others have mentioned lots of ways to cut her drama by ignoring her. If she wants a relationship with your kid because she’s ‘Faaaamilllly’ tell her to clean up the act or forget it.

At least it sounds like your DH is willing to polish his spine and go to bat during all this. Just keep the front united and let her stew. And beware of her pulling crap like showing up with a faked power of attorney (full or medical) or anything related to property or a will. Would not put it past her to attempt any or all of these. Or scheduling a funeral without approval (read e-hell archives for all ove the above). Or showing up because your FIL is fading and latching onto everything that isn’t nailed down. Good luck OP.

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Cerys August 9, 2016 at 4:02 pm

It sounds as if SIL is lacking control over her own life, and is attempting to replace it by gaining control over your lives. No wonder she gets so angry when she fails – it just emphasises how powerless she really is. Maybe you could pity her – from a distance.

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Debra August 9, 2016 at 4:48 pm

This sounds SO much like my Norwegian grandmother. She once called my mother up and yelled at her for half an hour because my mother was pregnant for a third time and “third children are always cursed.”
She was a deeply unhappy woman who just couldn’t handle other people being happy.

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ultrapongo August 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Well, as a Scandinavian myself, I think 20 minutes is waaaay to long time for a speech. The Swedish Etiquette “Guru” usually says a speech should be three minutes, tops. It doesn’t hurt if if is shorter. http://blogg.dn.se/etikettfragan ( in Swedish, but OP might understand).
I once attended a wedding, where the bridegrooms father held a long speech. After 20 minutes, the groom blew his whistle (soccer referee), and told his dad to cut it short. The groom’s father managed to finish in 25 minutes. One thing is that the father might be a severe case of logorrhea, another thing is that more than one guest started to time his speech, once he started to talk…
OP sounds like a nice person, husband also, and FIL at least as much nice. If he does his share of work, and puts in his experience and manpower in a good way (that’s what it sounds like), and gets a hot meal nos and then, it seems like a “win-win situation”, which should be good for OP, DH and DIL. And SIL seems like a psychopath. DSM might use an other term, but anyway…

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ultrapongo August 9, 2016 at 6:31 pm

“good for OP, DH and DIL”, should be “good for OP, DH and FIL.”
My fault.
SIL still seems crazy….

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Jeanne August 11, 2016 at 4:38 am

I didn’t understand having 20 minute speeches but figured it was cultural. But 20 minutes is beyond more than enough. The bride and groom are the focus, not SIL doing a one woman Broadway show.

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Christina August 9, 2016 at 6:36 pm

If SIL was ‘only’ talking behind mine and my husbands back, I would do what admin says and laugh it off at the absurdity. How could she possibly know how much you do for your FIL when she isn’t around to witness it all? So her claiming it’s less would be no sweat off my back. You and your husband know the truth. But what gets my goat is the asinine thoughts that she has any say in how you decorate your own home or, or more importantly, what and when you name your baby (and hitting your husband over it). She is so far over the line, that she can’t even see it anymore. She would not be welcome in my home ever again. Like you said, OP, polite diffusion doesn’t work. It is your home. Shut her down forcefully.

“SIL (or better yet, Sister, because it should be your husband who finally stands up to the bully) you will have no say over any redecorating that goes on in our home or the naming of our child. If you raise your voice, touch either of us, or make demands about them again, you will never be welcome back in our home.” Don’t repeat, say it once, then follow through.

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Hannah August 9, 2016 at 9:56 pm

A lot of people are suggesting responses, but you mention previous responses haven’t worked. Stop responding!! if she’s giving your husband a hard time on the phone, hang up on her. If she’s giving him a hard time in person, leave the room. Stop explaining, or expecting her to change. She won’t – but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with her rubbish!!

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iwadasn August 9, 2016 at 11:36 pm

I feel sorry for her kids who have to witness her awful behavior all the time. They’ll probably grow up thinking that that’s the normal way to behave.

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AJ August 10, 2016 at 1:06 am

I would like to know why the husband keeps going back for more of SIL’s abuse. There has to be a reason, one that likely should be dealt with in counselling.

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Lex August 10, 2016 at 2:36 am

So it’s okay for HER to be offended by YOU, but not for YOU to be offended by HER? Smells like hypocrisy to me. If I were you, I would calmly explain that her behaviour is extremely offensive and it is not her place to involve herself in the personal business and relationships between you and your Husband/Parents-in-law. I would then go on to state firmly that she is no longer welcome in your home/lives due to her behaviour. Then leave it at that. I have a phrase that has served me well over the years: ‘Ditch and Delete’. Essentially, you sever the connection and make it clear why you are doing so, then refuse to engage further. Be the bigger person.

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JeanLouiseFinch August 10, 2016 at 8:34 am

While I agree with the other posters that the SIL is deeply disturbed and that the OP cannot control the SIL’s behavior, I think that one more step should be taken. Doubtless there will be more contact since the husband doesn’t want to cause a rift. However, it might make sense to start recording conversations and/or her visits at your home. You should consider this as evidence in case she claims for some reason that the two of you have been mistreating your FIL. Also, you should consider that she most likely is spreading her poison to the extended family about you. If any of them approach your husband, he should have some evidence regarding how disturbed this woman really is. Finally, be sure she stays away from the hospital when you are having your baby. Chances are, she will try to cause trouble at a time when you least need it. (On the other hand, it would provide an ideal time to start recording her hijinks.) If it really gets serious, which it could considering the past hitting, you may need the tapes to get a restraining order.

If you don’t want to take this as far as I suggest, at least get a speaker phone and have your husband put her on speaker so you can join in when she calls, ranting.

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stacey August 10, 2016 at 8:48 am

You should stop investing any significance in this person’s opinion. I’d also limit contact as much as possible. She sounds unhinged, mentally. The less you entangle yourself with her, the better. If your husband and father-in-law can follow your example, so much the better…

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LadyV August 10, 2016 at 8:54 am

The first thing I would do is change my phone number and NOT give it to your SIL. If this is not feasible, I would suggest that the minute SIL starts ranting to your husband, he hangs up the phone – no explanation, no apologies, nothing. I would also make it very clear to SIL that if she can’t stop complaining about you, denigrating your husband, interfering in your life, etc., she is no longer welcome in your home.

I will add that I suspect you may be right about a lot of this being due to jealousy. This is very typical behavior by someone who is unhappy with her own life, and has to put down others so she can feel relevant and important. I also wonder if she has issues with the fact that your husband inherited the family farm.

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JWH August 10, 2016 at 9:45 am

Meanwhile our attorney was practically dancing with joy and high fiving us

Attorneys are weird sometimes.

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admin August 10, 2016 at 3:07 pm

He was a brilliant strategist and kept his three clients under control. I asked once what his philosophy was regarding the practice of law and his reply was, “Lawyers who are jerks in the courtroom are jerks in real life. I’m not a jerk.” Nope, sure wasn’t.

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Hemi August 10, 2016 at 9:53 am

Why is your husband continuing to speak with this woman and relaying it back to you? Once a person hits you over something, especially something as moronic as disagreeing with your choice of nursery wallpaper, that ends any familial obligation you have to have any kind of contact with her. Are you and your husband going to put up with this once your bundle of joy arrives? Do you want this drama queen and her poisonous attitude around your child?? I wouldn’t be surprised if she got so mad that she hit your child, too.

It’s find to cut all contact with her, or if you or husband insist on picking up the phone/visiting with her, it needs to be made clear that you will not listen to complaints/rants/whatever. She continues to act this way because you give her an audience for it. You and your husband do not have to speak with her or be around her at all. Let me repeat that: You and your husband do not have to speak with er or be around her at all.

If you and your husband continue to give her an audience that signals, to me at least, that either you enjoy the drama as well or you think the she is magically going to change one day. Don’t fool yourselves- she IS NOT going to change into a nice, loving SIL.

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Sibley August 10, 2016 at 9:59 am

OP, I had a similar relationship in my extended family.

My grandmother (dad’s mother) HATED my mother. No apparent reason. It was pretty nasty at times. Here’s how it was handled:

1. Dad would defend my mom EVERY time he heard his mother being nasty. He’d tell her to cut it out, etc. Unfortunately, she stopped saying things when he was around.
2. When us 2 kids were very young (2-4), mom stopped visiting grandparent’s house. Dad would take us, and it was “special daddy time”. They make it seem special that we’d go with dad, and mom would stay home. From the adult perspective, mom got a break for a few days, we were happy, and mom didn’t get screamed at or anything. Eventually, the kids figured it out, but we were old enough and it was handled well so it didn’t bother us.

Rinse and repeat for 15 years. Ironically, grandma developed dementia, and after a certain point her brain rewrote history and she had “always loved” my mom. Go figure. But at that point, mom resumed going with us.

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Maria August 10, 2016 at 7:27 pm

So at your wedding did you have the band play that wind down music like at the academy awards when someone went on too long? Good thing you informed folks of the limit bc it’s so reasonable to expect people to speak about you for even that long. You must have prevented many filibusters.

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Maria August 10, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Dear E Hell:
Last year my brother got married and his wife is driving me crazy. She is trying to destroy my relationship with my brother and a wedge between my elderly father and his 3 grandchildren. She lives on my family’s farm but works in an office. She looks down on me bc she considers Me a pampered stay at home mom. Meanwhile, I work a demanding job as a nurse, raise 3 small children with little help from my more old fashioned husband or support from any grandparents, and pitch in to assist my husband on his farm. Meanwhile she just lives rent free on my family’s farm while my increasingly fragile father works like a slave all day. She has mentioned she’s gracious to even invite my lonely dad to a meal a few times a week.
Now that she’s pregnant, she has become even worse. My dear brother complains to me on a regular basis about her threats once the baby arrives and demands. The poor guy is miserable. I try to be supportive to him but finally just tell him to stand up for himself bc he seems so unhappy. I have never been anything but sweet and kind to her and my crazy sister in law freaks out when she even catches me on the phone with my brother. He calls me secretly at this point just to vent about her. I knew things were going to be bad when she told me I must adhere to a strict time limit on my speech for my dear brother at their wedding. I wanted to share a song about our deceased mother and my wish she could be there. Instead I was instructed on this time limit- as if I would ever speak that long anyway. I may have acted immaturely and snapped but I felt this was such an odd and narcissistic request aimed at preventing any sentimentality towards my brother and between my family. She is really jealous of how close we are and can’t stand that she lives in my home. I have never been anything but sweet to her but I’m worried about my father’s health and my brother’s constant complaining. Meanwhile, my father hasn’t visited his grandkids in months. What should I do?
From,
My brother married a controlling witch

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Ange August 11, 2016 at 12:00 am

Did we even read the same story? Once you hit someone over wallpaper you kind of lose the upper hand or any claims of a previously close relationship.

Also note: when you marry someone you do not pay your spouse rent to live in your own home.

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Willynilly August 11, 2016 at 7:06 am

Brothers and sisters often swat at one another. I really am shocked everyone is so aghast at what I consider extraordinarily normal sibling behavior (yes, even among adults. See: every movie made about adult siblings dealing with family issues filmed in the US for the last 30 years.)

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Devin August 11, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Good point, I hadn’t even thought of this. My adult brother and I still pick on each other. To an outside person this may look like we are ‘hitting’ each other, but its just our way of goofing around. I would hope after years of being in a relationship, OP would be able to determine real hitting versus play fighting.
I recently lived with my brother and his wife for a few weeks. Even after having known my SIL very well for several years, and we get along fabulously , she was still surprised by the way my brother and I interact with each other. We both have very goofy sides and find the humor in strange situations. She realized sometimes she just had to shrug her sholders or give us the side eye because she just didn’t get it.

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NostalgicGal August 14, 2016 at 1:00 am

That was my late father and I, we picked on each other, and tossed stuff around verbally. None of it mean but. He went into hospital for testing and I had to call him there (several months before he passed) and the nurse had to get him down to the phone, and I heard him and addressed him as usual (there were things wrong but I was pretending there wasn’t. He knew something was wrong but wasn’t saying and I was going along) and the nurse about died over it. At the end of the call she said just a moment in the background then took him back to room and came back to phone. She started to say a few words and I explained about we’d been going around like that for over four decades, and to do anything else wouldn’t have been right. Now going through the old grooves like nothing was wrong, I thought was the best course of action. If I have to call again or he calls me, you’ll understand. She agreed, being our rude crude selves was better in that case.

Ant August 11, 2016 at 2:39 am

^Interesting I did find it a bit weird that the brother inherited a farm with the father still alive. When you took over the farm was it to avoid tax? Or did you/husband commit to looking after it and your FIL? What did SIL get in this inheritance? I also wonder, as this is a family farm who used to have the black/ silver room? It wasn’t, perchance, SIL’s old room?

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OP August 15, 2016 at 3:45 am

It is normal practice for one sibling to inherit this type of real estate (farms) before parents are deceased. There are complicated laws regarding the order of inheritance on farms. It works in the way that market value of the property is assessed, together with the value of machinery/animals etc etc etc, and the sibling/child who then “inherits” it must buy it for that amount of money (from their parents, who were currently the owner). If the sibling/child gets any rebate/price reduction on the property – that amount is considered inheritance – all the other siblings must get the same amount paid out as part of their inheritance as well. My husband took up a loan, purchased the property/animals/machinery from his parents and since we are now married we both have equal ownership and pay equal amounts for downpayment into that loan and we have a prenup deciding what will happen with the farm if we divorce (naturally – it is not *my* farm to overtake in a divorce proceeding, I will get compensated to the same amount I have contributed on downpayments on the loan + increase in property value over time).

With this particular house, SIL never lived there it was my FIL’s parents-in-law’s house (my husbands grandparents on his mothers side). My husband, SIL and their parents have lived their entire life in a different house on the farm.
With regards to the wallpaper – it was put there by my husband and me when we renovated the house. It has not been selected, lived with or cherished by any other familiy members.

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InTheEther August 15, 2016 at 3:09 am

A) Being a nurse can be a demanding job. For those who work in a hospital or even a nursing home with high risk patients and are committed to doing a good job. The hospital I work at is across the street from a nursing home with absolutely terrible nurses who manage to lose paperwork from the hospital if it means that they’ll have to do more work. And I’ve known plenty of people who somehow manage to keep positions (usually because a dept head is way too nice or there are red tape issues) were they just kinda work when they want to and when they show up it is pretty half-assed. Your scenario may be right, mine may be right. But just the fact that she’s a nurse at a nursing home (which legally have way less requirements and standards for their staff than hospitals) does not necessarily mean she has a demanding job.

B) Your report makes sis-in-law seem bitter that her man doesn’t help with the kids. Well, that’s a personal issue. Maybe she should get hubby to man up. It is perfectly reasonable for the OP to expect the father to lend a hand. So you’ve only managed to double down on OP’s implication that sis-in-law has a personal issue with how childcare is handled in her family.

C) How many old farmers do you know? Because it takes a lot of maneuvering to prevent my granddad from doing stuff he’s too old to do nowadays. The only really good method has been to send me or my younger brother to “help”. Because otherwise it becomes an argument on his end how he’s being treated like he’s old and he knows what he’s doing. If me and my brother (and soon to be our much younger cousins) are up there then he just showing the grandkids how it’s done. Doesn’t matter that I can run an angle grinder with the best of them and my bro works at a rigging company.

D) She was given a TWNETY MINUTE TIME LIMIT. How do you do a speech for that long, even if you’re throwing a song in? Most songs are under 5 min. What do you think she was planning to say that would take over 15 minutes. The presentation for my Master’s Thesis was under 10 and that was with clips and a slideshow where I delved into history and sociological ties to folklore. Heck, I’ll probably be doing my best to prevent ALL speeches if/when I get married. I’m sorry, but most people hate sitting through them and there’s only so much anyone can say before everyone’s just repeating what the person before them said.

E) Oh horrors. The wife doesn’t pay rent to live in her own home with her husband. I mean, ignoring that part of her her paycheck from her job outside the farm probably goes towards utilities and such. That bit kinda reeks of projecting.

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crebj August 11, 2016 at 12:52 am

She can’t pick a fight if you don’t respond. She can’t influence your husband if he doesn’t listen. Be pleasant when you see her, walk away when you must, and limit your time with her.

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Jeanne August 11, 2016 at 4:45 am

She has crossed many boundaries. I’m most concerned about the hit. If she actually hit him in rage, do not allow her to hold your baby. If it was a playful hit like she was joking, then disregard. Either way, you and husband need to talk now, not later, about how to handle her once the baby is born.

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Willynilly August 11, 2016 at 7:02 am

“SIL works part time as a nurse while her husband is a full time farmer. This basically means that she has all the time in the world on her hands and is as close as a stay-at-home mom you can get while still working the occasional night shift in a nursing home, while me and hubby are fighting the clock from time to time…”

I wonder does OP plan to ever *pay* for childcare? Or housekeeping services of any sort? Cooked meals? She seems to think these things aren’t work so I am guessing they hold no value whatsoever to her. Stay-at-home-mothers with husbands who work long dirty physically demanding hours sure do tend to have a charmed life of constant lounging

And somehow the OP recognises the work involved in tending to her own part time farm but not that of her brother-in-law’s full time farm?

And the wallpaper… its in the home the OP’s husband inherited – by chance might there have been an emotional component involved? Perhaps it was SIL’s bedroom, or the late mother’s favorite. Was the decision to remodel announced gracefully and compassionately? Yes OP gets to change things, its her home now, but that doesn’t negate the need for a bit of diplomacy.

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Maria August 11, 2016 at 11:05 am

I see it the same way. The brother obviously tells his sister all the things about his wife’s policies and viewpoints, when wife isn’t present- how else would the sister know. The wife says the sister has never been anything but nice to her. The rest is second hand. I get the impression the wife is completely fixated on the sister, and has created a colorful backstory. The sister, between raising 3 little kids, dealing with her own husband, pitching in on the farm and working as a nurse- one of the most demanding jobs, oh and driving 3 hours to visit her own increasingly sick father has barely a moment to stress about this wife.

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Kiara August 11, 2016 at 10:01 am

Why are you still talking to her? She assaulted your husband, yells at you, and will either yell at your child or tear you down in front of him/her. Tell her “Because of the way you have treated our family, we need to have a break. We will let you know when we wish to be in contact.” And after that, you’re a black hole. No calls, no texts, no emails.

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Maria August 11, 2016 at 11:15 am

As for the “hit” for all we know it was playful roughousing maybe started by the husband. This is through the lense of the wife and so far, I find her perceptions of neutral objective facts very unusual. Moreover, if the father is unwell, then perhaps he should not perform such rigorous work. Just bc he wants to does not mean an aging parent is in the state of mind to be the sole decision maker of what is best for them. Sometimes intervention is necessary. I don’t see why this wife believes she cares more the father than his own daughter. This was obviously a close family, with a deceased mother and a brother who still lives at home.

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Ana August 12, 2016 at 6:09 pm

I think the fact that OP’s FIL, the man who raised SIL and OP’s hubby, and knows his 2 children, got up and intervened after SIL hit her brother tells me this was no sibling rough housing. There’s that and assault, and it sounds like SIL assaulted her brother. OP might have negative feelings about her SIL, but from this woman’s actions, they don’t sound unfounded.

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SadieMae August 11, 2016 at 11:49 pm

OP, the part where you wrote that SIL had actually hit your husband was the needle-scratch for me. Wow. That, plus the crazy things she gets upset over, makes me think she has a personality disorder. If you can get your husband on the same page, I think you should take drastic measures here. Not only for your sake and your child’s, but for SIL’s, because when someone has a personality disorder, sometimes the only thing that will get them into therapy and making real changes in their lives is this kind of tough love.

First, write her a letter letting her know that you both care for her and always will but that her behaviors are cruel and even dangerous. (Briefly, list the behaviors you mean.) Say that you encourage her to get some therapy, and that maybe someday you will reconsider if things improve, but that for the time being you will not be inviting her to your home or visiting hers, and that when you *do* have to interact, you will simply leave the room or hang up the phone if there’s any abuse. (This letter is unlikely to help her in and of itself, but you’ll feel better having told her why you’re taking the actions you’re taking.)

Then, stick to your word. When she calls, let her phone calls go to voicemail – all of them. (Caller ID is your friend!) If she has something important to discuss (like care for your aging FIL) she’ll leave a message saying so. You or your husband can call her back to discuss, and the moment she branches off into abusive or intrusive talk, you simply hang up. No need to explain why. She knows. If you have to be at a large family gathering with her, be briefly polite but keep her at arm’s length. If she starts haranguing you, excuse yourself from the conversation or the area. Again, no need to explain to her. If she follows you, calmly and firmly ignore her. If she complains to relatives afterward and they ask you what’s going on, show them the letter you wrote her. Hopefully you can get some of them on your side (depends on the family dynamic) and they’ll ask her to leave when she’s abusive. And if she hits anyone – please, please call the police and press charges immediately.

This is a rotten situation and I’m very sorry you have to go through it. Sorry for the long post, but I’ve been there and wanted to provide info I learned the hard way. 🙂 Whatever you decide, good luck and congratulations on your growing family!

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Princess Buttercup August 13, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Personally the hit over the wall paper would have resulted in her being escorted out of the house and told she is not welcome to return until she shows she has seemed help about her anger management issues.
Also, I would tell her when she starts ranting that I’m sorry that her life and marriage is unhappy but I will not be joining her pity party. She needs to seek counseling and I will assist her in her pursuit of a happier life by only listening to her share joyful and happy conversations. Then when she starts ranting ask her how the counseling is coming and hang up if she doesn’t immediately change to better topics.
Misery truly does love company. She has an unhappy life and is trying to make brother and his wife be unhappy with her. Inform her that will not be happening then don’t let it happen.

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Fung August 19, 2016 at 9:40 am

It sounds to me that SIL is consumed with jealousy, not only towards OP but towards everyone in her life. Little has been said about SILs husband, perhaps she feels he’s neglecting her, avoiding her, is he dominating or spineless? I think there’s a lot of unhappiness in her life and she lashes out to everybody, not only to OP but really everybody. Alas, there’s no cure for these drama queens, they love their victim role, they wallow in selfpity, feeling somehow supreme for knowing it all and the best, they love the negative attention and will always chose the weakest person to manipulate and hurt. My mum is one of these drama queens, and living with someone like that it’s really the hardest thing to do. I’ve managed to find a way to deal with her, it sounds harsh and heartless but the only way to get through her drama mind is too confront her hard, direct and merciless. This way I have some control about her behaviour towards me, unfortunately my sis (2 years my senior) is a softie and the peacemaker. Only now my sis is actually listening to me and start to deal with her as I do and it’s starting to make her life easier now. Why we won’t cut strings with mum? We know that if we cut strings, she really would have no one anymore, she’s lonely, discontented and just sad and denying she’s suffering a depression and refuse to seek help. We stay and help her out of pity and duty but that’s it, she is not that involved in our lives, we have set boundries and if she’s not honoring it she will feel the consequenses hard.
OP you’re blessed that your husband stand with you and you’re having a baby and a FIL who appreciate you, keep these blessing in mind and cut off all ties with the drama queen. If your husband won’t start to set up boundries and consistantly keeping them, he’s enabling her, feeding her drama needs and worse of all he might get too torned and later will hate the both of you, his sis and you his wife. You don’t need to respond, nor does he, both of you don’t need her opinions because it’s your life and you must live as fit to you. Have your husbands back as he has yours and set up boundries against leaches of drama queens.
I forsee another drama story about when the baby is born, but that’s really something your husband needs to deal with it with indicating strongly where the boundries lies. Good luck and enjoy life.

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