You People and Your Problems: “I hate my soul-sucking sister-in-law!”
Here at HappyNiceTimePeople, we’re not afraid to be servicey. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your advice questions on any topic. Now on to a question from a woman who hates her manipulative, nasty sister-in-law!
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My sister-in-law is argumentative, looks for ways to tear me down (she is a master at backhanded compliments), and generally sucks out my soul whenever I’m around her. My brother, poor worn-down bastard, really wishes we’d be chummy. But I avoid her. I’ve stopped including her in my plans, despite his pleas that she doesn’t have any girl friends, and wouldn’t I invite her along on my many kid playdates. If I try to plan any family activities but don’t run every detail past her, she accuses me of being a control freak. (Which I’m really not. I couldn’t really give a shit about who brings the potato salad.) I’ve discussed with my parents (which may in itself be of questionable moral fiber) and they insist that above all, I need to be kind and inclusive. Is it wrong that I want space and I avoid as many interactions as possible?
Honey, I sympathize. I can’t empathize, because my brother’s girlfriend is cool as hell, but I certainly sympathize.
This woman, a gal we call your “sister-in-law,” is really no sister of any kind to you. She’s a chick your brother decided to bang for the rest of his life, for some reason no one can possibly understand. They reproduced, and surely you love their children, but you’ve got your own kids to worry about. She’s probably making their kids kind of shitty, anyway. And she has no female friends because she sucks as a person, as a woman, and as a friend. If your brother hasn’t figured that out by now, perhaps he never will.
That said, it’s on you to be polite and courteous. Always be busy when she wants to hang out, but don’t be nasty. Make a special effort to ask for her input on family events. Give her the little bit of power she craves, and let her chew on it and play with it and get a bit high off it. But always maintain your position as a powerful woman with her own priorities, and don’t get dragged down into the sister-in-law muck. Don’t talk to your parents about it; don’t talk to your brother about it. Simply conduct yourself with dignity, grace, and distant kindness. You don’t need to be BFF with this chick just because your brother throws it up in her.
You have your own family. Take care of yourself and your family first. This chick can find something else to occupy her time. See her at Thanksgiving and Christmas (or whatever holidays your clan celebrates) and keep your chats brief and pleasant when you run into one another at other events.