Woe Is Me! “How Do I Feel Less Insecure Around My Brother‑in‑Law’s Rude Wife?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I dislike my sister-in-law, but I have to see her often since I’m part of a close-knit family. We have nothing in common, she’s rude to me, and puts me in a negative mind space. How do I deal with this negativity and insecurity?
— Sisterhood of Raging Insecurities
DR: This situation is, undoubtedly, difficult. And, I’m really sorry that you have to go through this. Perhaps, you can bring this up with your sister-in-law, and explain your grievances to her? Maybe, the two of you got off on the wrong foot, and unknowingly, you hurt her, and she’s holding on to the grudge? Or, maybe, you make her insecure in some way? If you think these are within the realm of possibilities, open communication might help — hey, maybe, you’ll bury the hatchet and become the best of friends.
But, if this doesn’t seem plausible, then you could ask your spouse to speak to their brother, requesting him to speak to her. I understand, that might be too long a route to tread upon — and could lead to multiple rounds of unconscious misrepresentations and misinterpretations of your grievances. So, that is something you need to keep in mind should if you intend to choose this approach. The third option is to simply distance yourself from her. But, to ensure that it doesn’t impact your relationship with your spouse, I would recommend letting them know your reasons for doing so. Since this concerns the preservation of your sanity, I’m sure they’ll co-operate with you here, or at least, help you reach a solution. Or, you can make sass your new hobby, and give her a taste of what it means to be rude to you — that might shut her up for good.
If nothing works out, and you cannot avoid interacting with her, you could either figure out a system to block her out, and ensure she doesn’t get to you, or seek a therapist’s help. Again, I’m so sorry you are caught in this awkward situation.
AM: I’m sure this is a tough spot to be in because you can exit a toxic friendship or relationship with a partner but doing that with family and next to impossible. Firstly, I think it’s important that you accept the fact that not everyone is reliable as a family member you can have support from or can lean on in difficult times. They’re just there and that’s it.
Secondly, you might want to also consider that they’re dealing with their own set of problems and aren’t good at communicating openly which results in passive-aggressive behavior. You have the right to care about your well-being and opt out of certain situations or gatherings in order to spend less time around this human being. Another way to deal with this would be for you to open up about how you feel about her behavior because showing that you’re willing to accept the toxic behavior is not okay. And lastly, know that it’s them, not you. You don’t have to feel guilty and take everything personally, although I know it’s difficult to do that on most occasions. What they do or so is mostly them self-reflecting, or projecting, so don’t let them get to you.
LG: Laugh. Seriously, nothing will infuriate her more, nor put you in a better mood. If you can’t find genuine amusement in someone being rude out of insecurity, which is what the situation sounds like, then have a mental touchstone of hilarity. (Bonus if it’s related to her in some way.) Maybe you picture her using the bathroom while on a Zoom call. Maybe she has a hilariously ugly pair of shoes that can spark giggles. Whatever it takes, go to your funny place when she’s mean. If you want, you can act like it’s all in jest – compliment her on her wit the next time she says something rude. Age might think you’re crazy, but little does she know the joke’s on her, and laughing off her jibes is what’s kept you sane.
RD: Speak to her. Tell her how you feel, and how it’s bringing a strain on your relationship. If she’s invested in the close-knit-ness of your family, then she will listen, and try to fix the situation. Safe to say, stewing over how you’re feeling she treats you will only escalate resentment, and sooner or later it will spill over into your interactions, and create drama within the family. Head-on, but calm, confrontation sounds daunting, but I’ve always found that to be the best recourse in a situation like this. If she’s a part of your family, and there’s no real way you can distance yourself from her, then you’ll have to suck it up and do it.