Question: Dear Luise: I hope you can help me. I have been married for 3 years to my loving husband. He has a younger sister, before we were married the sister and I were friends and still are. The problem i’m having is with his parents, mainly his mother and sister. The relationship between his mother and sister are good they are best freinds. This leaves little room for the MIL and I to become close, the sister has stated that she isnt going to let the MIL and I do anything by ourselves, she will have to be with us. We all went as a family to help clean his grandmothers house out while there the grandmother gave us a coffee table, a couple of weeks later the MIL had to go and by the sister a coffee table? the MIL is always paying the sisters bills buying her groceries giving her money for whatever she ask for, the sister lives on her own, all the while not offering me and her son anything. I’m not saying that we want her to buy us stuff all the time no, not at all but a justure would be nice every now and then. My car is needing repairs the MIL states in a conversation that shes not paying for it cause i’m not her daughter. We DIDNT ask her to pay for it, not sure where that comment came from. But does that mean since shes not my mother do I have to buy her mothers day cards and birthday cards? why would she even say something like that? It’s getting to the point that I dont want to be around the sister or the mother in law and I dont want to feel that way but I have no idea how to handle the comments that she makes towards me and the spoiling that she gives the GROWN sister? The differnce in how she treats the daughter over her son are insane, its so bad that everyone notices it? Please give me some advice on how to keep my emotions under control and how do I handle this and not complain to my husband about it? HELP, B.
Answer: Dear B.: You are in the middle of some pretty complex family dynamics. And in the presence of all of that neurotic behavior, you are expecting a normal result. It isn’t going to happen and it’s not about you.
Your MIL is hanging on to, favoring and pampering an adult child and the adult child is jealous of any attention you get. (Most often it is the son who gets caught in that trap and can’t get out, even after he marries and moves away.) Your job is to love him to pieces and to mature to the place, as soon as you can, to paying no attention to the inequity shown both of you. In the process you will have to give up on your perfectly realistic expectations of a loving, extended family.
You and your husband have created a new family unit and the insecurities of your MIL and SIL need to be left at the door. Tolerate them but don’t expect anything more than what they have given you so far. You are the only adult in that “triangle.” Focus on giving your guy the support he deserves. You’re right, he doesn’t need to hear about what he’s had to live with all of his life and has never been able to change. Blessings, Luise