DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I married into a family with a construction business. It was by working there that I met my husband, who had come onboard to work with his dad and uncle a year or two earlier. By the time we got married, his sister was having her second child. She and her husband decided to have her stay home when number two came along, and they have had a third child since.
Before she became a fulltime at-home mom, she helped run the business, in much the same capacity as I do now. Even though she seems to have no intention of coming back into the front office anytime soon, she makes it clear that she resents my “taking over” her job, and drops hints that I’m just a suck-up who wants to make sure my husband takes over the business and the rest of the family will lose out, or something. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what her problem is.
Whatever the case, she started to refuse to be at family gatherings if she knows I am going to be there. It feels to my in-laws like they have to choose between her and me, and that is unfair to them. I’ve also heard from one of the cousins, the son of the co-owner, that she says some nasty stuff about me.
I do not want to cause trouble, but I also do not think I should put up with this treatment. Is it advisable for me to confront her about how she is treating me? --- SNUBBED SISTER-IN-LAW
DEAR SNUBBED SISTER-IN-LAW: It sounds to me as if your sister-in-law’s bile is likely being fueled by insecurity and jealousy. If an outsider had been hired to replace her when she transitioned to being home fulltime, it may not have bothered her as much. Outsiders come and go, but it’s potentially more complicated when family members replace one another.
It’s probably fairly obvious to others what’s going on, and I’m doubtful that an open confrontation will be to either your or your sister-in-law’s advantage. In fact, it might only result in your appearing to be the petty or insecure one. By quietly, patiently standing your ground you can more effectively prove that’s not the case, and that she’s the one who needs to do a little growing up.