- 5 years ago
- Wedding: March 1998
This is mostly a vent. How do people wind up in relationships like this? Do any of you have similar stories to share? But, any suggestions on how to defuse similar situations in the future would be welcome.
My sister-in-law and brother have been married for about 10 years, together for 14. They are expecting their first baby late this fall. My SIL knew when they married that my brother had limited education beyond high school and that, given our area, it was unlikely he’d ever earn enough money for her to quit working.
She’s made little cuts over the years. I remember posting a job for a friend to see on Facebook (a work-from-home one) and she decided to invade and include a snide remark about how she wishes she didn’t ‘have’ to work, and everybody else has the luxury of not having to work but her.
I talked to my brother over the next few days after that, and his demeanor was markedly changed – he started making comments about how he was a loser, he needed to find better work to give her the life she deserves, etc.
I never respond to that sort of stuff. That particular incident was a year or so ago.
Now that she’s nearing the end of her pregnancy, I hear stories from several family members – those who have seen similar behavior out of my SIL, and those who have heard about the issue from my brother. Apparently she makes cuts about his employment, how much money he earns, etc., quite often.
My brother told our cousin that she also told him, “Our sisters both have husbands who make good money and can afford to buy them houses! I wish I had a situation like that.” A friend of the family also has an excellent job and recently purchased his own house – my sister-in-law decided to mention in front of my family that she was going to divorce my brother and go off with the family friend if my brother didn’t ‘improve.’
If we didn’t otherwise know about all of the animosity and anger that’s there, we would laugh it off. But, well…
She’s been arguing with him lately about how she wishes she could quit her job, then blames him for their financial situation. He has applied for some great jobs that didn’t pan out. Around the time they married, she had an excellent job but quit because she didn’t like her boss. She’s floated around very low-paying jobs since then.
She was the breadwinner when they married and she knew that, so frankly, her behavior’s even more appalling to me. She knew what she was getting into. Same with trying for a baby – they spent years trying. Now suddenly the fact she will have to keep working is an issue?
This weekend, we were celebrating a family member’s birthday when SIL blurted out, “I wish I had a man who would do everything I tell him. Do all the housework, errands, and taking care of the baby.” She made mentions of the work thing again, how she wishes she didn’t have to work, etc. I could hear needles dropping for ages after all those.
As far as I know – and granted, I don’t live with them – my brother does all of the housework. She did laundry until her second trimester. He also does all of the errands, as we frequently run our errands together.
She’s definitely the “Princess” type – I can attest to that from years of helping them move. She’d sit around, complain about how ‘weak’ she is and eat. One time, I spent 10 hours straight moving things for them. In the entire day, she moved a laundry bag…with clothes in it. One. Bag.
I am worried about the effect this has on my brother. I know I can’t otherwise say anything, but WTH do you say when someone makes passive-aggressive comments like that in front of you?
It’s getting to the point where I feel I can no longer ignore it. Every time I see her, she harps on the same point more and more, as though she’s begging for a response from everyone. Every conversation somehow winds up in her making a cut. It’s painful to watch the whole thing unfold.
I’m the live-and-let live sort of person, and I’d never intrude if it didn’t happen directly in front of me. But she apparently feels no shame in cutting him down over and over again in front of his family.
My cousin lives directly across the hall from him (yep, same apartment building, same floor) and frequently complains about how poorly my SIL treats my brother. He’s overheard arguments where she’s again throwing attacks at him, bringing up her brothers-in-law (including my husband) as comparisons. I do worry that eventually this is going to eat away at the relationship we have with my brother, as he’ll come to resent us.
I even had reservations about inviting them over when we moved into our house, as I worried it would just lead to her berating him on the way home.
So. How to defuse? Throw him a compliment as soon as she says something? Just change the subject like I didn’t hear it? My goal isn’t to start an argument with the wench, but this is killing my brother’s self-esteem.