(Closed) Sibling-in-law trouble

posted 4 years ago in Married Life
Post # 2
124 posts
Blushing bee

My Brother-In-Law and I do not get along, he has always made snyde comments about me and how I want things (they grew up extremely poor and my parents weren’t rich but well off).  It is to the point now where when we are at family functions, he and I can tolerate each other, but we do not really speak to each other.  I’m like you and waiting to see what happens when we have kids, but the fact is, we can’t change them, we can only change how we act and things that we can physically change.  Don’t worry about the kids right now if you don’t have them, if you have to, you can sit down with your husband and have a discussion with him about it when you have kids. 

Post # 3
5950 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

letsdothis2013:  Yikes, that sounds pretty brutal.  I haven’t been in this situation, but the principles I’d keep in mind are:

1) Avoid spending time with him when possible.

2) Be quiet and confident about standing up for yourself and your family.  There is no point in engaging him in arguments (I’m sure he’d LOVE that).  It can be powerful to calmly say, “We aren’t going to stay here if you continue treating my husband this way” or “Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I’d appreciate if you don’t use that sort of language in front of me, I find it offensive” if you are ready to back it up.  I think you want to establish now that you are not a doormat so that when you’ve got kids in the picture he’s seen a hint of “don’t mess with me” before you go full mama bear on him.  It will make things a little awkward but IMO that’s better than you having to constantly repress your feelings in the long term.

3) Don’t worry too much about kids right now.  Your relatinoship with him may change before that happens (or before they are old enough to know what’s going on).  And if it doesn’t – kids are going to have to deal with assholes in their lives too.  They will learn from you how to deal with these people.  You can model that behavior for them both by avoiding your Brother-In-Law and by the way you react to him when you do hang out.

4) You can’t change him.  Remember that and repeat it to yourself when you are about to explode.

5) You should pitty him.  This behavior FOR SURE covers up his insecurities.  He doesn’t feel whole, or loved, or good enough in some way and that’s why he needs to hurt other people. He feels shame and covers it up with bravado.  He’s lacking in empathy which will prevent him from leading a full, rich life.  It’s hard to be angry at someone when you feel sorry for them. This could also be a useful framework for talking to your kids about the hateful opinions Uncle A-hole spews. 


Post # 4
235 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

I know people that get like this and one strategy that always works for me is: When they start spewing hate about you/your husband or whoever (this is assuming they are talking to you not the general group) just look away and strike up a convo with someone else like they stopped existing and vanished right from the room. Some people continue to talk for a bit but soon realize they are only talking to themselves. Others in the room can follow suit and the offenders behaviour seems to change quite quickly. I don’t feel like this is rude either, it’s just an appropriate response to the other person’s rude behaviour.

Post # 6
3339 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2013 - Rhode Island

cbgg:  This is fantastic advice.  I can’t think of anything to add.

Post # 8
46677 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

letsdothis2013:  I would have no trouble speaking up and setting limits when he is in my home. I cannot control the way he thinks but I can define acceptable behavior in my own home. I think this is especially important when you have childen, because you will be seen by them to be tacitly endorsing what he says if you allow it in front of them.

If he chooses not to come to our home, Darling Husband can visit with him elsewhere.

Post # 9
4412 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

letsdothis2013:  I have an acquaintance like this who I rarely see anymore, thank goodness. We were semi-friends in high school, but he is exactly like this. I can respect anyone’s views, though I may not understand them, but when this guy would talk it would just be hateful, misinformed, and for the sake of arguing. I wouldn’t engage with him and that stopped a lot of it. He would bring up a subject that we knew would lead to him saying horrible (racist/prejudiced/etc.) things and none of us would let it say. We would simple say “We’re going to talk about something else” and not even let him get the words out. Eventually, he stopped trying. I love having good discussions with people on controversial topics, but when they become bullies and are downright rude, then there is no point. Good luck!

ETA: Oh, and I completely agree wtih PPs. If he does start to target your husband or you then I would clearly and confidently say “BIL, you are entitled to your opinion. You are not entitled to speak to Darling Husband or myself this way. If it happens again, we are leaving.” Follow through too. If he starts in, leave. I’m sure he’ll begin getting an earful from his gf, mom, and others. 

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by  KatiePi.
Post # 10
3830 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I don’t like my Brother-In-Law at all. Nor his wife. I avoid them in family functions and simply just don’t spend time with him. But Darling Husband isnt really friends with him either. i obviously can’t stop my husband hanging out with him, but I don’t need to let it affect my relationship with my husband or anything else. I basically just ignore him and do my own thing. Ive found it gets easier with time to know your limits with ppl. 

Post # 11
951 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

I’d (verbally) slap him back into line the next time he oversteps. I did that to my husband’s obnoxious brother. The rest of the family can’t fault you for sticking up for yourself.

Post # 12
3239 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

I would say,”today is not asshole day. Can we please talk about something else?”

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