Here is a little history/background. I have been married for almost 11 years and have no children.
My husband and I married young. I am 5 years younger than my husband. After we married my husband left the military and decided we would move to the same town as his sister. I live about 8 hours from all of my family and did not know anyone. I only had my husband and his sister and her family, and my mother-in-law and that’s it. He is the youngest child in his family and the most successful of all the siblings (two older sisters and next his brother, and then him).
Before I married my husband I didn’t really get to know his family. I met them once, and they were of course very sweet and friendly towards me. Before we moved/got married his sister picked out the location of our apartment (right across the street from her house), and how convenient the complex was still being built so we had to live with them for a couple months. I was young and unemployed so I didn’t really have much say. Unfortunately, I was very naive then and didn’t realize I was allowing another woman to dictate my life. My husband and his sister have continued to make plans that impact me, and my input and opinion is conveniently disregarded. I wonder if it is my age.
I know this shouldn’t matter but I have been told by others (black women specifically) it does. I am white and my husband is black. I have never been a prejudice or judgmental person. I never thought it mattered until a couple of my friends, who are mixed/black, said something to me. I just can’t ignore the fact that she/other women in my husband’s family do not respect me at all. This specific sister treats me the worst, and ironically she is married to a man who is half Hawaiian and half white. What’s interesting is she always introduces her husband to people as being Hawaiian and doesn’t mention he is also white. She talks in front of me about how she hopes her daughters find nice young black men to date. I obviously can’t do anything about the way I look. I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on this? Would she treat me better if I wasn’t white? What can I do if anything to address this?
My Easygoing/Ageeable Husband & OCD Sister-In-Law
I need help, advice, suggestions of how to get change to happen and fast. He wants kids and so do I. Honestly, I don’t know how to deal with his sister and the rest of his family as a whole. I love my husband, but it is very difficult living a life where I seem to have little input. He takes his sister’s/family members’ side over mine. When there have been times I have stood up for myself he doesn’t have my back and tells me I’m wrong. He doesn’t see how manipulative his sister is who lives closest to us (she is the biggest culprit). He allows them to impact decisions we should be making as husband and wife. He doesn’t consult me about things. They get in the middle often, and make plans for the holidays, yep, even they are made and then dictated to me.
His relationship with his sister doesn’t seem healthy. She has spanked his butt before and said how cute he is in front of me and then said, “Oops you are married now.” And, she said recently how grown up he looks, more manly. I told both his mom and him about how uncomfortable that made me. I commented to her that he has been married a while now (at the time we were married about 8 years), and more recently I told her he looks the same (he hasn’t changed much) in my opinion. Strange to me he would allow his sister to treat him like this especially after I told him how it makes me feel. He says nothing, which is probably why the strange/controlling attitude continues. She is controlling and obsessed with the males in the family. It seems a little weird to me.
We have gone to counseling before and after we married, and that has helped a little, but of course after a few months he goes back to poor communication and disregarding my feelings. He defends his family and puts me down. I remind him of the information we learned during counseling, but he seems to get defensive and points the finger at me.
Please HELP! How do I address his OCD sister-in-law and my overly agreeable husband? I want to get respect without being a b***h/nagging/complaining wife. – A Desperate Wife
Dear Ms. A Desperate Wife,
I’m curious as to how you married a man and you only met his family once? I understand loving someone and wanting to be with that person, but you haven’t met any of his family members, or friends, or loved ones throughout your dating period. Hell, he could have at least took you home a few times, or even brought you home for the holidays. So, I’m curious why he didn’t introduce you, and why you didn’t insist on meeting his family.
I am of the school that you can truly know a person by how they interact and treat their own family members, and especially how a man treats his mother, and women in his family. All of this strange interaction between him and his sister would have been something you noticed early on if you had met them and interacted with them more often. Now, you’re trying to decipher what’s going on after the fact.
So, let’s address your issue of your sister-in-law and how she meddles into your relationship, how the family makes decisions about family gatherings without considering you, and the weirdness between your husband and his sister.
In regards to the family decisions I would encourage you to find out when the meetings take place, and you make sure you attend the meetings, even if it’s a phone call. Or, you befriend someone in the family, someone like his mother, and they will make sure that you are included in these things. If I were you I would mention it casually that you love how the family gets together have these meetings and plan family gatherings, but it would be really nice if you were part of it so that you can feel like you are part of the family as well. I’m sure by mentioning these occasionally, and to the right person they will be sure to have you included, “Hey, we should call/include so-and-so in this. She is just as part of this family, too.” You have to build allies. And, it will take time, but it can be done. Play nice. Invite them over to your house, and have dinner, or lunch, or a family game night. You can plan an event at your place and it will show how you are interested in being included with the family.
In regards to his sister, your sister-in-law, I would invite her out for lunch, tea, or coffee and have an honest and frank conversation. Ask her if she has an ill-will, or feelings toward you. Let her know how you feel, and how she makes you feel. You can let her know that you are happy to have her as a sister-in-law and would like to get to know her better, but you don’t feel or get the sense that she is too welcoming. Let her know how you feel by the way she treats you, and the things she says. Tell her that it is your perception of things, and you know that it can be misread how or what she is doing, so you want to know for sure if there is any malicious or ill-intent on her behalf. Frank and honest conversation will help you and get to the root and bottom of what you feel and interpret as not being liked, and an outsider. Also, I’m not sure if it has anything to do with race, considering she married someone outside of her race. But, who knows. Has she done or said anything to you to make you feel that it is based on your race? Has she called you out of your name, or said anything regarding race with you? I honestly think that she is close with her brother, and they have a bond and do certain things that only they understand and know about. So, since you are new in the picture, and they barely know you, then, she may feel like you are replacing her position with him. She may feel threatened that they will no longer joke, have fun, or have their own special bond and code because he has you.
Also, I do think that by her recommending that you live close to them, and she offered for you to stay at their home while you awaited for your apartment to be ready that she felt it would be a bonding time between you and her. She felt that she was reaching out to you, and offering her assistance, and welcoming you into the family. Though, her behavior was somewhat aggressive and assertive, she should have consulted with you, and actually rode around the city and helped you to pick out your own place. She went immediately into “let me help” mode, and may not have realized that her overbearing-ness and assertiveness may have been too much for you. But, that is my interpretation. You can only ask her to find out her intentions to see how and what she meant when she offered her assistance.
And, as far as joking around with her brother, and making inappropriate remarks about her own brother, and how uncomfortable it makes you feel, well, you addressed. You even brought it up to your mother-in-law. I think by mentioning to her again while you’re having lunch, tea, coffee, or dinner, and let her know how it honestly makes you feel uncomfortable. And, make a formal request that she does not do it in your presence. Make it clear how you feel about it and that you want her to stop doing it.
Lastly, I think your husband is childish, and he relies too much on the women to take care of him and tell him what to do. You are constantly having to reinforce things that you learned in marriage counseling. You are doing corrective behavior. That is what you do with a child. And, his sister interferes too much into his life, and thus, he will defend her at all costs because I’m sure she has always interfered and told him what to do. So, he has a surrogate mother in her. You can go back to therapy and address these issues, but please know that you can expect him to make change overnight. Like I stated, you mentioned that you are constantly telling him or reminding him of things you learned in marriage counseling. He needs to be reminded, and constantly have reinforcements to know what he is doing wrong, how to change it, and how to proceed moving forward. This is going to get old, so he has to be able to recognize his own triggers and see his own patterns of behavior and make the necessary change. You can point them out, but he has to do the work, and be willing to do the work. Otherwise, you’re going to be yet another surrogate mother/parent in his life telling him what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. He needs to grow up. He needs to understand you are his wife, and you are his family. And, when family meetings are taking place, and decisions are being made he needs to let his family know that they have to consult with you about your household, and your participation in these gatherings. He has to be an ally and voice for you as well. He has to stand up for you, and make sure that you are included. He has to be your first line of defense and support. Without that, then the family will continue to run over you. So, stand up for yourself, make your voice heard, be seen, include your input, voice your opinion, and state your claim. Don’t sit by idly and watch, or be the victim. If you don’t say or do anything, then they will continue to treat you like an outsider. – Terrance Dean
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