Women Arguing

Ask Rene:
I Have The Sister-in-Law From HELL (Part 2)!

Hi Rene: 

I am a 39-year-old, single, educated, intelligent woman and recent convert to the Church of Christ. I don’t have any children and I overcame both a learning difference and a language disorder. Over the years, my sister-in-law (who is married to my brother with whom she has two children) has demonstrated that she is neither mother nor wife material. Up until recently, she and I rarely spoke to each other due to her being out of touch with reality when it comes to respecting boundaries and pulling her weight as a mother and wife. My mother does the cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the kids while my brother gets a big kick out of it because he is a MAMA’s BOY.

Everything came to a head yesterday when she and I got into an argument, which led to her throwing away my food in the sink. I shoved her in front of my nephew and niece (who I love to pieces!). My brother and I have spoken about it and I admitted to shoving her because of the disrespect of my property. I apologized to my nephew, niece, and my sister-in-law and she gave an apology in return.

I have been struggling trying to find employment and start a business and get my own place but I never thought I would end up with sister-in-law who is beyond pathetic. Last time I checked, a wife is a woman who is a helpmate to the husband.

I welcome any advice you might have.


Furious in Forrest Hills

Dear Furious:

HANG ON! Do you LIVE with your brother and sister-in-law? You don’t come right out and say it but that’s what I gather and if that’s the case you are NOT gonna like what I have to say. If you, as you say, are trying to get yourself together, become gainfully employed and start a business and your brother and sister-in-law are ALLOWING you to stay in their home while you do that, then BACK OFF! Bite your tongue in their presence and roll your eyes when you are behind closed doors but if they, out of the goodness of their hearts, are letting you lay your head on THEIR pillows, eat THEIR food and help keep a roof over YOUR head, you have nothing to say. About anything. Here’s why.

IT’S NOT YOUR PLACE: If you don’t pay the bills then technically you are a guest. As such you have to observe the rules of their house. They may not be the rules that you would implement in your own home but that’s neither here nor there. You know why? Because this isn’t your house. This is akin to visiting a foreign country and tying to tell the folks in charge how to run their government. Yes, the way they do it may be bass-ackward but that’s the way THEY have chosen to do it. The reasons may not make sense to you but they don’t have to. You don’t pay taxes (rent), you don’t vote and you’re not a citizen (live) there. You are a visitor. Act like one.

IT’S NOT YOUR BATTLE: You mentioned your mother does the cooking and cleaning and that your brother is a “MAMA’s BOY”. Yeah? So what? I’m not saying that’s a good thing. I’m also not saying it’s a bad thing. What I am saying is what business is it of yours?  If they have a system, a way of communicating and dealing with each other that works for them, why are you all up in their stuff? Your mother is a grown woman who raised (at least) two competent people. That means she herself, has got some smarts. When she gets tired of being walked on or she no longer derives pleasure from doing this for your brother, it will stop. Trust me. And her.

GROWN PEOPLE DO NOT FIGHT: Oh.My.GOD! You are way too old for me to be telling you this and for you to be hearing this for the first time. But grown people do not fight unless they’re inside a ring and there’s an over-sized check in the offing. I don’t care what the excuse is (and her “disrespecting your property” is one of the flimsiest I’ve ever heard) you don’t put your hands on your sister-in-law (unless it was self defense), especially in her home and in front of her children. You can apologize all you want but the image of you with your hands on their mother, will live in the minds of your beloved niece and nephew forever!

Look, this whole situation jumped the shark a while ago so here’s my advice to you. Take all that energy you spend passing judgment on what a “pathetic” sister-in-law you have and focus it on yourself. Get a job, get a business and get the hell out of their house. Get your own house and set up your own rules. When they come to visit you can do and say whatever you damn well please. But until that time, be gracious and kind, because the Bible calls for that too, when last I checked.

Good luck!

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