Make me like my sister-in-law! (very, *very* long)

Weird Brides, I hate to be so negative and so self-absorbed, but this is getting me down somewhat and I think it would be really helpful to hear an outsider's take on it. Only read if you are bored beyond the realms of tedium (you certainly will be if you get to the end of it).

Those of you whom I have bored before may be aware that I have one or two issues with my brother's wife. I find her rather brash and overbearing, and I feel as though she is ingratiating and overfamiliar with my parents: this is partly because I am quite sensitive to behaviour like this anyway, but my parents themselves agree she lays it on rather thick, Mr Jam (who is not at all in the habit of backing me up if he thinks I'm being unreasonable) thinks her behaviour towards my parents is ludicrous, and several of my friends commented on her "it's all about me!" act at my wedding. I could understand her acting in this way if she had a dubious relationship with her own parents, but she never stops talking about how much they adore her (and this was quite clear from her own wedding) and she is quite blatantly spoilt rotten (so am I, so I can't really blame her for that). I of all people know how difficult it can be to try and fit into a new family (I have hardly have had the warmest of welcomes from Mr Jam's family), so I ought to be able to feel some kind of empathy with her - but my parents have been frankly superhuman in their efforts to make her feel like one of the family, and her confidence and over-familiarity hardly suggest someone who is suffering from insecurity.

(I do want to stress at this point that although we are not the best of friends, I have never been anything but polite and welcoming to her - and I have certainly made infinitely more of an effort with her than any of Mr Jam's family have with me. Because I don't really approve of their relationship, I have over-compensated by going to some lengths to convince them that I do - I wrote them a poem as a reading for their wedding, and I've drawn a (quite nice, honestly) picture of them for their first anniversary. I actually go through phases when I quite like her, and then she does something to annoy me again. But I promise I've never been remotely hostile or rude to her - I am very quiet when she is around, but it is quite hard to get a word in edgeways.)

A few months back my brother told me that he and his wife were going to put together an album of photos for my parents' 35th wedding anniversary, going right from their wedding to the present day. Had this been my idea I would immediately have asked him to help me with it - personally I don't feel that a parents' wedding anniversary is an occasion for an in-law to be involved in instead of an actual child (the idea of celebrating the history of a couple when you've only known them for the last three years of it doesn't make much sense to me). Anyway, I e-mailed him a little while later saying that I'd quite like to write them a poem and perhaps they could include it in the album to form a sort of narrative: I thought my parents would really appreciate something we had done together, especially as I know they worry terribly about the possibility of my brother and me drifting apart and lament the fact that they hardly ever see both of their children together (my Mum is always saying she'd like to spend time "just the four of us" - literally unthinkable, as my brother's wife refuses to be parted with him for so much as a nanosecond).

Weeks later he texted me back with an affirmative but extremely lukewarm response. Two "we'll talk about it later" texts followed at long intervals, until he eventually announced that they'd done the album but they wouldn't be able to get it to me to put my poem in because they were going on holiday and wouldn't get back until the anniversary itself. The anniversary was on Monday, and they're now coming on Friday, so they would have had plenty of time to sort it out: I don't think there can be very much doubt that they never actually wanted me involved at all (if they'd finished the album before they even saw the poem, then how could they possibly have left space for it?), but rather than just say that, they kept putting it off until it was too late. I am almost certain that this is largely, if not entirely, his wife's doing: before she came along my brother always included me in such projects, and I am fairly sure this is another one of her assertions of her place in my family.

I never actually wrote the poem - I initially asked my brother to give me some idea of the photos they were including so I knew what to write about, and he never did. Last week Mr Jam hit on the idea of making them some little cake-toppers out of Fimo in their wedding outfits (they loved the ones I made for our wedding), so I texted my brother to ask what my Dad was wearing. He sent me a link to an online gallery of all the photos going in the album, and it included:

- one of him starting school - none of me

- five of his graduation - one of mine, and I wasn't in it

- a whole bunch of his wedding - three of mine, all ones he'd taken that weren't particularly good

- photo after photo of his wife - one with Mr Jam in the background

- a whole load of some party of his wife's parents

...and so on.

I gave my parents the cake-topper yesterday and they adored it (that is the nice thing about being vaguely creative - people have to like whatever you give them) and I know my parents will love both our presents equally because that's the way they are: but why does it have to be a competition? Why couldn't we have co-operated? I really feel as though she sees me as some kind of rival for my parents' affections - I think she actually thinks that if she tries hard enough she might be able to displace me. Perhaps I am being melodramatic, but this whole "this is our project and you're not joining in" seems a little bit like saying "we're their children, not you". I am just about secure enough to know with some certainty that that ain't gonna happen (one of the few things I am confident of is how much my parents love me) - but I just can't understand why, when my parents have gone to such lengths to welcome her so warmly, she feels she has to go even further and to try to make me feel excluded. She already is one of the family - she doesn't have to prove anything. And she knows that, because she acts like she's more a part of the family than I am!

If you have stuck with me thus far, Weird Brides, then there are a few things I would like you to help me with.

1) Is there any chance I've misinterpreted the whole thing and am I misjudging them both entirely? Or do I have good reason to feel as though I am being shoved to one side? All the people I've already spoken to have concluded that it does seem like I've been deliberately excluded, but can you give me a total outsider's viewpoint of it (as much as that's possible with my inevitably biased account)?

2) I really don't like the fact that I feel like this. I am rubbish at pretending to like people when I don't, so what I really want to do is to genuinely like this girl. Can you make me see this from her point of view? Can you make me empathise with her? Can you, perhaps, think of a situation in which you've acted as she did, and give me a reason why you did it that I can understand? Iris Murdoch says you can like nearly anyone if you see them "in the light of pity and justice" - can you help me do that?

My parents are well aware of how I felt about her before the album incident, but I think it's very important that I don't spoil the present for them by letting them know that I was excluded from it, so of course I'm going to have to sit there and look at it with them all and say how fantastic it is - and the only way I can do this is if I actually believe it. Can you convince me that my own lack of contribution to it doesn't matter at all, and that it is a lovely, thoughtful present and that their refusal to collaborate with me and share the credit for it is completely understandable?

I know people have far, far worse problems and I do feel guilty for asking for your advice in this. It's because my family is so close and because I love them all so much that when something little goes wrong it feels so much worse. I know worse things are happening in the world, but as I've said, my part in my family is one of the few things I can really be confident of, and feeling as though someone is trying to threaten it has been really getting me down (which is why my posts have been a little spiky recently, for which I apologise). If you can offer any advice at all, I would be really, really grateful. if not, well, at least I've got it off my chest...!

[Modified by: Mrs Banana Jam on 14 August 2008 01:17:05 ]


  • I truly wish I had something intelligent to say to this but unfortunately my brain is really switching off and cooling down now so I shall return tomorrow. From the sounds of things in your shoes I'd be feeling the same way, like this sister in law is trying to push you out and move into your place. She's certainly testing the boundaries and perhaps you ought to stomp your feet a little rather than make more and more room. Show her where you stand!

    As an only child I've not really been in this position but my Dad's fiancee has two 'children' (late twenties) who call my Dad 'Dad' and say he's a much better dad to them than their own which annoys me a bit and upsets me but like you I don't want to make a fuss of it.

    I'm sure the album would've been a million times better with a poem running through it but try not to lose sleep over it, at the end of the day your brother is in a difficult position caught between the woman he loves and his sister, his loyalty is being brought into question and of course he must side with his wife.

    I personally wouldn't try to feel sympathy for this woman but try rather to respect her, and to do that she really has to EARN it. So give her opportunities to earn your respect.

    Sorry I am not being terribly coherent I'll have another look over this again tomorrow!

    Good night

  • banana_jambanana_jam Posts: 2,215
    Thank you, Disney Princess - I feel a lot less silly already now that someone's replied! I know I'm making a big fuss about nothing, but it's really been bothering me (clearly I really don't get out enough).

    I just want to clarify though that I don't think my brother had to choose between me and his wife (I don't think I explained it very well): he had to choose between doing a project with his wife and doing a project with his wife and me. My involvement wouldn't have made her involvement any less (it's not like she was writing a poem too and he had to choose which one to go in) - it would just have meant that she'd have got a third of the credit rather than half, and that seems kind of petty to me. I just felt the whole thing was very "this is our project because we're a unit and you're not part of it", and I felt they could have risen above that for the sake of making an already thoughtful present even more so (I know if I had two kids, I'd love to get a present that they'd both worked on together).

    If you are right, though, and he felt that he couldn't include me without excluding her, then I can certainly see why he did it (although he could have just said so from the start). And part of me understands that it was his idea and he didn't want to let everyone else join in. It's just not the way I'd have handled it, I suppose.

    Anyway - thank you so much again, what you've said has helped already. Sleep well! x
  • I'm not sure a reply from an insecure person will be much help but I just wanted to say that I don't think you are over-reacting. However, I don't think the fact that she acts confident and pushy actually means that she might not be insecure or shy. I know I have my own coping mechanisms and I do sometimes worry that one of these is being a bit too loud and giggly (oh that makes me sound awful) and I have another friend who is very uncertain of herself but copes with this by saying how great she is etc. This doesn't give her the right to treat you like she has, I'm just saying that she might not be the confident person she projects herself to be.

    I do think they should have included you in the project, if only because this would have made a better present for your parents. But you can't change other people or their actions and it sounds like you have rescued the situation brilliantly. And your parents should now be able to enjoy both their presents.

    I know what you mean about finding it hard to pretend to like people you don't (I myself have many issues with h2b's family) but he is of the opinion that I just have to grit my teeth and bear it. Can you see yourself doing this, knowing it will make things easier for your brother? I always think its ok not to suffer fools gladly but it isn't ok to make a social situation uncomfortable for anyone other than myself. But having said that can you see yourself liking her more if you do get to know her better? Have you only ever seen her around someone else as this might impact on her, especially if she does feel like she has to act up to people.

    I don't think my answer has been very coherent so I'm sorry! I did just want to add that I'm so envious of how obviously creative you are!!
  • Hi Mrs Jam, I was so sorry to read about your family woes. Firstly I wanted to say that if I was you I would most definitely feel hurt. And also that you shouldn't feel guilty for asking advice, or that your problem is somehow less important than other people's - I think that our family affect our sense of who we are to such an extent that even when we have grown up and moved away, bad feeling amongst family members can really shake you up an awful lot. I am afraid I can only offer a few (probably slightly incoherent) thoughts in response to your questions.

    1) You asked if anyone could offer a viewpoint other than you being deliberately shoved aside. One thing I wondered reading your post was whether, rather than being a pre-meditated exclusion and a deliberate attempt to ensure you weren't involved in the project, it could have been a case of thoughtlessness? Could your brother and sister in law had just not thought to ask you if you would like to be involved, and then not been organised enough to incorporate your poem (hence your brother fobbing you off with vague communication about it all), and then just decided as the anniversary got closer to go ahead and finish it off, not thinking about whether or not it might upset you? Of course I do not know your brother and sister in law so this could be completely off the mark! I am not sure if this is a justification of their behaviour, either. I just thought I would try and suggest a different way of looking at things.

    2) Your second question was an interesting one and I have been trying to think of an incident when I might have behaved like this! Again I am not sure how far this applies to your situation, but I know that I can be quite possessive over my ideas, especially for creative things - I get a really clear vision about how I want it to turn out, and get a bit funny if other people want to change things slightly! Could your sister in law have perhaps had a clear idea of what she wanted, and maybe have felt a bit threatened by your own creativity? Perhaps she was worried that if you got involved, it might outshine what she and your brother had done? (Although from what you have said about your sister in law before she doesn't sound that insecure - but MrsSmythe2be did make an interesting point that you can't always tell when someone is insecure on the inside.)

    3) And finally, convincing you that your lack of input doesn't matter - this is a hard one! I wonder if the best thing would be to try and look at the album as a thoughtful gift in and of itself, and try and dissociate all of this worry from it. Maybe try and imagine how you would have reacted in a parallel universe where you didn't have any history of problems with the way your sister in law and brother act to you and your parents - since it sounds like this incident has caused so much upset because it is a culmination of so many other things, and if it had been an isolated occurrence you perhaps wouldn't have felt so bad.

    I am not sure if any of that will be any help to you at all, but I just wanted to offer you some support and some of my thoughts. xx
  • CeleryukCeleryuk Posts: 3,640
    I was wondering if actually the album idea is hers. You know how usually guys can be a bit clueless about meaningful presents. Maybe she suggested it and just got on with it and did not think she needed any assistance from you as your brother provided all the photos.

    The fact that she is putting some photos of her in the album which I think is a bit weird as it is about your parents, is clearly to show everyone that she is now part of the family. This is a family album and she's in it.

    Now I completely agree that by overdoing it, she is hiding some kind of insecurities. She might be spoilt rotten by her parents, getting everything she wants, but I was wondering if she got the essential from her family: the opportunity to be who you are in total confidence and be accepted for what you are???

    However, she is coming around at your parent's place and you also here, if you're quiet and sit in the corner, she is just taking the space you're not taking. Somehow you're allowing her to be everywhere. It seems to me that you excuse yourself and completely back up when she's around. Well you don't approve of their relationship and you don't particularly like her, it's fine, you don't have to. But you can tolerate her and be polite, but for heaven sake be who you are around her. If you want to be chatty, funny and excited and can't stop talking, well you have the right to do it. It is your parent's house, you're the daughter of the family, take back your position.

    Are you meeting next week on Monday? Write a poem for the occasion and after they give their album, stand up and read it out loud. You do not need to see some photos to get inspiration.

    I have noticed that you do talk about it every few months and obviously this is something playing on your mind. Maybe the behaviour you had so far, is not really working...maybe it's time to try something different.

    Try to be you and don't try so hard when she is around. Don't give her anymore attention than what she is worth, otherwise you will rub her ego and she will overdo it even more.

  • leafyukleafyuk Posts: 2,182
    Oh Mrs Jam, I feel for you, I really do! I have some thoughts on this and I am going to start composing them now ,but I know it will take me a while as it's a busy day at work... I will be back soon... just wanted to give you a virtual hug in the meantime image
  • rave77ukrave77uk Posts: 742
    Hi Mrs Banana Jam,

    hope i can maybe put a little of her perspective across!

    My H2B is very close to his only sister. I also get on very well with her and feel like part of the family.

    However our 2 families are quite quite different. Although me and my parents and siblings are very close as in I know we can turn to each other in any situation, things like birthday cards, anniversary cards, and mother/fathers day cards have always come from each child individually and then from each child and their partner once we settled down.

    In my h2bs family however, everytime there is a special occasion coming up I ask H2B if he has sorted anything out or if we wants me to do something (knowing how useless he is at remembering birthdays etc) and he always replies "it's ok, B (his sister) is doing it"

    This usually involves us turning up to dinner and being thanked for a present which i have no knowledge of and then handing over cash to his sister.

    for the first year even after we moved in together I wasn't put on the cards or asked to sign, although now that B has a serious boyfriend our 2 names are added on to the end. That kind of makes me feel as though it looks like i'm not making any effort, but i am wary of "treading on her toes" and doing my own thing.

    So in summary it may just be that her family do things a little differently from yours and it's difficult for you both to completely "get" each others way of doing things.

    Or it may just be that she's a just a bit of a show off and wants all the glory!!!

    I have also been on the other side when my brothers wife (when they had only been together for a few months) splashed out on a luxury gift for my mum on Mothers Day (not off her and my bro, just from her) and i was furious!!

    Don't take it too personally, I know it's not a competition but you and your brother will always be your parents children, and although she is part of the family, a daughter in law is not the same as a daughter.

    Hope this helps

  • mrsj36mrsj36 Posts: 2,340
    I probably won't put this across as well as everyone else as I think they've all made really good points.

    I actually have a feeling she's a very insecure person and trying to prove herself. She sees you (and your brother) as part of your family and wants to be part of it - it's possible she actually thought the album would make that happen - even if you feel she has been included in your family, it's possible that she doesn't, especially if, as Celery points out - you're quite quiet when she's around. I think it's often those who are most confident who have the most problems - if she's been spoilt she is probably wanting that from your family too? Also, I think the others are right - she may be jealous of your creativity, realised that you can create something great and had come up with an idea that she thought you were trying to take over. I know you don't see it like that - but did she think 'Oh here comes Mrs BJ again with her bloody poems, and all I've got is some poxy photos'!!

    Also I think part of the blame must lie with your brother. My sister and I are very close and often buy joint presents for our parents. If she suddenly did something behind my back I'd feel hurt - whether it was with or without a partner involved.

    In terms of liking her - that's hard. I think what Celery says is right - just be yourself around her. Have you ever done anything just with her? Even if it's just to pop to a takeaway to collect an order, or take a dog for a walk. Somehow, M and my sister's (now ex unfortunately) boyfriend always ended up doing things together as my dad had the ability to make them help with some sort of diy. They got to know each other really well - it sounds like you don't actually 'know' this girl?

    I'm trying to think if I have an example of when I've acted like that - I don't think I do. BUT it all comes back to what we were talking about yesterday - competing is in a lot of people's minds, even if it's not really in yours - and I have a feeling that this is what it all boils down to in this situation. That and being accepted....


  • louise1981uklouise1981uk Posts: 1,031
    I think you should speak to your parents about this, but maybe not directly about the album. To be honest i think your parents will notice the album anyway-it is quite insulting to them to suggets that one child ha smor emeaning to them to the other. I would alo tell your brother that you would like to add some othe rphotos. If he refuses then write your poem, and perhaps do a picture or something too. But as this sound san ongoing issue it needs to be tackled-perhaps when youa re all together you can bring it up. It sound slike your sil2b is insecure, in that she cannot be confident without someone telling how great she is or bbeing the centre of attention, rather than having an ability to be confident in herself as a person. Her parents have piled praise on her left right and centre, and now she is dependent on it, and thinks it is negitive to not always have this attention. Your h2b has a responsibility to sort this out with her before it causes problems.
  • jeskiukjeskiuk Posts: 2,051

    Just a thought but are you completely and 100% sure that this is all of the sil's doing? It just seems that you are only communicating with your brother here, which I quite understand if you dislike her. Some people you just can't like, try as you might. Still is there no chance that he has got it into his head that he wants to be in the limelight a little? I am an only child so don't really understand the sibling relationships at all, but he now has a seperate wife with a woman who he must have some inkling of your feelings towards, and if as you have said you too are always spoiled rotten maybe a little voice has gotten him to feel a bit competitive?

    Just a thought as there do seem to be three people at least involved here.
  • louise1981uklouise1981uk Posts: 1,031
    Why do you not suggest that your parents can keep addint ot the album too. I also think that it might be a good idea to directly ask you brother, (in person or on the phone not text) why you were not included, and also ask why there are so few photos of you and so many of your wife and her parents.
  • NaomeiNaomei Posts: 2,273
    Hello MrsBJ!

    I read this on the train and I just wanted to say that my first thought was: why would MrsBJ want to be like her sister in law? image

    And then I read it and I realised it wasn't what I thought it was.

    Well... I can give my perspective as I have a brother's girlfriend (sorry, now fianc????e) who sounds a little bit like the one you have, and I'm also the SIL of J's sister, the only daughter in the family, so understand what it's like coming into a family that's different from your own.

    First of all - I agree with what Celery says - I think that your way of dealing with her is just to retreat when she is around, and that's not right. For one thing it just makes her look better, that she is making all the effort to get along and you are just sulking. I know that is not how you mean to come across but it could easily be interpreted as that. The fact is: you're always going to be the daughter and they're never going to love her as much as they love you. This is something that I really had to get my head around in the beginning with my brother's girlfriend...

    My background is that I was adopted and I was the first of four - with another adopted sister and two brothers who weren't adopted, and as a child I was really insecure about being loved. I mean of course I knew my parents loved me and wanted me, but I always felt acutely aware that my brother was 'the miracle baby' and my mother clearly favoured him. She says she didn't/doesn't but I really believe she did, and still does. As I have got older I have accepted this and I really can understand it on an adult level - she thought she'd never have a baby and then this boy comes along who looks just like a younger, more perfect version of my dad, and he has a really sweet temperament (rather than my sulky one!) and so what's not to love? But as a child it was difficult for me to deal with. As we had four children I always felt like we were constantly fighting for our parents' attention - even though we were very close-knit and we had a privileged upbringing, I have always been someone who was desperate to be loved - I've always wanted to be someone's favourite.

    So when my brother's girlfriend came along, I did feel threatened. Not only did she insinuate herself into our family really quickly (it was like an assault - and they've known each other since they were in single figures! So I feel like I've seen her grown up as well) but she always seemed like she was trying to usurp us. Now, she was only a young girl but both my sister and I hated it - we felt like she was 'sucking up' to my mum especially (my dad was not that bothered by her and didn't live with us most of the time anyway). And then when I went away to uni, she would come and stay and because we don't have a guest bedroom, and I was away, she would always stay in my room. This made me absolutely furious. I felt like she was trying to take my place and I couldn't defend it because I was away at uni. It really really p!ssed me off when I came back if she had left ANYTHING in my room. I would purposely leave my pyjamas under my pillow, and my toiletries in my bathroom, just to let her know whose room it was.

    But you know what? She knew. I feel really quite bad for how unwelcoming I was now. Their love has stood the test of time (or they can't think of doing anything else - they were each other's first and only relationship) so really who looks like the meanoid now? Me! As I've got older I have grown up A LOT and I have understood more about how things work, and I've become more comfortable in myself, and so I can see that she was just trying her best. The thing is - as others have said - families are different. I think I didn't make much effort with her initially because I resented her, but also I found her kind of brash and provincial (I know that sounds bad! but I was young!). And it's like that William Blake poem, A Poison Tree.

    I just think the resentment kind of grows out of your control... it takes on a life of its own and eats away at you. I was thinking about holding grudges the other day and I thought, it's so pointless... all it does is harm you. I'm reasonably fortunate as I have a very short term memory so I'm pretty bad at bearing grudges! image But I used to be much better at it.

    Anyway, back to the story... When I met J, I discovered the other side of things. I was the evil sister in law. And J's family were only ever welcoming and like you describe yours to be... but I did know straight away that his sister and mother were the ones to work on. :\) I knew that if his sister C didn't like me then I was doomed. And I made a supreme effort to get along with her (not that difficult as she is a nice person, but difficult in the way of getting time with her etc- you can't just jump into spending time with her by herself straight away). I do think she was not that keen on me in the beginning - I sensed her reservations about me (too young, too forthright, etc). And the other thing is: I think a lot of girlfriends just try with the parents and don't bother about the siblings. Whereas I know that siblings are important. J said early on that one of the things he liked about me was that I got along with his family. Anyway. C and I didn't see much of each other till a few years in... it was a gradual thing... for me it was getting along with her children (easy as they are v sweet) that was a way in. I think if someone sees you getting along with their children then they appreciate that.

    Anyway... back to you! (I do waffle, sorry! :lolimage I think as someone else said... maybe she is just being a bit gauche. I do think it was probably her idea as well - maybe your brother is dead creative but in my experience all the effort comes from the females! J is just the same. I have to nag him when his family's birthdays are coming up (I made a list and I started a tradition where I make photo calendars for each family each year, with all the birthdays on). If I didn't remind him then he would get something last minute whereas I spend loads of time thinking about what each person would like. Everyone knows it's me as before J and I got together, he often wouldn't even go to birthday parties or anything. Maybe his family members feel like I try and steal the thunder or something but quite honestly they seem to have been quite happy for me to make effort. Like I always make a cake for C's daughter and C is pleased that I do that and it means she doesn't have to do it. So maybe your SIL is thinking of you like that and doesn't realise that you feel resentful of it - she's just trying hard to be nice. Or she might feel kind of bemused and think, well, she's always so off with me that I might as well carry on as I am doing. Or she might think - well I thought of the idea and so why should she come in on it when she has never tried to be my friend before? It could be any number of things but you won't know if you don't ask her.

    Back to my situation... I really feel bad that I didn't try harder with my brother's girlfriend in the beginning. But I can't change the past. The problem is that now I think that she doesn't trust me or feel that she should have to make an effort - she's probably just like, oh well, you had your chance. (I'm a fan of the 'it's never too late to try' school of thought but then I am a stupid optimist when it comes to things like that.) I think the thing is, I have made much more of an effort lately and hopefully it will improve over time - I don't think we have a bad relationship, it's just not a brilliant one. But I feel as if she's in the family now so it's up to me to be a bigger person and welcome her in, just like J's family have welcomed me in.

    I do totally agree with you about the separating for a nanosecond thing - it drives me crazy that my brother's girlfriend has to come to EVERY family event (as J is quite sensitive like that and absents himself if he thinks it's appropriate). But then - I don't know. I go to all J's family events, but then their family events include families (out of all the children, J is the only one not to have children). So it's open to all really. And you know what - that's one of the things I love about his family. They welcome everybody and you're not made to feel lesser because of not being a blood relative. Of course I know that J and his siblings are the offspring, but we're a close second (and actually, the grandchildren are probably first!). At J's parents' 50th wedding anniversary party last year, his dad gave a speech. We were all there and so were tonnes of the extended family. It was really sweet. And then the next day we got a phone call. It was J's dad. He was calling up to speak to me, and he said he realised he had thanked his sons and daughter in the speech but not me (or any of the children's partners) and he felt terrible about it. He said that he loved me and that I should consider myself part of the family. I think that's pretty amazing. :\)

    Anyway. What am I saying? I think I'm saying:

    - All families are different and sometimes it's hard to figure out how to play it when you become part of a new one.

    - The original family members sometimes feel threatened by the arrival of a new family member.

    - The new family member is never going to replace the original family members, and should be seen as an addition rather than a replacement.

    - You can't pick your family! You can't even pick your extended family - you have to leave it up to your mischievous siblings!

    - Don't ever let someone else make you feel bad about yourself.

    - Don't pretend to like someone, but be open to the possibility that if you get to know them a bit better, you might end up liking them. image
  • gindigindi Posts: 1,369
    I agree Mrs BJ that you do need to be yourself when you're around her and not withdraw. M's aunt is considered by M's mum and grandmother to be really shy and quiet, when she is really good fun and chatty; she just feels a bit underwhelmed in their presence and so they don't know the real her. (She is 42; not an elderly aunt type person!!)

    I am really lucky in that I get on well with my brother's wife, and M's sister - there doesn't seem to be any resentment from any side and I am really grateful for that. As a result, the only bit of personal experience I can offer is my observations of M's aunt and how sad I think it is that she doesn't show the 'real' her to the rest of her husband's family. But I don't think that matters because there are some EXCELLENT perspectives on here and I hope they help you feel that you're not alone, you're not paranoid, and that, well, they just help.

  • mrsj36mrsj36 Posts: 2,340
    NC - I thought that too! I thought 'but I thought Mrs BJ didn't really like her sister in law so why would she want to be like her!'
  • leafyukleafyuk Posts: 2,182
    Mrs Banana Jam I was reading your post and thinking "I can NOT understand this sister-in-law's behaviour at all"! - but then I started to try to imagine what it would be like to be your sister-in-law. I may be totally wrong, but here goes...

    I wonder if there is any chance that your sister in law is not as creative as you, and she sees all the wonderful poems your write and things you make, and how everyone loves them and appreciate you for doing them, and she feels inadequate in comparison. Now, of course it shouldn't be a competition, but no one likes to feel crap about themselves, and when you don't have your own style or your own genius gift-giving ways, then when someone else does, you feel like your talents, and the gifts that you give people, are crap in comparison.

    Now, I know that you say you stay quiet and in the background, but let's face it you are a really fantastic person who your family adore, and your sister-in-law unless she's stupid will see this. Yes, you have every right to be loved more by your own family (and no one in their right mind, not even your SIL in her crazy mind, would think they could be loved more). I don't think she wants to be loved more than you, she just wants to be an equal and valid member of the family - she wants to be PART of your family and hence on, if not the same level, then at least a similar level, to you - I think this is clear from the way she tries so hard with your parents.

    I know you say that the way she behaves demonstrates her security and confidence, but actually I am inclined to disagree with you on that point, as to me this smacks of someone who is the opposite of confident and secure. Ok, maybe she's secure in other ways, but certainly not when it comes to her place in your family. To me that is very clear. In which case, imagine this person, feeling like she doesn't belong in your creative, close family, and knowing that an important family occasion is coming up, and that this is a chance for her to demonstrate how much she loves being part of your family, and how great she is, and that she really is as wonderful, creative and thoughtful a person as you, and not just a second-rate kind of person who doesn't really belong in the family - that she CAN fit in! This is her chance to do something to prove it! She suddenly thinks of a creative idea - putting together an album for your parents! She is so excited, she knows they will love it, and it is not SO creative that she can't do it - phew! Naturally she gets your brother to help her do it, as he has access to photos etc. Or maybe your brother was the one who thought of it, but she saw it as a way for THEM to be as creative as you. (Or, could it even be that your brother was the one who wanted to be a bit selfish and be the creative one for once? I don't know your brother so am only wondering - perhaps you have blamed her because you don't like her and would never imagine such a thing from your lovely brother? Anyway, let's assume it wasn't your brother for now, and it was her, as I am guessing you know him well and have made a well-considered guess about who is to blame...)

    Then she hears that you would like to write a poem for the front of the album. Instead of thinking that it would be great to have a gift from all of you, as a secure and confident person would (also because a secure person would be thinking about what would be best for the receiver of the gift, and not about what would make the giver look best!), she is immediately worried that her idea will now look like your idea (after all, everyone knows that you are the creative person) and that your poem - the effort and skill and talent you will demonstrate through it - will completely overshadow what she has done, which really is just sticking pictures into an album. (I'm not saying that she didn't do it well, or creatively, but she could easily have gotten down on herself and thought of it as a pathetic attempt to be creative, compared to writing a poem.) ???????Oh no???????, she thinks, ???????she will outshine me again! I don't want to always be the one who is crap compared to her, I want to actually give a good gift for once, and have the parents like me for once, and feel like I did something creative and thoughtful. She can do her own thing and it will still be great, but I can't do anything else, and if she joins in on this project then she will eclipse me. Also, I NEVER have good ideas, and she always does, and I'm not going to let her take credit for the one thing I think of!!???????

    Now, this is just sad and pathetic of her, but you know we can all be sad and pathetic when it comes to worrying about other people liking us, fitting in, and not being as good as others.

    My H2B is an only child, but he has a cousin who he is very close to and she is love by all the family. She is so free-spirited and creative, and sends handmade cards and makes gifts for people. I always feel completely silly when I send out my shop-bought cards and have even, pathetically, started making things to send to H2B's mum (who is also very creative and makes us things). It's so silly, and I am so bad at making things, but I want to fit in! I am sure I look silly trying, but I really do want to try, because I want to fit in to that family, not have them think I don't really belong because I'm not like them at all! I am very close to my own family, and would like to be close to theirs, too. I hope I don't behave like your sister-in-law, but on some lesser level I can kind of relate to where she's coming from.

    Unfortunately of course, her behaviour is alienating everyone even more, but sadly she can't see that she is making things worse, not better, because she can't see the bigger picture. I actually feel kind of sorry for her when I think about it, as it must be crap to be married to someone whose family don't really approve of your relationship, and to witness the family loving each other and being really close, and to not be part of that. And hence to never be able to relax around them, but instead to feel anxious and to feel like you have to try really hard. We can all say we don't care if someone doesn't like us, but human nature doesn't work that way. It hurts not be liked. And I think we all know when someone doesn't really approve of us or like us. Often our reaction is to try even harder to make them like us (as your SIL is doing) and sadly that makes them like us even less. Have you ever noticed how it's when you really care about what someone thinks (whether it's a teacher, a new boyfriend, your partner's family, or a new boss), that you try too hard and end up saying things and doing things that don't really reflect who you are? It sounds to me that this is what your SIL is doing. I know that doesn't make her any more likeable, but it does perhaps help you to see her in the light of pity and justice? I hope so - and not for her sake, but for you own, because I can see you are very hurt by what has happened xx

    P.S. I think what Disney princess was meaning by ???????your brother is in a difficult position caught between the woman he loves and his sister, his loyalty is being brought into question and of course he must side with his wife???????, is that he had to choose between doing what she wanted, which was to exclude you, and doing what you wanted, which was to be included, and hence he was caught in the middle and had to choose her.

    [Modified by: Mara & kitten on August 14, 2008 12:17 PM]

  • leafyukleafyuk Posts: 2,182
    Oh mrsjuice said basically the same thing but more succinctly. Doh. If I'd read that first, I would have just said "I concur with my learned friend". image

    I was actually going to add exactly thee same thing about spending one-on-one time with her, too - I wonder if she would feel less competitive with you if she felt like you and her were more united? If, for example, you asked her to do things with just the two of you, or you made references like "us girls" or something like that? I do agree with Celery that she shouldn't make such an effort with her, in terms of changing who you are and fading into the background in your own family, but I wonder if you could be more you, and at the same time reach out to include her a bit more? For exmaple, when was the last time you came up with an idea and asked her to help you with it, like you expected her to do with the photo album? When was the last time you didn't just be quiet, but said, "Hey X, come and help me make sandwiches in the kitchen and we can have a proper catch-up while we do" or whatever. You might find that you actually like her more if you act like she is one of the family, instead of seeing her as someone who is just trying to be part of your family. And in the prcess, she might start seeing you less as competition, and more as someone she can just be herself around, and then also start relaxing around your parents.

    I don't think you should make an effort for her sake (as nice as that woudl be!), but for your own. If you can start to enjoy your time with your family again, and grow to like this person who is now an inexplicable part of your life, then that will be great for YOU!
  • Oh, Mrs Jam! You poor thing! This one just keeps running and running, doesn't it? I had a lot of observations to make, but actually, a lot of my points have already been made extremely well by everyone else who has posted so far, so I won't repeat them.

    The only thing I will say, picking up on Mara's final point, relates to your brother being caught in the middle of this. I know you aren't putting him there, but your sister-in-law may be (implicitly if not explicitly) forcing him to choose. This was the situation that my dad's wife put him in over our rehearsal dinner, something I found very, very difficult to forgive her for. I ended up giving in to her (on the advice of Mr d) but I did make sure I talked to both my dad and (to a lesser extent) to her, to make it clear that if it ever happened again, I would be far less understanding about it.

    So I guess my advice would be to talk to them - certainly to your brother, if not to his wife, to point out that, from your perspective, the situation was both painful and awkward. I know you are close to your brother and you don't want to make him choose between you and his wife, but sitting on this sort of thing just leads to frustration and the sort of resentment that could, ultimately, destroy your relationship with him as well as her.

    One final thought. I can't tell you if you are being fair to your sister-in-law, having only heard the story from your perspective. However, from that perspective, she sounds like a real princess and, as has already been mentioned, pretty insecure. Being spoiled is not the same thing as being loved, and the obvious security that you have in your parents' complete and unconditional love seems to be driving a need to compete with you over it. In which case you can afford to be the generous and gracious party. She can't take your parents' affection from you, however much she may try to make herself the centre of attention. So, if you can, try to go back to the first reaction you had when you heard about the album (which I am guessing was something along the lines of 'Oh, what a nice gift!') and hold on to that when they give it to your parents. It may not be how you feel about the whole saga, but it may allow you to behave appropriately and, indeed, graciously in a difficult situation of neither your desire nor your making.

    Best of luck, and let us know how things work out.
  • ruthemilyruthemily Posts: 13,622
    This may come out a bit rambly and possible sometimes irrelevant, but I wanted to share some of my own experiences (past and continual!) with you as I can share a lot of the emotions, actions etc, even though sometimes I'm not all that proud of how I end up feeling or even behaving.

    I have great problems with my father and his "new" family - not in-laws, but step-family issues...but similar issues.

    When I was 12, my dad's partner and her 2 children moved in with us, plus they had a child together. There were 7 of us in the house, all vying (sp?) for our own parents attention, and getting jealous if our own parent gave our step-sibling any attention. My brother and I, I feel dealt with it okay (as reasonably as could be expected, I realise now), but my step-siblings were abusive towards me. I inevitably came to resent them for obvious reasons and just the mention of their names send shivers through me.

    Problem is, my dad has allowed them to move back in with him - I live with B and my bro is at uni - so it's them and their mum and MY/OUR dad. We both have big jealousy issues.

    Like Naocat mentioned about the bedroom step-sister now has MY bedroom. She is also using the furniture that is mine and that I need. Whilst I have been living in a flat with my clothes in piles on the floor, she has been using the beautiful wardrobe I bought myself. I asked my Dad if he could arrange for me to pick it up (I can't and won't go in my own house anymore because of them), he told me that N needed it and was using it and I would have to cope. It was too much hassle and he simply "didn't have time". You wouldn't really believe how I behaved over this - I threw tantrums over the phone, I cried, I told him he must hate me....etc etc etc. I don't really think I was out of order with my feelings on the whole thing (why should I do without something that is mine, because some evil witch who abused me needs it?) but I think I may have overreacted with my behaviour. I don't know. I admire you actually for not having risen to it with your brother, but sometimes keeping feelings bottled in is a really bad idea.....although no one listened to me when I vented mine so I've gone back to bottling them up. Perhaps you do need to have a word with your brother and just say that although the album is done now, you did feel like you were deliberately excluded and that hurt you a lot. Even just airing it to him may help.

    I can also share a bit of the "new family" thing. I know my dad loves me a lot - I am his first child and only daughter and he always has been there to rescue me in horrible situations (actually, not always, but that's only because he turns a blind eye to the things that happened at home and still welcomes a rapist and witch into his house...ugh...but anyway...) I do know, just as you know in your family, that I am important to him and that it would kill him to know that I felt he didn't love me. I think you need to hold onto the fact that your parents share your feelings about your sil's 'intrusive' behaviour and that they probably side with you. In fact, I would hazard a guess at them wondering about the biased photo contents of them album...and I would also expect that, since they know and understand you so well, that you would have asked to contribute. I am sure they could guess a lot more about the album scenario than you think.

    Doesn't necessarily make it any easier for you, but at least you have your own parents support in this, and that has to be more important than anyone else understanding.

    I do also believe as Celery has said that your SIL may be a lot more insecure than you think....hyper-confidence is often a very good sign. Someone who really is confident will be quiet about it, and just get on with being themselves. It sounds like she's having to put a lot of energy into being this person she presents to you and your family. It's just a pity she doesn't seem to be self-aware enough to realise she is doing it (unless she is very manipulative, in which case she will be calculating it, but only you can probably know which).

    I feel a part of B's family and it's really lovely. I love how welcome they make me feel - I've even stayed the night at his parents house, and B never has!! His mum already calls me her daughter-in-law and I love that. I do ensure though, that I am never trying to take the place of her own daughter, or granddaughter, or even great-granddaughter. There was one time when I behaved possibly like your SIL does. I wanted to slap myself really hard when it dawned on me that I was 'acting out' my insecurities. B's mum has a beautiful white grand piano and I love playing it when I'm there. I also love playing piano duets with her. One time we were there, and so were her children, grandchildren etc (who are older than me!). I asked if we could play a duet and we did...but she seemed desperate to get up and do something else. I was getting really irate. *I* wanted her attention!! I was so bloody out-of-order. She doesn't get to see her family often, less often than she sees B and I, yet I was feeling like a spare part and so I behaved like a bratty child. I felt even worse when she later apologised to me for wanting to spend the time wiyh her daughter. Argh! What an awful person I was that day. Thing is though, I realised it and I accepted it and I apologised for it. Perhaps, although your SIL doesn't realise it, if one of your parents were to say to her that although they enjoy her company and welcome her into the family, they'd like some time just with you and your brother, she may realise that this is important too? It doesn't mean they are excluding her or dejecting her, just that they need to share their time and you, their biological daughter, will always have to come first.

    Perhaps you don't really see this either.....I don't agree with what you said about expecting your brother to stick up for his wife first and foremost. You are his sister. I'm not saying he has to prioritise, but it is not fair if he puts his wife ABOVE you. You can both be equally will always be his sister, she hasn't and may not always be his wife.

    I really have rambled, haven't I?

    Maybe none of my own stories will resound with you in anyway but I just wanted to give a bit of background as to why

    a) I understand how you feel

    b) I completely 'get' your issues with the album, I'd have felt the same

    and c) I can also kind of understand why your SIL may be acting how she is.

    I do think that the solution is for you to be a bit more open with your feelings (even just a little bit) and for you to remain 'you' - don't back down because she is taking over. Don't get into competition with you. You are you and she is she.......your parents love you for who you are. You don't want them to feel that they are losing 'you' because of her. They would hate that.

    [Modified by: ruthemily on August 14, 2008 12:24 PM]

  • DustyMothDustyMoth Posts: 1,528
    Oh, Mrs Jam. What a horrible situation to be in.

    I've nothing to say really that can add to what the others have said - my feeling too was that that overconfidence thing stems from insecurity, and a need to be loved and be the centre of attention - possibly because she is used to it with her family and possibly because she wants to be accepted and approved of (and I agree, you *can* always tell if you're approved of or not, deep down) by your family - and that includes you, as well as your parents.

    It could be thoughtlessness on your brothers behalf - if he's anything like most of the chaps I know then they often don't see the emotional side of things in the same way - so perhaps he saw nothing wrong in what they (she?) were doing as well, so maybe hasn't realised that you feel hurt.

    Mrs Jam, your parents love you. Unconditionally. And totally. Nothing she could ever do would be able to replace you, sore move you to the side, and if you are anything like your parents then they will have spotted all this going on too. My suspicion is that she isn't intentionally trying to threaten you or your family but is overcompensating to try and fit in and it's all going horribly wrong.

    I can kind of empathise with her situation (though not exactly her reaction) because in some ways I am in a similar situation with Dave, his kids and his ex (the kids mum). When we are all together (a semi frequent occurrence) I tend to feel all a bit left out because I am not part of their family. Yes, I know that she and Dave are divorced, but their love for the littl'uns and huge mass of shared experience is something that I cannot ever change, or interlope on. I often feel a little like the Au Pair in the situation and though I am confident in Dave's love for me, I always feel a little awkward and try to do nice things to make it better somehow. Perhaps this is how she is feeling - but is dealing with it a little differently - I (like you) tend to retreat into my shell a bit and back off enough to not make the ex feel awkward, or bake big allowances/bend over backwards to make things suit her and in doing so I feel a bit funny about it - but I think for the greater good as if she is not threatened/unsettled by me then she is happier, happier = nicer to Dave = we see them more = better for kids = better for Dave = better for me. I wonder if your brothers' wife feels less confident in herself and therefore is overcompensating, or not seeing the big picture.

    I'm not sure that really adds anything to what the others have said - but I find that it's nice to air these things once in a while - I know I always feel better afterwards so I'm glad you have. I don't think you're overreacting and I can understand how and why you would feel upset - but try not to let it get to you too much, because your family loves you and that will never, EVER change. *huge hugs*

  • LDOMLDOM Posts: 244
    I agree with some of the posts above about how they might have wanted to do something themselves to show that they could be creative too.

    Just one other thing that struck me about the photos that were included in the album - I know they could have asked you for extra photos, but that list does look to me like the sort of thing that any of my brothers would put together if asked to produce an album of photos of the whole family - because the ones they have copies of will obviously be the ones involving them.

    Take the wedding, for instance - he's included three photos that he took of your wedding. You know you have much better ones, and maybe you don't think he's a very good photographer - but perhaps he's pleased with the photos he took, which reflect his own experience of a day that was special for him as well as for you, and has carefully selected them from the ones he has (or perhaps they're the only ones he has). For his own wedding, on the other hand, he has much more choice - photos from his official photographer, photos friends and family sent him after the wedding, etc.

    I'm not saying he shouldn't have asked you for more pictures or, even better, collaborated fully with you in putting the album together - just that it sounds to me like having decided that they were going to do this album between themselves, they do seem to have tried their best to include photos of both you and him - but inevitably it would be skewed towards him because those are the pictures he has.

    So the selection of photos included is in no way meant as a slight to you - on the contrary, they've searched around to try to make sure they have photos of both you and him, but inevitably photos of important events in your life were harder for them to get hold of than photos of important events in his own life.

    Hope this makes sense - I would be as frustrated as you at how much better it could have been had they included you, but I can totally see how there could have been no slight to you intended at all.
  • leafyukleafyuk Posts: 2,182
    I concur with lastdayofmay... are we helping you to feel any better, Mrs Jam?
  • banana_jambanana_jam Posts: 2,215
    You are, Mara - thank you all! I really appreciate all the thought that's gone into these responses.

    There are a few things I think I've given the wrong impression of, so I'll just try to clarify those...

    - The album was, almost without any doubt at all, his idea and not hers. My brother is and always has been truly fantastic at presents - many of the best presents I have ever had are from him, he just seems to have a real gift (pardon the pun) for it. He can be quite emotionally short-sighted, and he is not very good at letting people know they matter to him in words, but his way of demonstrating that is by giving really lovely, thoughtful presents that really make you think "Oh, he does love me really". Without wanting to be too harsh, I would be very surprised if her contribution to the album was any greater than choosing which photos of her to include.

    So I would be able to understand the whole thing a lot better if it actually was her idea and she felt I was barging in on it - but knowing him as well as I do, I honestly don't think that's the case.

    - I think perhaps I've given the impression that she tries really hard to get along with my parents, which would naturally suggest that she just wants them to like her. It's actually quite different from that: what she does is act as if she's known them all her life, which I find kind of presumptuous. For instance, she calls my parents by the silly nicknames only my brother and I call them (and has done for as long as she's known them), walks round their house like she owns it (to the extent of pointing out things she doesn't like!), never asks us how we're doing but talks constantly about herself - not the kind of behaviour I would interpret as trying really hard to fit in. To me it seems not as if she worries that she's not part of the family, but that she simply assumes she is - I find it really weird when people join a group that's already existed for some time and straight away act like they've been a part of it for ever.

    - I wouldn't say I've been "off" with her exactly or that I make no effort with her at all - I'm not a total cow, honestly. As I said, I've taken a leaf out of my brother's book and tried to make real efforts with presents and things - I've actually spent quite a large part of today trying to find a really nice birthday present for her. Now I'm aware that that's not as "good" as being really, really nice to her and taking her out for lunch, but it is a little token effort that I would imagine would give someone the impression that you didn't hate them (I know I'd think Mr Jam's parents liked me a bit more if they acknowledged my birthday or our anniversary...)

    - I think the idea of being more like myself around her is slightly more complicated than it perhaps seems, because the thing is that a large part of me actually is really quiet - certainly when I'm around people who are louder and more outgoing than I am (if any of you actually met me you'd realise this very quickly!). My Dad does exactly the same thing when she's around - he just shuts up, and smiles/laughs when it's appropriate to - and I don't think anyone could accuse him of being "off" with her (she certainly doesn't see it that way - she loves him). It's not that I'm quiet when she's around because I'm sulky, it's because, between her and my Mum and my brother, there just isn't room for anyone else not to be quiet.

    - The possibility of spending time with her on her own is clearly out of the question because she refuses to be parted from my brother. It would be slightly odd to request to spend time just with her when I never, ever get to spend time with just my brother, I think. I do find her very difficult to talk to - on the few occasions when we've been left alone together briefly, we'll have a very desultory chat and then she'll get out her phone and start texting her parents. I may be being short-sighted about this, but I can't see why it's entirely my fault that I haven't "tried to be her friend" - shouldn't she have, at least to some extent, tried to be mine too? She never asks me about what I've been doing or seems remotely interested in my life (when I ask my brother something and he starts to tell me about it, she just tells him to shut up) so I honestly can't see why she's making all the effort and I'm just sulking. When she first visited our house (as in Mr Jam's and mine), for instance, she was in the most terrific strop, sat there in silence the whole time, and kept hinting about wanting to leave - and my parents have said she's done that to them once before, too.

    - I kiiiind of almost understand the I'm-not-as-creative-as-you insecurity thing, but the really, really great thing about my parents is that they don't love me because I'm creative, they just love me - just as they don't love my brother because he's successful and sensible and outgoing, they just love him. My parents have always been wonderful at accepting people just the way they are, and I am actually really, really proud of them for accepting her so readily (Mr Jam often says he has been quite overwhelmed by my parents' warmth and acceptance). She would have to be almost paranoid to feel that she had to do anything to impress them - and she simply does not act like someone who is trying to impress, more like someone who thinks they've already won.

    What I mean by this is - I know that Mr Jam's parents don't approve of me because I'm not clever, educated or well-brought-up enough just as they don't approve of their daughter's boyfriend because he didn't go to university and doesn't have a proper job. I know this because of the way they talk to me and the kind of conversations they have with Mr Jam. In contrast, how my sister-in-law could possibly have got the impression that my parents don't approve of her because she isn't creative enough is utterly beyond me - that's just not the way they work. It's certainly not like my parents go on about how fabulous I am when she's around - if anything, my Mum actually tends to put me down a bit and point out the many, many things I'm rubbish at (she only does it to make my sister-in-law feel more involved, I think - well, I hope!).

    - Those of you who have mentioned my brother having to choose between me and his wife - I do see what you mean now (sorry I read you wrongly, DisneyPrincess!). And I would like to talk to him about, but again, I just can't see how it would be possible - I certainly can't see him on his own, and I can't even talk to him on the phone, because whenever I do she is always in the background constantly shouting out her tuppence worth to the conversation. I think that is almost certainly why, as you point out, Mrs Jessicad and Celery, that this has gone on for so long, and why I'm still whining about it years later!

    - About the photos in the album - I did forget to explain it, but it's not a case of him simply using whatever photos he had to hand. My parents were on holiday a while back, so he used a spare key to get into the house, scan all the photos, and then put everything back again (very cunning, I thought!). So he had ample opportunity to include me equally, I think.

    - I do agree that my parents will notice something is amiss about the album without me even saying anything. (I did start writing the poem and was planning to give it to them on its own, but I thought if I did that they would say "Oh, why didn't you put that in the album?" and some kind of explanation would have been necessary. Perhaps I'll do it for their 40th instead!) Bluebellpearl and MrsJessicad, I think your advice about how I should react to the album is excellent, and I do fully intend to be as gracious as I possibly can about the whole thing - it is a lovely present, and my brother has gone to a lot of trouble over it, and I have no intention of tainting that for them with my own reservations about it. (See, I'm not all bad...)

    - I am fairly sure that my point of view of all this is skewed because of my non-relationship with my own in-laws. If Mr Jam wanted to do something like that for his parents, then a) I'd assume it wasn't my place to join in - they're his parents - and I'd suggest he asked his sister and brother about it; b) if I did join in and his sister/brother wanted to add to it in some way, I would not dream of excluding them from it even if it made what I'd done less significant; c) even if I felt his brother/sister got much more credit, acceptance, love or whatever for being creative while I was rubbish (in fact that absolutely is the case, except that it's for being intelligent), there's no way I'd take umbrage at that or try to do anything about it - I'd think that was absolutely as it should be because they're their children and I'm just someone who married one of them. And I must admit that there is almost certainly some element of "I haven't been accepted by my in-laws, so why should I accept her?" going on here - and that is something that I really do need to grow out of.

    I'm still feeling a bit hurt about the whole thing and a bit apprehensive about seeing them all tomorrow (whoops, today...), so I promise, I will thank you properly once it's over with and I've cheered up a bit - in the mean time, thank you for your kind thoughts, for your own stories that make me feel a bit less selfish and stupid, and for caring. x

    PS Mara, it's soooo great to see you back in this part of the forum - I was hoping against hope that you might reply, because your advice is always so helpful. Don't go away again!

    [Modified by: Mrs Banana Jam on August 15, 2008 02:55 AM]

  • CeleryukCeleryuk Posts: 3,640
    MrsJam, reading your post, I was thinking surely your brother is not a stupid man. If you were to call him and let him know how you felt excluded from the album project and ask him simply why he did not request your help, as after all it was a present for your parents, I am sure he would take the time to reply and would not let his wife involved in the conversation.

    I think MrsJessicad advised you to talk about it and I think it is a very good advise and you're close enough to him to talk about it. Yes it might be unpleasant for the first few minutes, but something good will come out of it.

    I really do feel for you and I hope you will be alright meeting them. Hopefully MrJam is coming too and will give you some support and squeeze your hand at the right moment.

    Big hugs and good luck,


  • gindigindi Posts: 1,369
    I agree with Cerely. Can you have a quiet word to your brother when his wife has gone to the loo, for instance? Maybe he's just burying his head in the sand about it a bit.

    And I don't think any of us were suggesting that you WEREN'T making an effort; it's quite obvious that you have tried, and often.

    Will be thinking of you later today!!

  • NaomeiNaomei Posts: 2,273
    Hi MrsBJ - well it sounds from your later post that any possible interpretations we/I made are probably wrong, and maybe she just IS a cow! Eesh!

    I'm not sure what I would do if I were you. My way of dealing with people like that is just to kill them with kindness image but if you can't do that then I guess the best thing to do is just to carry on as you are doing and it'll all be reet in the end. I think truly nasty people always show themselves up in the end.

    Re: my brother - he sounds a bit more dumb-blokey than yours, so maybe talking to him as the others suggest would be a good thing. It does sound like you have a really nice close relationship with him, and probably he's missing you as much as you are missing him.

    I must admit that there is almost certainly some element of "I haven't been accepted by my in-laws, so why should I accept her?" going on here - and that is something that I really do need to grow out of.

    I think it's perfectly natural to feel the way you do... I know I have had issues with this kind of thing in the past too (recall my strop when my dad came over last time?!). The thing is, when I told my dad how I felt, he really understood and said he would try and do something about it - so maybe your brother will feel that way too if you talk to him about it. There is bound to be a time when you can speak to him alone... even if you call him at work when she's not there or something!
  • donnasukdonnasuk Posts: 658
    oh mrs jam sorry things are not so good

    as usual i am far too late in replying and 'concur' with much of what has already been said

    however just two things...

    the album is definitely his present and i think it best not to confront him over it, it is done now.

    maybe think about the 40th anniversary instead and how you can all work together on that one later.

    this situation is not going to go away unless it is confronted. i feel there needs to be some air cleared as there could well be misunderstandings and misconceptions on both sides.

    could you ask them out for a meal (or at your house?) and just be straight with them about how you feel? don't dwell too much on what has happened before but talk about how you would like things to be.

    i do think your brother needs to take some responsibility for the relationship between the two women he loves - maybe he doesn't know anything is wrong?

    if things carry on the way they are you are always going to feel awkward when she is around, at least if you can understand each other better...?

    thinking of you

  • futureMrsLeefutureMrsLee Posts: 1,872
    Dear Mrs.Jam,

    I truly hope today isn't too dreadful for you.

    Your love of purple I fear may shadow beneath your eyes as I notice you were burning the midnight oil.

    I know this is bothering you terribly,

    sensitive creative souls are always hit hardest.

    I often send myself potty imagining the worst , soley to think that it won't be as bad on the day.

    There will always be people we meet that barge their way in and showcase themselves as often as possible.Having them take the floor and centre stage can be tiresome and often dull.

    We would not choose them but we must suffer them.

    Everything I have wanted to say to you has already been said.

    At least you know what to expect from her.. forewarned is forarmed. x

  • banana_jambanana_jam Posts: 2,215
    Thanks again, Weird Brides.

    Celery, it would be so much easier if Mr Jam were here too, but unfortunately for me he's gone to see his family (he's seen a lot of my family recently and none of his at all, so it's fair enough). It would be so much easier not to say anything about how annoyed I was that they'd excluded me if there was someone else there who knew about it - then I could rant about it afterwards! I think that's why I'm so worried about how to react, really.

    NaoCat, calling him at work is a good idea but not poss because he's a teacher and - guess what - they work at the same school, so she would still be there anyway! That's what annoys me so much about her always being there - it's not like they never see each other. She is always saying things like "I can't bear to be away from him" and "we never do anything apart" and I think that really is insecurity.

    One thing that puts me off talking to him is that he is unbelievably non-confrontational. A little while after they got engaged, he asked my mum to ask me to be a bridesmaid; I thought that was bizarre, so I waited to see if he ever mentioned it directly before I answered. Months later he managed to send me a text about it, so I wrote a really long e-mail explaining how I was really grateful to be asked but I felt I wouldn't do a very good job (I really felt that if it came from him, she probably wasn't keen on the idea) and was there anything else I could do. And he got her to reply to it! My parents said that he was really disappointed, so I sent him another e-mail saying that I was really sorry that we didn't see each other much any more, and I never got a response.

    I've asked them to visit us soooooo many times, but they just have one excuse after another. I do understand why she doesn't like me, but I think it's sad that because she doesn't want to spend time with me I never get to see him at all. It is really tricky.

    But I will bear all your advice in mind later on - and thank you again!
  • NaomeiNaomei Posts: 2,273
    Ooh poor you! That sounds like such a nasty situation Mrs Jam. I think it sounds like something that has just spiralled out of control (eg the thing about being a bridesmaid). To be honest it doesn't sound like he is being purposely horrible, it just sounds like he's being a bit bloke-dim (sooo many guys I know are like that when it comes to things that females feel really strongly about!).

    I do totally know what you mean because my brother is quite like that... but I guess I just accept it because I think he LIKES being that way (having everything done for him/abdicating responsibility for things). I figure if it makes him happy then, you know, it's just me applying my values to him!

    But that sounds really difficult that you can never get any time alone with him. Maybe you could email him? Although it sounds like they have joint email? (That's so weird... I don't have joint email with J! I think we're entitled to our own correspondence!) Sheesh. I don't envy you.

    Actually how about a letter (handwritten old fashioned sent-through-the-post kind) where you tell him how you feel? If you address it to him only then it would be REALLY weird if she opened it. I would never open anything that was addressed to J only.
  • CeleryukCeleryuk Posts: 3,640

    Celery, it would be so much easier if Mr Jam were here too, but unfortunately for me he's gone to see his family (he's seen a lot of my family recently and none of his at all, so it's fair enough). It would be so much easier not to say anything about how annoyed I was that they'd excluded me if there was someone else there who knew about it - then I could rant about it afterwards! I think that's why I'm so worried about how to react, really.


    I am on my way image! You could talk to your brother and straight after I could mention his little liquid fart secret in front of everyone...image image image

    I understand how you feel about having someone to be with afterwards, but I really promise you that if you do it on your own, you will feel better and super proud of yourself. It does not have to be confrontational at all, you can say simply how you feel. I am sure you can take a minute or two with him, just the two of you without her. You could absolutely say "Can I talk to you for a sec, just the two of us?".

    I am sure you will be fine, really, your parents are there with you, you're not on your own and you have all our support, we're all behind you!

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