A small SIL vent. - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-02-2011, 07:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am just venting because there is no one else to complain to.  ;)   My SIL has been married to my brother for 10 years, so you'd think I'd be over this by now, but apparently not.

 

We have a very small family.  We get together often, and some of us (coughdadcough) are rough around the edges, but everyone loves each other, jokes around, etc.  SIL is very uptight.  She has practically no sense of humor (that I can see, anyway).  She has a rather chilly personality.  And every since she had her child (who is now 2.5), it has gotten worse.  It puts such a damper on family gatherings.  We drive nearly 2 hours to go to my parent's house for dinner, and if she is in one of her moods, it brings a lot of negative energy to what would otherwise be a happy, lighthearted dinner.

 

I know she doesn't like my mom or dad.  She has a lot of petty reasons, none of which are valid.  She doesn't tell me she doesn't like them, but she always complains about them when I see her alone.  I try to help her see their point of view, but it doesn't work.  She started off very mainstream, and then became super-crunchy and now vegan.  My parents are definitely not this way at all....my mom has been cooking comfort food for 60 years.  But she has tried hard to accommodate, and it is never good enough.  SIL is always changing what she can eat (this week no fish, this week no dairy but cheese and butter is ok, this week no gluten, this week no cheese, etc).  My mom bought tofu thinking she could use it in a stir fry and SIL refused to eat it.  Then SIL started offering to bring her own food (which I think is a good idea since she is so restrictive and the rest of us are not).  My mom said sure, and makes side dishes she can eat (but she still won't eat them).  But this seems to annoy SIL....she rants to me that she can't believe she has to bring her own food.  I can only imagine how difficult it is going to get as her child gets older and is on an extremely restrictive diet (and not due to allergies or anything).  I'm not knocking her diet or motivation, but if you are THAT restrictive then I think you need to assume you will be cooking for yourself.

 

That is just one example.  It really goes on and on.

 

Anyway, the point is, I just want to slap her and my brother sometimes.  He is very quiet and weak-willed when it comes to her (he doesn't agree with her, but he won't say a word to her).  If anyone else (cousin, aunt) drops by while SIL is there, she leaves the room (and they are lovely people and very warm to her, so I have no idea what her problem is....is is most definitely NOT shy).  We will all sit around the table talking and she will go sit in the livingroom with her child (he would be happy to sit with us by the way).  Then we have to take turns going in to visit her.  It is stupid!  My mom tells her to come sit with us but she won't.  I feel embarrassed when she acts this way in front of extended family.

 

If she comes out (if her kid wanders out to the table), she stands over by the wall with a sour look on her face.  She will not smile ever.  If anyone tries to joke with her, she won't even acknowledge or laugh.  It seems so weird to me.  I know she doesn't act like this with HER family (and they don't cook for her either).  Since our family is so small, I just wish my brother had been smart enough to marry a different type of woman.  This one is cold as ice.

 

Sorry for such a long rant!  I just wanted to get that off my chest.  I can't talk to her about it (she stonewalls....I've tried).

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Old 01-02-2011, 07:41 AM
 
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No advice, just hugs. I had a sister-in-law who sounds similar in a lot of ways, and put a damper on every get-together with my brother for 10 years. They got divorced several years ago, and my brother is now engaged to the most wonderful woman who totally clicks with the family. Wow, what a difference it makes!

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Old 01-02-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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"He is very quiet and weak-willed when it comes to her (he doesn't agree with her, but he won't say a word to her). "

Or is he just supporting his wife over his family of origin like many members here wish their dhs would do?

"we have to take turns going in to visit her. It is stupid! "

Yes it is. So stop doing it! If she goes in the other room, leave her be. If she comes back in, acknowledge her, but don't chase her.

"....she rants to me that she can't believe she has to bring her own food."

Defend your mom here. Make it very clear how much effort your mom is putting in.

I'm actually surprised she comes over at all - maybe your brother isn't as quiet and weak-willed as you think? I would take that as an olive branch from her and continue being nice without chasing.
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Irishmommy View Post

"He is very quiet and weak-willed when it comes to her (he doesn't agree with her, but he won't say a word to her). "

Or is he just supporting his wife over his family of origin like many members here wish their dhs would do?

"we have to take turns going in to visit her. It is stupid! "

Yes it is. So stop doing it! If she goes in the other room, leave her be. If she comes back in, acknowledge her, but don't chase her.

"....she rants to me that she can't believe she has to bring her own food."

Defend your mom here. Make it very clear how much effort your mom is putting in.

I'm actually surprised she comes over at all - maybe your brother isn't as quiet and weak-willed as you think? I would take that as an olive branch from her and continue being nice without chasing.


You know, you are right.  I don't actually expect my brother to put a rift in his relationship with his wife.  But I mean he pussy-foots around her on all kinds of issues (ex: he doesn't want more children but she's pushing for it and he will eventually give in most likely) and then he complains to my parents about it.  It just is kind of weird to me.  If my DH was borderline rude to my family, I personally would certainly tell him to smarten up.  But I know not everyone would be comfortable with that.

 

It just sucks because we are truly nice people redface.gif and I don't understand why she doesn't like us.  Well, she likes me (I think) to a degree, but it is kind of hard to like her back when she acts like this!!

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Old 01-02-2011, 08:15 AM
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Quote:

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Originally Posted by Irishmommy View Post

"He is very quiet and weak-willed when it comes to her (he doesn't agree with her, but he won't say a word to her). "

Or is he just supporting his wife over his family of origin like many members here wish their dhs would do?

"we have to take turns going in to visit her. It is stupid! "

Yes it is. So stop doing it! If she goes in the other room, leave her be. If she comes back in, acknowledge her, but don't chase her.

"....she rants to me that she can't believe she has to bring her own food."

Defend your mom here. Make it very clear how much effort your mom is putting in.

I'm actually surprised she comes over at all - maybe your brother isn't as quiet and weak-willed as you think? I would take that as an olive branch from her and continue being nice without chasing.

 


Yeah....if someone leaves the room, I assume they want to be left alone. I agree with everything above.

 

Your mom definitely doesn't need to be bashed for her efforts.

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Old 01-02-2011, 08:47 AM
 
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OP, as I read your post, I found myself kind of identifying with your SIL. I think that my in-laws probably think of me in the way you think of her. In my case, I'm from a different culture than they are and beyond that, I have completely different interests than they do, so we don't have very much in common. I have a hard time making anything other than small talk with them. I'm also an introvert, which means that I don't really like to spend much time with them because...um, I don't really like to spend time with people in general. Well, that's not entirely true, but being social really tires me out. My dh is very close to his family and loves to spend time with them, and it's just too much for me. But not visiting them is not an option (he wouldn't hear of it) so sometimes I start to feel resentful, I get annoyed at how extroverted and insistent his family can be about how they do things, then I get a little snarky and start to harp on stupid stuff, a bit like your SIL. Maybe she's coming from a similar place. Of course, I don't mean to defend her boorish behavior, just suggest a context for it. Is she an introvert? When she goes into another room by herself, she may just need some quiet time to herself.

 

I have to say, though, I have food some issues too (my in-laws eat some things I really can't stomach) but I never expect them cook anything special for me. Her complaining about that is really rude.

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Old 01-02-2011, 09:03 AM
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I agree-- don't chase her into the other room.  Give her the space she wants.

 

And I don't think it's your call to judge whether or not she's being "petty" in not liking your parents.  You're seeing the situation from a different vantage point. 

 

And I feel for your brother--this is his wife you're criticizing.  The tension at the family gatherings is partly your fault, too, since you don't like his chosen life partner.

 


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Old 01-02-2011, 09:27 AM
 
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yeah....

 

It's hard being an S/DIL. My mom's family is large and local (think 'parenthood'). I feel sorry for the SIL's in family sometimes; my mom and sisters are sooo much more critical of them than they are of each other. (Somehow male inlaws are exempt from scrutiny). Your attitude towards her comes out loud and clear in your post-- is it possible she picks up on it as well?


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Old 01-02-2011, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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LOL whatever. How could anyone like his life partner when she's rude to us all and has been for years?  We've tried and tried.  I don't dislike the woman.  I dislike her behavior.  But since she's at every family function acting all snotty/bored/angry/above us all, it puts a huge damper on any event/dinner/happening, and it gets irritating after a while.  That's the bottom line: she thinks she is above us.  Her behavior screams it.  I know her very well (I've spent years with her); she is not introverted.  She just thinks she is better than us (she especially hates when any extended family shows up).  She doesn't drink wine or eat sugar or any of the other hideous things my family does.  Besides, I didn't criticize her to my brother.  I came here to vent because I am a kind person and I have manners and I would NEVER tell my brother his wife is acting like a little snot.  He can clearly see how she is acting.  And I also have to say (sorry to rant, lol), I contribute zero to any tension!  Sorry if I made it sound like I do.  I go out of my way to be kind to her and engage her in conversation about things that interest her.  I don't scowl at her and throw jabs in her direction or at my brother.  I'm not chasing her when I go in the other room.  I go there to spend time with her because she obviously doesn't want to sit at the table with the rest of the family. 

 

(P.S. for someone to complain that their two year old child is given $20 as a for-no-particular-reason gift in the form of a ten and pocket change instead of a twenty dollar bill is weird and petty.  That's all.  wink1.gif )
 

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I agree-- don't chase her into the other room.  Give her the space she wants.

 

And I don't think it's your call to judge whether or not she's being "petty" in not liking your parents.  You're seeing the situation from a different vantage point. 

 

And I feel for your brother--this is his wife you're criticizing.  The tension at the family gatherings is partly your fault, too, since you don't like his chosen life partner.

 



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Old 01-02-2011, 10:56 AM
 
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You have 2 choices, continue to let it bother you, or ignore her.

You also don't know what goes on behind closed doors, your brother may talk to berating this, they might even argue, he might agree with her even. You just don't know. He could put on a show for family and say what you all want to hear just to keep the peace. Or what you see could be it. All relationships have issues of some sort, they are allowed to have theirs too.

I just remember that I am the one in control of my feelings and no ne else is going to make me feel bad or down unless I let them. I also generally use the rule that if i don't like something in someone that I need to also look within myself and figure out why I'm so offended by them.

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Old 01-02-2011, 10:57 AM
 
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LOL whatever. How could anyone like his life partner when she's rude to us all and has been for years? 
 





 


He does, that's all that matters. No one says you have to like her. wink1.gif

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Old 01-02-2011, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't want them to get divorced or anything.  I don't want them to start fighting all the time.  I don't expect her to change.  I honestly just wanted to vent.  I have no one to vent to because I don't want to say anything to my mom (she is older and already feels hurt by SIL's behavior...I'm always sort of defending SIL by saying that's just how she is, don't take it personally).  I would never hurt my brother by saying anything negative to him about his wife.  I can't say anything to SIL because when I've gently tried in the past to approach her regarding a couple of issues she flat-out refuses to discuss anything negative.  Plus she kind of likes me and I don't want to get on her bad side.  wink1.gif  

 

I just am venting because I was there for a nice dinner yesterday and the whole time she acted like she couldn't stand being with us.  Even though we all try to be light-hearted about it and act like everything is fine, it definitely puts a damper on the energy.  I had made mittens for her because she mentioned that she didn't have a good pair and wanted to go ice skating, but she seemed less than happy with them (lol I know I'm not the best knitter, but I tried).  But really, the worst part is seeing my parents feel bad.  I know this is their issue, but as their daughter, it hurts me too.  My mom made her a nice salad and rice side-dish to go with the dish she brought, but she didn't eat one bite (and my mom had called to double-check the ingredients before making it).  My dad tried to tell her a joke and she wouldn't even smile.  Yeah, I know it was lame, but he's old!  My mom patted the chair and asked her to come sit, but she said "no" and walked away.  My mom had bought a few of these little wooden figurines (cute, not tacky) and offered one to both of us.  She wrinkled her nose and shook her head.  Come on!  Even if you don't like something, who acts like that??

 

Again, it doesn't matter either way.  She probably won't change.  And she'll continue to be at every family gathering, acting like she's rather be hitting her head against a tree.  And we'll all pretend everything is peachy keen.  :|

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Old 01-02-2011, 11:40 AM
 
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She does sound quite rude, OP. That would frustrate me too. And you have every right to vent here -- it sounds like you're handling it very tactfully with her IRL. 


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Old 01-02-2011, 12:55 PM
 
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He does, that's all that matters. No one says you have to like her. wink1.gif


How did you reach that conclusion. I know a similar couple, and I'm over half sure that he doesn't like her at all.

 

You have my sympathy, OP. I agree that nobody else can make you happy or unhappy, but it really sucks when there's someone at a social occasion who just radiates boredom, contempt, etc. I try to ignore it and just have fun, but that's not as easy as it sounds.


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Old 01-02-2011, 01:11 PM
 
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Yeah, with the further info you've provided, OP, it seems your SIL is just a pill.

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Old 01-02-2011, 01:30 PM
 
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I'm sorry.  That sounds like a difficult situation.  It would be easier if she didn't come over at all, from the sounds of it.  My DH is very antisocial, so he just avoids any kind of public gathering.  I'm wondering if she just doesn't want to let him go on his own because she wants to be around him, or doesn't want him just to start hanging out with his family for long periods.  

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Old 01-02-2011, 03:32 PM
 
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OP, I'm just wondering, on the food issue, it was a case of cleanliness?  Maybe your SIL has a different idea of how clean your MIL's kitchen is?  For instance, I will happily eat at my MIL's, UNLESS she made food on the bare counter.  This is a counter that she will put a garbage can on, just so their dogs don't get into the trash.  Later, she'll take the garbage can off the counter and proceed to make a sandwich on it without wiping the counter first.  It totally grosses me out.

 

As for the social rudeness I'm afraid I'm at a loss...

 


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Old 01-02-2011, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to say no (even though I can't see inside my SILs head) because my mom is clean.  She used to be a chef at a major restaurant here and follows good practices.  I think it is just that SIL has become so incredibly restrictive with food and she also thinks her cooking is hard to beat.  I know this because she says so on her blog.  ;) 
 

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OP, I'm just wondering, on the food issue, it was a case of cleanliness?  Maybe your SIL has a different idea of how clean your MIL's kitchen is?  For instance, I will happily eat at my MIL's, UNLESS she made food on the bare counter.  This is a counter that she will put a garbage can on, just so their dogs don't get into the trash.  Later, she'll take the garbage can off the counter and proceed to make a sandwich on it without wiping the counter first.  It totally grosses me out.

 

As for the social rudeness I'm afraid I'm at a loss...

 



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Old 01-02-2011, 06:36 PM
 
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Your sil sounds to be a pickle...........but your brother needs to wake up.

 

What worries me the most --- If he does't want another child he needs to get a vasectomy.  He needs to evaluate if he doesn't want another kid or another kid with her.  If that later is the case then he needs to leave.  He is just going to draw out everyones misery.  

 

Sometimes people are mean and nasty.  They do not always start out that way but for reasons you don't know or they don't understand.   Your brother might be part of the problem or he might not.  

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Old 01-02-2011, 06:43 PM
 
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I feel like no matter how a person feels about their IL's there is such a thing as maintaining a sense of grace and manners towards them.  Unless of course the IL's are like some of the toxic folks we hear about.  Which is certainly doesn't sound like your family.  Personally, I'd be so angry if someone treated my parents that way, DIL or not.  You guys need to be yourselves and quite trying to please her.  Your poor mom certainly needs to quit allowing her to manipulate her by cooking her foods only to not touch them.  I'd cook what you usually cook, and do what you usually do.  She can either join in or not.

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Old 01-02-2011, 06:45 PM
 
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OP, that type of behavior would drive me crazy! Sorry you have to put up with her.

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Old 01-02-2011, 09:55 PM
 
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We no longer have regular contact with my brother because of a SIL.  She cannot stand our family, my mother and I in particular.  I haven't spoken to him in over 2 years.  Randomly she'll have some sort of epiphany and apologize to us and let him talk to us for a while, then she'll freak out and back it goes to no contact.  It's been like that for the last 19 years.  It sucks. I wish he would stand up to her, but it's his life and he gets to choose it.  It'd be easier to deal with if he were happy, but we know he's not.  He's said so emphatically.  He stays because of some health issues she has and because he sadly doesn't think he can do any better.  He left her once and was back to his old self, in regular contact with us, happy, etc.  he went back and the wall went immediately back up.

 

I no longer will play the be nice to her so I can talk to my brother game.  She's extremely verbally abusive to me and I used to take it so I could have a relationship with my brother.  Now that I have kids that's not an option for me as I won't allow them to be exposed to that kind of behavior.

 

I'm no angel and have verbally sparred with her a few times after being provoked (she has called me several times and called me the C word, just for having the audacity to exist and invite them to my wedding, or if she's found out that he has spoken with me.)  But I don't start things with her.  I've always been polite until she's pushed me to my breaking point.

 

I'm just done with the whole thing now.  It's sad.

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Old 01-02-2011, 10:06 PM
 
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Just a thought, and I could be projecting, but could she possibly be depressed?  Don't get me wrong, I'm usually the first to vent about similar family relations and situations, but what you're saying about your SIL screamed depression to me.  I guess it's because at times I have probably come off similar to how your SIL is, although not the same situations, and I wasn't trying to be mean/rude/snobbish, I was just painfully depressed and coping the best I could.

 

Just something to think about.


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Old 01-02-2011, 10:58 PM
 
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Pretty sure I wrote this post. I just ignore. Say hi, and if conversation comes up great, if not...oh well. I don't have time for it in my life. My SIL isn't this bad...but she's pretty close. My brother has talked about divorce a few times, but knows he wouldn't see the kids. I think when they are old enough to make their own decisions, he's out.

I'm very sorry you are putting up with this...I don't have any advise other than to ignore and stand up for your mother like a pp said. Drats...sorry.
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Old 01-03-2011, 03:42 AM
 
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Depression sounds like a good option.

 

I had my almost two year old sit on my lap for thanksgiving at the in laws this year. I have vowed to eat dinner in the living room ... alone for a few years. It was a disaster. She was constantly kicking her grandpa and tossing turkey all over their new carpet.. i couldn't see her well enough to shove food in her and she was too pepped up to eat anyway... she'd rather go lick inanimate objects. It was awful.

 

Could she be on the spectrum? My child is (and they don't seem to understand but whatever) and i'm pretty sure I am an Aspie. In talking about my child to a friend things started coming out in the open. Like she thought I was very rude because I never made eye contact. I've been told I'm "mean" or hate people because I don't talk!! Just because I'm "shy" and have very little social skills does NOT mean I hate everyone or think I'm better than them!  I am now trying very hard to make eye contact with my one friend but it's literally painful for me to stare at someone's eyeballs. I won't go into it more but.. maybe she's a little aspie. Every year I complain to dh I am alone in the living room watching tv all by myself and I hate it but honestly I have nothing interesting to say. Conversation just DOESN'T come to me. I feel dumb and insignificant and never ever go to parties. I just don't "get it". I see nothing fun about standing around with a drink in hand. Bar scene? Ridiculoulsy boring. I don't "get" a lot of things.

 

My nickname in GRADE school was pokerface. I had THAT much expression even if the school was on fire. I'm sure it's worse now since I'm very isolated and dh doesn't talk.

 

It could also be they have a huge fight every year that they go to your families instead of hers. Maybe he's winning more battles than you think?

 

I also have gluten allergies. I never ever ask anyone to cook for me. I bring food enough for my daughter and myself and if I don't like it.. it's my own damn fault. I always have a box of gluten free rice chex in the car if I feel sick from hunger. When I was young and a vegetarian MY side of the family would always cater to me and that made me feel super uncomfortable (and they'd always forget bone marrow had meat in it anyway and it wasn't trustworthy so they did it all for nothing). DH family wouldn't cater to me at all I don't think unless I made a point of demanding it which I don't do.

 

I'm actually very hurt I'm not best friend's with the SILs and his mom but it's probably my effervecent personality *sigh*

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Old 01-03-2011, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post
I just don't "get it". I see nothing fun about standing around with a drink in hand. Bar scene? Ridiculoulsy boring. I don't "get" a lot of things.

 


Wow, you actually sound just like me in that area!

 

I do see SIL sometimes outside of the family gatherings, and she doesn't act this way.  She's still rather cold and abrupt, but she talks, etc (mostly to complain about my brother).  She just has issues with the "family" I suppose.  She's definitely not depressed.  And I would say she's not on the spectrum because she has other friends and I doubt many people would be their friends if she acted so sullen around them. And on her blog, she is very animated (although a bit of a know-it-all).

 

She's not hideous like neetling's SIL.  She has never yelled or called any of us names.  She always does the "proper" thing (ex: bring gifts for birthdays).  I just was venting because the sullen, sour soooo above-it-all behavior gets to me (and my family) at times.  Just a little effort would be so appreciated....I know she can do it.  I have seen her do it with her family.  Engage a little.  Participate in a conversation.  Smile.  My family isn't that bad.  shrug.gif

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Old 01-03-2011, 07:25 AM
 
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Disclaimer: I adore my SIL and our family gatherings are usually very comfortable and friendly. None of us are perfect, but we all have "family time" at the top of our priority lists and that helps a lot. 

 

From observation of other families and occasional experience with my FOO and my ILs - when there's some kind of behavior going on that you can't stand, stop putting yourself in the situation. Some otherwise happy families just shouldn't spend Christmas together, for example. My cousin's family has a Christmas that they still refer to as the "Eff You" Christmas, because that's what the sisters wound up shouting at each other in front of their kids. Normally, they get along very well.

 

In YOUR family, it sounds like big dinners with parents, your nuclear family, your brother's nuclear family and whoever else comes by are just not pleasant. So stop attending them. Invite your parents to your house. It actually makes no sense to eat with somebody who rejects the communal-eating concept, and while your mom should do as she pleases, I'm all for hopping off THAT crazy train as soon as you can. It's a terrible example for your kids - as is the rudeness. You don't need to be exposed to that. You can find ways to spend time with your brother and nephew (and even your SIL, if she's much better in other contexts). Invite them over just on their own, in the afternoon before dinner. Go to the bouncy place with SIL and nephew. Change the paradigm. 

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Old 01-04-2011, 08:32 AM
 
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Man, that sucks for your brother!!!!  I guess I would just be civil and otherwise ignore her, She is doing it for attention.  At least she isn't openly antagonistic?

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