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Walking on egg shells around my S-In-L - Asian/indian thing - could be long winded

(19 Posts)
EastvWest Tue 02-Jun-09 13:00:45

Okay, a quick background, I was raised in a traditional Indian home where education, education, education was shoved down our throats with a good dose of religion for afters, and you had to marry a doctor, lawyer or an Indian Chief (last one is a joke). Cut a long story short I made a bid for freedom and have had little contact with my family for the last 12 years.

For the last 2years I have re-established my relationship with my family and my parents have accepted I married an English guy and have been great with our 3 kids.

My brother did the whole traditional Indian thing and had the big fat Indian wedding and married the nice Indian girl.

The problem I now have is that my SIL is causing a divide in our family between my brother and my mum and my brother and me.

I have found my SIL is an insecure, immature princess and I always find I am walking on egg shells around her, so I don't offend her so she doesn't have a slanging match with my brother. My brother and I have always had a great relationship and we stayed in contact and saw each other despite the fact that I was the black sheep of the family.

Some remarks my SIL has made remarks border on being racist, such as comments to me about me marrying outside the class, caste, ethnic background. About my children not being pure blood etc etc.

Things with her are so bad that even my dad comment that my husband has fitted into this family better than she has.

As they have a small house I offered her our house if she wanted to have my brother's birthday here - the email she sent me I cannot even copy and paste here it's so rude.

I promised my brother I wouldn't say anything to her but now I feel I need to address her email without being a bitch back.

I know I waffled and I don't think many people are going to understand what I am on about. But thanks for listening.

QuintessentialShadow Tue 02-Jun-09 13:11:17

Do you all live in the UK?

I think you shall call her on her ignorance to be honest. Fair enough, you married outside your culture, but references to caste, ethnicity and pure blood is ignorant, and as you say borderline racist and she should be made aware of this before she makes a fool out of herself and your brother, ie your family.

She might feel offended that you wanted to host the party in her place, as this could be seen as mistrusting her hosting qualities, and at the same time you slighted her home. I think you need to step back a little on that account. She might be an immature princess, but she might also be trying to establish herself in your family and might have loved the opportunity to throw a party for her husband.

You dont have to be "at war" with her. Maybe she is "the nice indian girl". I suspect you are too. smile So it might be worthwile welcoming her into the family, let her establish herself with your brother, but DO mention about the ethnicity issues, next time.

triggerhappybaby Tue 02-Jun-09 13:15:36

Without knowing the content of her email it's hard to know how you would need to respond. However vindictiveness and spitefulness are the same in any culture and just need to be dealt with in a dignified manner without sinking to her level.

Don't get me wrong, if it was me I'd want to be effing and jeffing all over the place, but perhaps use this as a catalyst to address the issues that you are finding so upsetting. Put you point across about being hurt by her seeming to judge you for your life choices, explain that you are very happy and so are your parents and that emails such as hers about an occasion that should be a joyous celebration can only serve to cause upset amongst the family.

Why don't you suggest a meeting for a coffee or something, lay out some ground rules, acknowledge that you are not best chums, but you are both adults and should be able to find some common ground. You may find her attitude is all down to insecurity or jealousy or something else she isn't willing to admit to herself. It sounds like you may have to be the peace-broker!!

cherryblossoms Tue 02-Jun-09 13:23:40

Does she feel threatened by the relationship you have with your brother?

What is it that makes her act in such an insecure way?

Is there a possibility of it damaging your relationship with you and your family? I ask this last because, from your post it sounds more as though she is in danger of alienating her husband and herself from your family.

EastvWest Tue 02-Jun-09 13:26:39

Yes we all live in England and we (my brother, SIL etc were all born here).

I think she has established herself in our family the fact that no one is relaxed and we are all on tenterhooks minding our P's and Q's.

I live near my parents and my brother lives 3 hours away so we are not in their face encroaching their personal space. We now only see them everytime we have a family 'do'.

QuintessentialShadow Tue 02-Jun-09 13:29:09

Would you not find it odd or upsetting if another family member suggested they host your husbands birthday party because your house is so small?

I know I would be extremely upset if somebody suggested I was not an adequate host for a party.

MadameCastafiore Tue 02-Jun-09 13:32:27

I would just be very honest with her and every time she made a comment to you about you or your kids I would ask her exactley what she meant - not in a threatening way but in a way that makes her realise that you are not going to let her get away with this rudeness - if she continues then you say to her 'I would appreciate it if you were not rude about my choice of husband or my children again'.

Then you leave it - if it offends her than tough shit, she shouldn't be behaving like this and your brother is big enough and ugly enough to stick up for himself.

By not addressing what she is doing to her face and in the open infront of other people you are facilitating her behaviour and whilst she see that you won't address her she will continue to behave like this.

Don;t be angry or raise your voice just speak in an authoratitive calm voice - you will scare the shit out of her and she will backtrack as fast as she can.

EastvWest Tue 02-Jun-09 13:34:35

My brother has told me that she is very insecure and this can be traced back to her parents divorce when she was a teenager.

cherryblossoms Tue 02-Jun-09 13:36:32

Need more info, really.

How old is she? Recently married? Her background?

Is there any mileage in the stealth/cunning approach?

She currently has a role in your family as the "difficult" one; ironic, since you used to be the black sheep. Not a great role to have, especially if you are the family newbie.

So, could you spell out the delights of another role for her? Eg, the mediator? Yes, your family has stepped outside tradition. So, isn't it her job, as traditional girlie, to mediate, be accommodating, be generous, etc. Sure, she can uphold traditional values, but isn't a feminine role as facilitator and mediator between families one of those roles?

I'd try bigging her up as a mother, wife and mediator, first of all. Partly because, if it works, it will just be so much more comfortable.

cherryblossoms Tue 02-Jun-09 13:37:58

Just read MadameCastafiore's advice - I reckon that would work.

EastvWest Tue 02-Jun-09 13:38:54

When I offered the use of our house I didn't mention it as 'our house is bigger than yours' I said that "as everyone lives in this area would you like to do it here?"

sis Tue 02-Jun-09 13:43:45

I am also Indian married to an Englishman so I hope I have some understanding of your situation. The big difference is that we were not an overtly religious family and my family have always maintained contact with me so I don't have the issues that you perhaps have relating to the the gap in your contact with your parents.

I too have had people make racist comments and, at first, I let them slip on the basis that family members were coming to terms with my marriage etc, then i started pointing it out when people were being racist but in a gentle sort of way. Then I snapped and just pointed out that the comment made was racist and that I would not put up with listening to such comments when they are talking about my husband and son's heritage and really, they are insulting to me and my family. Lots of huffing and puffing and accusations of oversensitivity on my part but no racist comments have escaped the culprit's lips since.

I don't know if taking a similar stance would work with your sil but worth considering? I don't know about the contents of the e-mail so I can't really comment, but if it is rude, then maybe it is time to tell her that it is unacceptable and that a polite refusal would have been perfectly acceptable.

EastvWest Tue 02-Jun-09 13:45:30

Cherryblossom - info: my SIL is 31 there is 9 years between her and my brother. They have been married 2 years. She is very secretive - she didn't even tell her family that my brother had proposed, she didn't tell her best friend and chief bridesmaid until 4 weeks before the wedding that she was actually getting married. After her parents divorced she was raised by her dad and lived in his house and she didn't tell her dad she was moving out to live with my she brother until the morning of the day she was moving out.

AccioPinotGrigio Tue 02-Jun-09 13:48:34

Her comments about the caste/ethnicity/ purity of your children and husband are inexcusable and I think if she says it to you direct then you should always (as calmly as you can) call her on it.

For the party thing, I agree with others who have said she might have felt undermined by your offer - even though you would not have made the offer in that way. Her rude email however, I think to respond equally rudely is tempting but should be avoided, it will only worsen relations between you.

It's impossible to know how "toxic" your SIL is from what you have posted. She may be completely damaged and incapable of changing or she may respond positively to a considerate and loving approach from her husband's family. This could mean you making an extra effort to avoid rising to her bait and letting it be known that you want to have a good, supportive relationship with her because you consider her to be your family now.

This latter type of approach worked with my very prickly and angry younger sister, I had to bite back a lot of upset and anger and offer her love and frienship instead. It did work eventually but then she was my sister and was basically a good kid. I am not sure if the same is true of your SIL but that's for you decide.

Good luck.

titchy Tue 02-Jun-09 13:50:37

Can you be excrutiatingly 'understanding' in your response? Somethiing along the lines of 'Your email was so shocking and rude I was initially very upset. But then I realised that you're not a racist person and you don't look down on DH or our DCs becuase they are not Indian so of course I then realised you must have been very upset with me to say those things. I truly meant no offence when I offered to host BIL's party, and am so sorry I obviously offended you so badly.'

And repeat under your breath 'moral high ground' 100 times.


AccioPinotGrigio Tue 02-Jun-09 13:51:07

X-posted with a lot of good advice there. It sounds from what you have said also that she is insecure rather than outright nasty. Investing a bit of time and patience in your relationship with her may pay off.

EastvWest Tue 02-Jun-09 13:56:33

I've actually decided I will probably not email her - certainly not today - I will see how I feel by the end of the week and I am probably going to be calmer.

I was pissed off as we only saw them on Sunday and she could have easily said something then instead of putting it in an email.

QuintessentialShadow Tue 02-Jun-09 14:35:28

It is a good idea to wait till you are feeling calmer. smile

halen Tue 02-Jun-09 14:51:04

Or write the email - but save it to your drafts box instead of pressing send.. that way it gets it out of your system too. And you can be a lot ruder than you would in a real email!

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