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problems with nice SIL - any suggestions please?

(9 Posts)
LittleRedBook Sun 05-Jul-09 21:08:28

Hoping someone can give me some suggestions please. Bit of quick background I am single parent but I get on well with inlaws and see quite a bit of them.

Problem is this: SIL is a lovely person but quite self-absorbed and can be quite insensitive in an unthinking way.

Main longstanding problem is that I can never, ever answer a question or tell her /rest of the inlaws about something that ds or I have done or seen or been up to without her leaping in half way through to deliver a long story about how one of her friends / friends' dcs has done just the same thing (only usually better). I literally cannot finish a sentence in her presence and it has got to the point where I simply don't bother saying anything and just let her rattle on and on the whole time and I am also becoming more reluctant to spend time with her because of this.

The other issue is that she has just had DNiece2 and, understandably, is over the moon. So am I, I love my DNieces and am very pleased for her. But I cannot have more children, though I would have loved 2, and she simply cannot stop telling me how fabulous her life is now she has two children, how great it is, how complete and fulfilled she feels .... I am pleased to hear that she's happy but it is just OTT and insensitive to boot given that I can't have more and that as a single parent my life is not quite as fulfilled and complete as I would like.

Despite the obliviousness, she is also a very sensitive soul whom I love. If I was blunt in my responses in the way that I would sometimes like to be, I know that she would have sleepless nights, agonise over every word I had said and generally beat herself up and berate herself.

Has anyone got any suggestions about how I can say something to her politely, calmly and without going overboard as I don't want to leave her feeling terrible but really feel that if I don't say something we are going to see less of each other and my son and her nieces will therefore see less of their cousins, which I don't want.

PS have namechanged but am a regular lurker and sometime poster!

Hassled Sun 05-Jul-09 21:18:59

I think you have to say something. Lots of people do the talking over you thing, but she seems to be taking it one step further. You don't need to be blunt, just honest - when she says X, it makes you feel like Y and you value your friendship so want to resolve things sooner rather than later.

You are a much more sensitive, patient person than I would be in the circumstances.

sayithowitis Sun 05-Jul-09 21:31:28

Could you write her a letter? Explain that you love her as a DSis and how genuinely happy you are for her now that she has her 'complete' family. Sometimes though, without meaning to, she upsets you because it hurts you to be reminded so vocally, that you are unable to have anymore children, however much you want to. you are sure she will understand this . you are writing to her because you know you would find it too upsetting to talk to her about this very painful subject. You know it is a 'big ask' but does she think that she could hold back sometimes.

I don't think I would mention the stuff about everybody else's children doing it all earlier/bigger/better than yours. IME, it has no effect other than to make you sound rather precious. I do understand though because both my MIL and Stepmum are like this with my 2. Whatever mine have done, there is always someone else who has trumped them. 15GCSEs at A + B ? so what, BIL's DS1 got a certificate for attending a football academy. Fantastic A levels and a place to read a science subject at a top uni? Pah! next door neighbours kid got his scout badge for nosepicking and farting at the same time. Head Boy at school? That's nothing, BILs DD managed to go a whole month without getting in detention!
I have now come to the conclusion that somehow, the success that both my boys have worked so hard for, is either totally unappreciated or actually makes them feel intimidated. Both of which are rather sad but I can't change their attitude. sad thing is that now both my lads are well able to make their own decisions about who they see and where they go, and I can tell you that MIL and Stepmum don't get a look in compared to those family members who have always acknowledged their achievements and their hard work to get there.Your time will come. trust me.

LittleRedBook Sun 05-Jul-09 22:19:22

thanks both for taking the time to read such a long post! will have a think about a letter and how to phrase it.

the interrupting is more about the actual interupting and going on about people I've never met and their kids rather than a competitive element of everyone else doing stuff better or different. The interuptions are supposed to be relevant but often aren't as I haven't had a chance to make the point!! Grrrr blood pressure going up thinking about it. Will try to write to her in calmer frame of mind.

2rebecca Sun 05-Jul-09 22:56:49

My brother calls this sort of person a "topper" because they always have to "top" whatever the other person is talking about. My son went through a phase of doing this and when we were at my brothers and he did it he'd leap in with "oh, Topper's at it again, what are you topping now?" This was said fairly jovially but was said often enough to cure my son of the habit as he had the piss taken out of him everytime he started a "topping" story. I'd do something similar with your SIL.
People who do "topping" generally don't realise how irritating it is to others and feel they're just joining in with the conversation, pointing out it can be seen as one upmanship can make them rethink.

2rebecca Sun 05-Jul-09 22:59:17

You could try saying "I hadn't finished my sentence, you can say your bit in a minute" if she interrupts. Worth a try if you're considering avoiding her.

Gemzooks Sun 05-Jul-09 23:44:56

Oh god, she sounds a bit like me! I am a bit emotionally unintelligent and at the same time highly sensitive, don't mean to be but think I probably offend my SIL and others/friends in a similar way to what you describe yours being like. So maybe I can advise you on how to deal with it.

I would wait till she says something you find upsetting and then confront her in as nice but firm a way as you can, saying 'when you say things like that it makes me feel crap because xyz'. I think you should simply be honest with her. Also, maybe pick your battles and concentrate on what annoys you most in confronting her. I don't think she should get away with it just because she's sensitive, I think you should keep it positive, saying you value her friendship and want everyone to get on, but you should let her know you're upset, otherwise she'll never learn (and will keep on being inappropriate with you). Probably her way of acting stems from personal insecurity and low confidence, and she is putting others down to try and boost herself, and you should also bear this in mind and try not to take it personally, as what she says sounds very defensive and as if she feels she has to justify herself. So in a nutshell, tell her honestly that you are upset when she says certain things, tell her clearly how you want things to be different, and just rise above any smaller points if you can. good luck!

toomanystuffedbears Mon 06-Jul-09 14:24:47

IMHO, and I may have made some grand generalized assumptions, so with that in mind:

First of all, "nice" sil isn't so "nice" is she?

She is being completely dismissive of you.
Going on about dc2 is good for a short period of time, but beyond that, you must feel the repetitiveness to you is just mean. Like an adolescent competition-"la, la, I have more than you".

Gemzooks touched on it: "putting others down to try and boost herself". It is nice to think that you could "not take it personally" but if you let her press you down long enough, you will be knocking on the door of depression, do you even exist?

You can ask her to be more sensitive to your feelings, but she already has you trained to consider her as the sensitive one. So you may as well talk to a wall. Maybe she will change, but maybe she won't. If not, you should definitely reduce contact, or at least become emotionally disconnected from her. You do not need any validation from her for anything.

Especially about dc-anything you "just want to share" will be recieved as an opening to a competition. Being the inlaw, without a dh to defend you, you will never win.

What sayithowitis said-your dc will prove themselves in their own time. They don't need anyone puffing them up.

For this very situation/reason, I stopped "sharing" about dc with the inlaws and when asked about them, I keep the answers short and vague. "They are fine." "They are doing very well."

It is frustrating. Peace lies in the emotional disconnect. Good luck.

LittleRedBook Mon 06-Jul-09 17:06:32

Gosh, lots of great advice from opposite angles so to speak. Will keep thinking about it. I am assertive with people I don't know but a right push over with friends and family! Need to grow some and prepare myself I think to be able to say something a bit more blunt. Can't believe I won't even bring myself to say "hang on, let me finish" at the moment. Perhaps it is because of being one out-law amongst the in-laws ....

many thanks all for your thoughtful posts.

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