Sibling Jealousy


#1

My wife is having a problem with her sister.

Basically their parents will soon be having their 50th wedding anniversary and my wife's siblings have begun to plan for it.

My wife had made some suggestions about where out of town guests could say and her sister responded with another suggestion.

My wife then said she would be happy to work on a digital media presentation like the one she did for their father's 70th birthday. This presentation was a real hit.

Her sister responded that it had already been decided that one of their inlaws would be doing this as this sister in law is very good at this.

This pattern of not so subtle put downs of any suggestion my wife makes has been repeated innumerable times during out marriage. This sister in law was my wife's maid of honor at our wedding and she had a scowl on her face practically during the entire marriage. It appears that after we had picked a name for our yet unborn child, she got wind of it and stole our name. She was conveniently preoccupied for my wife's surprise 40th birthday. She has been cold to me during our entire married life, although there could be some awkwardness due to a nasty letter she sent to my wife prior to wedding.

We have heard anecdotally that her jealousy of my wife caused a problem between her husband and herself, and that some of her close friends found her preoccupation with us to be too much and were concerned about her mental well being.

However - the question to you is how should we handle this latest barrage of nastiness from her.

My wife loves doing graphics arts is very talented in this area. I think she should do something quitely. My wife likes to be appreciated and I suspect the not so subtle jabs to keep her our is a way to thwart the joy she would have in contributing, and the appreciation her contributions would have.

I am also tempted to get involved in this situation for the first time and send my SIL an email asking her if we can discuss this with our priest who knows the both of them, and whom I suspect is aware of the problem. My reasoning is this should provoke some guilt on her part and make her realize that her actions are not holy.

Your thoughts?


#2

Is SIL very good at presentations? If she is it may be best to let SIL do it. In all honesty it isn't that hard to put together a nice presentation. I understand you're proud of your wife and she likes to do it but that's not relevant. If SIL has the follow-through and is capable just let her. Perhaps your wife can put together a scrap-book or use an online program to put together a photo book. A book will last forever and a presentation will be done in minutes.

The stole baby name is heresay...as far as the rest...to keep peace just let it go.


#3

Thanks for your input purplesunshine.

My wife always does these presentations- basically slide shows at family events. They are always well received. She puts together scrapbooks/photo albums. Granted you don’t need a great amount of skill to do these, but my wife enjoys doing them and her sister (we’ll call her Betty) knows it. Our SIL, we’ll call her Sandra, does do scrapbooking, likes doing it and is good at it. What is unusual is that my wife’s siblings were planning the party, and all of a sudden things are being tossed to our SIL,Sandra. Sandra was not in the email thread at all.

Yes, perhaps the siblings want a change, but reviewing the email thread any comment my wife says is attacked by my SIL (Betty). This pattern repeats itself over and over again in all family communication. Other family members when approached individually will confirm the bad blood between my wife and Betty and will admit its Betty’s fault. Betty’s treatment of me and my wife is a thorn in my wife’s side.

Other suggestions made by other family members are not commented on.

Now Sandra and Betty have colluded on “hits” on my wife in the past. Here is my version of what happened during the stealing of our child’s name.

Sandra approached us at a party and asked us what we were planning to name our child. I saw Betty move into ear shot and when we mention the name, Betty loudly complains that she and her husband had already picked that name. My wife leaves in tears and Sandra comes after us assuring us that she had nothing to do with what happened.

Now, while it is possible that Betty and her husband had already picked that name, the guilt that I saw in Sandra’s eyes then makes it very hard for me to believe this. And Sandra is only too happy to do the dirty work for Betty’s hits on us.

So, while it is entirely possible that we are imagining things, what I am approaching you with for advice is my wife is very hurt by what she and others perceive as these put downs and I would like to know what the Christian way to handle these hits are as I know they will happen in the future.

Purple sunshine I appreciate your advice so perhaps you can address my wife’s hurt feelings as opposed to the circumstances.

Your idea of a book is a great one:)

Thanks!


#4

If I were your wife I would just go ahead and make the slide show, why do you need the sister's permission to do it? I would bet the parents would enjoy a slide show made by their daughter more than one made by the inlaws even if the inlaws are professionals at it.

Nothing wrong with having 2 slide shows.

The best way to handle it in my opinion is just to ignore it. Does your wife have to interact with her sister? If it's always so negative, why doesn't she just let it go and do her own thing while letting the sister mind her own business.

I'm curious, what was the name that the sister stole?


#5

[quote="PFoxcroft, post:1, topic:184548"]
My wife is having a problem with her sister.

Basically their parents will soon be having their 50th wedding anniversary and my wife's siblings have begun to plan for it.

My wife had made some suggestions about where out of town guests could say and her sister responded with another suggestion.

My wife then said she would be happy to work on a digital media presentation like the one she did for their father's 70th birthday. This presentation was a real hit.

Her sister responded that it had already been decided that one of their inlaws would be doing this as this sister in law is very good at this.

This pattern of not so subtle put downs of any suggestion my wife makes has been repeated innumerable times during out marriage. This sister in law was my wife's maid of honor at our wedding and she had a scowl on her face practically during the entire marriage. It appears that after we had picked a name for our yet unborn child, she got wind of it and stole our name. She was conveniently preoccupied for my wife's surprise 40th birthday. She has been cold to me during our entire married life, although there could be some awkwardness due to a nasty letter she sent to my wife prior to wedding.

We have heard anecdotally that her jealousy of my wife caused a problem between her husband and herself, and that some of her close friends found her preoccupation with us to be too much and were concerned about her mental well being.

However - the question to you is how should we handle this latest barrage of nastiness from her.

My wife loves doing graphics arts is very talented in this area. I think she should do something quitely. My wife likes to be appreciated and I suspect the not so subtle jabs to keep her our is a way to thwart the joy she would have in contributing, and the appreciation her contributions would have.

I am also tempted to get involved in this situation for the first time and send my SIL an email asking her if we can discuss this with our priest who knows the both of them, and whom I suspect is aware of the problem. My reasoning is this should provoke some guilt on her part and make her realize that her actions are not holy.

Your thoughts?

[/quote]

This is more than likely the root of all of these problems good sir.
A grown woman will face many difficult endeavors in post-adult hood if she is still in need of acceptance of those who are not her,
1)God
2)Husbund
3) Children

God lay's it all out for us in his word, the issue is that she needs praise from others to stay afloat, and if not or if she does not get it, its going to make her unhappy.
I know this from experiance, not from watching other, but I myself falling into it. The happiest moments in my life have come from faith in God v.s the acceptance of uneccesary humans.

Ask her to watch this video, youtube.com/watch?v=9YU0aNAHXP0 You are not invisible to God, let her know this.

-Pax and love


#6

Thanks flyingfish. I like Purplesunshine's idea of doing a book anyway. I don't think she would be allowed to do her presentation at the event.

I am more concerned with how to lessen the pain of these hit jobs. It seems there should be a religious solution to this.

The name she "stole" was Rebecca. This name is in my family but unknown in my wife's or any of the inlaws. It is also out of character from the other names in my wife's sister's family. I know this sounds incredulous, but I am certain it was stolen out of spite and I expect at some point in time Sandra will confess it to us, or we will hear it through the grape vine.

Its one of those "you had to be there things" to believe.


#7

[quote="PFoxcroft, post:6, topic:184548"]
Thanks flyingfish. I like Purplesunshine's idea of doing a book anyway. I don't think she would be allowed to do her presentation at the event.

I am more concerned with how to lessen the pain of these hit jobs. It seems there should be a religious solution to this.

The name she "stole" was Rebecca. This name is in my family but unknown in my wife's or any of the inlaws. It is also out of character from the other names in my wife's sister's family. I know this sounds incredulous, but I am certain it was stolen out of spite and I expect at some point in time Sandra will confess it to us, or we will hear it through the grape vine.

Its one of those "you had to be there things" to believe.

[/quote]

I don't know, some people are just downright nasty and they don't change. Why does your wife want to maintain relationship with her sister? It seems it would be so much easier if she just stopped interacting with her.

Are there positive aspects to the relationship? From the way you have described it it seems to be all bad.


#8

"Stole" a name? Did someone own the copyright? Names are names. Cousins CAN have the same name. Why fight over a name?

In the big scheme of things, will getting all mired down in this childish sibling rivalry get any of you to heaven? If not, then, scrap it. Refuse to get involved.

The proper order is

God
Others
Yourself

Help your wife work on developing humility, not letting her pride be hurt by what others think or by having to be the one who is the best at graphics. Your wife can show Jesus to all her family by being loving and supportive and kind no matter what.


#9

I’m assuming that this has gone on for years. Have you laid it out on the table? eg. I feel like you’re colluding against me?
Sometimes people fall into bad habits and don’t realize they’re being idiots.
Has your wife ever given you any reason for them to want to do things themselves? I’m not saying anything major but little things. Your wife obviously has you and children to care for. It’s OK if she dropped the ball. What’s not ok is expecting them to trust if it’s been broken.

It is a big deal to some people to plan things. I have three brothers and in the past me and one or two of the girlfriends will bond, and leave out the other. Sometimes it has to do with proximity, sometimes it has to personalities. I’m not good at cleaning and sometimes I get ganged up on. I HATE it. Its totally undeserved because its just not my way.

Secondly, that a child be named out of pure spite? Really? This is the woman’s child. If she named her dog that…yes…maybe it could be spite. If you truly, truly believe that this the case then you should walk, no, run from this situation.


#10

Points taken about the "theft" of the child's name.

The facts are - the sister has been cold to me for 13 years of marriage and she is very sociable with other people. We have spoken very little during this time and I have always intiated the conversations.

Other people have asked what is up with the sisters and commented on how Betty scowled her way through her role as bridesmaid at my wife's wedding.

My wife has 5 brothers, they have commented from time to time on the situation.

Brother 1 says "You be the better one in the relationship."
Brother 2 says "This has been going on for decades now, its hopeless."
Brother 3 has basically said "Is she still pulling that cr*p."
Brother 4 married to Sandra let me know how Betty was so consumed with jealousy for her sister (my wife) that they were afraid Betty would have a breakdown.
Brother 5 is indifferent to it.

Betty has alientated herself from her mother because of her behavior.

My wife has asked for advice on the situation from various priests who know Betty and while they have commisterated about the situation they have not offered her any advice on how to handle the situation. My wife did not approach them out of vindictivness but rather for advice on how to handle the hurt as it is upsetting to her. I am the one who has urged her to seek their advice on this situtation.

Betty has felt that my wife has gotten pregnant twice to top Betty's pregnancies. Our pregnancies were surprises to us and I know this is not the case, but she has started wars against us, wars that we do not participate in, but still are hurtful to my wife.

My wife was very close to her sister until we got engaged and then married. Her mother feels that Betty has a pathological need to be the center of attention and our marriage has forced her to share the role of married daughter with my wife.

I guess I am explaining this badly. Its not about who can do a better job at graphics, scrapbooking, or who is the better artist.

What is important here is how do we deal with a sister who lashes out at my wife at every opportunity. While contact is limited, we feel like we are cowering around Betty at these events and they make such family gatherings unpleasant for us.

While my siblings are very close to my wife it hurts her that her own sister is not.

My wife did confront Betty about it recently and all Betty could continually say was "I am sorry you feel that way" and looked very guilty about it.

I think my wife is hopeful that the good relationship they had prior to the marriage will return. Sometimes she does complain to me that "Betty wasn't always like that."

I have asked my wife's father about the situation and he tells me that it is about events which happend a long time ago. I ask him for specifics and he can't give me any.


#11

What is the birth order in your wife's family? Is Betty one of the older siblings, and was she neglected by the parents when growing up in favor of the younger ones?


#12

I don't really have any advice for you or your wife but frankly some sisters are just controlling and negative and will always be that way. I recently had to cut off all contact with my two older sisters. I should have done it years ago but I have tried hard to have a relationship with them. All their anger and bitterness toward me came out, lo and behold, when they were planning a wedding anniversary party for my parents many years ago! What is it about these anniversary parties and these sisters???

I am trying hard to forgive my sisters but I do not plan to have contact with them. They are bitter and jealous and I have no idea why. They will not speak to me and tell me their problem. They just seethe and simmer and do things behind my back. They are much older than me and I was at home long after they left. I have always loved them and thought we were close until the anniversary party incident. They have even turned their sons against me.

Maybe for your wife's own sanity she needs to do as she pleases without consulting her sister. I'm willing to bet the bank that your wife is the younger one. Personally I just focus on my husband and my son and our lives together which is so happy. I also have a good relationship with my parents. I am very fortunate and refuse to let two jealous, backstabbing people drag me down.


#13

If she really is as bad as you say, then I cannot explain why the sister is doing this, but I don’t see why you can’t just let her do the slideshow.

It sounds like your wife had become the official slideshow maker and people feel like they don’t get to do it. My own sister somehow became the official cake baker in my family and I’ll admitt I get a little sad, because I would like to be able to make a birthday cake for my parents. Maybe this sister just wants to be able to do this for her parents and figures that your wife got her turn in doing one for the 70th birthday.


#14

Life is not like the movies, not all sisters are best of friends. Would your wife let it bother her so much if this woman did not share her parents? Would she get all twisted around the axles if this were another parishioner?

Let it go, both of you - the answer "I'm sorry you feel this way" is the correct answer. We can never change how other people feel, we can only change how we respond to them.


#15

I think your wife needs to take a step back and just let the drama happen away from her.

This sister obviously has issues... so don't fuel the fire! ;)

Are her parents aware of the Anniversary Party? Or is it a surprise? Either way, do something quietly, on your own (or maybe along with the other "reasonable" brothers)... to show your gratitude to your parents and celebrate their day. Let Crazy Sister think she's doing everything and just go with the flow... who cares, right? Don't make it a big deal. If her parents are reasonable they'll see right through all the nonsense.

Don't make competition an option... scale down your efforts and just let Crazy Sister be crazy and do all the work herself.

As for the name issue... just ignore it. Your wife can easily say "This is a family name in my husband's family. Sounds like it'll be fun to have 2 Rebeccas around!" :D Let her deal with it in her own dramatic way... :rolleyes:

Don't fuel the fire... just live outside the drama.


#16

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:15, topic:184548"]
I think your wife needs to take a step back and just let the drama happen away from her.

This sister obviously has issues... so don't fuel the fire! ;)

Are her parents aware of the Anniversary Party? Or is it a surprise? Either way, do something quietly, on your own (or maybe along with the other "reasonable" brothers)... to show your gratitude to your parents and celebrate their day. Let Crazy Sister think she's doing everything and just go with the flow... who cares, right? Don't make it a big deal. If her parents are reasonable they'll see right through all the nonsense.

Don't make competition an option... scale down your efforts and just let Crazy Sister be crazy and do all the work herself.

As for the name issue... just ignore it. Your wife can easily say "This is a family name in my husband's family. Sounds like it'll be fun to have 2 Rebeccas around!" :D Let her deal with it in her own dramatic way... :rolleyes:

Don't fuel the fire... just live outside the drama.

[/quote]

*I wholeheartedly agree with this...it's hard when it's up close and personal, I know...but your wife, OP, should just do her own thing, and present it. Her sister doesn't ''own'' that special celebration...once she does her things, then your wife should stand up and say...''we're not done, I put together something I think everyone might enjoy.'' If her sister gets mad, who cares. Really, she has to grow to not let the drama affect and infect her life. Be kind, pray for the sister, but don't feed into the drama, this takes practice...but, all things are possible with God. Even living ''outside the drama,'' as EM puts it. (I like that phrase, EM) :) Sounds like your wife, OP has to deal with her sister's 'one upping' her...but again, your wife needs to not let it become her problem. She can be kind and polite, and walk away when her sister gets this way...

Prayers that things go well, and that these sibling issues settle down. *


#17

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:15, topic:184548"]

Don't fuel the fire... just live outside the drama.

[/quote]

Can this be a bumper sticker? Seriously, the best advice I've heard in a long time, though it is common advice, it's just so darn catchy.

OP, I have a similar situation with some of my in-laws (there's a post hanging out there about my sil being a near-occasion of sin for me). My sil is passive agressive, though, so it is quite frustrating. She also has no problem lying and takes no responsibility for her actions probably b/c she fears rejection.

As for your wife, I'm kinda like her. One thing I realized is that what I thought was "pride" on my part, is actually vainglory (vanity), wanting to be recognized and appreciated by others for my accomplishments. Usually it's the dictator types who suffer pride. Now that it has been explained to me, I can better approach it, same may be for your wife.

Oh, and remember, the crazies of families are usually taken with a grain of salt. I know, we have plenty in ours.:D


#18

What a fun family! Can I come over and play?

:D

I'm in a book recommending mood. My book of the week is "The Dance of Anger" by Harriet Lerner, PhD.

Run out and buy it and make your wife read it now.

They've been doing that dance for years. It takes TWO to tango. Stop it now!

The book will help your wife see her role in the dance steps. Which they learned from mommy and daddy long ago.

Let me venture a guess... 5 rowdy brothers. Two little girls. Each vying for the role of "Princess." One of them never quite won. She has been angry about it. Seeking to be special somehow somewhere. Funny thing about playing tug of war, you need a person on each end of the rope. Your wife needs to quit pulling back.

Anniversary parties are great fun! A big spectacle with lots of family and friends who know everyone present. A chance for glory. A chance to impress. A chance to prove once and for all one child was better than the others. A lovely opportunity to grandstand! I'd love to know the parents' role in this little competition. It didn't start when you married. It just blew up into a full force battle. Your wife the bride violated some unwritten rule of the relationship and her sister never let her forget it. It might be about you. It might not. It doesn't matter. The issue is your SIL's. She has problems with the fact your wife lives her own life.

As for the name Rebecca... it did undergo a resurgence starting about 15 years ago. Doesn't matter if it was a family name. It became popular in the general culture. Find something else to get angry about. You see, your wife's anger gives her sister the control she wants. I've seen the name game played so many times, my suggestion is to be very vague when a couple is pregnant and start throwing out all kinds of names; Helga, Eusebius... Hildegaard, Mortimer. See which one sticks. ;) Then when the baby is born, give it the name you've really wanted.... it stops the drama in its tracks. ;)

You stop the dance by changing YOUR behavior. Make an album. Commission a portrait. Do something that doesn't require permission at the party. Or here's a novel approach... make the celebration about a couple that stayed together 50 years instead of about the battle between the daughters for attention. There is nothing to stop your wife from making a private video for her parents that they can watch alone. Or is your wife's status dependent upon her role as "The videographer." See... she plays into this when she maintains rigidity.

Your wife is being a victim here. That is a decision she's making. For years. She can step back and say "Poor dear. She can't help herself" and absent herself from the drama and let the accusations such as that she got pregnant to get attention have the silence they deserve. (Because if you would go through 2 pregnancies and take on decades of responsibility for children just to one up a sibling in a rivalry, you're as nutty as the sister you're competing with. Sane people know this, and if they know the individuals involved, they know to take that accusation with a grain of salt and who is making wild accusations.)

In short, who cares what the sister says. By reacting predictably, you keep the game going. But any attempt to change behavior will result in toxic sister redoubling her efforts to pull your wife back into a familiar interaction pattern.

And sometimes the best revenge for spiteful siblings is just to live a happy life with a loving spouse and children and let their heads explode with jealousy.

Me, I'd make a lovely album about the 50 years.. and put a prominent and lovingly scrapbooked photo in there of the mom and dad and the happy bride and the scowling maid of honor. ;)


#19

[quote="whatevergirl, post:16, topic:184548"]
*IEven living ''outside the drama,'' as EM puts it. (I like that phrase, EM) :) *

[/quote]

[quote="gmarie21, post:17, topic:184548"]
Can this be a bumper sticker? Seriously, the best advice I've heard in a long time, though it is common advice, it's just so darn catchy.

[/quote]

Huh... I'm a poet and didn't even know it... :shrug:
Last time I was called "catchy" I'm pretty sure I had some sort of contagious infection. :p :D


#20

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:19, topic:184548"]
Huh... I'm a poet and didn't even know it... :shrug:
Last time I was called "catchy" I'm pretty sure I had some sort of contagious infection. :p :D

[/quote]

*ha! :D I'll say also, that this type of ''hierarchy thinking'' goes on in my husband's family. My husband just tells his oldest sister flat out...I'm a grown man, I'll do what I want. Thanks for the suggestion, though. lol She gets offended, but everyone gets over it, and moves on. It's been this way for years...always one or two of the eldest planning everything, with no input from the ''younger siblings,'' and my husband is like...I don't need to listen to her, she's not the boss of me. :D I said, that's what you probably said as a kid. He'll laugh. But, he is adamant...'she doesn't tell me what I can or can't buy for my own mother...or dictate what I will or won't do.' It can get heated. :blush:

So, that's how HE handles it, OP...LOL I think that while that might seem harsh...he has a point. He just doesn't let any of his siblings dictate to him anything, when it comes to his mom. (unless it's agreed upon that they are going in on a present for her or something) But, your wife -- same thing -- could just nod her head in agreement, and do her own thing. I understand the desire to keep the event organized, but there's no reason your wife can't contribute...that's my feelings.*


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