Writing a letter to address elephant in the room


While I'm usually good a writing letters (much better than talking) I am having difficulty with one that is overdue. My sil and I have an extremely strained relationship (total elephant in the room when at the same party). Many hurts have happened, especially in recent times with her and a member of her family who have thrown insulting terms about me my way, not to mention the gossiping about me and my husband and our parenting skills behind our backs and lying many times about us. My husband and his brother don't talk hardly at all when they see each other and I think it has a lot to do with this stress between his wife and I. I really want to address this with her (let her know of why I don't trust her, why I have anxiety when I'm about to be anywhere where she is) in a letter but don't want to make it a letter filled with anything but love.

Has anyone done something like this, and if so, how did you frame the letter? It has been a strain and I do not want my husband nor bil to have a strained relationship b/c of their wives. And I'm sure everyone is wondering what my part in this breakdown is...my guess is my passion for the faith and politics (she and I disagree on this, though we are both Catholic).


[quote="gmarie21, post:1, topic:192575"]
I really want to address this with her (let her know of why I don't trust her, why I have anxiety when I'm about to be anywhere where she is) in a letter but don't want to make it a letter filled with anything but love.


What good would it bring? Would "knowledge" of your reasons for being distrustful or anxious suddenly cause her to change? Chances are she's already aware of your differences and understands your perspective, but just disagrees.

No... I'd pray for the situation instead. Ask God to open everyone's hearts to love within the family. Not simply for HER to change, but for God's will to be done in how you view each other.

Polarized political views, in any direction, only cause strain... there IS a SINGLE truth out there... and it may require both of you to open your hearts to each other.

Focus on your commonalities... and pray that they strengthen.


I personally believe that you should be sending off this letter you promised the elephant.


I guess I want to address it because it has put a strain on other family relationships where some of my husband’s siblings are feeling like they are being pressured to be friends with one and not the other (though, I’m not the one doing this, actually I’ve been working hard at staying out of the drama circle that seems to be created frequently). And this sil’s own family members have said insulting things to me as well, things they could not possibly know from their few interactions with me. I do pray about this though, but thank you for reminding me (I definitely need to be more fervent about it).


By the way, Em, thank you for the advice. You have a great head on your shoulders.


[quote="Dominic_Korozya, post:3, topic:192575"]
I personally believe that you should be sending off this letter you promised the elephant.


Good point... :thumbsup: :rotfl:


It’s so tough, I know myself as well… (((HUGS))) and prayers for your family.


Write the letter then burn it.

Pray for an increase in charity, pray each line of 1 Cor 13 - about how love does not notice when others do it wrong. Pray that you will increase in virtue.


[quote="kage_ar, post:8, topic:192575"]
Write the letter then burn it.


Best advice so far.



Writing this kind of letter will make you feel much better. But reading it is unlikely to have any positive effect on anyone else. Probably just the opposite.


I don't think writing a letter like this will result in less discomfort. A person who insults you is not likely to respond contritely to a letter pointing out their past sins. They're more likely to get defensive, retort about all of the things you did wrong to them, and be more angry at you. In fact, you could write a letter, and then if no one replies to the letter, it could be yet another unspoken problem between you.

One thing you could do, is work on how you react in person, at the moment of the unkindness. If someone is mean to you, there's nothing wrong with pointing it out immediately and refusing to be a punching bag. *That *would be addressing the elephant in the room. And if you bear any responsibility for the problems - or if you aren't responsible, but could come up with more peace-making ways of responding to unkindness, of course, just changing your own words/behaviors might make a difference.


A friend posted this on her FB and I thought, wow, how I needed to read these words: “Love is not calculating. It does not measure. It does not count the cost. It does not put up barriers, rather it knows how to give with joy; seeking only the wellfare of others. It overcomes pettiness, meaness,resentment and the closures that man carries in his heart.” Pope Benedict XVI

I have been sitting on addressing this for quite a while, partly because I don’t want to stir the waters and also because I am pretty introverted and stumble over my spoken words. But the advice has been great thus far. The opportunity at family functions are not there and I do have serious anxiety when she is around over how my words will be perceived and twisted in the gossip about me. I may just write a short note expressing how our relationship brings me sorrow and that after eight years, I’m saddened that she doesn’t even know me. But I will add that I have hope that in the future we may build a relationship of at least respect.


sometimes a letter is better than nothing. But remember, letters can't convey things like inflection, intonation,body language, facial expression etc. More and more we rely on these things to communicate our actual meaning.

I have written and received letters with similar intent as yours and it turned out to be disaster. Because some things that could have been taken in various ways were taken not as the writer intended. Especially when there was a lot of emotion between the parties or when someone already didn't trust or was suspicious.

How about sending an invitation. Get together and talk. there will be less room (though still possible) for misinterpretation.

may the Lord heal your family.


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