Dear Barb

Dear Barb:

Hi, my husband and I have been married almost two years and I am already having trouble with my sister-in-law. My husband and I have been previously married and, unfortunately, our spouses passed away within six months of each other. We met while living in the same condo development while married to our late spouses. The problem is my sister-in-law is convinced we knew each other while our spouses were alive and that I had pursued my husband immediately following the death of his wife.

This is not true! I have told her this many times, but she chooses not to believe me. My husband has also told her this is not true, but to no avail. She tells other people this story while my husband and I are present. I find this embarrassing and feel a need to defend myself. It doesn’t seem to matter to her what I say, as she speaks over me and insists her version of events is the truth. I am not sure how to handle this. I really don’t want this to create a problem between my husband and his brother.
Please help!

Looking forward to your advice, Karen.

Hi Karen.

Wow, your sister-in-law appears to be inconsiderate and not care how you or your husband feel. You didn’t say whether her husband has an opinion about this situation. I assume he is aware of how his wife’s behaviour is affecting you and his brother. If not, perhaps your husband could talk to his brother and explain how uncomfortable his wife’s comments are making you both.

On the other hand, if the brothers do not communicate well enough to be able to discuss this situation, perhaps the four of you could sit down together and you, or your husband, could casually bring up this issue. You will have to be careful how you approach this matter. Do not make it into a hostile encounter, as this will cause problems between the brothers and they will each feel a need to defend their wife.

Calmly explain to your sister-in-law how you feel when she says these things, however she may be more receptive to your husband, as she has known him longer. It is possible that she was close to your husband’s late wife and that she has difficulty accepting the fact that he has moved on, subsequently she is painting you as the pursuer/instigator of the relationship. Ultimately, if this is not resolved it will affect your relationship with this couple, since you will not want to get together with them. Sometimes all it takes is bringing an issue out in the open for it to change.

Thanks for writing and good luck Karen.

Follow Up: Below is a response to the Dear Barb, in the January 10, 2012 issue of The Voice.

Barb my short answer to this is for John to talk to Pete without Melissa there and find out what objections he has. I do not understand why Melissa would have any objection to Pete dating his (John’s) sister. Maybe Melissa also likes Pete
— Name Withheld

You make a good point for the two men to talk without Melissa. Perhaps Melissa’s motivation is just to support her boyfriend. She seems to be more outspoken than John.


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