What to Do if You Hate Your Sibling’s Spouse
Most of us who grew up with brothers and sisters grew up fighting with those siblings over the usual things like the shower or who got control of the remote after dinner. But what happens if you grow up and you can’t agree on one very important thing: your sibling’s spouse?
A few weeks ago, a woman in the United Kingdom picked up the phone, impersonated her brother’s fiancé, and called the venue and canceled their wedding. She then called her brother looking for congratulations, informing him that she had saved him a divorce. One thing is for sure: that’s not how you should deal with your own drama.
First things first: if your ideal solution isn’t too far off from the ballsy British lass above, you need to take a big step back. Maybe a vacation. If you don’t approve of your sibling’s choice of spouse and you feel you’ve done what you can to make that clear to your sibling, there’s nothing left for you to do.
Your insistence will likely only inspire them further towards wedding planning, not to mention continue to stress you out. Take it from the aforementioned couple: after calling the police, the bride-to-be was able to get the wedding back on track that very same day. Most situations turn out best when they unfold naturally, so you may as well try and please your sibling in the meantime, right?
By pleasing your sibling, of course, I mean making nice with your soon-to-be sibling-in-law. In order to do this, you must be willing to put in some effort. No matter how little the effort, if your brother sees you trying to make small talk with his fiancée despite your adamant dislike of her political views, he’ll know that you care enough to try. (See the Friends episode “The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy” for proof.) Efforts vary depending on the relationship and its issues. To some, a warm smile and a compliment on the pot roast will do, while others might be overjoyed to simply make it through a dinner without a snarky remark from you about the upcoming nuptials.
It’s important to spend time with your would-be sibling-in-law both with and without your sibling. If your sister’s presence doesn’t bring an automatic sense of peace between you and her fiancé, perhaps her observations will allow her to see the problem more clearly than the sparring two of you. However, one-on-one time is also important because there may be an issue that her fiancé is afraid to air in front of your sibling or vice versa. Privacy and the ability to build trust, no matter how tiny, are both important if you want to be able to be civil and hopefully, down the road, family.
Be the Bigger Person
Not everyone can nail down why they’re feeling certain ways. If you’re unsure exactly what the problem is between the two of you, take a step back and look in the mirror. Are you jealous? It may seem weird to be jealous of your brother’s fiancée, but it’s not uncommon. Examine whether you’re envious of the love that the two share between them or whether you’re afraid your big brother is going to be taken away from you. No matter the reason for your feelings, identifying them is the first important step to mending the situation.
If you’ve tried and tried but the two of you just don’t click, sit down with your soon-to-be in-law. In the kindest words possible, lay out the facts: you don’t get along swimmingly, but you both share a love for the same person, which requires you to be civilized. Note that you are both adults who should be in control of their feelings. Above all else, your shared love for this person is the most important factor.
In order to keep your priorities in order, make a vow to hold your tongues and sit at opposite ends of the table. Each relationship is different, and it may take a little while to figure out the easiest way for you two to cohabitate while at the same party or on the family vacation. But if you agree to work together, there’s no reason you can’t reach the same level of respect.
Sometimes, the bridge has been burned so horribly that it just can’t be rebuilt. If you can’t come to an agreement to work together, it’s time for you to make a decision. Come clean with your sibling (if that is something you feel comfortable doing). You must decide whether you can put up with something you believe to be wrong or if you can no longer attend family functions. Everyone has a right to their own principles, but keep in mind that holding grudges can be unhealthy—and don’t forget to consider all the family moments you’ll have to sacrifice because you let one person affect you so much.
Train yourself to be the bigger person. Pick up yoga or practice meditation to help yourself learn how to find peace in any scenario. Avoid situations that will spark your mutual aggression. If your troubles arise when it’s just the two of you alone, make sure there is always a third person present to keep the tension at bay. No matter how you choose to deal with your discomfort, you want to be careful not to start an irreparable family feud.
Remember: some words can’t be unheard of.