My husband has two sisters and a brother. All are very close. They’re also all married. I’m not a fan of one of the brother-in-law’s, but I can handle myself around him.
The problem is with the wife of the other brother. No one other than her husband gets along with her. She’s very different than all of us, though we’re not all alike. We are a mishmash of religions, skin colour, upbringing, etc.
We agreed as we got older and started having children that family was more important, and we would include everyone and all their traditions. We basically celebrate everything out of respect for each other. It’s fun, and we all love it.
Not her. She refuses to take part in anything that’s not part of her culture, but she’s not overly religious. I personally think she just wants to start a fight, and it riles her up that none of us are taking the bait.
Her husband tries to middle-man every situation, but we just wink at each other and let it all go. Sadly, the matriarch of the family is getting older and has less patience. I fear a fight is brewing between the mother and the daughter-in-law.
How can I help everyone involved, without getting involved?
Big Family Blow Out
You can start by talking to your husband. See what he thinks. It sounds like no matter who you speak to, or don’t, someone is going to let off steam.
My tendency would be to protect the ageing matriarch. Hopefully you and your husband can talk to her and come up with a plan to diffuse the issue. I also think your husband should speak to his brother and get his take on the situation. His wife may just feel like odd-man-out and not know how to enmesh herself. She may just need help.
But communication needs to happen before an argument tears this family apart.
My wife is a great cook, and I’m a great eater. We make a great team. But recently she decided to go on a raw food diet. I know nothing about this diet and have no issue with it, if that’s what interests her. But I don’t want to go on the diet.
The problem is that she’s completely stopped cooking. This is not a sexist issue. I don’t think her place is in the kitchen or any such nonsense. But our partnership was working well with her cooking and me eating.
I don’t work from home so don’t have the time in my day to shop and cook the way she did. But I still need to eat, and I don’t want to resort to frozen pizzas or fast food.
How can I discuss this with her?
Cooked vs. Raw
Start with all the positives, just as you did in your letter. She’s a great partner and a great cook. And you support her raw food journey (I’m not a lover of the word “diet”). But at the moment, it’s not your thing, and you’d still love to eat cooked food. Obviously, you understand that she won’t want to spend as much time and energy in the kitchen cooking for one, but could she help you meal prep and shop so that you can still enjoy healthy cooked foods.
But have you perhaps thought that her cooking and you eating does NOT make you two a great team? She does all the work and you eat. Do you clean up? You didn’t mention.
Maybe she stopped cooking because she wants you to notice how much work she’s actually doing.
I’ve had a colourful life with lots of adventures, friends and relationships along the way. My wife is much younger and has little life experience.
When we met, she knew I had several female friends. They were warm and welcoming to her, and there’s been no problem.
Twice a year, an old girlfriend reaches out. She doesn’t have a hidden agenda. She’s happily married with children. Something will just remind her of me, and she’ll want to say hi. I always reply. We communicate back and forth a few times and then sign off.
It’s harmless and brings me happiness. But it upsets my wife. I’ve tried to assuage her worries, but nothing I say calms her.
Ex with memories
Ask your wife why this woman worries her. There must be something you’re not recognizing or admitting to yourself.
People will disagree, but I don’t think you need to stop replying when the ex reaches out. You’re allowed to have had a life before marriage. As long as you can honestly say there’s nothing between you but fond memories.