Difficult Brother-In-Law

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-25-2009
Difficult Brother-In-Law
Tue, 10-02-2012 - 9:26pm

Hi all. I have a brother in law who constantly says things to me that are inconsiderate. He thinks its funny, but meanwhile I take it to heart. I don't want to burden my sister with all of this, even though she knows that his comments bother me. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. 

What do you do when you love your sister and her kids, but you have to take a little bit of her husband, even though you know you will get hurt by his comments? I don't feel like it will change anytime soon. I don't want them to get into any arguments, so I try not to tell her. It's very confusing. I feel like I'm willingly subjecting myself to hurt and that is something I don't want to do. Any advice?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2009
Wed, 10-03-2012 - 2:16pm

Agree with the others that you should tell him, but I have some additional comments.  I don’t know the history, but it appears that he is, for whatever reason(s), deliberately trying to hurt you – and it’s working.  I’m not saying you’re done anything to merit such rude treatment, but I don’t think his treatment of you just “came out of the air”, so to speak.  No doubt about that he’s a jerk.  Sometimes people will make rude comments and camouflage them as “harmless jokes”, kidding, or whatever.  Then when the other person reacts the attacker will say “Oh, I was just kidding”, “I didn’t mean anything”, “You’re too sensitive”.

I would suggest having the following dialogue:  “Joe, is there something I’ve said or done to offend you?  Or maybe you just don’t like me?  I ask because you have a habit of making rude, insulting comments directed at me.  I’d like it to stop.”

Then the ball is in his court.  He might feign innocence. He might ask for specific examples.  But after you've talked to him and asked him to stop, if he continues with the rude comments, respond with "Wow, that was nasty" or "That was a strange thngn for you to say to me" or something along those lines.

Please understand that I’m not saying it’s your responsibility to try to figure out what his issues are or why he’s behaving inappropriately.  By talking to him as I suggested, you’re giving him the opportunity to tell you IF he has a problem with you and to clear the air and have a pleasant relationship.  He may or may not be receptive. 

Also, sometimes a spouse will defend the bad behavior or minimize it. . .”He doesn’t mean any harm”, etc.  If BIL doesn’t mend his ways, you might have to limit interaction with your sister to times when he isn’t there or tell her to visit you (without him).  Just saying that might be the only solution. 

But first you must deal with this by attempting to talk to him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Wed, 10-03-2012 - 8:08am

I agree with the others.  Tell him.  Perhaps you can discuss this with him on the side.  Tell him that his comments, although he thinks he's just teasing you, actually hurt.  If you have a heartfelt discussion with him and ask him to stop, he just might.  If he doesn't, then you are going to have to distance yourself.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Wed, 10-03-2012 - 1:22am

You should put on your big girl pants and tell the jerk that you don't appreciate his comments or think he is funny and you want him to stop with the comments. If he continues to disrespect your feelings tell your sister that you love her and the kids but you will not subject yourself to her husband any more. If your sister can't understand your feelings and back you up you may have to love her from a distance. Your feelings matter and you should not put your feelings on the back burner to keep the peace.