magnolia's picture
magnolia

Sister in Law - flirts with husband

I had marital problems last December. During that time ,my husband and i did not share a bed.  Problems happened when we moved from our country, Afrika to the US. I do not have any family here in the US and I went through a very difficult time.  I did not want to upset my family back in my country, so I never told them about my problems. We are caucasion. Back in Afrika my brother got married. I did not know my sister in law.  After 7 years my brother came to visit me here in the US.  To make it short, when my brother arrived they saw that my marriage was not sound. They saw my husband and I did sleep on 2 different beds. When they ask me what was going on,  I told them that my husband and I did not sleep together anymore.  After telling my brother and sister in law what was going on in my marriage, I realized too late that my sister in law was a selfish manipulator. Staying for 5 weeks with us, my sister in law never helped with anything.  The two kids 7 and 9 were playing in the snow and when they came into our apartment with their shoes full of snow, and I asked them to please remove their shoes before comming into the apartment, my sister in law did not like it. She 'blew up' and was stiff-lip. I tried to ignore her sudden change of behaviour and I tried to make their stay so nice as possible. (We are living in a 2 person apartment and it was very diffycult). But I was so glad to see my brother for the first time in 7 years and I tried my best to make them happy.  But then my sister in law started putting me down on a very subtile way in conversations. I ignored that and tried to be positive.  My husband and I took them to Disney World for a treat , as well as to Miami. There, my sister in law dissappeared occasionally when we were all on a shoppping spree. After finding her she will tell my brother that I do not want to walk with her. And that was not true. I was always seeking her,  but never did she ever show any interest to find me and to walk with me.  So I did let it go for peace sake and I turned my attention to my brother and the kids that I did not see in 7 years. Then one evening it happened:   My sister in law deliberately looked me straight in the eye,  'smiled' walk over to my husband that was sitting in a chair and start to play with his hair and told him how nice and soft his hair was. While doing that she looked at me and gave me that 'smile'.  The first time I was shocked and I did not know what to think of her strange behaviour. She knew my husband and I had problems and we were not sharing a bed at that time. So I ignored her. Then occasionally she would look at me daringly, 'smile' and then took my husbands hand in her's, rubbing it slowly and told him his hands was so soft and that he has nice long fingers. Again looking at me, gave me that 'smile' and attitude: what can you do about it ? and I sensed she was waiting for me to react. ................  It hit me like ice water in my face. And I realized that if I react of say anything, she will ridicule me and she will accuse me of being paranoid.  And my husband will side with her. So I did not say, react of do anything. (afterwards not to my husband as well) I was paralyzed from shock when the reality hit me, so I ignored her and I did my best to be positive and not to loose my temper.  When she saw me ignoring her, she did not stop with her strange behaviour. My husband (not knowing what was going on) got uncomfortable infront of my brother, so he playfully shoved her away from him.                         Please tell me, how do a person react in a situation like this ????  It hurt so much and I never knew she was such a person.  I trusted her and now she is using it against me.  The problem is:  they are going to visit us again. She doesnt help me with anything and her moods is very difficult for me to understand.  If I try to ask her if something is wrong, she denies it and told me that I am just 'imagining' it.  Nothing is wrong !  And then for a few moments she will be very 'friendly' and nice.  On this moment things are getting better between my husband and I, but mostly I am standing alone. He never assures or give me any security, that he is my husband and my friend, or that he loves me. Therefore I never mention or talked to him about my sister in law's behaviour, or about other woman as well.  How can I defend myself against a family member like that ?  I really need to know HOW to handle a situation like this. Please help me !

 



tamz's picture
tamz

Wow, that's very sad. Has your brother noticed how his wife is behaving with your husband? I don't think you can ignore what is going on just because you think she will ridicule you. Remember, this is YOUR home and she is just a guest. You should also ask yourself if you are extra sensative to this because you are having troubles in your marriage and makes one feel insecure. If your answer is no, then you should graciously approach your sister in law with your concerns. Tell her that you and your husband are uncomfortable with her touching him because it is disrespectful to your brother. If she chooses to get angry or leave your home, then let her go. You have to make choices at times that are difficult. Of course you want to see your brother and his children, but is it important enough to risk your allready strained marriage? Don't allow her to hurt and disrespect you in your own home. Be respectfull to her as you have been and expect her to do the same for you and your husband.

magnolia's picture
magnolia

Hi Tamz,

I appreciate your reply and your advice. The answer to your question about: insecurity is, No. I am married for 18 years and I have never been a jealous or insecure person. We have many friends and woman is lauging and making jokes with my husband all the time, putting their hands sometimes on his arm ect. That is not bothering me, because I know and I can see that they are just friendly, communicating, laughing and making jokes.

It is hard to explain the difference between friendlyness and when you sense something is wrong. You just know it immediately. With my sister in law, I did not sense that she was really after my man, her motive was trying to test my reactions. It is diffycult to explain it.

I do believe in openess and fairness.
Therefore I need wisdom to handle the problem (if it occor's again on their next visit, which I really hope will not happen again) with grace and as you have said, with respect.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

I agree w/ Tamz, although I don't know how graciously I could handle the situation. If you know in your gut that your SIL is intentionally trying to trigger a reaction from you, I think you are right to ignore it to an extent (like when she wldn't walk w/ you). However, if she goes as far as disrespecting you and crosses that line, I wldn't accept it (in the case of flirting w/ your husband). If you don't say anything, she will most likely continue behaving this way until you do. And what if she takes it too far? Right now it may seem somewhat innocent, but that doesn't make it acceptable by any means. Nip this in the bud now. Speak to your husband, and don't let him brush it off like it's nothing. He shld respect your feelings. Also, I wld speak to your SIL directly. Make it very clear to her that this behavior is not acceptable to you and your husband. Ask her what you did to possess her to act in such a manner. Tell her that you have certain principles and values that you believe in and wld expect others to understand. Explain that you love your brother and that you and your husband opened your home to them out of love. You did everything to make them feel comfortable, and in turn you wld expect that they do the same for you. Tell your SIL that you never intentionally disrespected her, and if she feels you did, she sld come to you in a mature manner and discuss this. I don't see how asking her children to take their shoes off in your home is disrespectful. Some people may get offended by it, but it doesn't matter. It's your home, and therefore it's your right. There might be more to the story, as your SIL sees it. Try to get her to open up to you. If she refuses and tells you you're over-reacting, simply tell her that she's not welcome in your home if she continues to behave inappropriately. At that pt, talk to your brother. Tell him you love him and that he is welcome anytime. This probably won't go over well, however, if he can't see that his wife's behavior is destructive, then he needs a reality ck as well. Best of luck w/ your situation, and I hope for everyone's sake, that it all has a positive outcome.