January 20, 2009,
K.B. asks from West Jordan, UT on January 19, 2009
Relationship Between Husband and My Sister
I had a heart to heart talk with my sister; found out that she has been offended and had her feelings hurt by my husband numerous times. I could absolutely see where she was coming from when she brought up specific events and instances. She said, "I feel like I am always on the defense when I am around him and that he doesn't respect me as a person." This doesn't happen very often as we live out of state and visit about 3 times a year. However, sometimes they come to Utah. I listened to her examples and her feelings about situations. I let her know that I don't want to chose between my sister and my husband and that my husband is a sensitive guy; good husband (treats me well) and great Dad. She was worried if he treated me like he has treated her a lot of the time. I am really torn and need some advice. Obviously, she doesn't see the side I do; she needs to to understand where I am coming from. There have been times where I have noticed things but have never said anything to him about it. Obviously, it's time to bring it to his attention in a caring manner. For all I know, he has offended other family members. I believe that people get offended easily overall. She is my sister and he is my husband I love them both and don't want to be caught in the middle. She talked to me initially because she didn't know how to approach Dean about it and just wanted to vent more than anything...
So What Happened?™
I talked with my husband. I didn't go into finite detail; if he ever asks specifics, I will. He appreciated me sharing my sister's feelings with him. He pointed out that he never intentionally meant to hurt hers or anyone else's feelings. They are both strong personalities with strong opinions about things and they just may have a personality clash. I can see where he is coming from. He apologized through me and I emailed my sister (because I tend to be better with written words sometimes than spoken)and basically told her that I hoped they both could clear the air with each other. I stood up for Dean through it all; not making excuses for him, but letting her know what a good husband and Dad he is. Bottom line is, I don't know how well my extended family will ever "know" him as we see each other about 2-4 times per year for an average of 3 days per visit.
M.G. answers from Denver on January 20, 2009
I agree that you need to stay out of it. It is not your job to play middleman. My sister-in-law and I have had issues since the beginning and she is NEVER willing to talk to me directly about her issues with me and it doesn't solve anything and causes animosity between my husband and her. He and I would like nothing more than to have her and I sit and resolve our issues, but she refuses. If your husband feels he owes her an apology, or if he wants to clarify his actions and intentions, let him do it, otherwise, your sister should approach him directly, and resolve things with him.
Good luck. These situations can really be a pain.
1 mom found this helpful
B.S. answers from Salt Lake City on January 20, 2009
I hate that you were put in the middle of this. I'm not a psychologist, so take it for what it is, but I really think your sister should be the one to talk to your husband, not you.
Good luck with whatever you choose to do though, this is always a hard thing to deal with.
S.L. answers from Boise on January 20, 2009
The only thing I can think of is that if he ever mentions one of the hurtful things he said when he's just talking to you, you could tell him that it really hurt your sister's feelings. Or that if he were to say something else to her, you could take him aside and tell him then that it probably hurt her feelings.
If you were to stay out of it completely, passing up an opportunity (like I described above) to say something to your husband, I think that nothing will ever be resolved. Because I know that I would never confront my BIL's for the hurtful things they can sometimes say to me! But really getting in the middle of it and doing the confronting for your sister is only going to make things worse.
Another idea, although the ship may have sailed, is to apologize to your sister in your husband's behalf. The time to do it may have been when she opened up to you.
I think I feel similarly to you. People are often too easily offended, but what really gets me is that they can't seem to let go of things, and can't seem to think of the offender's side of things. I mean, sure, your sister was hurt, but does she think that your husband was being intentionally malicious, or was it just something he said without knowing it would be offensive? If he meant no harm, then really, your sister needs to realize that sometimes people say hurtful things without knowing it. I wouldn't explain that to your sister, though!
K.P. answers from Boise on January 20, 2009
Rule of thumb...you stick by your man. He and your children are your #1 family. You never want to make your husband feel like he is less important than any extended family or friends. That said, if his behavior was hurtful enough worth mentioning to him, do it in a calm sweet manner. Don't make him feel attacked, and maybe suggest that the next time you all visit your extended family it would be nice if he just flat out says to your sister, "I understand that I have hurt your feelings a few times over the years. That wasn't my intention at all, and I'm sorry." That will patch the whole thing up, and he can just behave graciously throughout the visit. It doesn't have to be a whole drawn out dramatic thing, just simple and to the point. Your sister will have no reason to go over every point with him if he just simply apologizes. If your sister brings it up again to you, you can tell her that you have made your husband aware of it, and it is between them, and you don't want to discuss it anymore with her. This way, you take yourself out of the equation. Odds are if you don't say anything to your husband to inform him of how he has come across to your sister, your sister will never take it upon herself to have a conversation with your husband about it, but instead will most definitely want to go over and over and over it again with you. If you engage in that, you will be behaving disrespectful to your husband.
D.K. answers from Denver on January 20, 2009
I am a firm believer in honesty. You have all this information and need to process the best approach to sharing it. I think it is very important your husband is aware of how your sister feels. I can say if he is truly sweet and kind he would want to know and would not be offended at all. Is there a reason she is just now speaking up? Why hasn't she said something before?
I mean if you were hurting someone's feelings unintentionally wouldn't you want to know? Wouldn't you try to fix it?
I say, sit your husband down, when kids are in bed and say "you know, I was talking with my sister the other day, she mentioned a few things she felt really uncomfortable with what you said/did. I know you would never do that on purpose so I thought maybe I could talk to you about it"...
Keep the defense on low, explain what your sister said without adding anything other then the facts and ask your husband "you never meant her to feel that way did you?".
If he gets defensive just say "you are my family too and I love you, however I do not want to be in the middle of a feud here and you know how important my family is to me, so please, take some time to think about this as I would really appreciate you apologizing to my sister so the air is clear".
I was married to a very abrasive and non censored man. He thought it was best he was so up front, however he pissed off and offended so many people I was afraid to have him meet anyone. I was constantly embarassed and apologizing for him as he wouldn't do it! It was horrible. He was down right rude, all the time thinking he was a "honest man"...yeah right!
He would have blown a fuse if I tried to talk to him about how someone else felt due to his abrasive nature.
That kind of person you should be careful with. You should NEVER have to walk on eggshells with someone you are married to, you should never worry about being honest with them about something like this either.
I find it hard I guess him offending so many others in your family yet he is not like that with you? Is there a reason he may be acting like this? Does he like your family?
You owe it to them, you and your husband to sit down and talk to him. If he blows up, I highly recommend counselling. People should always want to know when they have crossed a line and try to repair it. If he handles the news the simply suggest he drop your sister an email, card, some flowers to apologize. All you can do is try.