I've been happily married for the past 4 years and am very much in love with my husband. My in-laws are really bothering me with jokes and how they act around me. One of my sister in laws has been spreading rumours around my husband's family that I am a lesbian. Her and her husband have been making jokes about it all the time and it has been making me feel really uncomfortable. To top it off, my father-in-law joked that if I wasn't with my husband I would be with a woman. My husband's family sometimes are fixated on sexuality because one of his sisters is gay and another is bi. The sister that is gay has also been making jokes and I've heard her joke and confirm with her wife that she thought that I was gay.
I suffer from anxiety and their actions are really bothering me. I dread family get-togethers, I worry about what I'm saying, how I'm acting, I overthink everything and become withdrawn. It's also affecting my relationships with friends. When I'm with other women, I'm paranoid about how I am around them. I've just moved to a new city and I've always had a good group of girlfriends but haven't managed to make girlfriends here because I'm worried.
My anxiety, particularly about my perceived sexuality runs deep. I was bullied at school and people called me gay because I was a bit of a tomboy at school, but I have never wanted to be with a woman. I also grew up in a religious family, in a country where being gay is not okay, which is why people thinking I'm gay is so triggering for me.
A few months ago, I brought my in-laws behaviour up with my husband. He was oblivious (he often is, he doesn't tend to pick up on things!). He was annoyed at how I was being treated and encouraged me to be honest and tell them to stop. I approached my sister-in-law and her husband and told them to stop making lesbian jokes, that I am not a lesbian and that it is making me feel uncomfortable.
It's a few months on and the jokes haven't stopped. They continue to make jokes but do them in a subtle way, through 'in jokes' in the family group chat. When we get together sometimes, I notice that they are texting each other and laughing at things I've done or said. I'm extremely sensitive and pick up on things, while my husband is the total opposite. He thinks I'm paranoid and worried about nothing.
I feel extremely uncomfortable, my anxiety is through the roof and I'm not sure what to do next. I just want the jokes and comments to stop. What should I do? I'm so worried that it is going to tear my husband and I apart.
Hi, I don’t blame you for feeling sensitive or anxious your sister in law and husband should have stopped doing this when you asked them to out of respect not carry on. It is really childish, kinda like the type of teasing you get at school.
I agree, either distance yourself from them and see them as school kids or you and your husband ask them to stop together. You on your own to just your sister in law clearly wasn’t enough. Maybe if you knock back the jokes it will slowly stop.
They sound like insecure people themselves, with their own issues if they really can’t drop this ‘joke’ or stop focusing on it.
Hope it gets better.