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Need some advice please!

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Relationship advice Hi all,

I just need some advice on a problem I'm having in my life. My husband's sister constantly invades my life. She's gone so far as to try hang out with friends and family of mine without having me around (like going for drinks with my mom without inviting me), and even invited my big boss (when he was visiting from overseas) out with her without telling me or including me. She does odd things, like will put her photo up around our house or try sleep over at our house often (even though she lives just down the road and all we have is a couch). Last year she met my brother and proceeded to get together with him. I asked him not to go for it because I knew it would cause trouble. My brother is quite a strange character, very self-absorbed. When I was younger he didn't talk to me for two years at one point (we also had a hard upbringing, and he apologised later, but still hurts).

He lives overseas and she then followed him there where it all fell apart and she came back. Now things have gotten weird because she is always talking about it and telling me about all correspondence they have. The situation really irritates me, I wish it didn't so much, but i constantly feel like my boundaries with her aren't respected. I wanted to see my brother again but I know if he comes to visit it will all end up being full of drama. This had caused massive fights between him and I as I feel he doesn't try understand my feelings and he thinks I won't move past what happened. Basically I feel like he broke my trust yet again and I don't really want him in my life. There's a lot of very strong feelings going on here, and a bit of resentment.

Can anyone help me untangle this mess so I can deal with this in the best way? I want to try do the right thing but also need my feelings respected by them.

Need some advice please!

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She does WHAT?!

Listen, everyone KNOWS that's bad etiquette. So all I can conclude is that she's trying to provoke greater attention out of you (to share your limelight) by making you think you have to be the one to keep her busy so that she ceases feeling the need to trespass onto your territory.

She's not your problem, however. She's your brother's. One of his family members is pissing off his wife (like anyone would be). Ask him to nicely but firmly put her back in her place.

Very strange that your mother didn't warn you she'd received this invitation, though. Ditto your boss...and how did she get his number anyway?

As for your brother: If he's is doing the *opposite* of enhancing your life and meanwhile is doing all he can to avoid resolving it and then going on to acknowledge this outside interference, by all means give him a wide berth. You can't reasonably tell him who he can and can't date, however, whether or not you know he's just being used as a self-ingratiations/encroachment tool.

Frankly, it sounds like your whole family is failing to respect your boundaries. But your husband's sister is definitely *his* responsibility. After all, would he try to suggest it weren't if, say, she borrowed your car without asking? I think not.

Need some advice please!

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Hi Hedgy,

I think your sister-in-law is just that clueless. From what you say I think it hasn't occurred to her that she's stomping all over your boundaries because her boundaries are set in different places. It wouldn't surprise me if she thinks you two are just great friends, one big family, and all these things she's doing is a reflection of that perception? Do you think that's possible? If it is that, I think there's hope but it'll probably require a lot of patience and very clear but still kind explanations of where your boundaries are. These are probably her thoughtless habitual behaviors so it might take a few reminders before she can break these habits. I would think your husband might be the best person to help you out with her because he'll know his own sister and how to talk to her to get the message across and not bruise feelings any more than necessary. Keeping the peace is probably worth a little extra effort in the long run. She lives down the road and she's obviously pretty close with her brother, your husband, right? Ask him to intercede and maybe even help you decide how to talk to her about the specific concerns you have when it comes up. If I'm not mistaken and she really is just that family-friendly in-law type, she might be the person who really comes through for you in a crisis later on. People like that can be valuable and a big comfort to have around even if they're irritating other times. Try to pick your battles (prioritize) when you decide which behaviors you want to ask her to change first.

I see your brother as a separate issue. I'd suggest giving yourself time to figure out how you feel, be patient with yourself. Try writing down what and how you feel about him and the things he's done. Writing it down can work as a type of self-therapy for untangling your own confused feelings. Sometimes it takes a lot of writing and a lot of time but there's no one judging what you write. You've got nothing to lose by trying, right? Ask yourself if you can be patient and content with what your brother can give you right now, in this moment, as if he was a stranger without the painful past. Ask yourself what might happen if he comes to visit and try to think of ways you can help yourself cope, or defuse, or avoid things that might come up and trigger the anger and pain, his and yours. Sometimes you have to find a way to leave all the wounds alone for a while before they'll ever be ready for examination, if they ever are. Try to set aside the idea of getting the understanding and dependability you want from him now and find a way to just take him as he is, moment by moment. Look to the other people in your life who are understanding and dependable to meet those needs. You do have people in your life who care about you? Let them help you cope. Because from the little that you said I'm thinking that your brother may not be capable of giving you what you want right now. That doesn't mean he doesn't care about you, it may only mean that he has too many problems, too many wounds, himself to see anyone else clearly enough to offer more.

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