Wife agitated over sister-in-law's behavior

FresnoJune 8, 2014 

Dear Amy: My husband and I were the primary caregivers for my mother-in-law. His sister moved out of state and came for visits during the summer and the holidays, but would not help with the care of her mother.

We were the ones who fielded emergency calls and saw to her needs. I did the cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. I would help her bathe. We also took care of our grandchild part time and helped my own mother.

After my mother-in-law passed away and it was time to empty her house, I told my husband there were a few kitchen items that I would like to have. I put four items I wanted onto the kitchen counter.

My sister-in-law showed up, took one look and said, "Those are mine," and took them!

I looked at my husband and he said, "Don't say anything." He doesn't like confrontation, and I am the type of person who would rather say something and clear the air.

Now he gets upset when I don't want to see, talk or have anything to do with his sister.

I told him that I feel that it was a slap in the face to me that she took these kitchen items I wanted and he stayed silent. I feel I am justified to feel this way, and my husband says to let it go. Am I wrong?

— Angry

Dear Angry:

You get to feel however you feel. However, at some point, you should work on resolving your feelings in order to move forward and not stay in this angry and bitter place.

You say you are someone who likes to clear the air, and so it is your job — not his — to clear it. You should convey to your sister-in-law verbally or in writing, "I was very disappointed in your behavior after your mother's death."

Dear Amy: My mother-in-law gave me $75 to pay for my birthday dinner at a restaurant (she was not able to attend the small gathering).

I didn't thank her right away and was going to thank her the next time that I saw her. She called me and said she was upset that I didn't call her right away to thank her.

Is it proper for her to do that? Does she have the right to make people thank her? I think she is being controlling.

— Controlled

Dear Controlled: Your mother-in-law isn't forcing you to thank her. She is saying she was upset that you did not thank her. If stating your own feelings, ("I'm upset …") is controlling, then how is someone supposed to express herself?

It takes two minutes to pick up the phone to thank someone for her kindness.


You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamy@tribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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