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Puzzled and offended by SIL's behavior

Discussion in 'Relationship With In-Laws' started by stumped, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. stumped

    stumped New IL'ite

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    Here's my story. My wife and I have been happily married for over 7 years. We don't have any children yet but are planning to have a few (god willing -:)) in the next few years. We are quite well off here in the US as well as in India. We also have the option of having our kids here or in India and that is where my dilemma comes from.

    My relationship with my wife's parents (my in-laws) is pretty good. They have visited us here in the US and we have taken very good care of them (we took them to quite a few places around the country as well as abroad - South America).

    Both sets of parents (mine as well as my wife's) are very well off in India financially. However we have never asked them for any help money wise and we consider it to be a matter of principle that we do not take any money from parents. Our parents have also been principled and have not asked for any money from us. We do share resources (cars/drivers/houses) etc in the US/India but that is the extent of help so far.

    My dilemma arises from my SIL. My wife has only one sister who is younger to her. A few years ago she got married. It was a love marriage but my in-laws (her parents) are not aware of this since both my wife and I talked to them once she told us that she liked this person and wanted to marry him. My SIL stays with her husband and her husband's parents in India. She has had some problems with her in-laws but insists that her husband is nice. The husband did make some promises before the marriage (e.g., go abroad etc) but has not kept them. This does not really bother me much - its her life...

    Unfortunately there is something that is bothering both my wife and me in the last few months. We almost get the sense that our SIL and her husband want money from my wife's parents. Firstly they wanted my in-laws to invest money in some business venture. When this did not work they wanted to take over the in-laws house for some business venture. Fortunately my wife was able to tell them to back off. My in-laws do not usually say anything and they were Ok with the takeover of the house by the SIL and everything. But there were several fights between my wife and my SIL since my wife thought that SIL was invading the privacy of her parents.

    Now we have the option of my wife staying in India for atleast a duration of her pregnancy with delivery of the baby happening in India. She would be staying mostly at her parents place and I will be close by as well. Now my concerns are my SIL. I'm worried that she might start fighting with my wife needlessly causing a lot of stress and tension during her pregnancy. I'm also worried that my SIL's husband and in-laws might provoke her into fighting as well (SIL's in-laws have stated many times that they do not like the independent mindset of my wife).

    With this being the situation I would like some advice on approaching this delicate issue.

    1.) I do realize that staying in India close to her parents will be invaluable for my wife. However, I'm hesitant to step in if the SIL starts fighting since she is not a direct relative of mine and I really don't want to step into some family fight quagmire. So, should I just directly tell my in-laws about my concerns? I do have a good relationship with them but you know how it is with these delicate family issues in India.

    2.) I have noticed that my wife has to step in everytime to tell he SIL to back off. Why can't her parents take the initiative and tell the SIL and her husband to back off? Why do they find it so difficult to understand that there are really no limits to these kind of requests for money.

    Thanks
     
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  2. Spiderman1

    Spiderman1 Gold IL'ite

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    stumped,
    While this is not a full solution, can I suggest a start:

    Why dont you ask your wife to back off from getting in the middle of her sister-and-her-parents.

    1. Her parents are adults
    2. Her sister is their daughter as well, and they know her.

    Let them deal with it, whether they want to give money, whether they want to ask the SIL to back off, or let her invade their privacy etc.

    If your wife stops interfering in that, and just focusses on her own relationship with her parents and others, that will be 70% of the battle won RIGHT THERE.

    Just my :my2cents

    Your wife is trying to "protect her parents" from an "unfair sis" and that will only fuel the problems. Let adults (parents) directly in line of fire deal with it as they best see it fit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  3. JayDixit

    JayDixit Senior IL'ite

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    OP,

    I tend to agree on Spidey's suggestions. While you and your wife maybe well-off financially and your SIL/her husband are not , I don't see anything wrong in your SIL/her husband taking help from your in-laws. Again it all depends on how much is being asked and how much is being given. So several questions come to my mind.

    Are your in-laws going out of their way jeopardizing their financial situation ?

    Do you see your wife going overboard when it comes to having her sister "backoff" ?

    Is your SIL/her husband trying to milk your in-laws ?

    Do you think your wife has rightly assessed the situation before involving herself between your SIL and in-laws. ?

    Do you think you will able to play the role of a mediator and get your in-laws and SIL into confidence without getting into unnecessary arguements ?

    Do you think you will able to have an open conversation with your in-laws better than your wife ?

    You seem to be a sensible and a reasonable guy. Assess the situation thoroughly considering the above factors. I'm just giving you pointers.

    I think you and your wife need to focus more on the pregnancy and try to avoid any confrontrations with your SIL/her husband. Your in-laws should make sure your SIL be considerate to your wife during this time.

    Your SIL's in-laws really do not have a say in your wife's matters. But the difficulty lies in conveying this to the them!
     
  4. rosegirl

    rosegirl Bronze IL'ite

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    I completely understand your wife's perspective.She should think about these...

    1.If she is afraid that her sister will burn all the money in business and leave her parents in the lurch, her fears and valid and she should talk about it with her sister and make sure her sister makes an arrangement for the peaceful life of her parents.

    2.If she is afraid that her share of the property will also be used up in the business, again her fears are valid.She should ask her sister to give her share worth of money and then take over the assets with her parent's consent.

    But just opposing and opposing will only frustrate her sister, she is also a rightful owner for her parents property.If her parents want to help ur wife's sister, your wife should tell exactly whats bothering her and get a solution instead of blindly opposing.Starting a business is not a crime.

    Your wife wants something but not voicing it out and simply beating around the bush.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  5. Malyatha

    Malyatha Gold IL'ite

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    Excellent advice as always, Mr. Spiderman. :bonk

    The parents are old enough to 'protect themselves' and their 'privacy' from their daughter. If THEY were OK with their younger daughter's 'takeover' of THEIR house, then I don't really see how or why the elder daughter has to interfere in the issue and fight with her sibling. If she is afraid of her inheritance being squandered away, then that is something that she needs to address with her parents, not fight with her sister about.

    Her parents' money, their business.

    The OP's wife needs to focus on her own affairs, instead of interfering in her sister's and parents' business, if she wants to enjoy a peaceful time at her parents' house during such an important time in her life.

    Eh? Maybe they don't tell her off because it is THEIR money, THEIR daughter, and THEIR right to cater to (or not to cater to) their own child?
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  6. stumped

    stumped New IL'ite

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    Thanks much for all the advice. It clears up the issue and helps me look at this matter from a rational frame of mind. I had a conversation with my wife and here are her thoughts on some of these questions.

    Are your in-laws going out of their way jeopardizing their financial situation ?

    As per my wife giving up the house will jeopardize where her parents live in retirement. They have lived in the same house for over 15 years in the countryside and if they give up the house they would either have to move into a smaller house or construct a new house. Since they are in their late 60's that may not be very feasible and causes unwanted tension and health related problems so late in their life when they are almost retired. So their financial situation may not be jeopardized but their health and life in retirement will be severely affected - that is her opinion.

    Do you see your wife going overboard when it comes to having her sister "backoff" ?

    She doesn't go overboard but she is very firm as she is with me when she disagrees with something. I would say straightforward and blunt in the American way - we both went to school here and have worked here since then - so, we are both very straightforward when it comes to dealing with issues.

    Is your SIL/her husband trying to milk your in-laws ?

    Yes - my wife thinks that the SIL/her husband are trying to milk her parents. My wife thinks that it is the SIL's husbands actions that are leading to this milking. The SIL's husband lives with his parents and most of his salary goes to his parents. In addition the SIL's husbands parents have a daughter. They expect the SIL's husband to pay for things relating to their daughter and take care of her kids, etc. This does not leave much money over for anything for the SIL and husband. My wife thinks that due to this joint family issues the SIL/her husband are trying to milk her parents.

    Do you think your wife has rightly assessed the situation before involving herself between your SIL and in-laws. ?

    Her assessment is that if her parents give into giving money right now the requests will never stop and her parents will spend all of their retired life just giving money to the SIL/her husband which in turn is transferred to the SIL's husband's family.

    Do you think you will able to play the role of a mediator and get your in-laws and SIL into confidence without getting into unnecessary arguements ?

    I think I could but that could get very dicey - so I'm avoiding it.

    Do you think you will able to have an open conversation with your in-laws better than your wife ?

    Same here - I could but it might get very dicey. I'm really not good at this kind of thing especially in an Indian context.

    I have had a discussion with my wife and mentioned to her that we don't really need any of these family issues messing with our family life. A solution I have suggested is to give up all her property (inheritance) in India to her sister and just lead our lives. However she is apprehensive about doing that as well since she thinks that her parents will get pushed around anyways in retirement - what do you guys think?

    Thanks much for the responses....
     
  7. Malyatha

    Malyatha Gold IL'ite

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    As much as I can understand your wife's motivation and her protectiveness towards her parents, her behavior is only going to make the relationship between the siblings extremely difficult and troubled. In addition, it may even create problems for her with her own parents!

    Most parents - who have the means to do so - feel a natural inclination to provide economic outpatient care to a child that is financially struggling. Thus, this may be why her parents cater to the sister and do not object / refuse her requests for money and other financial assistance. Now, if your wife interferes in this issue and tries to interject herself into her parents' business, then, no matter how understandable her concerns / motivations are, she will be branded interfering and will have to draw flak from her sister / BIL for her actions. If you, in addition, try to involve yourself also in this fiasco in defense of your wife, then your SIL's husband will involve himself in defense of HIS wife and so on... do you see how ugly this could get? And all especially if her parents WANT to help their other daughter regardless of whether their desire is wise or not!

    So, my suggestion to your wife would be to talk to her parents about her sister's situation and to voice her concerns to them. Then, she should listen to her parents' response and accept their decision no matter what it is - even if she, personally, is against it. Thus, if her parents want to help their other daughter, even though they are fully aware of any obvious problems that may result in the future as a result of this decision, then she should quietly and respectfully accept it and leave it at that. This way, your wife would have had a chance to speak her mind and advice her parents against helping your SIL, without caring about their own well-being, AND, should things go wrong in the future, will not blame herself for not having tried to prevent this from happening.

    Then, she should stay out of this issue. Her butting out MAY improve her relationship with her sister and she may be able to guide the younger woman with practical advice on how to handle her sorry financial situation in ways other than asking her parents for money. Finally, your PILs will be able to handle their relationship with their other daughter without undue influence or interference from your wife and will have only THEMSELVES to blame if things don't work out and they end up in big trouble as a result of helping out their adult daughter, despite strong advice to the contrary.

    It is a very, very, very bad idea for your wife to directly confront her sister and to attempt to control her parents' relationship with her. The outside world, no matter how admirable her motives / intentions, will only see her as an interfering and controlling individual if she continues to fight her sister over these issues and attempts to parent her parents during this time. Does she really deserve such labels when all she is trying to do is to protect her parents' interests in the future?

    Family squabbles are awful and I really hope that your troubles will come to an end soon. Good luck!
     

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