In a perfect world, your sister-in-law will accommodate you into your partner's family with open arms, without questioning whether you are worthy enough to be their sibling's wife, sizing you up and consistently having a critical eye that's always judging behind the brightest of smiles. But this is not a perfect world, and many of us cannot help but have our guards up towards our sibling in laws that can make us feel as though we are under constant assessment. Here are a few good ways of dealing with sister-in-laws with various personality tendencies.
This is the kind of in-law that will tell you how you can raise your children better and offer various other pieces of advice that you really didn't care to know.
The marriage and family therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic in Troy, Michigan, Carrie Krawiec, explained, “This is a boundary. I would teach her how you want feedback from her (you can say ‘could you just put this in an email or text,’ where you can just delete it) or you can tell her that you learn better from encouragement, not criticism, and can she focus on what is going well. She likely needs to feel like an expert and feel heard. Show her you are listening, and maybe even seek her advice for certain issues that she is actually an expert on. If her need to be an expert or be heard is met, then you probably won't be overwhelmed by this feedback all of the time.”
Irregardless of what it is you do or how you do it, the one-upper will never fail to insist that she can do a far better job than you ever will.
Krawiec says, “In this scenario she likely feels more insecure than you do. One upping is about perceived competition. If you are not in competition with her, who really cares if she is competing with you?”
The Debbie Downer
This kind of sister-in-law is forever looking at the negative side of situations.
Krawiec said, “Mostly just ignore this behaviour. If you try to turn her head toward the positive, you may just get in a tug of war, and she will get more negative as you get more positive. Your attention is reinforcing, and if you get involved with this debate, you are just giving attention that may make her more likely to behave this way. Negatives are like stray cats: If you stop feeding them, they go away.”
It could be that she's the big-time family baby or the only girl in the family. Either way, it's always about her.
Krawiec states that “A great resource for dealing with narcissists is … TheWizard of Oz and Other Narcissists by Eleanor Payson,” saying that the book is a total breath of fresh air for anyone that finds themselves cemented in a relationship that is totally one-sided, whether this is with sisters-in-law, friends or significant others. It helps you to learn about how to deal with this whilst strengthening your self-confidence.