After a week passed he called, the boyfriend again and told him that he was disappointed that he had not heard from him. The boyfriend stated that he was too busy to call him back. This angered my husband, who told him that he did not appreciate the excuse. This prompted the boyfriend to call my husband a racial slur and it led my sister-in-law not to come over for the holidays. I reached out to her to check on her, and she opened up about how stressed she was that there was disagreement between my husband and her boyfriend.
I organized a sit-down to try to resolve the differences. This did not go well as the boyfriend told my husband that he did not like him, that he did not want to be a part of our family, and that he thought that we were too sensitive when we explained that we were offended by the racial slur. He also proceeded to tell us that he himself has no family values. My sister-in-law is conflicted by her love for this man, and she refuses to see our concern and worry. I want to be supportive of her, but I do not want to have much of anything to do with her boyfriend. Please help! — Worried About SIL
The boyfriend sounds like a jerk at best, but I have to say: you and your husband have crossed the line of what’s appropriate here. Your husband asked the boyfriend to meet him to “discuss his intentions”? Really? Your husband is his sister’s brother, not her father, regardless of their age difference. And not only that, the boyfriend’s “intentions” are really not any of your husband’s business. His sister is 20, not 12. I get that she’s still very young and that you and your husband feel protective of her and concerned for her, but bypassing her and going straight to the boyfriend is not the way to show your concern. It’s disrespectful and it immediately puts the boyfriend on defense, as does an “organized sit-down” to “resolve differences.” A more appropriate way to handle and express your concern would be to talk with your SIL about what her intentions are and what her plans for the future are in regards to her boyfriend. Then, you could offer support in whatever way she might need.
Now that you and your husband have managed to alienate the boyfriend — who, again, doesn’t sound very charming, to say the least — you need to back off or you risk alienating your SIL, too, at a time when she probably needs your support the most. As you said, your SIL is conflicted by the love she has for this man. And even if their romantic relationship doesn’t last, he is going to be the father of her child. Regardless what your feelings for this man are — and it sounds like your husband has made those feelings quite clear — your SIL needs to retain a cordial relationship for the benefit of her unborn child. You and your husband can help by shifting your focus from grilling the boyfriend or telling him how much you dislike him and don’t want him to be part of your family to offering support to your SIL, such as helping her create a registry/list of baby items she’ll need, accompanying her to childbirth classes, spending time with her, asking her what her concerns are, and offering any financial guidance or assistance you can afford to. Also, don’t bad-mouth her boyfriend and don’t offer advice unless she asks for it. You’ve made your feelings known, and, if she wants to hear more about them, she’ll ask.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.