Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

i feel like a 3rd wheel when i'm with my sister and husband.

Home Forums Get Advice, Give Advice i feel like a 3rd wheel when i'm with my sister and husband.

Viewing 12 posts - 37 through 48 (of 48 total)
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  • #854307 Reply

    This is a lot of words and updates for something that is pretty easily resolved. The picture is fully painted at this point. We get it.

    1. Move out. Even if you’re out of their way and giving them space as much as possible, there’s an different level of emotional energy that pervades a multi-family household like yours. Sure, you’re helping with the mortgage, but they will be fine without you. This is the easiest way to release the pressure on this situation which is why so many ppl have mentioned it.
    2. Talk to your sister. Request “sister only” time. I’d do it when you tell her you’re planning to move out, or maybe after you move out. Be upbeat, kind, and specific in your requests. Maybe get together with both your sisters at once. Set up a group chat with just them where you can share inside jokes, discuss your lives, and get excited about spending time together, etc.

    This isn’t nearly as big of a deal as you think it is. Most ppl have given you this exact advice. Follow it and then update us.

    #854309 Reply

    Man. y’all are brutal. She’s got fifty eleven people telling her the same damn thing and she already agreed with y’all fifty leven times. stop trying to make her out to be a villain. not everybody agrees with y’all either. she ain’t completely wrong.

    #854313 Reply

    Move out now, as you patently do not like your sister’s partner. Why should he have to share his living space, with his new wife, and their busy life, with someone who patently dislikes his company and feels rivalrous of him for his siblings attentions? I totally get that you might want to spend alone time with your sister if she is also one of your best friends, but that would be so very much easier to arrange if you moved out- and that’s the point to make it clear you mean her alone, when you arrange meetings, just explain that you want to spend time with just her, can’t see why that would be a problem for anyone. My sister in law stayed with us for a while and I absolutely adore her but my partner and I had so little free time as self employed people if she had demanded half of it just for her I’d have been well cross. And she’d never ever have expected it.

    #854355 Reply

    Oh LW, I feel you- it’s tough when a loved one has a very different framework for balancing family/friend time with relationship time. I have brothers who live in other states, so when they got married it was pretty much over for us getting alone time. I love their wives, and I enjoy the dynamic when we’re all together, but there’s always a loss there. It’s okay to just acknowledge that and feel sad about it.

    I agree about asking specifically for sister time sometimes. Another thing that might help is to be as open and forthright with both of them as you would be with just your sister. So if you want sister time because you want some support with your dating life, or to reminisce about old memories, or talk about your saga to find the right birth control… just go there. Sometimes being a third wheel feels like a burden because you censor yourself or act differently around the less familiar party, when really there’s no need. I’ve done this when going through a breakup – my friend’s boyfriend had to hear ALLL about it. Turned out to be great having his support as well! In other words, treat your brother in law with the same familiarity you treat your sister with, and it may stop feeling like such an intrusion to have him around.

    #854372 Reply

    The reason to move out is to preserve your relationship.

    Roommate relationships are often filled with little bits of annoyance that build over time until you have a split where at least one of you doesn’t like the other and often the relationship never recovers. Especially if you are younger and she is a bit older. At first she will see you as the kid sister and not mind any extra work she may do because you are there. But, as time goes by she will be expecting you to show greater and greater maturity and if she isn’t seeing it she will start to be annoyed by things you may do that you have always done that have never appeared to be a problem. Instead of being indulgent because you are just a kid she will begin to feel used because you aren’t a kid, you are an adult and at the same age she wasn’t getting all of the help. Especially if your presence is hurting her marriage. She will compare what you are doing to what she was doing at the same age. If you are requiring more help and support than she ever got then she will likely become resentful.

    I’m sure you will say that you help with lots of things. That could very well be true and yet it’s the annoying little things that stay on the mind and build resentment. It can be anything, like leaving clothes in the dryer for someone else to fold. My son did that one a lot. It can be leaving a mess of hair in the shower, my daughter did that one a lot. My husband leaves bits of raspberry on the stove every morning and that is getting old. When my daughter cooked or baked she cleaned up after herself but not as well as I would have liked and almost always there were sticky spots on the floor which I would find with my bare feet. These kinds of things build resentment.

    A relationship is like a bank account. To be good there must be more positive than negative. All of the little things that wear it down take money out of the account. The good feelings put money in the account. You need about five times more good than bad to keep your account positive. Once you have too much negative it is incredibly hard to recover. When the point of view is positive you will spin things in your head in a more positive way but when you are unhappy you spin them in a more negative way and apply negative motives to the person. You can see that in your descriptions about your BIL. You assign negative reasons to the things he does because you don’t actually like him very much.

    As much as possible you need to keep yourself in the positive with your sister. Your living situation is already inclined to tip it to the negative. That’s one reason why you shouldn’t be asking your sister for birthday gifts that cost more than what they spend on gifts. It gives an overall feeling of entitlement and could definitely start feelings of being used and resentment about you not respecting how hard they work to earn their money and no sense that they have other responsibilities. I hope that you are at least intending to pay your own way to Vegas. If not, you give an impression of wanting her to go just so that you get a free ride. The same for going out with her. I hope that when you and your sister go out to eat that you are paying for your own meal. If you aren’t then you give the impression that you want to go out with her so that you can eat for free. Since you are living with your sister she is providing financial support that you say you can’t get along without. When inviting her to do something you should offer to pay. That goes a long way to say that it isn’t about getting something out of her, like a meal, but that you want to spend some time with her and that you are grateful for her providing you with a home.

    Are you and your sister ever home alone, just the two of you? Can’t you talk and catch up at those times? Make going out an occasional, special thing, your treat. Does it always have to be this thing where the two of you go out to a restaurant? Sometimes when you are tired you just want to put your feet up and relax and someone demanding that you go out is just that, demanding. It becomes an annoyance. One more chore on the list of things that have to get done. Try to make spending time with your sister easier for her rather than harder. Try to take away any burden. Try to not be demanding.

    #854380 Reply

    Let me explain why you wanting her to go to Vegas for your birthday can feel entitled from her end.

    It means you feel entitled to choose the location of her vacation. You feel entitled to choose the date of her vacation. You feel entitled to some of her vacation time. You feel entitled to ask for her vacation budget be at least partly spend on your wishes. You are also angry that she is bringing her husband. You feel entitled to choose who she spends her time with on her vacation.

    I think that at the root of it all you want your sister to prove to you that she loves you more than her husband. You were her sister before he was her husband. The two of you lived together before he moved in. You want her to prove that she will spend her money and time on you and leave him behind. If she has any sense of that she will definitely keep bringing him along because she will be trying to get the message across that they are now partners and you need to accept it. If she senses that you want him to go away she will keep bringing him just to prove that it won’t happen. If you don’t get the message that he is now her chosen, primary family she will begin to lose patience.

    In life, when someone marries their spouse becomes their most important, closest relationship. Their spouse is their chosen, lifetime partner. Their parents and siblings become secondary. That doesn’t mean that they don’t still love their parents and siblings and the BILs and SILs and nieces and nephews that come into the family. It’s that at the core of their life their spouse is the primary family.

    Look at it this way. When your parents got married they became each others primary family. Then they had kids. Draw a large circle with your parents and each of their kids within the circle. That’s the original primary family. Now both of your sisters are married. Within that original circle add the names of the BILs below the sister’s names and draw a circle around each sister and her husband. Those smaller circles around each sister and her husband shows their current immediate family and yet those smaller circles are still within the bigger family circle. If and when you marry you will have your own primary circle within your parent’s larger circle. For the time being you are in your parent’s primary circle but you are not in either sister’s primary circle. You are still there in their important family but no longer primary.

    #854395 Reply

    I think Skyblossom has put it perfectly. And in a much kinder way than I did, sorry LW.

    #854396 Reply

    Yes. He is her primary person.

    #854400 Reply

    I think not enough emphasis to sister married only recently. Most newlyweds I’ve known were focused very strongly upon each other. It was a time for further meeting of each other’s broader family and friend group, but done as a couple. They have work, likely with limited vacation and are getting by on starting-level salaries. This is a time of life where vacation time and money are scarce. I remember the pull of families, when we were newly married. I had two weeks vacation for the year, my wife had one. That time was precious and rationed.

    #854402 Reply

    So I see I’m really late to the party and you’ve responded already a couple times, but here are my off the cuff thoughts:

    Like you noted, your sister is married, her spouse comes first. Personally, I’m not about to take time off from work and spend money traveling for fun without him. Unless we’re talking like a short overnight girls trip. Anything more than that, we’ll there’s limited time and money I. The world, I want to spend both with him. That’s why I married him.

    When it comes to smaller things, have you tried just being direct? Hey I want some sister time, can we go to dinner just the two of us? Her default is now to include him as part of the package deal, which is why she is inviting him along all the time. That said, while it’s the default that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be happy to switch it up upon request, at least sometimes. So request time for just the two of you when you want it, and assume if you don’t make it explicit the assumption is he’s invited too.

    #854404 Reply

    Okay I’m caught up, and I can see everyone gave the same advice and you didn’t necessarily like it.

    Just a few points: you say you shouldn’t have to make it explicit you only want to hang out with her only, that you would never assume that, your other sister doesn’t assume that, but my dear, we love in the world as it is not as we wish it to be. Every relationship is different, in this relationship your sister assumes her husband can come along. Your opinion on whether not she should assume that is irrelevant, this is where she’s at. You know that, so you can either continue to seethe silently about how she’s wrong, or you can accept that this default assumption is the reality, and respond accordingly. Personally the latter seems easier to me.

    Secondly – you also mentioned that her relationship with her husband shouldn’t be more a priority than her relationship to you, just different, and again my dear, that’s wrong. Her relationship with you is less important now compared to her marriage. She made a a legally binding commitment and stood up in friend of friends, family, maybe god if that’s her deal and said he was her number one person. You are less important. It sucks when our friends and family get married and we get bumped down the priority pole, but it is life.

    That’s not to say you’re not a priority at all, but if you put her in a position to choose between you and him, she should rightfully choose him.

    #854766 Reply

    My advice is to move out. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. You don’t like this guy yet you live with him. My other advice is to ask her to do something one on one with you for some “sister time”. Have you tried this? I do this with my sister. This is what I say: Want to go do something just you and I? No kids no husbands? Not something like a trip to Vegas which some people would never do without their spouse, but meet her for lunch or an afternoon out. Try this once every other month or so. See what she says.

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