Dear Coleen: I feel pushed out of my own family by needy sister-in-law

Dear Coleen

I’m embarrassed about this problem as it sounds petty, but here goes!

My brother met his now wife just over three years ago and, at first, I got on really well with her. She made a huge effort with me and we had nights out together and were as thick as thieves for a while. She always told me she never wanted to get married, as that kind of thing wasn’t important, but then had a huge showy wedding at (mostly) my parents’ expense.

She also said she wasn’t interested in having kids as her career came first. Then she had a baby and there’s another on the way. She’s become “mother earth” and talks about parenting all the time, even though she knows my boyfriend and I have ­struggled to have children and have had several failed rounds of IVF. We also decided to put our wedding on hold to focus on the fertility treatment.

She’s become insanely competitive about everything – houses, cars, friends, clothes – and I feel completely smothered by her, as if she’s taking over my entire family.

I’ve never spoken to anyone about how I feel in case they think I’ve gone mad, but can you help?

Coleen says

My initial reaction is that your ­sister-in-law is insecure, hence the competitiveness. She wants to succeed at everything, be liked by everyone and be the star of the show.

You’re hurting, so I think you should talk to your family. I know from friends who’ve gone through IVF that it’s incredibly stressful, both emotionally and physically. I don’t think you are being petty and sometimes it’s OK to sit there and feel sorry for yourself because life does feel unfair ­sometimes.

You’re going through a lot and you’ve got this woman in your life, who claims not to want all this stuff yet it comes so easily to her. It’s annoying.

Have you thought about speaking to her? You could say that while you’re happy for her and your brother, you feel she’s a bit insensitive sometimes and you’re struggling because you are desperate to be a parent yourself.

But whatever she’s got, she’ll never take your place in the family – you’re the daughter and your parents will never love another woman coming into the family as much as they love you. Reach out to your parents and
let them give you some love and reassurance.

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