Advicereality check

Reality Check

I have been married for three years. My wife and I dated for several years prior to that, and our relationship is fantastic. The one thing that is difficult in our lives is family. Her brother and I are the same age, we went to the same high school, and we were not friends. I have nothing against him; it’s just that we did not travel in the same circles, have never had the same interests, etc. He was popular enough and I was popular enough, neither of us were the Big Man on Campus or anything. We were always cordial. This was years and years ago. We are both in our 30s now.

The thing is, my mother-in-law cannot fathom why we aren’t buddies. We went to a huge school and had completely different interests, and since then our lives have gone on different paths. I am not saying one is better than the other, but it is obvious that she wishes he were more like me. This is a very stressful situation for many reasons. She is not very subtle about the fact that she thinks I have done better than he has, and whenever we are all together she makes a point of talking about how well I am doing at work, how much money I make (not that she knows exactly, but she can tell we are doing well because we bought a house and go on vacations and stuff) and how much he should “just try harder†to be like me.

The fact is that he has never been book smart, but he is smart in his own way and he has a good job. He doesn’t have a wife and, right now, not even a girlfriend, but he’s a good-looking guy and he is super nice. He recently got dumped by a woman who I didn’t think was good enough for him anyway, and now my mother-in-law’s dream of more grandchildren is on hold. This situation is really embarrassing.
I like the guy a whole lot, and he and my wife used to be very close, but I’m starting to feel like the pressure of the situation is driving a wedge between all of us. I want to tell my mother-in-law to shut the hell up and accept her son for who he is because he is a great guy with a lot to offer. They live in a smallish town, and he has fewer opportunities to meet “the right girl†anyway, and I think she is killing what little confidence he had left.

What can I do? I don’t want him to resent me, and I don’t feel like I can tell her to stop it because I don’t want her to get mad at me in the process. The whole thing is really making me stressed out and depressed. I love my wife and her brother, but I think I’m going to strangle their mother if this doesn’t stop. What should I do?


I think this one is going to have to fall on your wife, Helpless. You are in the precarious position of being family, but not blood. And as much as this woman obviously loves and admires you and wishes her son were more like you, if you put her in her place (or even try to tell her how it really is) you may end up pissing her off and ruining your relationship forever. Her daughter, on the other hand, is flesh and blood, so she has to be forgiven. Talk to your wife and plead with her to put a stop to this. Surely, if she is (or at least was) close to her brother, she must see how crappy this is for him. She has got to have a talk with her mother and tell her to stop bullying the guy and embarrassing you in the process. Making him feel like crap isn’t going to help his self-esteem or get him another girlfriend.

In the meantime, you should do your best to make sure that your relationship with him is a s solid as possible. Don’t let resentment build when you have nothing to do with this. Go out and get a beer with him sometime, or invite him over when the whole family isn’t coming along. Make sure he knows you are on his side and keep things cool between you.

I am engaged to marry the best guy ever. We have been together a few years, and everything between us is perfect. I have never been so happy or felt so good about my future. The one thing that is getting difficult, as our wedding day approaches, is that his mother keeps mentioning “all the grand-babies†that we are going to have. The thing is, I do not want and have never wanted kids. I have no intention of having ANY CHILDREN—EVER. My fiancé is fine with this. We have discussed it at length, and I have told him that he has got to be absolutely certain because I am not going to change my mind. I am 30 and I have done my best to keep from getting pregnant for my entire adult life. Now I don’t know what to say to the future in-laws, because the subject keeps coming up, and I can’t take it anymore. I don’t want to offend anybody, but I want her to stop talking about it. Any advice on how to drop this bomb?

Not a Mama

How you approach this depends on your relationship with his mom. If you are relatively comfortable with her and you’re just worried about her disappointment, then you should just say it. Next time she mentions the “grand-babies,†you can say, “Actually, we’re not going to have kids.†Hopefully, even if she doesn’t understand she will at least respect you enough to let it go. If you think this is an unlikely reaction, then ask your husband to have the talk with her sometime when you’re not around. It may take her some time, but she will get over it.