Wading through family dynamics can be difficult enough without spite being thrown into the mix.
For anyone with a spiteful sister-in-law, you know all too well how carefully you often feel you must tread just to keep the peace.
Every interaction is laced with subtext and implications, with your sister-in-law looking for ways to undermine you or assert dominance.
While her behavior may seem baffling or hurtful, reacting with spite or anger will likely only make the situation worse.
Instead, the high road of calm restraint, empathy and setting clear boundaries may be the safest path, however delicate, to navigating this complicated relationship.
I’ll discuss some strategies for dealing with a spiteful sister-in-law without sinking to her level or causing new rifts in the family.
#1. Focus On The Solution, Not The Problem
There is no pleasure in constantly mulling over problems in your mind. Once you have established that there is an issue and have begun working towards a solution, make this your primary focus.
Your life will be much happier if you only focus on the positive aspects.
An action plan to achieve an ideal solution will help you with this. By focusing on the solution, you are putting positive and constructive energy into the universe.
This is a form of manifestation, and people believe this will help your dreams to become a reality.
#2. Avoid Emotional Outbursts
When someone is making hurtful remarks, it can be tempting to lash out in anger.
However, reacting with an emotional outburst will only make matters worse and create a more tense environment.
Instead of giving into the urge to retaliate, take a deep breath and try to stay as calm as possible.
This will help you maintain control of the situation and avoid any further hurtful words or actions.
#3. Set Boundaries
If your sister-in-law does not look like she will change her behavior, you must take matters into your own hands. Limit contact with her if she is constantly critiquing your behavior or thoughts.
Unfriend her on social media, or hide her posts from your timeline. There is no reason to subject yourself to unnecessary mental anguish.
Operate a zero-tolerance policy for her behavior. Once you have explained clearly and calmly why you don’t like something, do not allow her to repeat it.
If she does, remove yourself from the situation or shut her comments down instantly. Do not argue with her. Just move on.
#4. Sit Down For An Adult Conversation
Discussing issues calmly as they arise is important to prevent serious problems from forming. Try to organize an adult discussion about your issues with your sister-in-law’s behavior.
It is a good idea to have someone else there to act as a mediator, say a friend or your partners.
#5. Try To Ignore Her
If your sister-in-law hurls insults left, right, and center, she is likely just looking to annoy you. In such cases, the best course of action is simply ignoring her remarks.
If she does not get the rise she is looking for, eventually, she will become bored with her behavioral patterns and hopefully cease to be two-faced.
#6. Talk To Your Partner
Your sister-in-law is your partner’s sister, so they will know her better than you do. Talk to your partner about what their sister is saying and doing to you and how it makes you feel.
If she is two-faced, your partner will likely react surprised as they are unfamiliar with this behavior from their sister.
Explain the situation calmly and logically to your partner, and try to come up with a solution to work through the issues. This may be your partner having a private word with their sister, or it may be a case of limiting contact with them.
Whatever the outcome, it is crucial to make this a joint decision with your partner to work through the problem together.
When dealing with family issues, it is vitally important that you and your partner are singing from the same hymn sheet. Many emotions are involved in situations like this, and unity is important to minimize sustained hurt.
#7. Try To Understand Where The Attitude Is Coming From
Be compassionate towards your sister-in-law. She may be jealous of you and your partner’s relationship and lash out because she feels inadequate.
There are many reasons people get an attitude, but it usually stems back to feelings of personal dissatisfaction.
Ask her why she is behaving in this way. Is there something that you could help with? Is she jealous of how well you handle the demands of kids while she struggles?
A kind word and a helping hand can go a long way. People often lash out when overwhelmed, and she may not know how to ask for help.
#8. Always Be Nice
No matter who is around, try and be nice. Be positive and calm, and ensure you treat your sister-in-law with respect. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and being pleasant will always get you further than being hostile or aggressive.
If your sister-in-law has an issue with you, it will be much harder to take digs if you are always kind to her.
#9. Play Dumb
When someone is trying to provoke you, it can be hard to ignore the insults and remain composed.
If your sister-in-law is making hostile comments, try responding with a simple, “I don’t understand. What do you mean by that?”
This type of response will demonstrate that you’re not engaging in her attempt to get a rise out of you.
By asking her to explain herself, she may realize that her words are unnecessary and unhelpful and will be less likely to continue the argument. Additionally, this response allows you to gain more clarity on the issue while also demonstrating your composure.
#10. Don’t Look For Their Approval
There is little point in seeking their approval if they have a track record of being mean or condescending. Find confidence in yourself and work to make your sense of achievement validation enough.
You do not need the approval of someone who constantly puts you down. If you remain positive and continue working on yourself, you will always succeed.
If your sister-in-law is a narcissist then she is unlikely ever to commend you on your achievements, and you will be waiting for her approval.
#11. Don’t Try And Explain Yourself To Them
If this is a consistent issue and your two-faced sister-in-law criticizes your every move, it is futile to argue back. A much more worthwhile use of your time is to remind yourself of your self-worth.
Remain confident in your decisions, and remember that you do not need to justify them to anyone else.
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Jon Dulin is the passionate leader of Unfinished Success, a personal development website that inspires people to take control of their own lives and reach their full potential. His commitment to helping others achieve greatness shines through in everything he does. He’s an unstoppable force with lots of wisdom, creativity, and enthusiasm – all focused on helping others build a better future. Jon enjoys writing articles about productivity, goal setting, self-development, and mindset. He also uses quotes and affirmations to help motivate and inspire himself. You can learn more about him on his About page.