A Hateful Brother-in-Law

By Amy Dickinson | April 26th, 2024

After 20 years in the family, his rudeness continues

An unhappy man, representing the hateful brother-in-law who has angered the family. Image by Nick Peters

“Shocked” has had it with her hateful brother-in-law, who has become even more abrasive after 20 years in the family. What does advice columnist Amy Dickinson suggest?

Dear Amy:

My brother-in-law of 20 years has always been rude, hateful, disrespectful and in a perpetual bad mood. My sister always made excuses for his bad behavior and so my family “turned the other cheek” and treated him with love and kindness, anyway.

One day at a party I overheard my brother-in-law telling his friend how he never liked me or my family. He then proceeded to make fun of us.

A few days later I confronted him and my sister about it. My brother-in-law confessed to hating me and my family. He said we had done nothing bad to him personally – he just hated us.

My sister knew how he felt all along and now she’s acting like it’s not a big deal.

We don’t want anything to do with my brother-in-law ever again.

We are all feuding, and I don’t know what to do or how to save my relationship with my sister over this betrayal.

– Shocked

Dear Shocked:

Your reaction to this insult seems to blame your sister – presumably for tolerating her husband’s long-standing hatred and disrespect of your family.

Your sister is not responsible for her husband’s atrocious behavior. But it seems as if he has pulled the pin on a grenade and tossed it into the middle of your family.

You might look on this weird episode of brutal honesty as a liberation of sorts. You are under no obligation to spend time with him, interact with him, or worry about his estimation of you. Declining to spend time with him will relieve him of any obligation or expectation to be in the presence of people he hates.

In this context, “turning the other cheek” might translate into accepting that your sister has chosen to be with him and seems to be staying with him.

Perhaps you could adopt a loving and understanding attitude toward her. Her situation does not sound easy.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a hateful brother-in-law to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2024 by Amy Dickinson

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