After three years of dating, I got engaged to the most wonderful man. I love his family and I was thrilled when early in our relationship I found out that he has a sister. I'm very easygoing and she and I have always gotten along. That is, until my fiancé and I announced our recent engagement. She was very sweet at first and excited on our behalf, even inviting me to go try on wedding dresses. When we went a few weeks back, she was making digs about how they looked on me, making comments about my body, and comparing everything to her own dress and wedding (her wedding was years ago). I tried to take it with a grain of salt and assumed she was just in a bad mood or feeling envious that the attention was off of her for an afternoon. She even considered trying on a dress (thankfully she didn’t).
Since then, every interaction has been a relentless onslaught of backhanded compliments and passive aggressive undertones about my looks, the food I make, the wedding venue, my planning of the wedding, you name it. Just yesterday she commented on my pants and said she has the same pair "but they fit a bit better" on her. What?! My fiancé is close with his family and we see them about once a week. After some consideration, I decided to bring it up with my fiancé. He was understanding and has struggled with her in similar ways – being overbearing etc. He supports me and says he will speak to her if I want, or stand up for me if it happens in front of him ... it hasn't yet. It seems like this is a girl everyone has spent their lives tiptoeing around. I'm disappointed that my relationship with her has devolved into me sitting back, biting my tongue for the sake of civility. I would like to address it but worry I'll snap and say something I'll regret. Right now I'm keeping my distance, but we're bound to see each other soon. If these comments continue, what should I do?
– Sister in loathe
I don't know that I'd have your fiancé step in on your behalf. Sometimes it makes sense to have partners deal with their own family, but in this case, it might help to address these comments on your own. You want to make it clear to this woman that you can take care of yourself. You can tell her that it's hard to know how to interpret her opinions. You can explain that weddings are stressful, and that as much as you're excited about yours, you'd rather not talk about it. If you take a few deep breaths before you speak, you probably won't snap.
You can also take breaks. You shouldn't be required to go to every single one of these family events if they make you feel awful. Right now, you might need a little more space. You should talk to your fiancé about how you can take care of each other by allowing for some absences.
Know that this could get a bit better after the wedding is over. Weddings are a lot of pressure, depending on size. There are many decisions to make and a lot of people with opinions. After the date has passed, there will be new things to think about, but perhaps you can revisit some of the nice moments you had with her before the engagement. You had three years of good times with her. Consider your post-wedding relationship something to look forward to.
Readers? What would you say to this future sister-in-law?