Prob­lem­atic wife

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

My brother, “Peter,” re­cently got mar­ried for the sec­ond time, to a woman named “Va­lerie.” As his el­der brother, I was quite happy for him that he had found some­one to spend his life with.

The prob­lem is with Va­lerie. She has never been par­tic­u­larly nice to me or our ex­tended fam­ily. I re­ally do not care whether she likes me, as long as my brother is happy, and I have ig­nored things she has done that one would con­sider in­sult­ing. I have al­ways ad­dressed her ap­pro­pri­ately and have kept quiet when around her.

Re­cently, we were at a fam­ily event. Ev­ery­one had a great time, or so I thought. As we were all leav­ing, Peter pulled me aside and told me how I had in­sulted Va­lerie be­cause I did not speak with her dur­ing the evening.

Well, I feel Va­lerie could have talked to me, just as I could have talked more to her. In re­al­ity, there is very lit­tle to say to her be­cause she can­not hold a con­ver­sa­tion. I was not in­sulted that she did not talk to me, as I don’t care.

But when Peter got home, he wrote me an email list­ing how I had in­sulted Va­lerie on ev­ery oc­ca­sion we’d been to­gether since he started dat­ing Va­lerie. Need­less to say, I was not happy with the email.

Here is an ex­am­ple of how I have in­sulted Va­lerie: When we went out for Peter’s bach­e­lor party with about 20 friends, Peter for­got to kiss Va­lerie good­bye. We were al­ready on our way, and I did not turn around so he could say good­bye to her.

Also, Va­lerie’s mother passed away two months be­fore the wed­ding. I did not at­tend the fu­neral or pay re­spects after the fu­neral. Va­lerie was deeply in­sulted by that. I was sick and did not say any­thing to her be­cause my brother was say­ing how she was con­stantly cry­ing. I did not say any­thing be­cause I did not want her to start cry­ing in front of me and the fam­ily (in a pub­lic place). In­ter­est­ing to note, when my fa­ther-in-law died six months prior, I never re­ceived any con­do­lences from her, nor did she at­tend the fu­neral. Both my wife and I did not care and never thought any­thing of her be­hav­ior.

Need­less to say, Va­lerie has caused a lot of trou­ble. My wife and I no longer want to be around this woman. This has de­stroyed my re­la­tion­ship with my brother. Any sug­ges­tions on how to fix this? It is ob­vi­ous that no mat­ter what I do, this woman will be in­sulted.

— Fam­ily Dy­nam­ics

I’ll grant you this: Va­lerie sounds de­mand­ing, dra­matic and more than a lit­tle self-in­volved. That said, I think you could have been more em­pa­thetic to her after her mother died. There’s noth­ing wrong with a per­son’s per­sis­tently cry­ing after los­ing a loved one. Your fear of tears shouldn’t have stopped you from be­ing there for a woman who was prac­ti­cally — and now is — fam­ily. Per­haps if you reach out to Va­lerie, apol­o­gize and tell her you’re sorry for her loss, things will smooth over enough for you and your wife to con­tinue hav­ing a cor­dial re­la­tion­ship with them. If for no other rea­son, try it for your brother’s sake.

I think you could have been more em­pa­thetic to her after her mother died. There’s noth­ing wrong with a per­son’s per­sis­tently cry­ing after los­ing a loved one.

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