Dilemma: my family don't like my wife

Katharine Whitehorn / 23 June 2016

A reader feels that his wife has become the black sheep of the family and is disliked by his siblings and their partners.



Dilemma: my siblings don't like my wife

I am the oldest of six siblings and we were a close-knit family. 

However, problems began once my brothers married; their wives seem to take a dislike to my wife. 

Unfortunately my brothers now seem to have adopted a similar attitude and the present position is that my wife and I tend to distanced ourselves from them – eg, make excuses not to attend family gatherings. 

From your experience do you find that there are families similar to the one have described?

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

‘All happy families resemble one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ So said Tolstoy. I’m not sure I agree with the first half of that, but the second is true enough: when each one of a family marries an outsider, there are bound to be discrepancies in what the couple likes, expects, loathes. 

I can see why you stay away from family gatherings with the whole lot of them, but they can’t be all the same: it would be worth trying to meet one or two of your brothers on their own; you might be able to find to if there’s anything that upsets him – are you and your wife more restrained about your feelings, more strict about children, more against this or that? 

Or the other way round: do they see you as less involved with hard work and difficulties than they are at their age? Or old fashioned? 

None of these things ought to estrange families from each other, but they do; it would be worth trying to get a bit closer to one or two of your brothers’ families even if you’ll never be happy friends with them all.

Read more of Katharine Whitehorn's answers to dilemmas here

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