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Celebrity agony aunt Anne Gildea: You’re stuck with your sister-inlaw so make an effort

Q: I got married a few months ago to a great guy. He’s really close to his only brother - they’re the best of friends.

Naturally enough, my husband wants me and his brother's wife to be pals too.The thing is, I can't stand the woman. We don't really have anything in common -- I like more cultural things such as the theatre, visiting art galleries and going to small music gigs, whereas she just seems interested in spending her own and her husband's money on endless shopping trips and spa breaks.

Her idea of culture is sitting down with a stackload of trashy celebrity magazines.

More than that, she's loud, crude and drinks way too much. Honestly, I'm mortified for her at family dos as she packs away bottles of white wine and starts shooting her mouth off, cracking dirty jokes at everyone's expense, including mine.

My husband and his brother laugh it off as if it's just her charming way, but her behaviour sets my teeth on edge.

Since I got married, she's been making a big effort for us to become best friends -- trying to nail me down for weekends away and 'girls' nights out' (which are my idea of hell), and she invites me to watch soap operas and trashy reality TV, all while guzzling a bottle or two of wine, of course.

My husband has asked me to make an effort with her, but I really don't think I can put up with this woman. How do I handle this situation?


A: Marriage, huh? On the one hand, you have the adventure of commitment — the intimacy of someone saying ‘yes' to going body, soul and the whole shebang along life's path with you.

A partner to reflect, challenge and share your life's experience; a best friend in times of trouble; a titter chum who gets your jokes; a long-time loyal lover; someone to support and be supported and cherished in both capacities; a father to the children you may have.

Someone who cares when you find a spider in the bath; someone at hand to deal with the spider in the bath; someone who opens up the prism of your perception with the ongoing light of their present being. And oh, shite, darn it, bloody in-laws come with the package? Get what I'm saying?

Hey, question: what do you think life's all about? To strive towards a point where everything is just hunky dory and as you like it? Is the point to get to a place where, when you glance around, you just see a panorama of everything that suits you? Is it to muster up a smorgasbord of only the things that you find tasty? (Is it to endlessly mix metaphors?) Or is it an unfolding unpredictable adventure, whose ultimate purpose is that you evolve and make peace with the fact you can't have it all your own way — the realisation that even as life may give you endless double hooks, as well as times that are like the ultimate spa treatment in the most preposterously perfect spa, your job is to evolve an acquaintance with that core of your being that doesn't waiver, through good and bad, likes and dislikes, husband and irritating sisters-in-law.

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Know what I'm on about?

Basically, chill. Fact: She's in your life, like it or not. So find out what's to like about her. Hey, I like all the things you mention — theatre, visiting art galleries and going to small music gigs — and I'm not a natural ‘shopper', etc. But I love occasionally hanging with people who relish a snuffle round the shops; who enjoy “trashy celebrity magazines” and “trashy reality TV”.

There's craic to be hand in trash! Double craic if you share it with someone who has a genuine penchant for that kind of thing. It doesn't mean you've to be best buds. I'm just saying that perhaps you can find things to enjoy about her company. I would suggest you actively attempt that when it is essential you be in her presence. Meanwhile, boundaries! You don't have to create a charade of being best friends with her if you don't want to. She's an in-law. Decorum requires you be polite, open and present in her company, that's it. Finally, I ran your problem by a chum who I know had a sister-in-law she absolutely loathed. She just got on with it; never particularly stopped loathing the woman. And at the end of the day, she was absolutely delighted the day they divorced. Don't know if that helps. Namaste!

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