71° Good Afternoon
71° Good Afternoon

Woman dreads seeing brother-in-law during the holidays

DEAR AMY: My husband and I are discussing Christmas Eve plans. Normally, his extended family comes to our home. It has been many years since I've had a decent relationship with his brother, but the last couple years have been especially bad. We haven't spoken to each other since he called me names during an argument I had with his wife. I apologized to his wife not long after the argument, and we now have a polite relationship. He never apologized for sticking his nose in an argument that didn't involve him, and for saying horrible things about me. My husband doesn't like him much either. I have a lot of anger toward him, and I find it impossible to talk to him. I really don't want him in my house anymore, especially at Christmas. My husband says it is rude to invite the rest of the family and not him. Also, if he is not invited, other family members may not come. One option is for us to spend the evening with my family instead. I don't really want to do this, because I know my husband would be sad not to spend Christmas Eve with his mother and siblings. I am tired of the stress all of this causes me. How can we spend this holiday without excluding the rest of my husband's family and without me feeling like I am hosting Satan?

-- Santa, not Satan, in Seattle

DEAR SANTA: My idea for you is radical. It's a heavy lift, but it is the only solution guaranteed to work.

Change yourself.

You had a disagreement with your sister-in-law. You two worked it out, and now you are cordial.

I suggest you work very hard to muster the same spirit toward your brother-in-law, knowing that he will never reciprocate or even participate. You will feel better about everything if you can grasp this: He is not Satan. He is a marginal family member you happen not to like. His personal abilities are limited. Yours are not.

You won't feel any stress if you stop caring so much.

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