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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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I just ran into my sister-in law (my husband sister) at the

Customer Question

I just ran into my sister-in law (my husband sister) at the mall. I hadn't seen her for 2-3 weeks. We said hi and the first question she asked me was "where were you guys last night"? I was speechless. Then I said that we went to Disneyland yesterday. Then I said "why, how come, where were you?" She answered: " oh nothing, we were at my mom's".
I was shocked that how rude and direct can you get? Is it me or her without any boundaries and class.
How would answer a question like that to make them understand she can't do that to me next time?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  John-Michaels replied 5 years ago.
Welcome to JustAnswer! I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. Please note, this is not therapy, but information. I do hope I can help you though. Could you explain better what you are asking? Are you offended because you were t invited to the gathering or ate you offended that she referred to her as "her" mom? I want to help you but these and any other details will hopefully help me do so. Thank you!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I was offended because the first question she asked me was "where were we last night"? I was thinking in my mind that it is none of her business where we were. Am I supposed to report to her where I go all the time.
Expert:  John-Michaels replied 5 years ago.
I am assuming there is a history of animosity leading up to this frustration. Can you give me more details? I really do want to help, but any details might help me do so.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have 4 sister in-laws. Since I have been married to my husband, I feel they have been intruders and I feel jeolousy from them. Whatever I do or whereever I go, is really important to them and they want to know about it.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Their jealousy is so strong and negative, that I don't want to tell them where I go. Or one of them think that whatever I do or wherever I go, I have to include her.

Expert:  John-Michaels replied 5 years ago.
I am not sure of your husbands relationship with his family, but it is often very important that we preserve those family relationships. You might discuss these issues with your husband and maybe even your sister-in-law. Before becoming too upset you might make sure they are not simply trying to include you in their family. Honestly, for the sake of your marriage, you probably need to be very open with his family. Let them know you respect their relationship as a family , but that you are uncomfortable sharing where you are at all times. Don't be argumentative, but simply open with your concerns. Does that make sense to you?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am sorry but can I have another therapist to help me? Thank you
Expert:  Norman M. replied 5 years ago.

Here is my take on the situation. For some reason, your relatives seem to make you feel vulnerable - you see them as intruders.

Of course, you could have told her that was none of her business, and please don't ask again in future - but what would that do for you?

Your reaction to her question suggests that your thinking patterns are to some extent unhelpful to you. You said "Am I supposed to report to her where I go all the time."

If you think about it, she did not ask you to do that. She simply asked you a perfectly polite and civil question which caused to much more upset than was needed. She was direct, but not rude to you by common standard of judgement.

This may not be what you want to hear, but if you continue to magnify the negative all the time, you are going to become a very unhappy person. It's just not worth that, is it?

It would make your life a lot more comfortable if you could deal with that negativity, and

I’m going to suggest that you would benefit from some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also causes the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,

the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

If you cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:

Also, there is a book called ”Feeling good - the new mood therapy” by Dr. David Burns. It has a hand book which gives you practical exercises to work through and further instructions on how to better use CBT. I really do recommend it.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook for Dummies By Rhena Branch, Rob Willson is also pretty good.

Best wishes, NormanM

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
You analyzed the situation pretty good. You are right I over reacted. But I had no idea that they were at their Mom's last night. The min I see her, she asked me, where was I last night. I thought it was a little too much. And I know that they had already asked my husband and he only told them that we have plans and even he did not want to tell them where we were. Because whenever they find out we went somewhere, they are at a point that they just get jealous. Both the sister-in-law and the mother-in-law think that we have to just attend their family gatherings or when we go out we have to include them.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
They always ask my husband a question and he answers them not directly. For example, he tells them we have plans. And then they try to ask me because they know I am honest and I don't know how to play around the bush. So they get it out of me. That is why I get upset. I just want to know how I can answer them somehow that they don't do that to me again. They think I am a kid.
Expert:  Norman M. replied 5 years ago.

You can be honest and say, for example, "Right now, that's our little secret". CBT will help you to deal with these situations quite effortlessly.

Remember, you do have the right to say "NO" without explaining yourself. They'll get used to it.