Sister Loretta (not the real name) is a very good friend of mine even though we don’t see very often. She is a very pretty woman with a fantastic stature and skin. Always wearing a smile that enhances her elegance. No wonder she is doing very well in her hospitality business; it’s hard for any customer not to be endeared to her smiles. So it was a great delight to meet her at the filling station.
As usual we exchanged pleasantries and in the process got to the issue of one of her brothers- in- law. This is one aspect of her I didn’t know anything about, so, I was deeply interested as it is a familiar issue in counselling women. I wanted to know her view about in-laws and their attendant matters. I am aware that she didn’t have a child for her husband until over ten years in marriage, but she never gave a clue as to having issues with any of her in-laws.
Anyway, the story is that her husband Larry, comes from a closely knit family where the siblings are always together and do things together (which is not bad in itself).
During her waiting period, this particular brother-in-law, took advantage of the situation. Knowing also that she is very hospitable, was always making demands of her. When he came visiting, he will place an order as if in a restaurant. My friend will be all over him just to please him. When it was time to end his visit, he will also ask for a take away.
Also, he was used to coming to stay over for the weekend with his family of five without informing her of their coming.
Initially, she was enjoying it, thinking she was enhancing the vision of unity in her husband’s family. Things changed, the day she realized the motive of her brother in law was not love towards her.
Can you imagine the brother in law entering the store and saying “who will eat all of these? How many of you in this house? My brother is just wasting money on food”.
And will signal to the wife to enter and pick what they need. This became regular and it dawned on Sister Loretta that she had been shopping for two families.
Not only will he come to empty their store, he will also make her husband pay for school fees of the children, pay their accommodation rent just to mention a few.
The one that got her really bothered was the unpleasant attitude towards her. These brother in law and his wife will flaunt their children before her and give an impression she is just good enough to be their slave. She cannot even send the children on errands.
The first thing she did was to talk to God about it and asked for wisdom in managing the problem.
Any time they came on their weekend visit, she will make the brother in law’s wife to man the kitchen and cook for everybody and do the cleaning. She was clever, the way she did it. She will give excuse of being tired and that she will be very greatful for her help. She also made sure the housekeeper goes on off duty once they came.
Another thing she did was to engage her husband in the bedroom. She will put a film for her brother in law and the children to be watching and ‘post’ him – the brother in law, that his brother her husband will soon join them.
By the time the food is ready for all to eat, herself and husband will come out to join them to eat. She made sure the discussion over food does not give room for any request, rather a time to share how God has been helping them through challenges. This she did to remove the notion that they too don’t have issues.
By the time the food eating was over, she will ask her sister in law to please assist her in the cleaning. By the time they start the cleaning, she will give an excuse to be away for her sister in law to complete the job.
By the time she did this for three times, the first thing she noticed was the sister in law stopped coming as she was not enjoying the chores. I tell you, I laughed my heart out on hearing this story.The brother in law also discovered that the store was not as full as it used to be which was deliberate , and so to make demand became impossible. At various times in a subtle way made their stay unpleasant . They finally got the message that things have changed. For her, her ‘NO’ wasn’t verbal, yet she got result.
By the time the child came, her husband didn’t have that much excess to spear.
Now she is happy, she is charge in her home. ‘NO’ is creating boundaries for mutual respect and healthy relationship. It doesn’t have to be verbal to avoid further complications. But when the ‘NO’ flag is up it cannot be missed.
Saying NO requires wisdom with good intentions. It is also to help people know their limits per time.
Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to any offense to your wellbeing. What you need is wisdom and a good motive.