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Ask Lisi: Wealthy sister acts like she earned family money

Sister and brother-in-law live in a privileged bubble and have convinced themselves — perhaps for self-esteem — that they have done it all on their own.

Dear Lisi: My sister married a nice guy, but we all know her reasons behind the choice. Money. We grew up not poor, but we never had extras or any luxuries. The public school we attended was in a wealthier part of town, but was somehow our catchment. Consequently, our friendships as children were all with very upper middle-class families.

We never went on vacation as a family, unless it was car camping, or a road trip to stay with extended family. But every once in a while, my sister or I would get invited to join a friend’s family in Florida, or Barbados, or once even on a cruise.

We saw how our friends lived and we would whisper at night how we were going to have all those things when we grew up. The desire for more spurred us both on to great well-paying careers and by our mid-20s, I knew we both had achieved the possibility of living “better” than how we were raised.

I married a man with a good career and, as a double income family, we have been able to give our children lots of perks and a nice life. But my sister wanted more. When this guy came knocking, she took one look at his bank balance and said yes.

They live a very nice life, own several homes, travel extensively, send their children to private school, etc. My sister still works, but only part-time. Her husband uses his family money to run with ideas. Some work, most don’t. As I said, he’s nice, but….

My problem is two-fold: she acts like she worked her butt off for all their trappings and deserves everything she has; and he is boring, not the brightest bulb, and also acts as though he did it all single-handedly. They’re both becoming hard to take.

Sub-par Sister

You didn’t really ask a question but I’m going to surmise that your issue is that you are having trouble being in their presence. To be honest, they’re not doing anything “wrong” other than boasting, which is ugly. The two of them sound like they’re living in a privileged bubble and have convinced themselves — perhaps for self-esteem — that they have done it all on their own.

You know that’s not true and that’s what’s bothering you. The lie. She’s your sister, not your appendage. You don’t have to spend that much time with her if you don’t want to. But as your sister, you could say something to her quietly.

Start by telling her how proud you are of her accomplishments, how much you love her children, etc. And then add how fortunate she is to have found a great guy who can provide all the things she could ever want. If she argues her false narrative, tell her she doesn’t have to prove anything to you. And let it go.

She’s not going to change, but she may tamper her dialogue around you.

Reader’s Commentary regarding the feedback (Feb. 15) on the column about the married woman debating whether or not to tell her husband about her same-sex relationship before marriage (Jan.18):

“I side with the reader’s response to not share the information with her husband, but to work with a therapist on lingering issues that she has. There are three possible outcomes of opening up to her husband: positive, negative, and neutral. Therefore, there is a 33 per cent chance of a negative outcome.

“That seems like a significant risk to her marriage.”

FEEDBACK regarding your reply to the middle school student who doesn’t think LGBTQ+ education is necessary (Feb. 11):

“I just wanted to thank you because it makes the case even stronger to yank my child out of the public school system and home school instead. There’s no way I want him learning about this crap at school.

“What happened to the three Rs (reading, ’riting, and ’rithmatic) and other subjects vital to the education of our children?

“Sad to see you support this kind of “schooling.”

Lisi — Whoa! Please do not thank me for your closed-minded way of thinking. Teaching children about sexuality, including everything from heterosexuality through the LGBTQ+ spectrum, is definitely an integral part of our children’s education. That’s what school is all about — teaching children everything.

One can argue that not everything taught in schools is useful on a day-to-day basis, but that topic sure is! I hope you leave your children in the school system, so they can broaden their worlds, and perhaps teach you about tolerance and inclusivity.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions to [email protected] or [email protected]