Carolyn Hax: Sister-in-law misses the humor in ‘good-natured’ jabs

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Pricey Carolyn: I heard my new sister-in-law, “Ann,” name my husband a jacka–, and I don’t know whether or not to speak to her about it. I heard Ann and her finest buddy whispering about one thing at a latest occasion, and I admit it: I eavesdropped. I heard her buddy say, “Is the short one the jacka– brother-in-law?” And Ann mentioned, “No, it’s the tall one,” that means my husband.

My husband likes Ann, however he additionally likes to tease and joke round about a few of Ann’s quirks. She is sweet and a very good hostess, however she’s additionally sort of pretentious. Like she’ll use fabric napkins and china plates for a cookout, put flowers in a salad and name pouring custard “crème Anglaise.” So my husband teases her, saying she spilled flowers within the meals or calling her Martha Stewart — delicate stuff like that, all very good-natured. I do know he’d be stunned and harm if he knew what she considered him.

I believe this might blow over if I defined to her that it’s all in good enjoyable and that he actually does like her, however I’m unsure find out how to convey it up.

Nameless: The quickest blow-over alternative is on your husband to cease being a jacka–.

You suppose it’s “mild stuff” and “all very good-natured,” however what you describe is a longtime member of a household continuously hammering on about how completely different a brand new member is from everybody else.

Have you ever ever been in that atmosphere your self? It’s by no means as nice or innocent because the particular person creating it thinks, particularly over time.

You assume she’ll be okay with it — and subsequently you and your husband can keep away from making any effort yourselves — as quickly as she is aware of it’s “all in good fun.” Perhaps you’re even proper about that. However you haven’t accounted for different causes his remarks would possibly annoy her. She might absolutely perceive he likes her and means nicely, for instance, and nonetheless discover his shtick unfunny, annoying or stale. Even a crackin’-good Martha Stewart joke is a foul one the second or seventeenth time.

So the first rate transfer is to flip your intervention impulse 180 levels: Help Ann, and coach up your partner. First, choose a quiet second and counsel to him that the Ann jokes are carrying skinny. Remind him you each like her, sure? And he or she knocks herself out to make issues good for her new prolonged household? So perhaps simply an even-more-good-natured “thank you” will do.

Then: When your husband nonetheless says, “Oops, there are flowers in the salad,” har-dee-har, say to Ann: “Ignore him. That looks amazing. Where’d you get the recipe?”

When she breaks out the china and fabric napkins, praise her desk. What’s china for at this level, anyway: including a proper contact to the attic it sits in? And fabric napkins are: (a) Environmentally sound. (b) A lot nicer and extra sensible than paper. (c) Homespun as all get-out. Select whichever you’re least more likely to choose on.

When she refers to crème anglaise, contemplate that she, like me, by no means heard the time period “pouring custard” till you used it. As a result of this large nation has lots of regional pockets that we’re all born into by no alternative of our personal. To her, I’m guessing, you’re all a bunch of “quirks.”

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