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Victim Persecutor Rescuer Triangle
My husband has two brothers and two sisters. Both brothers stay at different locations and their wives are homemakers.
Both of my husband's sisters are very mean. One is very greedy, always after money, and the other one is very selfish. The selfish sister’s husband was always away at work so she cleverly kept her mother (i.e. my mother-in-law) in her place for taking care of her children and also the household chores. She has literally used her.
She has always schemed up with her mother against us (the daughters-in-law), and has kept her mother happy by siding with her against us. She used her mother for nearly twenty eight years and now that her children are grown up and the mother has become old she is no more wanting her.
She is trying to throw the old lady out of the house and is now asking her to stay with the same daughters-in-law whom she has never allowed to visit nor at any time felt that they too had kids and missed their granma.
Our kids are not at all familiar to their nanny and now none of the sons want her in the house, saying that all these years she has not bothered about them. I want to teach this sister-in-law a lesson for being so selfish and mean.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Reshma, and thanks for telling your story here. It is clear that you have strong feelings about what is going on in your family. And you are also clear that you want to teach your sister-in-law a lesson for being so selfish and mean.
I know this kind of situation can be very frustrating, to the point of being infuriating. The challenge you face is to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
If you act on your desire to teach your sister-in-law a lesson, you may well become part of the problem. And then you will be seen as mean also. You are caught in a victim-persecutor-rescuer triangle, and seeking revenge will only keep it all going.
The only healthy direction for you is to step outside the triangle and begin a new direction for yourself. Take a look at the diagram above to understand the V-P-R triangle better, and read about it on this page.
If you decide to break the cycle and step outside the triangle, you will be taking responsibility for yourself, rather than being so focused on others (your sister-in-law). The question for your then becomes, "How do I feel about myself in this situation?" Then you can choose to take specific positive steps to improve your own life and relationships.
Find the distance from which you can accept your sister-in-law without wanting her to change. This means having as little contact with her as possible, and when you are in contact with her you do not spend much if any time interacting with her. You need very clear personal boundaries in that relationship.
Try journaling about your desire for revenge, just to get it out on paper and stop it from being in your head and clouding your heart. These journaling exercises will help.
Focus on becoming more of the good person you truly are inside, Reshma. You can do this.
My very best to you,
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