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rude man

Dear Doctor:

My brother-in-law is rude, contemptuous, and insulting to me, and my husband acts like it's nothing. What can I do?

Dear Bothered:

I know just the type that you are talking about. They are so arrogant that they think they can get away with anything, and your husband isn't doing his part.

You need to organize (in your mind) a pre-emptive strike. When you first see him, have a dozen insults ready - "Where in God's name did you find that shirt? (pants, shoes, . . .)" "Were your feet always that big?" "How come you walk that way?" "Was your posture always this bad?" "Why haven't you ever learned to carry on a decent conversation?" "Is loud the only way that you can talk?" "Didn't your mother teach you anything?" . . .

Then have rejoinders ready when he insults you - "You think I'm bad, what about you?" "One can tell that you aren't very smart." "Did it ever occur to you that you look like a fool?" "Aren't you the big money-maker in this family?" (sarcasm) "Aren't you the one with the big education?" (sarcasm) "Didn't your mother teach you to speak/eat/meet other people?" "Did anyone ever tell you that you have an unpleasant voice?" "What makes you an expert?" "Did anybody ever tell you that you are crude?" "Do other people find you repellant?" "You are so-o-o-o clever" (sarcasm). Pick on physical characteristics - "With a big nose like yours, you shouldn't . . ." Remarks such as these put the focus back on him. Framing your sentences as questions usually works better than declarative sentences.

The other thing that you can do is laugh at him. No matter what he says or does, start laughing. If he asks you what you are laughing at, say, "I can't believe anybody can be so stupid. I just love to watch you."

Don't let your husband off the hook. Pick on him ("You've got the depth of a coat of paint" "Where is your backbone?" "Can't you do anything right?" "A lot of help you are" . . .) and let your brother-in-law watch.

Here is another ploy: when the three of you are together, you can turn to your husband and talk about your brother-in-law as if he weren’t there – “Did you notice that Harry . . . ?”

(If you subscribe to Netflix, don't miss "Moscow, Belgium" - delightful, amusing, informative.)

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