Jealous Because Sister-In-Law Pregnant

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My husband and i are trying to have a baby right now, and it isn’t working. i don’t have anyone to talk to about this, since i don’t want friends and family to know what i’m thinking, and i don’t want them to know i’m a failure…i dont want them to know that we want a baby b/c then ill get their pity or sympathy, or worse, we’ll just be the talk of the family when we’re not around. we’ve been trying for a while, and nothing is happening, with no explanation, since we’re both healthy…i am almost 30, so i dont have much more time.
i was having a hard enough time coping with that, when a week ago, my younger brother-in-law and wife announced that they are pregnant. They JUST got married 7 weeks ago, and are 7 weeks pregnant. Here’s my issues:

1.) WE have been married for over a year. WE were supposed to be first….we were going to have the first grandchild, the first red-sox fan, etc. in the family. I desperately want his family to love me the best, and now, I’m second place. Everyone will faun over her, and i have to hear it for the rest of my life.

2.) We’ve been trying, and all i’ve had to show are UTI’s, breakdowns every month when I get my period. I take vitamins, track my BBT, avoid alcohol, caffeine and everything else i love. THEY decide that they want to have a kid, and they get pregnant immediately.

3.) My husband’s brother was upset that we werent extremely excited for him on the phone,and conferred with their mom to see what was wrong with us. She told other family members, so now EVERYONE in his family is surely talking about how we’re “probably” trying and how we weren’t excited for them.

4.) my husband is overly trusting and loves his brother. he’s very patient with me and listens but i dont like talking to him about it, bc i dont want to upset him– he and his bro are best friends.

I am a really jealous and really angry person in general. I have a difficult time letting go of things that make me upset; it’s unnatural. I feel bad b/c they didnt do it on purpose, but this is really no fair. i can’t shake the hatred. i go through phases of sadness, then anger, then acceptance, but then back to sadness etc. i think of it every waking moment of my life. I keep realizing little things too, like what if they take the baby names my husband and i discussed?

His family is really caring, and my husband assures me that when our time comes, they will be equally excited– which they will. My in-laws are awesome. BUT in my head, I know that we are second. I know that there is a special bond between them and the baby, that my child will never have. I don’t know what i’m going to do when i actually have to SEE my bro-in-law and wife. i get so mad i kick things when i even read a line on facebook referencing their pregnancy.

please help me. i don’t know if you can suggest a coping method or a calming method or something. i really cant keep crying myself to sleep every night and i don’t like feeling so angry.
thank you.

A. It seems that you have turned having a baby into a competition. If we questioned your sister-in-law, in all likelihood, she would not support the idea that she is in a competition to have the first child. You’re also assuming that the second baby will not be as welcomed into the family or as loved as the first. Cognitively, this is a mistake in logic. What are you basing this assumption on? Why would parents or grandparents love the first child more than the second? Millions of parents and grandparents would tell you that they love all of their children and grandchildren equally, regardless of the order that they were born in.

Following your logic, baby number two in your family is going to be the “lesser” loved of the two children. What if it were your in-laws who were to have the second baby? Shouldn’t you be upset about the fact that a child, in this case child number two, would be less loved? Isn’t this unfair to the second child? Wouldn’t you want all children to be loved and treated equally?

In all likelihood, if there are multiple children in the family, no matter their birth order, your family would love all children equally.

One interesting aspect of this situation is that your husband doesn’t feel the same way about his brother. You say he is “over trusting” but is he? Perhaps you are not trusting enough. He sees this situation differently than you but that does not mean he is wrong. In all likelihood, he realizes that his brother and the rest of the family would love all of the children equally, regardless of birth order.

If you continue to struggle with this issue then I would suggest that you consider cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses on ideas about a particular situation and helps an individual to think in a logical manner. Very often people with mental health symptoms such as depression or anxiety or other related disorders are not thinking correctly. Cognitive therapy can help correct their thinking.

Being cognitively wrong can have a snowball effect. If you’re wrong about one thing and then you use that incorrect thinking to draw a conclusion it may lead to mistakes in judgment and behavior. The incorrect assumption you are making in your situation is that the firstborn grandchild gets the most love. This is leading you to a host of incorrect conclusions. These conclusions and the thoughts associated with them are causing you to feel jealousy, anxiety, anger and so forth, to the point of kicking things and crying yourself to sleep every night. You’re not in a healthy place psychologically and that’s why you may want to consider therapy. You can change your thinking and overcome this issue but you may need the assistance of a mental health professional. It could be very helpful to you.

I know that you are feeling very bad about this whole situation. I sincerely hope that soon you will feel better. Having a baby should be a thing of pure joy for you and should not be mixed with all of the negative feelings that you are experiencing. Counseling should help to remove those negative feelings and allow you to experience the pure joy that you deserve.

If you’d like to find a therapist in your area please consult this directory. Thanks for your question.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Nov 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Jealous Because Sister-In-Law Pregnant. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/11/03/jealous-because-sister-in-law-pregnant/