"The degree of one's emotion varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts. The less you know the hotter you get." Anonymous
The third pitfall to avoid is misconstruing what others say. If one doesn't then it may place us as close to a disaster in a relationship as anyone could get. Many times we misinterpret what others say and flavor the words with our own ideas. This obviously haunts us and leads our minds down roads that we were never meant to travel. Our feelings take over because we assume it is all about us. Words can hurt us. If we question what is said it allows for discourse and understanding although an others motives for the dialogue may still appear as secretive.
One idea I use to keep from traveling down the "Do Not Enter" road, is to think about other reasons a person might be moody, sad, angry or out of sorts. The couple may be quarreling. They may have problems at their jobs. They may have issues with their children or spouses family. These problems may have nothing to do with us but they may not want to discuss these things with others not involved. Most of us think we hide our feelings and moods from others but many times our feelings are shining through for everyone to see.
The only thing that is missing is that others don't know why we are angry or sad. They wonder if they caused our ill mood. The challenge for all of us is to refrain from feeling guilt and come to the knowledge that many other happenings in a person's life reflect their mood swings. These happenings are too numerous to mention. Most of the time we are not causing an others emotions. If we are, then we should know what we did.
"Thus each person by his fears, gives wings to the rumor and without any real source of apprehension men fear what they themselves have imagined." Lucan
With that said I would venture to say stop blaming yourself for other people's attitudes.
"The greatest thing in family life is to take a hint when a hint is intended, and not to take a hint when a hint isn't intended." Robert Frost
"People love others not for what hey are, but for how they make us feel." Irwin Federman
Mothers-in-law who encourage any type of competition might possibly find it can influence the closeness of their children. The result may be a competitive relationship amongst their children. Downplaying competitive behavior allows for a more supportive kind of connection to develop. None of us will discuss our mistakes or trials to another person that we view as a competitor rather than a supporter. We then lose the chance of gaining support and encouragement. Losing does not always spur a person to try harder.
Many times, it makes us to recoil and give up. Spending time with relatives becomes tedious and stressful. If we support one another we are happy to see each other and look forward to helpful discourse. Parents should begin right from the beginning with their children to make an effort of refraining from comparisons of any kind including who walked talked and toilet trained first. After all we are looking for harmony joy and pleasant rewarding and memorable times together as children and adults.
"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate." Albert Schweitzer
"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." Oliver Wendell Holmes
Competing with siblings or siblings-in-law creates a no-win situation. Being right or wrong is not as important as how well every one's sense of worth remains intact. Maintain your self-confidence, and be cognizant of the vulnerability in others. Words spoken from the tips of tongues are not profound deliberations.
Many times they are in anger, retaliation, revenge or simply a bad attitude or mood. If one attempts to stop the competition, every try is a step in the right direction towards tolerance and peace. Competition promotes anger frustration and feelings of revenge while compromise evokes friendship and cooperation. I'll help you and you'll help me attitude. I will strive for the latter. Memories of the day will be so much more enjoyable and cherished by all.
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust