Good morning, Nightmare.
(1) As I type this, no one else has yet answered. So may I start?
(2) This "rather than" matter is confusing to ordinary native speakers like me, too.
(3) If you get a chance, google the article on "rather than" in THE AMERICAN HERITAGE BOOK OF ENGLISH USAGE.
(a) The article is short.
(b) The article does a pretty good job of explaining this term.
(4) But the best thing is what it says in the last paragraph:
Just as you said, there is often little difference between "rather than" and "instead of."
So the article suggests that a person just use "instead of" + gerund whenever it is possible. Then one does not have to worry about trying to "balance" both sides of "rather than."
Have a nice day!
Interested in Language