Problem with sister & brother in law
07/23/2008 at 19:04 PM

I am happily married to my husband for 6 years.  We have 2 children together.  My husband has a brother who is married with 2 children.  My sister in law and I do not get along.  We have known each other for 8 years and the relationship has always been a difficult one.  We disagree on everything from parenting to politics.  Our relationship has been a rollercoaster ride from the beginning, but even so, she is the godmother of my son and I was her bridesmaid.  My husband and his brother have always gotten along.  My husband does not care for our sister in law, but he treats her with respect.  About 2 months ago, my sister in law and I had another falling out, this time though she sent a "family"e-mail out and said that her and her husband do not like me and wish not to speak to me ever again.  At first I thought she was kidding and we would work out our differences like we always have and move on.  So I respected her and did not talk to her for 2 weeks.  I then got a call from her threatening me that her and her husband would call the police if certain items that were lent to us were not returned within the hour.  My husbands parents got involved and it blew up into something more.  Now my sister and brother in law are not speaking to us or my husbands parents.  Last weekend was our nephews birthday.  My husband and I sent him a birthday card which they returned in the mail with "return to sender" written on it.  We did not put our return address on the card, my sister in law peeled back the corners to see who it was from and then returned it.  My husband and I are hurt.  That card was meant for our nephew.  I do not understand how things ended up the way they did.  She is my sons godmother and will not acknowledge the kids nor us.  I agree that it is best for us not to be "friends", but I want to see my nephews and get together at family functions without world war III breaking out.  I'm not a bad person.  I have always said the nicest things to her.  But she is the type that if I complain about 10 pounds I've gained, she thinks I am implying that she is fat.  Or if I say that I love staying at home with my children, she thinks that I am implying that she is a terrible mother for working.  She has no idea that I am the one who has defended her when family has talked behind her back.  I was raised, that if you don't have anything nice to say you don't say anything at all.  I don't know where to go from here.  I am afraid to contact her, because I wouldn't put it past her to call the police.  I just want to reconcile for family peace.  Any thoughts or suggestions?  Thank You.

You are putting way too much emphasis on this relationship. If she does not want to talk to you, then leave her alone. As for the nephew, that’s her child, and if she wants to be that kind of mother, then that’s her right. Why would you want her as a godmother? I would be looking for another real quick. As far as family functions, go and visit, have a great time, and ignore her. There is no reason why you cannot attend a family function if she is there. Live your life, and quit worrying about her. You have given this toxic person too much power over your emotions. Let go, you owe her nothing.


BRAVO SnglDad!! I could not say anything better than what you have already advised. Leave your sister-in-law alone and live your own life.


I know your situation all to well. I'm living it now. My S-I-L has caused so many problems for our family, it's horrible. Although everyone knows how she is, they just deal w/ her rudeness and nasty remarks. I can't do that. Her comments bother me too much, and I eventually say something that sets her off. My advice to you is, if you can, try not to let her get under your skin. If you can blow things off, that wld be best. Otherwise, nip things in the bud. In my case, my S-I-L turned everyone against my husband and I, making us out to be the bad guys. Now no one is talking to us. It's horrible. We're upset for everyone putting their 2 cents in where it didn't belong, just b/c they don't like the way we're choosing to handle the situation. This had nothing to do w/ them, but now it does. I hope for your sake that you have other family members that are supportive and respectful of your feelings. Don't vent to them, but let them be there to support you. Your S-I-L seems very insecure, just like mine. Always remember, when dealing w/ people like that, you must realize that they have a problem w/ themselves, so try not to take it personally. If your S-I-L is rude to you, address her attitude right away. Also, SnglDad is right. This shldn't stop you from seeing other family members or going to family functions. I think it's absurd that your S-I-L has considered getting the police involved. This is quite extreme for what you're describing. I wld respect her wishes, return her things, and go on w/ your lives as normal. You don't need someone like this in your life, especially as a godmother to your child. It's sad that you can't be a part of your nephew's life either, but accept the situation for what it is, and move on. Some people are just impossible to deal w/, and I hope in time, w/ your situation and mine, that things will get better. You might want to wait a bit for things to blow over, then maybe write a letter to your S-I-L explaining how you feel. It might help you to get things off your chest w/out getting into a heated argument. I don't know if it'll help your situation or not, but you may feel a little better. I hope my advice helps you, even if there are no real solutions right now.


I agree that writing a letter and getting your feelings out may be very theraputic for you. However therapy letters are usually better written and then shredded or burned. There are fewer nasty consequences that way and you can say exactly what you feel using whatever terms and explicatives you need to without hurting someone's feelings. Best of luck.


I just posted with a similar issue, although it is not as bad as yours is. I advise you to try your best to let it go. She sounds like an irrational, impulsive, angry person and you do NOT need that toxicity in your life. I am trying to focus on being the best mom I can for my children and eliminating negative relationships from my life. You should try to do the same, although I know it's harder said than done. NO ONE has the right to make you feel like a bad person or bad mother and anytime you have a negative thought creep in your mind, force it away.


hi, my sister is married to a mentally sick person and he makes her sick mentally. She allows him to disrespect me and my mother and others in my family. They both cause a lot of pain to me. On her end I suspect its for attention from him. She is also an unusually spiteful jealous person, jealous of any little thing that goes well for anyone including me. Another aspect is their kids which I was super close to at one time. I suspect that was an issue for him, so he manipulated the situation so that I hardly see them anymore, and couldnt anyway because there are so many arguments taking place a lot of which he deliberately blows out of proportion to gain a mental edge in controlling her. Its all a big headache. Whats worse is my own father will not see things as they are and correct her as he fears her withdrawing the kids from him, something she does to everyone in the family whenever they feel like it. I appreciate any thoughts.


i believe that usually sis in laws do not connect well because in a weird way they are always trying to compete with eachother. whether its money, kids, or who has a better home. i think that you should not try to over think this. youre doing the right thing. if she does not want to speak to you why are you suffering yourself? live your life without her. i would not over react about this. why would you stress about someone who does not want to speak to you? iam confused and somewhat disturbed on the way youre stressing out over this. let it go and live your life. dont be a total maniac about it.


I agree with snglDad. You are giving her way too much power!!!!

I am in a similar situation ... I married my second husband knowing that he had a sister who is ill and that he feels obligated to take care of her. She has Lupus. My husband is a psychologist and tells me that her medication, along with her illness makes her rude, obnoxious, catty, etc.,, etc., etc. This was her personality BEFORE Lupus ... Lupus exacerbates these traits. She was married and divorced twice .. has two sons, both in the Military. It seems that my husband made a 'commitment' to her that he would take care of her. Since she met me she has caused nothing but trouble! My wedding reception room had to be changed because she invited her son's girlfriend and friends (it was an intimate dinner with immediate family)... I had to change the size of my room. She commented to my husband "you married her and she is not highly intelligent or exceptionally beautiful ... but you married her anyway". She asked me if I would 'share' her brother with her.... she then 'bad-mouthed' me to my husband and when I heard this ... I went nuts.

After all of this, I said she could come stay with us after she had ankle replacement surgery. She stayed with us for a grueling 3-1/2 months. During that time, I changed her potty, washed and folded her clothes, cooked dinner, watched tv with her ... my payment was her badmouthing me to my stepson. It was then that I told my husband that she was no longer welcomed in our house.

I am a nice person... I have respect for myself. I do understand that she is sick, but I can not allow myself to be treated rudely.

Now, my husband is 'hinting' that she come live with us.

And, I am crying as I write this.

I told him that we could support her WITHOUT her living with us ... that if she did, I would die.

Any comments?


I'm all for getting things out on the table. Hinting husbands are just difficult to deal with. I'd probably find a quiet time to say something like "honey, maybe I'm reading too much between the lines, but I feel like you still want us to provide a home for your sister again." Then have the discussion. With as little emotion as you can manage. This is a boundary issue. Hold the line!


Your husband's sister shld absolutely not live w/ you. She will cause you more stress than you can ever imagine. She will also put tension between you and your husband. Trust me on this one. I know she's your husband's sister, but she needs to find a home where she can be cared for. You are not a nurse. You and your husband can always visit her whenever you'd like, but don't move her into your home. You'll regret it.


To Acitez - Thanks for getting back.... The problem is that I have been talking to a social worker about my problem and I can't seem to talk rationally - I either start crying, get sarcastic or raise my voice. (My husband is a therapist so it is difficult to voice my opinion without feeling 'analyzed')

To Concerned - Believe me ... she will not live with us (as far as I am concerned). She is intrusive, obnoxious, rude, needy, catty.....

The problem, tho, is that my husband is a very caring man (one of the reasons I fell in love with him is because of his generous spirit). He made a commitment to his sister that he would take care of her ... I do not have a problem with that .. we send her money each month ... I told him that we can keep the commitment without having her live with us.

For now, the subject has not been brought up. He will be with her next weekend and I KNOW that when he returns he will bring up the subject, if not sooner. I need to be able to discuss the situation without being emotional.

I feel that because he is a therapist he always has an answer ... and I start 'doubting' myself.

I do know, tho, that if she ever moved in ... that would destroy us.

And, as I write this, my stomach is in knots.


I get real emotional when I talk to my husband about problems too, and he's a zoologist. So, sometimes I write him a note. It starts with--I'm writing this down because I know if I talk I'll start to cry. I love you. Then I outline--generally not complete sentences-- the problem. And I'd do it in advance--just so he doesn't come home thinking that he can make it work out perfect for everybody if I will just be reasonable.


It's wonderful that you are married to such a caring man. Therefore, if he truly cares about his relationship w/ you, he will set his priorities straight, and not let his sister come between you and him. He can always care for his sister outside of your home. I know this must be hard for both of you, and I know you probably want to please your husband, but look at what this wld be doing to you. It's already killing you. Put your foot down, and try to put all emotions aside. You will be so grateful in the long run. Talk to your husband again. I'm sure things will all work out for the best. Hang in there.


Hey ... thanks for responding. Well, my husband did not go out this past weekend .. his sister was not able to get a doctor's appointment. (But it will be happening soon ... if not the doctor's appointment- then the fact that my stepdaughter is getting married in December (very sudden) and I am so worried (this is all I think about) that she will invite my sister-in-law and I know that it will be expected that she stay at my house. (My sister asked me if I would have the sister-in-law stay for just one night .....) The problem is that she expects to stay for her 1 to 2 week visit. In all honesty, I do not want her even for one minute in my house and especially at this wedding ... there is no telling what comments will come out of her mouth. If, indeed, she is invited and does come out for the wedding, I will 'consider' her staying for JUST THE WEDDING and nothing else! Christmas is very soon - my favorite time of the year - and I will not have it destroyed!

I have just read back what I wrote and I sound like a lunatic. I apologize ... but, I am so miserable over all of this. I have the long time, always there issue of her permanently moving in (which is not happening) and the short time issue of this upcoming wedding. And, even tho my son-in-law and his wife feel the same about the sister-in-law ... they try to keep their feelings to themselves... they tell me how they feel but do not want to upsent my husband. So, I end up looking like the 'bad person'.

There is no happy resolution to this.


Hi. I think it wld be good and generous of you to let your SIL stay at your house for the time of the wedding. You're not obligated to do this, or do any more for that matter, so it's up to you and your husband as to what you decide to do. Is there anyone else in your family that can take your SIL? Why does she always fall on you? Maybe if the family shares the responsibility of caring for her, you might feel less burdened and stressed. Still, I wld seriously consider a home for her where she can be cared for by experienced professionals that understand her situation well. That wld be the ideal situation.


I think I am going "above and beyond" if I let her stay at my house JUST FOR THE WEDDING. (But, this is a BIG 'if' because I am hating every moment even thinking about it.) And, again, you need to understand that she will think she is staying for two weeks ... my husband will have to make it clear that it is only for 2-3 nights.

She does not have any other family. Both sons are in the military ... her only other living relative is her brother - my husband. So, it always falls on us.

My daughter-in-law says that by constantly thinking about her I am giving her POWER over me. But, as the wedding comes closer and my husband makes comments about her living with us ... I can't seem to focus on anything but her.


It sounds like spouses are replaceable, sisters are not.


Is that your opinion???? or, is that what you think 'his' opinion is???

He told me once that when I married him I married his family ....

It's sad... he will be one lonely man living out his life with his sister.

One final comment ... my husband has said numerous times ... "if his sister wasn't his sister, he wouldn't pick her as a friend".


You shld come first over your SIL. Especially w/ all the trouble she's been causing you. I don't like that your husband is disregarding your feelings and putting his sister's needs ahead of yours. It doesn't sound like you're being selfish or unreasonable. Who wld want to put up w/ a rude SIL living under the same roof? There's a compromise. It just seems like your husband is being stubborn. Is he waiting for the crap to hit the fan before he realizes what needs to be done? If he agrees to let his sister move in w/ you, he's going to have a hell of a time getting her out. Why go through all that. Lay the cards on the table now, and just say NO.


My husband says that his sister is ill and because of the illness and all of the medication she is taking - that that is why she is the way she is ... mind you, he and his family have said that she was like that before the illness ... (but, my husband says that the illness exacerbates her personality)... my response is --- that I do not know the sister before the illness .. this is who I know and she has caused trouble since our wedding... he says to look at the good things .. my question is always ... 'what are the good things'?

Even tho my husband is a psychologist... he will tell you that he hates confrontation ... so, he and I get into this topic ... I cry ...we both get frustrated and there is never a solution because of all of the emotions flying ... my husband tries to please everyone ...

Like I mentioned previously, there will be much commotion 'if and when' my step daughter invites his sister for her wedding.


Pay for a hotel room for her. Be kind and gracious. She has the excuse, justified or not, of her illness so that she gets away with behaving badly. You have no excuse. Be kind, gracious, and polite, pony up the $$ for the hotel, and possibly for transportation if nobody else even wants to have her in the car with them. You have an obligation to your step-daughter to do your part to have her wedding day be about her, not about you, not about the aunt.

IMO, when you come into a second marriage, you are obligated to make sacrifices in order to support your spouse's commitment (no quotation marks, it is a commitment) to existing family: children, siblings, parents, even ex-in-laws.


I agree that I am obligated - however, I know that I have gone above and beyond when it concerns his sister. I can do absolutely no more! There is a point where no one should have to be stepped on!!!!!

As far as a hotel room... my husband and I do own a condo that is not being currently used ... I thought about her staying there (if she is invited to the wedding) ... but, I just know that this will cause problems, also... I know my husband will say that she should stay with us.

I most certainly agree with you .. this is my stepdaughter's day and it should not be affected in any way, whatsoever, by my husband's sister-in-law. Having the sister-in-law there will have me, my son-in-law and his wife and knowing my stepdaughter, her, too on 'pins and needles' ... so, hopefully, she is not invited.


I to have a nasty sister-in-law...I know she hates me and we continually clash. She is an alcoholic who doesn't know she has a problem and I am the only one who called her on it. My husband and her mom seem to ignore the entire issue. She called my husband and I heard her ask my husband if he would consider changing his lifestyle. My husband asked, "How" and she said "Get rid of (she said my name). I heard this loud and clear...I told my husband to call her back and he said, "What's the use?" The thing is that both she and her mother are nice as pie to my face and now I found out that she's been bad mouthing me and hoping for me to go for quite a long time...She lies, she is a 2-faced wicked person. I don't know if it's because she is so unhappy in her life that she wants to make my husband's life miserable as well...I am this close from picking up the phone and telling her to drop dead!!!! But I know that this would cause problems for my husband. I have already told my husband that she is not welcome in my home and after many blow ups, I refuse to see her or talk to her...You are right...I don't need this toxicity in my life but it is hard for me to let this blow over..I want revenge or something that will make me feel better..I have never wished ill on anyone but I hope that everything bad that can happen to a person happens to her!!! Any suggestions on how to deal with this?


I was laughing reading your post b/c I felt the same way about my SIL (even though the situation was far from funny. I think you need to back off from your SIL and cool down. Being in her presence will only make you want to blow up more. Once you get your thoughts together, I think you shld talk to your SIL and tell her exactly how you feel. Don't wait too long, though, b/c from my experience this allows time for the other party to either suffer some form of memory loss by supposedly forgeting everything he/she has said (even though you know you heard the comments clearly and they've been eating away at you for months), OR the other party just flat out denies everything all together. This will only make you more frustrated, and nothing will ever get resolved. Try to nip things in the bud. It may be too late this time, and you may just have to blow things off for now. However, in the future, make sure you address a comment right away. You don't have to be rude to put your SIL in her place. Be mature about it, and make your SIL understand that you won't tolerate her attitude any longer. If she chooses to get others involved, you can't control that. But at any time if you hear your SIL say anything bad about you to anyone else, address it w/ her immediately, even if you have to do it in front of everyone.
I understand why you wldn't want this person in your life, but unfortunately she's your SIL and you have to face her sooner or later. You don't need to be her best friend, but for your husband's sake and for the sake of the family, try to be civil. I tried to erase my SIL from my life, but it only caused more problems in the long run. I hope in time you can both have a relationship again, but if not, do what you can to not let her get under your skin. If you let her get away w/ talking trash about you, she wins. Put her in her place right away. This will make you feel so much better. Good luck!