searchingforanswers's picture

Problem with sister & brother in law

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.

SnglDad's picture

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.

tamz's picture

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.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

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.

Jothegrill's picture

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.

soooze415's picture

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?

acitez's picture

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!

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

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.

soooze415's picture

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.

acitez's picture

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.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

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.