Sister in law


#1

So, I’ve been sort of lurking around the forums here for awhile, but now am in need of some insight so I decided to create an account.

The issue is regarding my brother and his wife. I love my sister-in-law, but I feel like she is taking my brother away from us (meaning our side of the family). They were married two years ago and have a one year old son. She is spoiled by my brother- he waits on her all the time while keeping a full time job, doing most of the housekeeping and cooking, changing most of the diapers, etc. She was this way even before they were married, so it’s really not a surprise, but that’s not even what I’m worried about.

My concern is that I feel like we are losing him. I understand that he is supposed to “leave and cleave”…but lately it seems as though his wife is putting a lot of unnecessary restrictions on the contact he has with us. They no longer attend family functions (birthdays, cookouts) most of the time because she is “tired”, but won’t let him come by himself. They always seem to have time for her family, though. He only calls any of us when he is not around her. He is not the same happy, cheerful, sweet person he always was.

I guess I am just not sure what is normal. My family and I understand that his immediate family is his primary obligation and would never think otherwise. It’s just hard to witness the hold she has on him, and hard for us to understand why she wouldn’t “allow” him to even visit once in awhile by himself, even if she doesn’t want to. Though I miss him, I’m ok- it’s my mother I’m worried about. She’s so saddened to see her son’s personality change and not even be allowed to see her son and grandson. I’m not sure whether I’m looking for advice or maybe others’ experiences with sisters or daughters in law, so I’d know whether this is normal. I know there probably isn’t anything I can do, but if there is, I’d love to hear it!


#2

Your brother has a brand-new family, and he and his wife are practically newlyweds. They are still working things through vis-a-vis familial obligations, chores, visits to family, etc. They have to work all of this stuff out themselves.

Unless you suspect that actual physical, emotional, or financial abuse is going on, attempts at outside interference aren’t going to help them, but it could very well cause discord and bad feelings that last years. About the most you can do is to let your bother know that you miss having him around and pray for his and his family’s health and happiness.

Situations like this usually work themselves out over it. In the meantime, by patient with your brother and his family.


#3

We had a similar situation as well…

I’m still VERY VERY close with my sisters (one’s married, one not)… but my brother, not so much. I chat or have lunch with my sisters every week.
I txt my brother maybe once a month… MAYBE. His wife is definitely the controlling one in their family and she pulls him away from a lot of extended family events.
For us (me and my sisters) it’s sad. We talk about it a lot… about how we “used to have a brother”… it’s definitely not something that’s been easy on our family. It’s been even harder on our parents because they struggle to have a good relationship with his kids.
He’s definitely a “changed” person… beyond what I thought was normal when you moved on with your own family.

Glad to know we’re not alone! :slight_smile:


#4

[quote="Callie2774, post:1, topic:248271"]
So, I've been sort of lurking around the forums here for awhile, but now am in need of some insight so I decided to create an account.

The issue is regarding my brother and his wife. I love my sister-in-law, but I feel like she is taking my brother away from us (meaning our side of the family). They were married two years ago and have a one year old son. She is spoiled by my brother- he waits on her all the time while keeping a full time job, doing most of the housekeeping and cooking, changing most of the diapers, etc. She was this way even before they were married, so it's really not a surprise, but that's not even what I'm worried about.

My concern is that I feel like we are losing him. I understand that he is supposed to "leave and cleave"...but lately it seems as though his wife is putting a lot of unnecessary restrictions on the contact he has with us. They no longer attend family functions (birthdays, cookouts) most of the time because she is "tired", but won't let him come by himself. They always seem to have time for her family, though. He only calls any of us when he is not around her. He is not the same happy, cheerful, sweet person he always was.

I guess I am just not sure what is normal. My family and I understand that his immediate family is his primary obligation and would never think otherwise. It's just hard to witness the hold she has on him, and hard for us to understand why she wouldn't "allow" him to even visit once in awhile by himself, even if she doesn't want to. Though I miss him, I'm ok- it's my mother I'm worried about. She's so saddened to see her son's personality change and not even be allowed to see her son and grandson. I'm not sure whether I'm looking for advice or maybe others' experiences with sisters or daughters in law, so I'd know whether this is normal. I know there probably isn't anything I can do, but if there is, I'd love to hear it!

[/quote]

You are being quite negative toward your SIL. How do you know that your brother is doing most of the housekeeping, cooking, and changing most of the diapers? Is he a stay at home dad? Because if not, I can guarantee you that diapers get changed while he is at work!!

The way your post sounds, your family has not adjusted to not having full access to your brother. You sound as if you are jealous of the fact that he is married and has a family now, and he CHOOSES not to be in contact with you as often. Even if his wife does not encourage him to participate in his biological family's events, let's not forget that he has a choice and is choosing to take the actions he is taking.

I would say you should pray, and turn this problem over to God. The more you think negatively about your SIL, the more that will come across to her, and the less and less access you will have to your nephew. Is that what you want? If not, find a way to let go and let God. Be warm and welcoming to your SIL as often as you see her, and find a way to cope with your brother having started his own life and his own family.


#5

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:4, topic:248271"]
You are being quite negative toward your SIL. How do you know that your brother is doing most of the housekeeping, cooking, and changing most of the diapers? Is he a stay at home dad? Because if not, I can guarantee you that diapers get changed while he is at work!!

The way your post sounds, your family has not adjusted to not having full access to your brother. You sound as if you are jealous of the fact that he is married and has a family now, and he CHOOSES not to be in contact with you as often. Even if his wife does not encourage him to participate in his biological family's events, let's not forget that he has a choice and is choosing to take the actions he is taking.

I would say you should pray, and turn this problem over to God. The more you think negatively about your SIL, the more that will come across to her, and the less and less access you will have to your nephew. Is that what you want? If not, find a way to let go and let God. Be warm and welcoming to your SIL as often as you see her, and find a way to cope with your brother having started his own life and his own family.

[/quote]

I have to echo these comments. I could very well be the SIL in this situation. I have been described exactly the same way the OP described her SIL by my own DH's family. And nothing could have been further from the truth. I certainly wanted, and still hope, for a close relationship with DH's family, but I would advise the OP to be very careful of allowing the whole family to paint a very broad picture of what may or may not be happening with her brother and her SIL. If you truly want a relationship with your brother, OP, find a little common ground between you, your husband, your brother and his wife. Start out small, try to relate to them the same way you might approach another couple you've just met, instead of seeing the way the family has come to view the situation. There is nothing worse for the person in the SIL's position to feel the WHOLE family is against her. She could totally be misunderstood and needs an ally, a friendly face. Try not to sever ties or feel hard feelings towards SIL if other family members are quick to judge her.

Our problems started out small, my husband just didn't want to go to any family gatherings without me or our daughter, and sometimes I just couldn't go, so he didn't go. His sister on the other hand, had no problem coming without her husband if he was busy. I was painted as controlling as well. Its always been my husband's decision about how little or how much communication or interaction he has with his family, but its easier to paint me as the bad guy when his family can not understand that he wants distance.

These kind of situations have a tendency to take on its own life. Be very careful of painting the situation with such a broad brush.


#6

[quote="Callie2774, post:1, topic:248271"]
So, I've My concern is that I feel like we are losing him. I understand that he is supposed to "leave and cleave"...but lately it seems as though his wife is putting a lot of unnecessary restrictions on the contact he has with us. . it!

[/quote]

husbands and wives are instructed in the bible to leave their parents and families and cling to one another so that is good, no longer are their parents and siblings no. 1. all is as it should be. Does that mean he cannot visit you? no. he is an adult, and unless he is dependent on her for transportation, or she has handcuffed him to the house, if he wants to visit he will. You have an issue with your brother, not your sister in law.


#7

I feel bad for the SIL. See, your brother is a grown man, he is capable of making decisions about how much time he wants to spend with his parents and his siblings. Maybe he doesn't want to attend gatherings without his wife. Maybe he is just lazy. Or maybe there is an issue you are not aware of. But of course, it is always convenient to blame the outsider for these things. I see this attitude in my family as well.


#8

I’m in this same situation… Only I’m the SIL… My blood literally boils when I read these kinds of posts…

I hope your family is not putting undue stress on their (I assume Catholic, sacramental) marriage. Divorce rates are high enough as is. I wonder how many are attached to this sort of thing…


#9

[quote="Callie2774, post:1, topic:248271"]
They no longer attend family functions (birthdays, cookouts) most of the time because she is "tired", but won't let him come by himself.

[/quote]

My first though is 'Of ccourse your brother can't go if SHE is tired. Who is going to watch the baby while she rests'

With all that said and done, I think there are 2 sides to the coin. It does appear your brother does still want contact with you so that is a good thing. However, (and this is soomething my mom did all the time with my dad) him saying 'I can't go I need to spend time with my wife' could be the polite 'I don't want to go so I am using my wife as the convenient excuse because I know the argument will end there'

I would honestly and gently tell your brother 'We never spend time together, would it be possible to organize a get together'. Let him decided if he comes alone or brings his family. See what happens

The problem is, you don't state in your post ever having an honest discussion with him. So there is no way for you to know what is really going on

CM


#10

[quote="cmscms, post:9, topic:248271"]
My first though is 'Of ccourse your brother can't go if SHE is tired. Who is going to watch the baby while she rests'

With all that said and done, I think there are 2 sides to the coin. It does appear your brother does still want contact with you so that is a good thing. However, (and this is soomething my mom did all the time with my dad) him saying 'I can't go I need to spend time with my wife' could be the polite 'I don't want to go so I am using my wife as the convenient excuse because I know the argument will end there'

[/quote]

Oh, I can relate to THAT! One day one of DH's friends said something about DH being henpecked. I felt as though I'd been slapped in the face since DH pretty much did whatever he wanted without ever asking for my opinion. We were military and there were many events & functions that spouses weren't part of that he attended regardless of how I felt about it. What I came to understand was that any time he didn't want to attend he said I didn't want him to go. It was easier to make me the bad guy than to appear to not want to play the game.


#11

As another SIL that was described as controlling, have you considered your brother doesn’t want to hang out with you any more? It was heartbreaking for me when I realized I was just my husband’s wife, and not part of the family. Do you treat your SIL as a sister or as his the lady your brother married and not include her in things? Do you call to talk to her, not just your brother? Do you offer to babysit so she can go out and do something just for herself? not just for your brother? Do you ever just do something with her? Do you treat her like you would a friend? Or have you alienated her so much that she knows she’s not welcomed? I let my husband see how they treated me and he soon got tired of their behavior too. (It wasn’t hard as they were always gossiping about me in another room during vistis and many other things.) He also got tired of the family treating him as if he was the same as he was when he was 18 and left the house for the military. They were not allowing him to grow up and become a man, father and husband. Being the first in the family to have children also caused trouble. They thougth my DH could jump at a moments notice when we had obligations to our children and were not the footloose childless couples they were.

My suggestion is to make your family home as welcoming as possible for your SIL. She should feel like family, not just a guest. When you show true love for your SIL, your brother may want to bring her over. If not, it may end up like our family. DH sees his family 1-2x’s a year and we purposely moved 8 hours away from his closest family memeber. Our marriage became much stronger when we left his family. They were pulling him away from his obligations as spouse and father and he didn’t see half of it until he moved. Now he doesn’t ever want to return to his mother’s “conclave.” (His term.)


#12

[quote="MomaMary8, post:11, topic:248271"]
They were not allowing him to grow up and become a man, father and husband.

[/quote]

i can relate to this statement. these are my feelings about my husband and his mom in particular (not really the rest of his family). once a man gets married he needs to make his new family his priority. it will be an adjustment but it needs to happen.


#13

I do understand that many women struggle with their MIL or FIL, and many times both the husband and wife decide together to pull away from them and focus on their family. I understand sometimes there is a need for that dynamic.

But, since I was probably one of the only ones to agree/support the OP, I’d like to share my point of view a little.

My MIL is widowed. FIL died a couple years before I met my husband. My husband is very close with his mother, and TRULY exemplifies “honoring thy parents” in a rich and beautiful way. Many women may feel threatened by this (I’m not trying to say anything insulting) because there is a bit of a “power struggle” dynamic that could emerge. However, I’m really not a controlling person, so while there are certainly “bumps” in every relationship with your inlaws, we tend to all get along and make things work. I know she won’t be around forever. She’s 77 years old, has had chronic leukemia for a decade and a stroke earlier this year. There are certainly moments when I would LOVE to jump in and say, “Hey husband… your family is your priority!”… but at the same time, I see this old widowed woman who does nothing but adore us as a family. Who am I to put that pressure on my husband? - even when he feels torn himself (he doesn’t like having to “choose”)!!!.. but, then it’s ME who says, “No, go take care of her.” And his burdens are lifted. She simply won’t be around forever.

And then I look at my brother and how he reacts to our mother. And I see how my SIL treats my mother. And my mother notices it too, and also notices how my family treats my MIL… so it’s hard for her - as a loving mother and grandmother.
Again, I get that some people need to “move on” for the sake of their family.
It’s just… *sad *to me. A different choice than I have made.
I don’t think it’s bad… just hard for me to understand from my own perspective.

I hope that clarifies a few of my own thoughts…


#14

Why are you guys all so quick to assume there’s nothing wrong here? Seriously! it’s hard to put all yer emotions into one opening post. believe it or not, it DOES happen, cases where one spouse is a lazy person who wants to keep their signifant others away from their family. My best friend’s step dad won’t let her mom out of the house alone. if she goes to spend time with her mom or sister, he has to go. if he doesn’t feel like going, she can’t go either. if she goes anywhere alone, she’s reuired to check in every fifteen minutes. Think that’s healthy? Who’s to say that OP isnt experiencing something similar? My future MIL is completely domineering and controlling over my FIL. It’s her way or no way at all, and he’s expected to do all the cooking, cleaning, yardwork, while she sits around to watch the Dog Whisperer


#15

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:13, topic:248271"]
I do understand that many women struggle with their MIL or FIL, and many times both the husband and wife decide together to pull away from them and focus on their family. I understand sometimes there is a need for that dynamic.

But, since I was probably one of the only ones to agree/support the OP, I'd like to share my point of view a little.

My MIL is widowed. FIL died a couple years before I met my husband. My husband is very close with his mother, and TRULY exemplifies "honoring thy parents" in a rich and beautiful way. Many women may feel threatened by this (I'm not trying to say anything insulting) because there is a bit of a "power struggle" dynamic that could emerge. However, I'm really not a controlling person, so while there are certainly "bumps" in every relationship with your inlaws, we tend to all get along and make things work. I know she won't be around forever. She's 77 years old, has had chronic leukemia for a decade and a stroke earlier this year. There are certainly moments when I would LOVE to jump in and say, "Hey husband... your family is your priority!"... but at the same time, I see this old widowed woman who does nothing but adore us as a family. Who am I to put that pressure on my husband? - even when he feels torn himself (he doesn't like having to "choose")!!!... but, then it's ME who says, "No, go take care of her." And his burdens are lifted. She simply won't be around forever.

And then I look at my brother and how he reacts to our mother. And I see how my SIL treats my mother. And my mother notices it too, and also notices how my family treats my MIL... so it's hard for her - as a loving mother and grandmother.
Again, I get that some people need to "move on" for the sake of their family.
It's just... sad *to me. A *different choice than I have made.
I don't think it's bad... just hard for me to understand from my own perspective.

I hope that clarifies a few of my own thoughts...

[/quote]

I think we all give answers based upon our own experiences. That's human nature. Hopefully the OP will take the pieces of wisdom from all of us to examine her relationship with her SIL and try to improve things if she can.

I think it is wonderful that you have a MIL that you love and enjoy. No relationship is perfect, but we should all do what we can. I wish I had that relationship. Part of the sadness in my relationship with my in-laws come from how I felt when I entered the family. I had brothers that were already married and thought I could expect to be welcomed into my husband's family like we welcomed them. When I call my brother's house, I always hope to talk to my SIL rather than my brother. I love her!! We have many things in common, most importantly, our children...the cousins. :) Sadly, this is not how all families treat new memebers. :( I looked forward to having new sisters, my sisters-in-law already had enough sisters and didn't need me.:shrug: I don't feel threatened. I just know I'm not always welcomed and don't need to keep being treated rudely. My husband recognizes that he is insulted when they insult me.


#16

Yes, it’s quite possible that the OP has described what is happening with 100% accuracy – in which case Brother Dear has to grow a spine.


#17

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:13, topic:248271"]
I do understand that many women struggle with their MIL or FIL, and many times both the husband and wife decide together to pull away from them and focus on their family. I understand sometimes there is a need for that dynamic.

But, since I was probably one of the only ones to agree/support the OP, I'd like to share my point of view a little.

My MIL is widowed. FIL died a couple years before I met my husband. My husband is very close with his mother, and TRULY exemplifies "honoring thy parents" in a rich and beautiful way. Many women may feel threatened by this (I'm not trying to say anything insulting) because there is a bit of a "power struggle" dynamic that could emerge. However, I'm really not a controlling person, so while there are certainly "bumps" in every relationship with your inlaws, we tend to all get along and make things work. I know she won't be around forever. She's 77 years old, has had chronic leukemia for a decade and a stroke earlier this year. There are certainly moments when I would LOVE to jump in and say, "Hey husband... your family is your priority!"... but at the same time, I see this old widowed woman who does nothing but adore us as a family. Who am I to put that pressure on my husband? - even when he feels torn himself (he doesn't like having to "choose")!!!... but, then it's ME who says, "No, go take care of her." And his burdens are lifted. She simply won't be around forever.

And then I look at my brother and how he reacts to our mother. And I see how my SIL treats my mother. And my mother notices it too, and also notices how my family treats my MIL... so it's hard for her - as a loving mother and grandmother.
Again, I get that some people need to "move on" for the sake of their family.
It's just... sad *to me. A *different choice than I have made.
I don't think it's bad... just hard for me to understand from my own perspective.

I hope that clarifies a few of my own thoughts...

[/quote]

Sounds as though your MIL has welcomed you as a daughter? Or are you fine with her nasty comments? I think that's the point that some of us are making. When we, the wives, are treated like garbage at the back door... surely, anyone can understand why we expect our husbands to be there for us and family, and NEVER mind those that don't respect the choice HE MADE...

What I would give for an MIL to actually liked me... If you could have seen the look on her her face when we announced our engagement. She looked positively ill? And then asked if we were serious... Her mother hated me even more. Refused to come to the wedding. Couldn't believe her grandson would go and marry a Catholic...

From your perspective. Imagine you MIL calling your home, when you answer, she does not acknowledge you at all. Not even a hello. Just asks for your DH by name as if it's a biz call. Then arrange to have lunch with DH, who you hear say... "no, she'll be at work when you come over..."... Then imagine that you DH is totally blindsided by the fact that his OWN MOTHER came to tell ask him when you and he are getting a divorce and the whole family is behind it... Just so he knows...

This isn't generally about being stingy with DH's time and that he should never see his "loving" family again... This is about a group of people that don't respect his choice in marriage, and constantly find ways to say they know just how miserable he is, and how SHE is doing this to them...

Is this what's happening with the OP? No idea... I sure hope not... but the initial post has a familiar ring to it.

Now, I will say, I have also witnesssed some CRAZY women that do flip out over normal relationships... and they are quite destructive. However, I do tend to place the blame on her husband (unless he's abused)... he's ALLOWING that... and then I guess... He probably learned that somewhere??


#18

And, I should say…too… It’s entirely possible the OP’s brother married a nut case…

How sad…

It’s probably for a whole other thread… HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??? Relationships are so complicated…


#19

Thank you for your replies, everyone. I probably came across as a little harsh in my post, and I know that it's hard to give advice without a lot of details. She is not a horrible person, and I often have enjoyed her company. But it is true that she is spoiled and even her own parents have told her to lay off my brother and help him out more.

I am not trying to be uncharitable- in fact, everyone in my family has gone well out of their way to make her feel welcome and to help them when they were married and when my nephew was born. I have tried especially hard, because I always wanted a sister and hoped that I would be friends with my sister in law.

When they visit, she doesn't ever lift a finger. She sits at the table and he serves her, she never offers to help, and if he brings her the wrong thing she snaps at him in front of all of us. If the baby needs changing, he does it. If he's hungry, he feeds him. Needs a nap? He put him down. It's his fault if something wasn't packed for the baby because, of course, he is responsible for that too. This doesn't even begin to describe everything, but when I say she is spoiled I am not exaggerating in the least.

Someone said it's possible my brother needs to grow a spine- this is probably true. And I know I can't really do or say anything. It's just so sad to watch him go from a happy guy to defeated and anxious. Em_in_FL, I'm so glad to know that I'm not alone in this. My husband is very close to his parents, and I've never had a problem with it- in fact I love it. It's not always easy to get along with them, but they are still the people who have known him and loved him his whole life.

I truly don't think I am being unreasonable to wish that she would carry more of her share and be a little more fair in her allotment of time spent with each family. It's hard to hear all the stupid excuses about why they can't come and then hear that they saw her family, over and over and over. I know that he bears some responsibility for this, but I know my brother and if she were considering his wishes too, I'm certain he'd be coming around a lot more.


#20

I feel for you being falsely accused. However, my parents situation was a bit different. My dad was the one who told my mom to accuse him. My dad didn’t care what others thought


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