The Sister-In-Laws…

Question: My husband and I have been married for almost 10 years, we have two young daughters.  My husband has two older sisters who are difficult for me to deal with.  His oldest sister (SIL 1) is for the most part easy going and kind although she is not very involved in either my husband’s or my daughters’ lives.  His other sister is the middle child (SIL 2) and the favorite of my MIL and FIL and they make it pretty obvious.  She takes full advantage of this at every opportunity and if she feels that her “favorite” status may be threatened she has no qualms about “bad-mouthing” her siblings or their spouses to her parents.  When I first became a part of this family my SILs were not close to each other at all, their relationship was strained mostly due to this backstabbing behavior of (SIL 2).  Over the past three or four years, my SILs have become close, which I think is great, the only problem is, they “gang up” and exclude my husband, their brother from everything.  He and I and our girls do not get invited when they go on day trips, or barbecue at each other’s house, or take out my in-laws boat.  Then they will talk about the trips and even show pictures in front of my husband and I and our girls.  It is very hurtful especially since I remember a time when they disliked each other and I and my husband have always been neutral and tried to have a relationship with both.  SIL 2 will even purchase birthday gifts for my MIL & FIL and not tell us until like a day before and say I bought Mom’s present you owe me $20.  A lot of times, we have already purchased a gift ourselves!!  The last straw for me came this week.  My MIL & FIL are both retired so they took all their grandchildren on many outings this summer, on hikes, etc.  My SIL 2 went along on these trips as she does not work in the summer.  Then at a family event SIL 2 presents my MIL & FIL with a beautiful bound book created with pics from the outings.  They were so touched and thanked her profusely.  We passed the book around and as I looked through the many, many pages I saw only very few pics of my children, they were mostly of SIL 2’s kids.  In fact there were many pics of the outings that my children were not even invited to.  As I am leaving my SIL 2 says to me, “I need $10, your share of the book for mom & dad”.  First of all, I wasn’t asked about the book, we would have loved to have been involved as it was a great idea.  Secondly my children were hardly represented at all in it.  And thirdly, she took ALL the credit for it and only asked for the money after my MIL & FIL left. I am so frustrated as this is only the most recent example of this behavior.  I think my SIL 1 is aligned with her for fear of being excluded herself and SIL 2 has a great deal of power with my MIL & FIL as she is the favorite.  How should I deal with this, let her know how I feel; talk to SIL 1 about it or just keep my mouth shut?  I am afraid as my daughters get older that they will get their feelings hurt by all the favoritism and exclusion that is going on.  Advice please!
Answer: Christina,
These women are not ones with whom you should waste any energy. I would suggest you attempt to make specific time with MIL and FIL and your family. If you attempt to talk to one they will inevitably go to the other and then there will be bad things said about you. I would suggest you don’t say anything. I think your focus should be on making the relationship you and your family have with FIL and MIL be as positive as it can be. That may mean limiting time with the SIL’s. I would suggest your husband approach the SIL and let her know that you won’t be paying money towards any gifts unless you are talked with first. The reason she does that is because you both have not said anything to her about it. Your husband needs to step up and be protective of his family. You should not be the point person here because they will eat you alive. The more you can show your daughters how to do the right things in advere situations the more competent and mature they will become.

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