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passive agressive SIL, should husband finally say something?

I apologize this is long. I need advice if my husband should finally stand up to his sister after years of excluding me.

My SIL is passive aggressive and I’ve had issues with her since I met my husband 8 plus years ago. She’s always leaving me out of the invitation to events. She used to send Facebook invites to her parties and would actually not invite me, but invite everyone else including the children if they had a FB account. My husband never said anything, he just told me I was “blowing things out of proportion” “I hate his family” and I need to “stop looking so deep into things”, “obviously I’m invited as part of our couple”. Fine, whatever. If we were free we’d go to the party anyway. She didn’t complain I was there, we’d be civil, but not friendly. We’ve never fought, I don’t know what I’ve done to be so bad that I’m not worthy. My hope is some people just don’t get along, but really to be that childish?

To give you some background of what she does: When we got married she was pregnant and due around the same time of our wedding. This was her 3rd child (late in life child) with a different husband.  She threw herself a baby shower that fell on the same day as our wedding shower (that’s apparently how his family does things, throw your own shower.) She just told DH “I’m sure you’ll get lots of gifts at your wedding. When her baby was born she addressed the birth announcement just to DH. The actual card didn’t list either of our names on the inside. Again DH didn’t think this was a knock at me but finally said something to her and she gave a song and dance of “your wife didn’t change her name and I didn’t know how to spell her last name, I didn’t want to offend her”. Mind you we’d been dating 4.5 years at that point and she has my FB friend. Silly point but it felt like you were saying you’re not my child’s aunt.

Flash forward to Memorial Day this year…the last 3 years DH and I have thrown a Memorial Day BBQ. This is the only time in the year we have an event because his sister hosts most of her family’s events and DH and I work different schedules so we can’t always be home to have a holiday party. We got our invitation out late, that was our fault. His sister doesn’t reply to our invitation, neither does his parents. When he finally gets ahold of his parents they say they’re going to a BBQ at his sisters the same day and wondered if we were going to SIL’s party. We never got invited to SIL’s party, didn’t even know it was going on. DH sends his sister a text asking if she’s coming to our BBQ, she says no she doesn’t have her youngest daughter that weekend so her and her husband were going away instead. When DH finally confronts her about knowing she’s having a BBQ she owns up and says she only invited her parents and her MIL because they pressured her to do something so they aren’t alone “she can’t afford to invite anyone else blah blah”. DH doesn’t call her out on her lie just rolls with it because she’s “so sorry”. Later we hear his brother complain DH and I should have our BBQ on a different day of the weekend so he can go to both…but no one else was invited? We couldn’t move our BBQ either because DH had to work most of Memorial Day weekend.

After that SIL finally invites us to a Father’s day BBQ which conveniently also had her asking for a lot of money to buy FIL a new grill (his parents don’t have literally any money) I was upset I felt like she only invited us to pay for the gift. We didn’t chip in because we wanted to buy the IL’s a gift card to a grocery store, you can’t grill if you don’t have food. We all also just gave the MIL a lot of gifts for her 60th just a month before.

Saturday I ask DH if his sister was planning on hosting Thanksgiving again this year (again she typically hosts all 3 major holidays plus her  kids B-Day parties and most of the other 4th of July, Father’s day etc. parties.) He said he received a text message about it but wanted to wait to respond because he was upset. Apparently she’s hosting a b-day party for her son this coming weekend and wrote “having a bday party for son if YOU are free let me know. Also, the door is open on Thanksgiving if YOU want to stop by” He finally took this as I’m not invited to either. I also feel the message about Thanksgiving was really excluding us. Yes DH is working so we couldn’t go anyway, but the 3 major holidays are the only time of year I don’t get excluded, I actually get a facebook comment on my personal page so everyone can see it. I told DH to just let it go, go to the party on Saturday or not (he’s working Saturday night so he probably won’t go, won’t be able to stay long enough) but I won’t go. I want to believe she means both of us and just said “you” in a quick text, but he finally sees what I’ve been saying. So my long, drawn out question is…should he finally say something? He’s never confronted her about me not being invited. He really only started to “see” what I “saw” on Memorial Day because he was left out too. His family used to do this with his other brother, because they didn’t like his wife, but they told them that. Since then they have mended ways and invite the brother and his wife again.

 H finally wants to say to her “you need to invite me and my wife, she’s my family and I don’t want her excluded” but to me, it’s almost moot, she will come up with a song and dance about how I was invited the whole time and he always falls for it. I also don’t want him in a fight with his sister. I refuse to stand up and deal with her because it’s stupid, you’re a grown woman. Oh yeah and it’s my husband’s family he should deal with this. The problem with this is that we can’t just ignore her since she hosts 99% of the family events, DH won’t see his whole family together unless we go to SIL’s assuming we’re invited. I don’t want things to be akard and be the reason he’s not invited to his families event.

Sorry for the long post, hopefully this makes sense. I’m just at the end of my rope. I’d rather just say screw her and ignore her, but I like the rest of DH’s family including SIL’s husband and I don’t want to lose them because she’s childish. 

Re: passive agressive SIL, should husband finally say something?

  • :: Shrugs ::

    I don't know.  When I invite my sister's family to our events, I just send a text to her and don't ask her husband too.  They do the same with me.  Only I get the message, not both of us so that doesn't seem odd to me.  

    As far as Memorial Day is concerned, that does seem odd and rude to exclude you like that and I can see why it upset you both.  Maybe they thought it would be too awkward since you host a party too ?  

    I mean I really don't know.  It is hard to say if she is being passive aggressive about the invites or just lazy ( like me ).   Overall, if she is polite and civil when you are together, than that is a good thing.  
  • Would you ever be interested in hosting one of the major holidays, and offering it as an option to SIL, to see if she's actually really tired of being the automatic go-to host for major holidays? 

    I agree that the invitations might be more lazy, than exclusive.  I normally just text/call/message my sisters, and I don't always use plural pronouns, but they know that the invitation stands for the whole family.  In the text that she sent to your husband, is YOU capitalized, or did you just do that here, for emphasis?  Because if she was the one to emphasize YOU in the original text.....then I can see what you're saying.  In that case, your husband should definitely let her know that you BOTH either will/won't be able to make it. 

    As for the Memorial Day BBQ, I feel like there isn't a rule that just because you hosted before, you have claim to the holiday, and I know some people may disagree because it's family, but I don't think there is a rule that you HAD to be invited.  If she hosts, she can decide the guest list.  The thing that was definitely inappropriate, was not being honest with you.  I'd like to think that she was hosting mainly to host her inlaws, and invited her family members, just to be nice - except you, because she knew you already had plans.  Although, it would have been far better, had she planned her event as a lunch if yours was a dinner (or the other way around), and been open and honest about what she was doing/why.  So while I would like to believe that did not set out to intentionally hurt you, she certainly could have gone about it a much better way.  It's a bit late now, but your husband could have used it as an opportunity to clear the air, and let SIL know that honesty would have been appreciated. 

    If there is some reason why she really is trying to exclude you, would it be possible for you to host your husbands family another time?  Christmas Eve dinner?  Your husband's birthday?  New Years, or Easter brunch?  You don't have to rely on her to be the glue that holds the family together. 

  • Thank you for the advice. Even if she really is trying to exclude me I think it's stupid to point it out now, like why didn't you care 4 years ago when she actually left me off the list? I don't want him in a fight with his sister and excluded from his family because of his sister. In all honesty we wouldn't be friends in real life if we didn't have my husband in common so it’s not like I’m offended she doesn’t love me like her own sister, I just don’t want to be a wedge for something I didn’t do. She has a young child and just started working again PT, she probably typed the message quick and thought we’d get the point that we’re both invited.


    I see the point about not having to invite family to every holiday or event, I just hate that she lied. It really felt shady that it was just us that wasn't invited, but she didn't say that. She made it clear to my husband it was just her parents and her MIL. We dropped the ball getting the invitation out too late, but she apparently had planned her BBQ in April, we only sent out our invites 2 weeks before Memorial Day in May. She seemed to have plenty of time to invite us if she wanted us there.


    His family is very close. When I first met him they all lived really close to each other and did family dinner every Sunday. Now that everyone but us has kids, and we work different schedules no one commits to family dinner so we wait until his sister hosts something. 50% of the time (if not more) he’s working that weekend and we can’t go, I don’t feel like I’m welcome by myself and I don’t want to go without him. I know his family can’t plan around his schedule even though he knows now what his whole schedule is for 2015. It just sucks because we do have fun with the rest of his family. My BIL (SIL’s husband) thinks we don’t like him either because we don’t go to so many events. He’s the 3rd husband (apparently the first 2 were bozo’s) so I think he thinks us not going is a knock at him.  He doesn’t do FB so he doesn’t get word if we say we can’t go because of work or plans with my family etc. He had a conversation with DH a while ago but that apparently didn’t go anywhere. I’m sure I’m making a bigger deal of it, but I don’t want to look like a jerk when I simply wasn’t invited. I honestly don’t think SIL says “oh bro and his wife aren’t coming because he’s working or I didn’t invite them”


    As far as the holidays, I do feel bad that she always hosts, but she just offers so early no one else complains. Every year DH works at least 2, if not all 3 major holidays (he's in civil service so it's hard to get swaps, everyone else wants to be home too.) This year the only holiday he's not working is Christmas, but he's working overnight Christmas Eve and won't get home until 8:30 - 9am on Christmas day. I don't think he'll want to put on a big meal and production after that. He's even working New Years Eve night so we can't host a party with his family or our friends. We live an hour away from his family who are all closer to each other in distance to each other. I have a feeling they would all decline our invitation due to the distance they'd drive to us rather than his sisters. He has a big family too (3 siblings who all have children), we'd have more than 14 people including all the kids and I don't think we have the room.  All of his siblings have step children who used to rotate holidays with their other parent when they were younger, that made getting everyone together on an off day like Christmas Eve really tough. I guess we could try to do something in between Christmas and Thanksgiving since there’s a good chance we won’t see them for either holiday, but I don’t want to plan something and have them say sorry it’s too far or we’re busy. Again the other issue being DH’s schedule, we plan 6 weeks out if we want a date night because he has a day or night weekend shift to fight with.


    We did try the two families in one day thing one year but it was a nightmare. His sister will only plan events in the middle of the day. Given my dad is almost 2 hours from his sister we’d drive all day and hardly see anyone or cut off an early brunch to get to his sister's on time. I hate making someone else move their holiday time to adjust for SIL’s meal either.


    My SIL’s husband lost his dad a few years ago so it’s just him and his mom. Because the other kids in the family don’t typically host holidays and rotate holidays between their s/o’s family I think she’s afraid her MIL and her parents will end up alone on the holiday if she doesn’t host. It’s just my dad and I, my brother lives too far away to come home for holidays, if I go with my husband to the one holiday he’s not working I leave my dad alone. One year my dad and I were specifically invited to the holiday at SIL’s, but we had  just lost my mom and didn’t want to go and be sad. Our families didn’t meet each other until the receiving line at our wedding either so it’s a weird relationship now. They get along fine, but they don’t know each other enough to enjoy the holiday.


    Thanks again for the advice. The holidays are such a pain his crappy schedule only adds to the stress. Hopefully he didn’t say anything to her today and we just move on. If he really thinks there is an issue he’ll need to find a polite way to say hey are you really inviting both of us, we’re just not clear.

  • O.k - if his sister really is trying to exclude you and your DH speaking up and saying a "Hey - either my wife is included or neither of us come" would actually mean he would not see ANY of his family... then I question what your definition of "close" is.  Because that doesn't sound like a close family.  It sounds like an exclusive and petty family.

    Past that - why do you all wait for his sister to host stuff?  Pick up the phone and invite his family over sometime.  Maybe the reason she lied about Memorial Day is that she didn't know what to say or how to handle it, but she might also be tired of hosting EVERYTHING. 

    I don't doubt there are some issues here, but his family doesn't really seem all that close. 

  • I would have him say "I received your text saying 'if YOU are free, stop by.'...what do you mean by that?  Why the YOU in all caps?"  And see what she says.  

    As for waiting around for SIL to plan things...if you know your DH's schedule a year in advance, why not plan a party of your own?  You don't need a major holiday to gtg with family.  If they are sports fans, plan a gathering around a good football, hockey, or basketball game.  If they like movies, plan an Oscar night bash or rent a newly released movie.  Even "I am cooking up a fresh put of pasta sauce is enough reason to invite family over.

    Also, since you are child-free, there is nothing from stopping the two of you to drive and visit one of his family members on dh's day off (without the whole gang for a sit-down meal).

    Just waiting until SIL invites you, then crying about how the invite comes out, isn't working for you.  You are hurt and resentful.  Something has to change.

    And if you know Memorial Day is free for you, you can start chatting it up at Easter.  "Well, don't know when we will see you next, but keep Memorial Day free for our BBQ!"  If they don't come, and go to SILs house because her house is less of a drive...the family is not as close to your H as you would like to think.  
    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • She didn't say "YOU" in all caps, I added that so I appologize. He also waited to tell me about the text since he wanted to cool off and make sure he wasn't blowing it out of proportion. 

    He did end up calling her before I got home last night to say let it go (the one friggin' time he does something when he says he will!) They cleared the air. She said she says "you' to everyone and didn't mean anything by it. She sends group texts as invitations now and my husband doesn't get those on his phone since we don't pay for a data plan. She remembered to send him a seperate text later and rushed because she was busy doing something else, it didn't occur to her to say you and your wife's name. So yes maybe I blew this one out of proportion, but trust me things in the past have been bad. I do trust that she meant both of us this time and I feel really guilty that he even called but he never stood up before so if he finally wants to deal with it then so be it. 

    I agree she shouldn't host every holiday. I would love to have them for a different day. My husband goes to visit his parents on his days off a lot. They are dirt poor and have a really crappy car. It's hard for them to get places without someone giving them gas money (FIL is disabled, MIL doesn't work) When his parents went to my mother's funeral (which was huge I get that they didn't have to go) we gave them gas money to get home, it's that serious. Every year we have to get them a gift card to the grocery store and a gift card to a meat store so that they can freeze stuff and make it through the winter. Going to SIL's when she gets her invitation out first (which I thought etiquette said you have to) is easier for them. next time we host something I'll be happy to give them gas money since us driving one hour to pick them up then one hour back to drop them off doesn't make sense, but I don't know if his dad is too proud to accept gas money to visit his own son...

    Memorial Day might not be the best day to see his family since it's a long weekend sometimes his siblings go away to do other things than visit SIL. I have a lot of friends from college who still visit who live out of state. A long weekend like that works better for them to say and it's a nice tradition. If his family still doesn't want to drive up that day then we pick a day in June that everyone is free, put it on the calendar now. We've tried that before, we go apple picking or to the zoo with the younger kids and his parents and whatever siblings are free, it's a lot of fun. Sometimes it gives his sister the day off too.

    For the record though, if she really was excluding me, should my husband just go by himself to events at his sisters and leave me out of it? Can we exclude her from events in return? That seems rather childish,hence the need to clear the air which has happened.
  • I also appreciate that she remembered that he doesn't get group texts and sent a separate one so that we weren't excluded. It's not like she knows our data plan and what kind of messages we can get.

  • For the record though, if she really was excluding me, should my husband just go by himself to events at his sisters and leave me out of it? Can we exclude her from events in return? That seems rather childish,hence the need to clear the air which has happened.
    If your DH really wants to back you up and wants you to be recognized as his wife and family, then NO, he shouldn't attend w/o you. He needs to say "we're a package deal". 

    But no, I wouldn't bow down to being petty and excluding her.  it IS petty.
  • I don't believe for one second that she is trying to exclude you, I think you are reading too much into it.  I host people at my home all of the time and send text messages to people letting them know of the event and I only send it to my brothers, my sister and the ladies of the households and I always say: Hey, I'm hosting such and such even if you want to stop by and no one has ever thought their spouse isn't invited or nor has anyone gotten offended.

    When your husband can't go I think you should still go and spend time with them so that you get to know your SIL and ILs better and maybe that will help you understand if they like you or not.  Also, you should invite your dad to the holidays at your SILs and offer to help her prep and clean up so that she doesn't have all of the burden herself.

  • Late follow up, we saw his family this weekend at a birthday party for a different nephew. SIL was polite, seemed as though she actually wanted to try and make conversation but the party was short and busy so we didn't talk much. I do feel better, we (both of us) have an invitation to Easter and I believe my husband can actually go for once. At the very least we have the invitation very early so I was probably over reacting to her latest (the ones I wrote about on here) texts.

    The only thing that frustrates me is that there is no communication to the rest of the family. If DH has to work he responds to SIL who says she understands his schedule. When we see (or speak on the phone) the rest of the family they make comments "are you going to SIL's for x event?" they act surprised to hear he's working. We were recently invited to an adult only over night event. My husband responded that he couldn't go, I'm working one of the nights and he's working both days of the weekend, two vacation days or swaps aren't possible, he told SIL this. A different SIL asked us "why don't you want to go to xyz event" that we declined due to work. I worry we're viewed as snobby to the family who doesn't get the word he's working. I think they think we just don't want to go so we don't. Should we really let each person know individually that he has to work most of the time events are held? I just feel that's overkill. I guess it would help explain our absence, but I was hoping SIL would just say he was working if anyone asked. It's not her job though I guess.

    DH's schedule is that tough. I looked today to try and plan a 2 day get away for us alone, I have to wait literally two months to have him not work Friday through Sunday. I can't ask his family to plan around his schedule, that's insane, I just want them to know that he really is working, we're not blowing you off. I bet if they think we're blowing them off they won't want to go to our stuff and why should they?
  • When someone asks why you don't want to go to X event, simply reply, "we would love to be able to go, but DH's work schedule is really tight, and he won't be able to get off of work."  And let that be the end of it.  It is understandable for people to not know why you declined, as it isn't the host's responsibility to keep every invited guest up to date on who can/can't make it, and why.  You're right - contacting each guest and letting them know why you can't make it is overkill. 

    If people want to know, let them ask.  Or if you see or speak to family, let them know, "I'm sorry I won't be able to see you at X event, but I'm sure it will be great.  I hope DH's work schedule allows him to make it next time." 

    This season of your life makes social engagements difficult.   Just make it to the events that you can, and don't worry over what you can't control.  If your family judges you because you're not able to make it, that's on them - not you.  You don't have control over other people's reactions or behavior. 

    I realize that 100% accuracy isn't possible, but if family events fall into a natural pattern (around holidays or birthdays, maybe), then try to anticipate events, and request off early.  If it turns out that there isn't an event when he has a day off, then either enjoy the time together, or take the opportunity to do a little hosting of your own.  Whether or not your family chooses to come isn't something that you can control, so it won't do any good to stress or worry about it!
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