Family Matters
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Problems with SIL

DH and his sister have never gotten along.  Their relationship is such that they talk on the phone maybe 4 times a year and see each other during the holidays in which they generally get in a fight.  I also do not talk with her, but am polite when I see her. 

After their last fight FIL approached me and said I need to be a bridge to SIL since she wants to be part of our baby's life.  My first inclination is to stay away like I have been doing all along.  Should I reach out to her for the sake of the baby?  And if so what would be an appropriate level of including her in baby's life with the fact that she and DH do not get along? She does not live nearby so any contact would be through e-mail.  Any advice?

Re: Problems with SIL

  • Keep doing what you're doing and stay out of it. This relationship with SIL is your husband's responsibility to repair, not yours. And that's only if he wants to repair it. Be polite when you see her, but otherwise, leave it be.
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  • Stay out of it.  If she really wants to be in the baby's life, she needs to fix her problems with her brother.  Families are a package deal, if you don't get along with me, you sure aren't going to have contact with my kids. She can't have it both ways - made at brother and be able to be a part of the child's life. 
  • Nope.  It's his child, too, and if he doesn't want her to have a relationship with his kids, that's his call to make. 

    Unless your DH wants her to have a relationship with the child, stay out of it.  

  • image DaiseyMai:
    Stay out of it.  If she really wants to be in the baby's life, she needs to fix her problems with her brother.  Families are a package deal, if you don't get along with me, you sure aren't going to have contact with my kids. She can't have it both ways - made at brother and be able to be a part of the child's life. 
    Ditto this 100%. 

    And to add, this isn't your FIL's decision!  This is about your DH.  What does your DH want to do? If he's fine w/ how things are, then that's where you leave it. 

    Plus, how is it for the "sake" of your child anyhow?  If I'm not close to someone (family or not), I don't see why my child needs to be close to them.  Even if it's from the POV of view of "but she's FAMILY!".  So what? 

    Again, she can't have it both ways.

    (but that also leads to- what exactly are the issues w/ her and your DH and how is HE responsible for the rift?  I doubt it's entirely one-sided!)

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
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  • Hell no.

    Your FIL managed to raise two kids who can't get along. It is not appropriate for him to ask you to repair his failure. To act toward this end is disloyal to your DH unless he requests your help.

    My DS doesn't need people in his life who can't be civil to me or his father.

  • DH would like to have a good relationship with his sister and would like his sister to have a relationship with the baby.  However they have a pattern of behavior that stems from childhood.  She'll make a rude comment- he'll be a jerk in return.  Then FIL demands DH to apologize- which he did as a child, but refuses to do anymore. 

    According to DH, SIL has never once apologized to him or taken responsibility for her part.  So part of the pattern is for FIL to get involved, which is some of the reason I am reluctant to do what he wants me to do.  I guess if she wants a relationship with her nephew then she should think before she makes rude comments. 

  • image Comet4658:

    DH would like to have a good relationship with his sister and would like his sister to have a relationship with the baby.  However they have a pattern of behavior that stems from childhood.  She'll make a rude comment- he'll be a jerk in return.  Then FIL demands DH to apologize- which he did as a child, but refuses to do anymore. 

    According to DH, SIL has never once apologized to him or taken responsibility for her part.  So part of the pattern is for FIL to get involved, which is some of the reason I am reluctant to do what he wants me to do.  I guess if she wants a relationship with her nephew then she should think before she makes rude comments. 

    So according to FIL, everything is and was always DH's fault and SIL could do no wrong? Yikes! I can't say I blame him for not apologizing now if she starts it. ITA 100% with your last statement - "if she wants a relationship with her nephew then she should think before she makes rude comments."
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  • Seriously, stay out of it.  That is between them.
  • image Comet4658:

    DH would like to have a good relationship with his sister and would like his sister to have a relationship with the baby.  However they have a pattern of behavior that stems from childhood.  She'll make a rude comment- he'll be a jerk in return.  Then FIL demands DH to apologize- which he did as a child, but refuses to do anymore. 

    According to DH, SIL has never once apologized to him or taken responsibility for her part.  So part of the pattern is for FIL to get involved, which is some of the reason I am reluctant to do what he wants me to do.  I guess if she wants a relationship with her nephew then she should think before she makes rude comments. 

    If your DH really does want to have a good relationship, then he needs to go one step further - he needs to stop being a jerk!  Seriously.  Not that she is absolved from her role, but as he is an adult, as he says he wants a relationship with her, he needs to control the one thing he can - HIS reaction to her. 

    How exactly has he taken responsibility for HIS part if he still continues to do it? 

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • I think it's our husband's job to repair the relationship.

    If he is ok with her being part of the baby's life, then I think sending photos out via e-mail would be a great idea regardless of whether or not they patch things up. Since she lives far away, I see no need for you to form a strong friendship with her.

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  • ECB-  DH is trying to make her see that her rude comments are unacceptable.  He sees her as a bully, and is trying to stand up to her.  I'm not sure that it is working though because their communication is not great.  So I don't know if he is sending a clear anti-bullying message or just coming off as a jerk.  He did try to have a heart to heart with her a year ago, but that did not work.

     

  • image Comet4658:

    ECB-  DH is trying to make her see that her rude comments are unacceptable.  He sees her as a bully, and is trying to stand up to her.  I'm not sure that it is working though because their communication is not great.  So I don't know if he is sending a clear anti-bullying message or just coming off as a jerk.  He did try to have a heart to heart with her a year ago, but that did not work.

    that's the thing - it doesn't need to be about him making her see her comments are unacceptable. It's about not responding. He needs to stop taking the bait.  Ignore her, turn away, etc. 

    It may not work, but getting NO response from him might have a stronger impact than him trying to be logical w/ her!  if she is a bully, she probably feeds off the interaction and escalating the issue.

    He needs to take that from her! 

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
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  • I agree she is baiting him.  She has tried a couple of times with me as well, and I did ignore her.  It seemed to work pretty well.  She would get this mad look on her face that I wasn't taking the bait. I'll suggest that to DH.  Thanks

     

  • image EastCoastBride:
    image Comet4658:

    ECB-  DH is trying to make her see that her rude comments are unacceptable.  He sees her as a bully, and is trying to stand up to her.  I'm not sure that it is working though because their communication is not great.  So I don't know if he is sending a clear anti-bullying message or just coming off as a jerk.  He did try to have a heart to heart with her a year ago, but that did not work.

    that's the thing - it doesn't need to be about him making her see her comments are unacceptable. It's about not responding. He needs to stop taking the bait.  Ignore her, turn away, etc. 

    It may not work, but getting NO response from him might have a stronger impact than him trying to be logical w/ her!  if she is a bully, she probably feeds off the interaction and escalating the issue.

    He needs to take that from her! 

     

    (I just want to jump and say how many problems can be minimized if people stop fighting for "the last word."  I have a friend whose relationship with her mother is iffy at best.  Whenever they're around each other, they're constantly b!tching back and forth.  I can't help but think what if one of them just stopped.  No more comments, rude faces, sighs, snide remarks, etc.  These things are only good for one thing: snowballing.)

  • Can you give us an example of your dh and sil's exchanges?  Is he really being a jerk or is he just standing up for himself?

    Your fil way over stepped his boundaries, I would have let my fil have it if he even tried to suggest how I should let my relationship with my sil be.

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  • It's not your responsibility to facilitate a mature relationship between them and it's wrong for your FIL to put you in the middle of their (seemingly obvious) long-standing family drama.  If it started before you even came along, stay out of it.

    Besides, if she wants to be a part of your child's life, she needs to do her share of growing up and facilitate that herself. 

  • Your FIL was wrong to put you in the middle.  You have nothing to do with your SIL & DH's relationship - that's between them and for them to figure out.   Not to be "negative Nelly" but if this problem has been consistent since childhood, I don't see either of them having a revelation and changing their ways to have a "decent" relationship.  It seems more like a personality conflict.

    FWIW, when SIL makes a rude comment, instead of DH adding fuel to the fire, he needs to be more direct to make his point and say, "SIL, when you make these remarks, it makes me not want to speak to you - they are rude and unnecessary and hurt my feelings."

    If SIL is unable to take responsibility for her behavior, then there's not a whole lot DH can do about it.  Some relationships are just better when in small doses.

  • Edited to take out the particulars of their arguments due to the fact that it is very specific, and SIL could recognize herself in the post if she happened upon it. 
  • You don't HAVE to do anything you don't want to.  And frankly it is not any of FIL's business.  Keep doing what you are doing.  Good job for staying out of it.
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  • Okay, so your DH isn't being a jerk.  His sister is a douche, and your FIL bends over backwards for her and expects everyone else to do the same.  Well, in your situation not only would I not try to be this bridge, but I'd tell FIL that if he wanted to help their relationship, you have some great suggestions (like him calling SIL on her douche behavior rather than pressuring your DH to bend over and take it).  And I'd never pay a dime for her to visit, ever again.
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  • To your examples:

    The "controlling" one - I do wonder in what context.  She felt he was dictating the days plans?  If so, he could have just said "Why don't you tell us what you'd like to do".  Or something else.  Not a "giving in" kind of way, but turning it around on her.   She doesn't like what he's suggesting, then put it to her to make some plans.

    (this is a pet peeve of mine- people who complain about the plans but aren't willing to make the plans themselves....)

    Sometimes no reaction is the way to go, but sometimes a total non-combative, rational reaction might work too. 

    But I think your DH is expecting rude from her, so he is automatically prepped to be snarky back.  I don't blame him,b ut I really think if he makes a true effort to change his reactions, you're probably going to stump her!

    The estranged brother - I don't see how any of that required anything from your DH.  Her constant comments about it?  I'd look at her, go "OK" and then turn away and move on to another topic.

    WHen she left to go see him, why did your DH need to be snarky?

    Again - your DH really needs to look at how he responds and why, and start changing his approach.  The less he falls into her trap, the less inspired she'll be to be rude.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • You get this is not your problem to fix? Your FIL and SIL are both jerks. If your DH wants to mend fences then fine, but until then don't get involved. I find it laughable you are supposed to fix a lifetime of discontent.

    Also, since it is your baby then if she wants to be a part of his/her life then I would suggest she be the one to get her behavior in check! 

    Your DH does need to ignore her simply because it would be the best way to piss her off without any effort or remarks on his part. It's a whole lot less work.

  • Do nothing, as you have been.  This is a matter only between your husband and his sister, and they are adults capable of mending their relationship if that is something they both choose to do and both work to accomplish.  No one person- not your DH or his sister, not your FIL, and not you- could accomplish that singlehandedly, and your FIL was wrong to suggest it could or that it was your responsibility to do so.  
  • 1) I would tell FIL "DH can handle his own relationship with his sister."  Don't tell him it's not your job, it's not his job.  Just say it and let the rest speak for itself.

    2) I"m not sure what FIL means.  I guess if you're EXCLUDING her from something - - like you send everyone photos of the baby, you should include her, too.  It's a little mean-spirited to have the attitude "only the favorite aunt/uncles get a photo."

    However, if SIL p*sses you off in facebook (for example) and you block or unfriend her, that's her own fault.  I would not allow someone I don't get along with "entry" into my life simply "for the baby."

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  • I would just stay out of it. I have been with the hubby for almost 6 yrs now and married alomost 2. SIL and H has never had a great relationship due to the fact they are 8 yrs apart has not really helped. Now that they are older it seems likes SIL is trying to compete or up-do us on everything. We were engaged and then she got engaged 3 mths later to a guy she only met 6 mths earlier. Its like she has never been happy for what we are trying to accomplish. Now that they have a kid she trys to throw that in our face every chance she can get. but we are not even ready for kids. I have tried to tell her I am happy for her and where they are at. We are 8 yrs younger then them do we really have to keep up with their timeline?!?!
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  • image -auntie-:

    Hell no.

    Your FIL managed to raise two kids who can't get along. It is not appropriate for him to ask you to repair his failure. To act toward this end is disloyal to your DH unless he requests your help.

    My DS doesn't need people in his life who can't be civil to me or his father.

     

    This exactly. 

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