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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

For many years things have been a bit difficult for my wife. MY sister is a very sociable and excitable person where as my wife is sociable in her own way and well, they just never connected in a special way.

In the beginning my wife would tell me that my sister ignores her when others are around. Not in any intentional, she doesn't like my wife kind of way......she just forgets she's there.

I would tell my wife that she maybe needs to make more of an effort until I started to sit back and watch and it's true. My sister would rarely acknowledge my wife's presence. For instance at a family night out she sat through the whole meal with her back to my wife chatting to the other person beside her.

This all came to a head at Christmas when my wife's family were visiting. We've been together for 9 years by the way. My sister got all excited and said to my wife's sister that they should go on a night out. My wife wasn't included in this conversation at all and it hurt her so badly. Of course she knew that she could go but without being invited by her sister in law, who she'd known for such a long time to ask if she could go was I think a bit humiliating.

As the weeks passed my sister noticed something was wrong (which we thought was admirable actually) and we thought we'd let time be the healer as my wife didn't was a fuss or for things to change.

The other night my sister phoned me as she found out the problem from my parents. She started telling me how it was ridiculous and that she was really hurt that my wife would think that she wasn't included and then proceeded to tell me that my wife had a problem. She kept pushing me that I couldn't help it and I told her (in a calm way) how she's been with my wife over the years. She did not take it well. She got mega upset (and I could hear her husband in the background wanting to talk to me) and thinks we have this grudge against her. I assured her we don't.

So I spoke to my Dad who suggested I phone my Sister asking her to meet to have a chat all together. She doesn't want to. She thinks that we obviously think her behaviour towards my wife has been unacceptable and that we have a grudge against her. What's worse is that my wife now looks like someone who's been harbouring ill feelings towards my sister for years where in reality we accepted long ago that they just wouldn't have that type of friend/relationship and we didn't want to cause any family breakups. The Christmas thing was just too hurtful though.

In my spilling the beans to my sister however I've made things a whole lot worse and I don't know how to tackle it. As much as it upsets me when I see my wife brushing aside my wife (as unintentional as it is) I know telling my sister about nine years of disconnection was a bit too much for her.

I don't know what to do.
 

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She started telling me how it was ridiculous and that she was really hurt that my wife would think that she wasn't included and then proceeded to tell me that my wife had a problem.
Your sister is being a disingenuous be-yotch!

What's worse is that my wife now looks like someone who's been harbouring ill feelings towards my sister for years where in reality we accepted long ago
No, your wife HAS been harboring ill feelings towards your sister for years!


You have two women who are being DISHONEST about their feelings. They are lying to everyone to make themselves look better/feel better (each one is a 'martyr' to family cohesion).

Get the family together, stand up and say, "You know what? I love you both...and you're BOTH in the wrong!" "Sis, you HAVE been ignoring [wife's name] for years. I've seen it. If you don't want to acknowledge WHAT it is you dislike about her, fine. But don't PRETEND you don't know what is OBVIOUS to outsiders."

"[Wife's name], you HAVE been feeling ignored/ill-used for years, but YOU have refused to address the issue. If you don't want to acknowledge that you've been hurt by her, fine. But don't PRETEND you're not being a 'martyr' here just to keep the family peace."

"If this situation is EVER going to improve, it's ONLY going to happen by being HONEST and ADULT in our behavior. Since this is between the TWO OF YOU, the rest of us are going to the basement/den/garage/wherever and let you two come to your OWN understanding."

They're big girls! They're both in the wrong! Let them pull up their big-girl panties and settle it themselves.
 

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It sounds to me like your sister is an extrovert, whereas your W is, possibly, an introvert? If your W doesn't contribute much to the conversation, it's quite possible that your sister finds it easier to interact with others in the group who are more outgoing, and inadvertently ignores your W...

Unless you think your sister is being deliberately rude, this is between your sister and your W, and I don't know why your W had to involve you.
 

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Yup, I agree that everyone's made mistakes here, but it's nothing unforgivable.

Sounds like your sister is offended that you guys collectively wrote her off as cold to your wife. She probably got angry because she didn't think she was being cold to your wife, even if she was.

And your wife is hurt because she thinks your sister just doesn't like her that much.

Everyone needs to own their part in this and say sorry for making assumptions about how you feel about me, and sorry for not trying harder to build a more positive relationship.

When my brother and his now wife were dating, we had a bit of a falling out. Long story short, she thought one of my friends was an ex of my brother's, and thought that when I brought her around, I was trying to break them up. My brother didn't tell me this, and instead just tried to avoid us. My brother has no social skills at all. Finally it all came out, we talked, there were apologies on all sides, and all's good. My SIL is still a little crazy and occasionally has a little too much to drink and tells everyone that she knows we all secretly hate her, but the next day everyone's back to normal. Sometimes you just have to accept that family is a little crazy, but you love them anyway. :)
 

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My SIL is still a little crazy and occasionally has a little too much to drink and tells everyone that she knows we all secretly hate her, but the next day everyone's back to normal. Sometimes you just have to accept that family is a little crazy, but you love them anyway.
I just did a REAL WORLD "lol"! Thanks for that!
 

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Your wife & sister don't really get along.

They both know it.

Niether one of them are making much of an effort to have a better relationship.

If I were your sister, I would be upset at you but what's done is done.

I can't stand my brother's wife & make very small efforts to get along with her. We don't like each other. If he told me "how I've been with his wife over the years" I would get mad & defensive also.

I would hear it as a criticism of my behavior for trying to be cordial & respectful to someone I don't get along with but do it to keep family peace.

Your situation is different but I want you to see your sister's POV.

Call your sister & apologize. Tell her your wife's feelings were hurt on Christmas. End of story.
 

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And this is what happens when you try to solve problems that aren't yours to solve.

Call your sister back and apologize. Tell her yes that your wife's feelings were hurt over Christmas and that while in your protective man role you overreacted.
 

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Bleh... I think sometimes things have to be a little worse before they can get better. You've confronted a difficult situation and your sister didn't like hearing something negative about herself. Who does?

She'll get over it. Reassure her that you love and believe in her to do the right thing, and emphasize to her that your wife only felt hurt because she cares about having your sister like her and wants to build a connection but doesn't know how. It's possible your wife feels a little intimidated by her exuberance. You can acknowledge that she thought she was inviting your wife, but your wife wasn't sure and didn't want to be rude and make assumptions.

Sis will lick her wounds for a while, just like we all do when we feel like we've been mistreated, but she'll stew on it a while and start to see validity in yours and your wife's perceptions. If you saw her being this way, too, then there is no way in hell that she's not aware of it herself.
 

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Hi there,

For many years things have been a bit difficult for my wife. MY sister is a very sociable and excitable person where as my wife is sociable in her own way and well, they just never connected in a special way.

In the beginning my wife would tell me that my sister ignores her when others are around. Not in any intentional, she doesn't like my wife kind of way......she just forgets she's there.

I would tell my wife that she maybe needs to make more of an effort until I started to sit back and watch and it's true. My sister would rarely acknowledge my wife's presence. For instance at a family night out she sat through the whole meal with her back to my wife chatting to the other person beside her.
I'm glad that you took the time to actually assess whether your wife's concerns were accurate. You are a good husband. Your sister was very rude to sit with her back to your wife for a whole evening. I hate that kind of behavior.

This all came to a head at Christmas when my wife's family were visiting. We've been together for 9 years by the way. My sister got all excited and said to my wife's sister that they should go on a night out. My wife wasn't included in this conversation at all and it hurt her so badly. Of course she knew that she could go but without being invited by her sister in law, who she'd known for such a long time to ask if she could go was I think a bit humiliating.
This was another piece of rudeness on your sister's part. As your wife is her sister-in-law, and your wife's sister is not related to your sister, really, this conversation should have been between the sisters-in-law in the first place.

As the weeks passed my sister noticed something was wrong (which we thought was admirable actually) and we thought we'd let time be the healer as my wife didn't was a fuss or for things to change.
Is it "admirable" because your sister is so thick skinned and indifferent that it makes a change for her actually to be sensitive to the feelings of others?

The other night my sister phoned me as she found out the problem from my parents.
This is the one place that you slipped up - as did your parents. It should have come from you to your sister in the first place - as soon as you noticed that she was ignoring your wife.

She started telling me how it was ridiculous and that she was really hurt that my wife would think that she wasn't included and then proceeded to tell me that my wife had a problem. She kept pushing me that I couldn't help it and I told her (in a calm way) how she's been with my wife over the years. She did not take it well. She got mega upset (and I could hear her husband in the background wanting to talk to me) and thinks we have this grudge against her. I assured her we don't.
Your sister obviously doesn't like your wife. For her to say that your wife "has a problem" is a problem. That's not the way that members of a family should speak to each other. Your sister has been called on her b.s. and she didn't like it - obviously she's going to be upset that her rudeness has been noticed, and now she's trying to deflect her bad behavior onto you and your wife. Ho hum.

So I spoke to my Dad who suggested I phone my Sister asking her to meet to have a chat all together. She doesn't want to. She thinks that we obviously think her behaviour towards my wife has been unacceptable and that we have a grudge against her. What's worse is that my wife now looks like someone who's been harbouring ill feelings towards my sister for years where in reality we accepted long ago that they just wouldn't have that type of friend/relationship and we didn't want to cause any family breakups. The Christmas thing was just too hurtful though.
I don't think that you and your wife look bad at all. This whole "grudge" thing is a smokescreen intended to deflect the blame from your sister's behavior to you and your wife.

In my spilling the beans to my sister however I've made things a whole lot worse and I don't know how to tackle it. As much as it upsets me when I see my wife brushing aside my wife (as unintentional as it is) I know telling my sister about nine years of disconnection was a bit too much for her.

I don't know what to do.
I don't believe that your sister's behavior is 'unintentional' and I think her over-reaction right now is because she got called on it, which she did not expect. After all she has gotten away with it for nine years. The only bad I can see is that she wasn't called on it before now. All you can do is ask your sister to meet with you - just you and her, no-one else - and for you to tell her what you, personally, have observed. Don't let her pull the drama queen, and finger pointing (IWM/WAT = "it wasn't me" "what about them"). Just tell her quietly and calmly, and ask her whether she is prepared to mend bridges with your wife or not. If you can obtain some kind of resolution, then all good and well, but if your sister continues to claim innocence and how terribly hurt she is at this "grudge" (again, she's hurt because she was finally called on her b.s. and if there is any grudge it is a grudge she has on your wife, not the other way around) all well and good. If she's not willing to accept any responsibility for her behavior, just leave it alone.

Clarify with your parents that you have observed this rudeness for yourself. You're not asking them to take sides - you are just stating a fact.

Then back off.

It might make for a few uncomfortable get-togethers, but there's nothing much you can do. The cat can't be put back in the bag, so to speak.

This is a good example of why it's better to speak up on these things than let them fester for too long!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi,

Thanks for all the replies and advice everyone.

We've hit a bit of a blockhead in that,

As I said the other night I phoned my sister back asking if she wanted to meet up to have a chat about it. She said no. She also said why don't we all go for a coffee or something at the weekend. I said lets see what happens then.

She just text me asking if we'd like to go for a coffee and then for lunch with a cousin they're meeting that day.

I thought brilliant, the situation won't likely ever be the same but at least this way we can be seen to be making an effort. My wife on the other hand is angry saying she won't go as it's an avoidance of everything that's happened over the years and namely Christmas. She says it's not fair that it all gets forgotten about.

I'm not wanting to force my wife to go (I wouldn't be able to anyway, she's Spanish) but I think it will make the situation possibly worse if we don't and it will give my sister a chance to say to everybody "See, it's not me!"

:(
 

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Why can't just the three of you get together? Why did it go from you asking to go for a coffee, and it turning into some kind of group meeting - your sister, some other people (you said "they'e meeting that day" so I assume that it is your sister and her husband?) and a cousin. There's something wrong with the fact that your sister will not meet you and your wife, face to face, to talk about this. Again, it seems to me that she did not like being called on her behavior, and she is not going to discuss her behavior, so either it's her way or the highway. That is just a continuation of rudeness towards your wife, imo.
 

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Hi,

Thanks for all the replies and advice everyone.

We've hit a bit of a blockhead in that,

As I said the other night I phoned my sister back asking if she wanted to meet up to have a chat about it. She said no. She also said why don't we all go for a coffee or something at the weekend. I said lets see what happens then.

She just text me asking if we'd like to go for a coffee and then for lunch with a cousin they're meeting that day.

I thought brilliant, the situation won't likely ever be the same but at least this way we can be seen to be making an effort. My wife on the other hand is angry saying she won't go as it's an avoidance of everything that's happened over the years and namely Christmas. She says it's not fair that it all gets forgotten about.

I'm not wanting to force my wife to go (I wouldn't be able to anyway, she's Spanish) but I think it will make the situation possibly worse if we don't and it will give my sister a chance to say to everybody "See, it's not me!"

:(
Well, if your wife won't go, then she's showing her stubborn side and it *is* her. If she won't allow your sister to make up for things, that's not your sister's fault.

Hopefully you can convince your wife to do the classy, honorable thing and let your sister make amends without feeling a need to humiliate her, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, if your wife won't go, then she's showing her stubborn side and it *is* her. If she won't allow your sister to make up for things, that's not your sister's fault.

Hopefully you can convince your wife to do the classy, honorable thing and let your sister make amends without feeling a need to humiliate her, too.
Hi there,

I think it's the fact that my sister doesn't want to talk about or acknowledge what she's done that bothers my wife. She just wants us to meet up like nothing ever happened.

I'm not sure how successful a relationship between us all will be if this is brushed under the carpet. My sister has said to me that she can not allow herself to believe that she has ever done anything wrong against my wife. Although she says that I'm not so sure she believes it. I don't know anymore.
 

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I think it's the fact that my sister doesn't want to talk about or acknowledge what she's done that bothers my wife. She just wants us to meet up like nothing ever happened.

I'm not sure how successful a relationship between us all will be if this is brushed under the carpet. My sister has said to me that she can not allow herself to believe that she has ever done anything wrong against my wife. Although she says that I'm not so sure she believes it. I don't know anymore.
Exactly. Whether your sister believes that she did anything wrong or not (I think she knows she did), it behoves her to behave like a grown up and at least listen to your wife. In the interests of family dynamics, this situation should be addressed, and hopefully healed. Silence does not bring healing.

Caz, you and your sister grew up together, I assume. Does she have a history of evading difficult subjects?
 

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Going to coffee/lunch this weekend will NOT start the "amending" process. With other people present (the cousin), this entire situation will just be EVADED as your wife pointed out.

Tell your sister that you and your wife are unable to meet up with cousin & everyone this weekend, but you would like to meet for coffee/lunch NEXT weekend....see if she evades that as well.
 

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Going to coffee/lunch this weekend will NOT start the "amending" process. With other people present (the cousin), this entire situation will just be EVADED as your wife pointed out.

Tell your sister that you and your wife are unable to meet up with cousin & everyone this weekend, but you would like to meet for coffee/lunch NEXT weekend....see if she evades that as well.
ITA and very good advice.
 

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Yeah, I wouldn't meet with a cousin either. Sounds like it's to soon anyway. Definitely wait until everyone's feelings have a chance to settle down.

Also, try to go into the talk with a goal of building up the relationship, not proving who is right. I'm not entirely against rug sweeping in in-law relationships. It's not like with a spouse, where you need to talk things through to rebuild trust. Forgive, forget as much as you can, and make a commitment to doing better in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Caz, you and your sister grew up together, I assume. Does she have a history of evading difficult subjects?
Well, she's always been strong headed but around the age of 15-16 she was having major mental health problems with a lot of rage and a couple of suicide attempts (That were more of a cry for help than serious attempts) but this affected my Mum in such a way that she became fearful of my sister reactions to anything that wouldn't go her way.

I've always believed that whilst my sister got better this pattern of extreme reactions to get her way knowing our Mum lost the ability to really stand up to her has just carried on through the years. My Dad is really protective of my Mum as well and so if my Sister is doing something that troubles or upsets me, my Dad would ask me to bow down because my Sister would be giving my Mum a hard time about it.

For the first time ever my Dad lost his temper at my Sister because of her behaviour (This was two Christmases ago) in a non related incident. Well, it was slightly related in my point of view but only slightly.

Going to coffee/lunch this weekend will NOT start the "amending" process. With other people present (the cousin), this entire situation will just be EVADED as your wife pointed out.

Tell your sister that you and your wife are unable to meet up with cousin & everyone this weekend, but you would like to meet for coffee/lunch NEXT weekend....see if she evades that as well.
Yeah, my wife just flat out said she's not going to anything like that. I suggested meeting up at my parents (Where they're staying at the weekend) to go for a walk.

I think my wife has gotten to know quite well my families dynamics and she knows that my sister likes to control how things work.

I suggest we meet to talk but she says "No, but lets meet for a coffee, I don't ever want to talk about it"

I know my sister though, she won't be able to keep this in for ever and I suspect she will just pounce one day when my wife isn't ready. I could be wrong, but not surprised if it happens.
 

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Well, then maybe it's time to call your sister on her BS behavior.

Rug-sweep for now, if that is what your wife requests. BUT...in the future, if your sister does pull this pouncing BS on your wife and verbally attacks her over this or any other incident, then YOU need to stand up to your sister on your wife's behalf.

I see nothing wrong with saying, "Enough [sister's name]! Maybe you can cower Mom with your bullying behavior like you have since you were 16, but it doesn't cower me! If you can't treat [wife's name], or me civilly, then you can have your 2-year-old's temper tantrum all by yourself.

We're not putting up with your rude/demeaning/exclusionary behavior any more! Not to keep family peace. Not to keep Mom happy. Not to keep YOU happy. You want to demand/bully *your* way? Demand it from someone else.....we're DONE giving into your rude ways.

Decades is plenty of time for you to have gotten over this childish behavior, and plenty of time for Mom to have gotten over being 'scared' of your selfish temprement and behavior!"

Pick up your coats, say goodbye to anyone else present, and leave with dignity. Do NOT socialize with her again if she can't amend her ways!

BTW: A *LOT* of this problem resides with your Dad for allowing your Mom to acquiese for YEARS out of fear of your sister's behavior and the consequences. If she hasn't threatened/attempted suicide in YEARS, then your Dad should have had a 'come to Jesus' talk with your Mom a LONG TIME AGO! And he should have had one with your sister, too! Your parents have NOT done THEIR part.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It's kind of ironic that my wife has the same issue with her family. Her sister was near death when she was a child and since then they've been un-realistically protective of her and so she's had everything her way and done for her for so many years if she thinks something won't go her way she goes ballistic and instils a fear in their mother.

This is all hitting my wife really hard as she just wants a sister. It's not going to happen now and she knows it.

It doesn't help that she's very lonely here and her friends are back in Spain. We'd move but the financial crisis in Spain is too hard and we, well, I wouldn't get a job.
 
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