When we get married and become part of a whole new family, we have nothing but the best of intentions in our hearts. We want to embrace the new culture and accept everyone as our family members. However, not all of us are lucky enough to get this feeling of acceptance and love reciprocated by our in-laws.
Your sister-in-law should be a friend and confidante, right? She is a fellow woman, whether married or single, and has probably faced similar life situations as you have. Why is it then that so many of us end up facing problems with her? Ego struggles, evil gossip, comparisons, and blame games!
We asked fellow moms about the most irritating problems they are facing/have faced with their sisters-in-law.
Dealing With Difficult Sisters-In-Law
Sisters-in-law come in varying proportions of sugar, spice, and everything nice! But there are a few types that are universal, which we can all identify with. There are certain problems you’re sure to have faced with each kind; here are the most common ones, and what you can do to avoid conflicts and maintain peace!
”You won’t believe what Bhabhi said!” – The Tattletale
This sister-in-law doesn’t let go of an opportunity to complain or spread gossip about you! “I asked Bhabhi to give me her new earrings for a party. But she refused.” “Bhabhi made a face when my friend came home the other day.” Bhabhi this, Bhabhi that! Some sisters-in-law just love complaining about you. Everything you do is found fault with and then gets transferred to the ears of your in-laws or even your husband. What’s worse, she cannot keep any secrets either; so, something you may have confided in her about comes out embarrassingly at the next family gathering!
Solution: So, what do you do when your sister-in-law hates you? If your sister-in-law is the gossiping type who loves telling tales, it is best to not trust her with secrets. Try and keep your interactions on personal matters as limited as possible. This applies to social media as well; best not to comment on her pictures if she keeps misconstruing them as interference! It can be the best solution you have to ensure peace at home.
”That’s not how he likes his rice cooked!”- The Annoying One
Some sisters-in-law have annoying habits that never fail to exasperate you! Claiming that she knows her brother’s interests more than you do. Visiting at odd hours without calling first. Barging into your room without knocking because “she doesn’t need permission to meet her brother”. Some of our sisters-in-law have really annoying habits that irritate and tire us out. But we cannot complain because she is part of the in-laws and criticising her would be seen as a sign of our bad behavior!
Solution: As long as the habits are manageable, try and laugh them off, or, if she is younger than you, talk to her about them teasingly. But if the habits are making your life difficult, tell her so in plain words. You don’t have to put up with it perpetually.
”That’s not how you should do it!” – The Controlling One
The controlling sister-in-law can be the most tiresome, as they expect you to abide by their rules and regulations, and can try to curb your independence. She may interfere in your decisions, offer advice, and expect them to be followed to a T. One problem that you may have come across in your experience is that she comes over to meet her parents anytime, but you aren’t allowed to do so! It is a sweet and natural thing to do; of course, all of us miss our parents. But when we want to go to our home and visit our parents, we need to DISCUSS with her and the in-laws! We often need to give them a reason and get their ‘permission’ before we can go, even if our parents live in the same city. Isn’t this hypocritical?
Solution: The best thing is to have a heart-to-heart with your in-laws about it. Explain to them that you have a responsibility toward your parents just as you have a responsibility toward your in-laws. They need to trust you to divide your time well and ensure that your duties are not compromised on. With time, let’s hope they will understand.
“When are you going to have a baby? Are you at least trying?” – The Meddlesome One
Always poking her nose about in your business, this SIL needs to know everything that’s going on in your life! “What did Bhaiya give you on your anniversary?” “What did you do the entire day?” The questions can be simple, funny, or just plain irritating! What business is it of hers or anybody else? The details of your married life and personal life are yours alone. It is up to you whether or not you want to share them with anyone. But not answering these questions poses the risk that she may take offense or even complain to her parents. Result: You will be up for catcalls and criticism at family functions and at the dinner table!
Solution: How to get along with sister-in-law like this? Well, a polite smile and a shake of the head are enough of an answer for times when you do not want to answer. Do it a few times and your SIL should get the message that you don’t want to share a particular detail with her (hopefully!). Or just pretend to be bashful, shy, or busy; she will get the hint eventually to not intrude into your privacy.
”When I got married, I’d never once slept past 5.30 am!” – The Judge
Whether it is about your cooking skills or how soon you finish the household tasks, the sister-in-law often “does it better”. Sometimes, it can be your parents-in-law who make this comparison to your face, which feels hurtful. But sometimes, the SIL herself tends to make comparisons about “how she would have prepared that dish” or how “her living room is always spotless”. While aiming to do better is healthy, getting competitive about everything is not at all healthy!
Solution: Getting along with a sister-in-law like this can be tough. Just try and take the comparisons in your stride as long as they are meant as constructive feedback and not blatant criticism. If it starts bothering you or is totally unfair, talk to your in-laws and your spouse about it. Tell them that you and your SIL have different strengths and weaknesses. Constant comparisons serve no purpose but to make you feel small.
”Sorry…the four of us made plans ages ago to go shopping; maybe you can join us some other time?” – The Avoider
As the daughter-in-law, you consult your in-laws with every major decision. You take part in all activities in the household. But you still get vibes from your SIL which make you feel like several matters in the family are “off limits” to you. She keeps you out of major discussions and excludes you from important occasions.
Solution: This is one of the most heart-breaking problems we can face. After trying so hard to accept the new household and family, if the SIL makes us feel we will always be “an outsider”, it can be very damaging to our emotional health. How to deal with sister-in-law issues like this? Please talk to your spouse about the situation and discuss your emotions openly, without making it seem as if you are blaming his parents and sister. It is his duty too to help you be accepted as an intrinsic part of his family.
”My brother was never like this until you came along!” – The Green-Eyed Monster
If she goes out of her way to be rude and mean to you in most situations, you might be dealing with a jealous sister-in-law. This behaviour may vary, though; you might see her make cutting remarks to your face, but tone it down in front of others. She may exhibit happiness at a personal failure you face, without offering any solace or rather, bragging about how she’s never failed at the same thing! Jealousy could crop up as you are now sharing the spotlight that used to shine on her alone, or because she feels that her bond with her family may seem less significant, now that you’re here to ‘take her place’. The resultant tension caused can thus lead to a bad relationship with your sister-in-law.
Solution: The best way to deal with this problem is to be the bigger person. Smile at her, be cheerful and civil, and kill it with kindness. Negative reactions from your end can worsen the situation by unnecessarily bringing other family members into the problem. By expressing any sort of frustration or anger, you will be giving her the reaction that she wants; instead, your unexplained kindness can confuse her. Once she sees that her attempts to bring you down are futile, she will be forced to give up!
Watch: How to Deal With a Jealous Sister-in-Law
Phew, we really have a handful when dealing with difficult in-laws after marriage! And then again, some of us are lucky to have sisters-in-law who become our best friends, shopping buddies, late-night phone conversation partners, and people we can trust completely! If you are one of these lucky women, congratulations! But if sister-in-law problems have become a constant pressure point for you, try out the above solutions and see if the situation improves. Confide in your husband and talk to him about how this is stressing you out, without being accusatory. When you have his support by your side, everything will become easier to deal with.