Portrait of two unhappy women with relationship problems

Ask Rene:
How Can I Make My Sister-In-Law Like Me?


My husband and I have been together for six years, married for the last three. In the beginning things seemed fine between my husband’s sister and me but about a year after dating my husband, my mother-in-law told me that my sister-in-law has never really liked me. I was upset because I had been married previously and did not have the greatest relationship with my in-laws because of my ex husbands lies and infidelity. I don’t have any family within 3000 miles of me so I was really hoping that we could build a friendship.

This woman has tried constantly throughout the years to tear us apart. She hates me and I don’t know why. I always hear from other people that she says hateful and mean-spirited things about me but when I confront her she denies it. She has kept in contact with my husband’s ex-wife and a friend of hers that my husband cheated on me with about two years ago or so. I know my husband isn’t perfect and we are trying to heal, but every time I turn around it’s as if she is doing all of this right up in my face. She tries to get the whole family to have issues with me too and it’s just to much.

I have tried to be the bigger person for years. I have gone out of my way to build a relationship with her but she is so disrespectful and cannot see how she is hurting me. She uses passive aggressive remarks and pretty much pretends she isn’t doing so. Out of respect for my husband I have never called her out but it’s only getting worse and I just feel like I have exhausted all of my resources. To make matters worse, I have a child with a chronic illness who needs a transplant and it is wearing down on me. There is much more I could write about but this is the main problem. Please help!


At a loss


Dear At A Loss:

I read your letter several times because I wanted to make sure I was getting all the facts straight. You’ve been with your husband for six years, three of which you were married. Within the last year or two he has cheated on you. Your mother-in-law tells you her daughter doesn’t like you and she goes out of her way to keep in touch with your husband’s ex and the woman he cheated on you with. Oh and she treats you like crap.

Look, I’m not a therapist, but a mother who uses quite a bit of common sense.  So, here’s what I would do if I were you.


Serious black woman showing stop hand gesture isolated on white background

Starting RIGHT NOW! Your sister-in-law is an emotional terrorist. You say she, “cannot see how she is hurting me.” Oh no, she sees EXACTLY what she’s doing and is reveling in it. So stop feeding the monster. Time to give her, as my husband likes to say, “a good case of the leave-’em-alones.”

At family gatherings, be cordial, but don’t go out of your way to be friendly. Say hello and keep it moving. Go help someone in the kitchen, talk to people in another group but do not engage her in any way.

I gave this same advice to a mother who wrote in with a similar problem. When I saw your email, I decided to check in with her to see how things were going. In part, she told me that things got much better when she basically stopped caring so much about her sister-in-law. She and her husband also made a conscious decision to spend less time with the nastier members of their family and dictated (at least in their minds) the type of relationship they were willing to have with those people. In other words, they set up boundaries. That is precisely what you need to do.

Read more: The Sister-in-law from HELL!



It actually sounds like you and he may already be doing that and if you are, good for you. But this is another reason you have got to get your sister-in-law in the proper place in your life. You need to rebuild the foundation of your relationship with your husband that was damaged by his infidelity. That is not going to be easy to do with his sister bringing his ex-wife and ex-paramour into the picture.

Read more: What’s Love Got To Do With It? 19 Lessons In 19 Years of Marriage


photodune-3739805-3d-care-self-crossword-xs (1).jpg

Time to take you off the bottom of the ‘to-do list”. You mentioned that you have a chronically ill child and the nearest friends/family are 3,000 miles away. That needs to change STAT!  Go get your hair highlighted or a mani-pedi. Get a part-time job so you can afford a sitter, then take a class or check out an art exhibit. Spend some time doing stuff for you and while you’re out there, wear a smile and talk to a few folks. Work hard on cultivating your own friendships  and things that will bring you joy. After all, you deserve to be happy too.

Read more: Monday Morning Motivation: Why Is It So Hard For Us To “Lean In” ?


I don’t mean to be blunt but it’s time to stop picking men who cheat on you. You mentioned it was a problem in your last relationship and here are you, dealing with it again. Talk to someone about that because you deserve better.

In the meantime understand that trying to make someone like you is a waste of time, so take that energy and put it toward the things you can affect; your marriage, your child and yourself.

Good luck mommy!

Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away. And don’t forget to follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

More from GEM:

Ask Rene: What More Can We Do For Our Daughter?

Ask Rene: I Need Help But Where Do I Start?

Ask Rene: I’m Scared To Tell My Kids They’re Adopted