Ask Rene
My Sister-In-Law Has Lost Her Mind


Hi Rene,

My husband and I have been together for 4 years, married for a year and a half. When we got engaged everyone seemed so happy for us but within months his sister began to make unrealistic demands of the wedding and started to call me names. Then his brother and girlfriend piled on, ignoring me, making up lies abut me to tell his parents, etc. They seemed on a mission to break us up. We ultimately got married without any of his family knowing.

Now, my husband and I have had a baby and I’ve encouraged him to reunite with his family. Within the past year we have slowly reconnected with all of them, and everyone involved has made a strong effort to make everything better.

But, my sister-in-law is still trying to incorporate drama into the dynamic with petty games like refusing to interact with my husband and me or limiting access to her Facebook page.

Yesterday, I sent her a message asking if we could put our differences aside and start fresh. She responded that she is not the type to forget everything and that we still have issues and basically time will tell.

So my question is this. What the heck do you do with people like this when they are now a part of your family? I feel that she seriously disrupts that for me.


Me, Stumped

Dear Stumped:

First of all, congratulations on the beautiful family (I saw the photos). You have a lot to be thankful for with that healthy baby and handsome hubby. But, we could all do with less drama on the home front so let’s talk about the witchy sister-in-law.

2. What You Can Do

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We may never know what sort of deep issues the sister-in-law is dealing with but the fact is you won’t be able to change her and trying to do that will be a colossal waste of time and energy. What you need to focus on is changing your reaction to her. This behavior is classic high school “Mean girls” crap and having been on the receiving end of that I have two strategies to offer.

Minimize contact: You’re not hiding from her, you are just selective in who you choose to be around. Think of your time, love and compassion as currency. Is it worth spending that on someone who doesn’t appreciate it? No it is not. So give it to those who will get the most from it and will give back to you.

Ignore her bad behavior: She derives some sort of sick pleasure in seeing you flummoxed by her antics. So you’re going to take that away from her by adopting a casual, cool, unflappable attitude. You are going to give her what my husband calls a “good dose of the leave-‘em alones.” Be cordial and that’s it. Do not volunteer anything to her about the baby or what’s going on in your life. Do not go out of your way to be overly friendly. You get the point. When she sees that she can’t get under your skin anymore (she’s not being “rewarded”), she’ll stop doing it. A word of warning however; as she realizes what she had been doing in the past is no longer working, she may opt for more extreme game playing. Just be ready as it could get worse before it gets better.