Dealing with Sibling In Laws and Extended Family

Dollar Photo - Family Reunion“How can married Christians, deal graciously with problematic siblings and sibling in laws?”

That is the question we’d like to address.

Each year, we receive quite a few emails, sent to us from those who are married. Many of them are encountering difficulties in dealing with sibling in laws. The same is true of those with interfering sisters and brothers. Most of these siblings are very demanding, and mean-spirited. They can also be vindictive in how they act towards the spouse of their sibling and cause trouble.

Others stay to visit too long so the spouse feels imposed upon and worn out.

Other siblings expect financial support from their older male sibling. They expect him to physically help them repeatedly at the sacrifice of his own family.

Spouse VS. In Law Siblings

In each case the one spouse is “at odds” with the other spouse because of the bond that siblings have had with each other through the years.

To help you with this issue, we found a few online articles that may give you some insight. We encourage you to pray and glean through the information —applying what you can use and disregarding the rest. Please click onto the links provided below to read.

Posted on the web site of the ministry of


According to an article posted on, “He said, ‘She wouldn’t let me be myself.’ She said ‘He didn’t fit in with my family.'”:

IN LAW CONFLICT: He Said … She Said

From the ministry of Focus on the Family here is some advice to consider when you spend time together in family gatherings and holiday situations:


— ALSO —


Video Regarding Dealing With Siblings

And here’s a New Life Ministries Youtube video you might find helpful. It deals with this subject where Dr Steve Arterburn, Dr Jill Hubbard, and Rev. Milan Yerkovich answer the question, “How do we handle a controlling sister in law who thinks she’s mom”:

Scriptural Reminder

When you have to deal in-law and sibling issues, bear in mind what is written to us in the Bible in 1 Peter 3:8-17:

All of you are to be like-minded, sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

We welcome any wise, Biblically based advice you could give to help those who are having marital problems because of sibling in laws or extended family members. If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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140 responses to “Dealing with Sibling In Laws and Extended Family

  1. My marriage was broken by my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They have poisoned my husband’s mind and he’s now asking for a divorce. He left our marital home and left our 1 1/2 year old daughter then. It has been 6 years and he has been going out with many women and alcohol abuse and heaven knows what else. My sister-in-law is now happily married with a kid and lives near to her mother’s house. While me and my daughter live with my mother with no financial support from my husband. His sister and mother control him to the extreme but still he can’t realize it.

  2. Why can’t in-laws mind their own business? I’m in the same situation with Ruth. My husband’s family loves to keep secrets, always “don’t tell your wife.” They use the word borrow money for them to shop & go on a tour or vacation when in fact they never pay. We both work & in fact I was the one who helped my husband get back on his feet when we got married. He was so broke because he has to keep up with the demands of his mother & siblings. Now that we’re in financial crisis & we have mortgage to pay, instead of paying us back, his mom was the first one to laugh at us & his brother who brags about that he’s the most successful among them & of course still owes money to us demands my husband to be responsible for his 2 children & always demanding that it’s my husbands obligation to take care of his nephews.

    Well, we have 2 kids too. Collection agencies calling us about their mom not paying the jewelry that she purchased. Now my husband is becoming broke again, always irritable & he’s taking it out against me & my kids. I could help him out if I want to but his priority is his real family as they always remind him “blood is thicker than water.” He’s been completely manipulated. I’m not this kind of person but I have to be selfish at this point to protect my children & their future. Why are these people are so greedy? They have good jobs, they & their spouses are working; they take home more money than we do. Why is it that it’s my fault that I’m financially responsible? Why?!

  3. I have had a very rough summer. Not nearly as rough as most of the peoples’situations in the comment section…but more than I ever expected from my ‘Christian’ (lol) sisters…one of whom is an ordained minster. After doing some ‘googling’…I am starting to believe that there is a whole lot of pain caused by family members as they all progress to later years in the life of parents. I believe the church is missing it on a huge part of hurting individuals…or ostracized parts of the family…I believe the church will never be unified until we address the abuse of power and control within families. There should be elder boards comprised of both women and men where bullied, controlled people can go when they don’t have the funds or don’t want to hire an attorney (in light of the scriptural suggestion to not go to court against a brother).

  4. For the past few days, I’ve been feeling a range of emotions. I was getting ready to leave work when my husband called me. What he said was beyond anything that I could imagine. He informed me that he just got off the phone with his oldest sister and that they had a fight. His sister is very intrusive and wants to be made aware of everything that goes on in our home. My husband told her that what happens in his home and his life is none of her business. He also told her that she doesn’t need to be made aware of everything he discusses with his wife. Her response to him was that she is his sister and he is putting his marriage before his blood family. She also told him that marriage is not that serious and he is making it out to be a big deal.

    I could not believe what I was hearing. While I was happy with my husband’s response I couldn’t help but think of the lack of respect this woman has for us to the point where she could make these statements to my husband. In the meantime she recently got married to this guy she hardly knew just so that she wouldn’t be deported from the U.S. The more I thought of what she said, I began to realize that her very sick view of marriage may stem from the fact that she married the guy for the wrong reason. She’s tried to cause conflict between my husband and I in the past until I had to step in to straighten her out.

    My husband and I have been married three years this August and I’ve only spoken to her twice over the phone; once when I told her off and the other when my husband gave me the phone to wish her Merry Christmas. I hate that she and I have this type of relationship and I pray about this to God. However, deep in my heart I feel it’s best that I keep my distance even though I try to stay aware of any negative influence she has on my marriage.

  5. I need advice! My husband has 2 sisters (1 older, 1 younger) and 1 older brother. He is somewhat close to his older sister, and she is a nice and mature person. His little sister is selfish, rude, nasty, and super negative. She surprisingly seems to be fond of me, even though she drives me nuts. The brother is very indifferent and a little distant. Their parents are retired and live in Mexico and come to visit only a few times a year (Lucky me, I know!)

    So the main problem I have is that my husband lies to his sisters about how much time we really spend with MY family! We spend a good amount of time with them and I have always been super close to my mom and siblings – and they all adore my husband. My husband’s siblings almost always plan parties/get-togethers last minute and we get maybe 2 days notice. Then if we don’t show up, they get their feelings hurt and they have even put me on the spot asking where we were! My family doesn’t operate this way so I am not used to the drama.

    Here is my example: My mom and stepdad planned a party at their house a month in advance and we all planned to go and help with food. Two days before the party, my older sis in law tells my husband she is having a bday party for her son the same day. Instead of my husband telling her we had plans with my family, he went over to his sisters really early to make an appearance. Then he lied to them about our plans, telling them he and I had a date that night and that’s why we couldn’t come to the bday party. LIE!! Then the next weekend she had ANOTHER party for her son who was leaving for college, and so we went to that. On our way over he told me about his lie and asked me to back it up if they asked why I wasn’t there last weekend! This infuriated me because it’s not the first time he’s lied to them to spare their “feelings” and he expects me to keep up these lies. So stupid!

    Why can’t he just be honest with them and not care if they get upset? If they would give us decent notice about their plans, I would be more than happy to go (I still usually go even if it is last minute) but I am sick of him going around trying to keep them happy because it makes me look bad at the same time if I don’t go with him. Sometimes he tells me he doesn’t want to go them the guilt kicks in and he changes his mind the day of the party and when I don’t want to go because we had planned not to, he goes alone and that really makes me look bad.

    Last note, when I met my husband his family was taking advantage of him financially, asking his to charge things on his credit for them, asking him to co-sign for a home loan (!!!) and his mom even had dental work and had him charge it to his credit. So this was all put to a stop because of me, but he still has a hard time saying no to them when they ask for too much and he will hide it from me for as long as he can. Does anyone have any input? I have told him how I feel, but it still causes problems between he and I and I hate it! Thanks to everyone who listened to my rant!

    1. Hi. My advice for you is to stop complaining and pray for God’s blessings on your in laws and pray for wisdom upon your spouse. Don’t be angry when he spends for his family. I believe his parents spend a lot on him before he became the nice guy you met. Remember one day, you too will become a mother in law.

      1. He should help his parents if they really needed it but with the consent of his wife. But his primary responsibility should be to his wife and children. “The two shall work together if they agree.”

  6. Hi there, I have a brother in law that divorced my sister 20 years ago. Now my twin sister is going thru a divorce and seeing my ex brother in law of 20 years ago. This is causing a lot of hurt in the family especially with his ex wife (my eldest sister)

    I am a Christian and don’t know if this must be condemmed or if I must accept him into the family once again.
    Please give me a verse.

  7. I’ve always had difficulty dealing with my husband’s mother and siblings. He is the oldest of 5 siblings from his mother, all of whom have a different father per child. The youngest is 16 years younger than him and now that we’re married every time she decides to bring his siblings down it’s at the last minute and she always demands we drive out of our way to see them. My husband is a very hard working man and can’t take any days off of work lest he get fired (very strict attendance policy with a point system. He had the flu recently and has maximum points now). We’ve tried explaining this to her and that financially we can’t afford to drop everything to go spend the day with a 7 year old that cries like a toddler when she doesn’t get her way. Mind you, his mother has always been a controlling and a toxic person. Therapists have advised steering clear of her whenever possible. I have a 10 year difference with my oldest brother and it was made clear to me when my brother left for college that he is an adult now and has adult things to do. His mother basically tells his sister he “hates” her anytime he can’t come see her. I’m not even exaggerating, please help.

  8. Oh my gosh, my devil sister-in-law is at it again. Just when I think my husband and I have gotten over an issue with this woman, she causes a problem which is worse than the one before. In the last problem she tried to cause between my husband and me she told him that I was less important to him than his blood family. Now she is asking him to file papers so that he could bring her two children, her younger sister and her mother to the United States. She wants my husband to do all this years of immigration paperwork for these four individuals without my involvement. She lives in the southern U.S and doesn’t have any legal papers to remain in the US so she’s trying to use my husband so that somehow she herself would become a permanent resident. My husband told her that he cannot do this and will have to talk to me about it. She wasn’t too happy about that and she got even angrier when I told my husband to tell her that she needs to keep herself out of our home life and any decision that has to be made in our home. She got so angry when my husband called to let her know what I said. She said some very nasty things to my husband about me but he told her how disappointed he was in her for the things she said about me. I have gotten to the point where I want absolutely nothing to do with this woman. I truly think she is used by the devil himself to try and cause disruption in our home. She’s done and said various things in the 3 plus years my husband and I have been married. All I want is for this grown woman to leave my husband and I alone.

  9. My friend and I have a difference of a opinion. Tell me who is right. My friend believes that her sister in-law (her brothers wife ) brother is her in law also. I say no it stops at her sister in law. There is no blood line to sister in law she is related through marriage only, therefore sister in-laws brother is no kin nor brother in law to her. Who is correct?

  10. I need help as well. I have been married to my husband for close to 10 years. We did stuff together in the beginning, but for many years now his brother has been taking that from us. He is over here every weekend staying overnight. He goes with us on family trips, and is involved in nearly everything we do. I just recently have gotten fed up. He has done a lot for us in the past, but I just want my family to be normal again. My husband doesn’t understand. I am also upset with, at 41 years old, why do I have to explain my reasons? We have a 7 yr old and a 16 yr old, and I am not happy in this marriage at this time. Help. Sincerely Frustrated, Jen

    1. Jennifer, I can well understand why you would be upset. To you and me, what you are saying makes sense. But for some reason it doesn’t make sense to your husband. It doesn’t matter if you are 41 years old, or 81, or that you have been married 60+ years, we don’t always think alike in marriage. We are two different people, and will always be two different people. As a result, we have two different vantage points for the logic we understand. Please step back, and ask God to help you to give your husband grace on this. You want grace, we all want grace, and so does he. And then ask God for other approaches you can make on how you can get this point across IN A LOVING WAY that there are times you want to go places and just be at home on the weekend without his brother being along.

      Let him know that you are willing to compromise and let him stay at your home sometimes, and join you for some family events, but not as often as it has been in recent years. It’s difficult to bond as husband and wife and as a family when his brother is continually with you. But be loving about it. Don’t approach him at a time when it’s a H.A.L.T. time — when either of you is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Those are times when it’s problematic to try to settle disputes. It’s better to pick another time.

      Remember that this is his brother. He loves him and thinks it’s fine to include him in as often as it has happened in recent years. But he needs to realize that things change once you are married. If one spouse isn’t happy over a situation, then both spouses need to compromise to come up with something that is best for your marriage and your family. Marriage and children come first, and parents and siblings come afterward. He probably is embarrassed to say anything to his brother –especially when he doesn’t agree with your point. But he needs to grow up and realize that he made a vow to you, not to his brother. As long as you are being reasonable in allowing his brother to join you sometimes, he really doesn’t have a beef.

      It will be hard to do this at first, but eventually, it will get easier, and it actually may prompt his brother to develop his own life and his own family. As long as this brother feels at home in your home, he isn’t as motivated to build his own social life and his own home life. Balance is key.

      Try as best you can to not focus on your unhappiness and instead look at the good stuff. This is a bump in the road. Yes, it’s a big bump and it is frustrating, but it’s something you can get past if you keep at it in loving, understanding ways, along with compromise. We’ve been through these types of bumps. You CAN get past them if you apply wisdom and perseverance in working through marital issues like this one. I pray God will help you as you look to Him for wisdom.

    2. Ohhhhhh I feel your pain, my sincere advice is that you make yourself HAPPY irrespective of what’s happening around you. I have 3 grown up brothers-in-law staying with me, and my husband is so protective of them and subjects me to accept things I wouldn’t accept ordinarily. I feel like going crazy sometimes!

      I don’t have privacy, the house is always unkept etc. The worst of it, no reliable income for hubby; he gets frustrated trying to provide for me and his siblings. Unfortunately I transfer the aggression to my husband most times because I am unhappy with the way things are happening in the house and his favoritism wouldn’t allow him to observe or correct their wrongs. I just hope I get out of all this with my sanity intact.

  11. It has been proven by statistics that when other siblings divorce that the remaining married siblings tend to divorce also. With senior citizen siblings, siblings may feel that their sibling should be the survivor rather than the spouse citing “Well, who do you have?” i.e. who are your siblings and how old are they? As a Christian, I found this disturbing as in a marriage we love and care for our spouse and want to be with our spouse for as long as possible. My sister told me when her husband passed away that it was good that he went first, as he would have had a more difficult time if she had passed away first. But only our heavenly Father will determine such things.

  12. I am a newly wed and my husband lives in a different state. I was going to move to live with my husband because he cannot move at this time due to his job and stated he didn’t want us to live apart for 3 years. I was reluctant at first because I have kids and we were established in our current state with schools, childcare, my job, family, and etc. However, I wanted to honor my husband’s wishes and decided I would give the move a try.

    At the time, my husband’s brother was living with him. I expressed to him well before we got married that this was not something I would be comfortable with. I understand they may have had arrangements prior to me, but for me, that was a nonnegotiable. I have lived in my own for 12 years; haven’t had a roommate since college 15 years ago. I just didn’t feel it would be appropriate for me and my kids to move in with my husband and his grown brother. My husband said that he would handle it and speak with his brother.

    Months go by, time is winding down, my kids are moved in so that they could start school. I’m actively trying to sell my house and have accepted a job… but there is no talk about when the brother is going to leave. It makes me angry at times because I feel like my husband is choosing his brother over me. Not only that, I feel like he had me making changes it my life and my kids’ lives knowing that asking his brother to move was not something he was willing to do. I feel miserable when I’m in his house, and I say his because I don’t feel like it’s “our” house! I literally feel like it’s a deal breaker now, not just for housing arrangements but for my marriage.

  13. Thank you for this. I am at odds almost every day with my sister-in-law and other extended family. Yes, it is very hard trying to not bite back when they keep biting at every move or decision I make with our personal, private and financial lives. BUT your words remind me you cant fight fire with fire. Thank You.

    I will take these scriptures with me throughout this weekend, into the next years even, as I have been noticing when I laugh off the insults and slanderous statements made about me/us to my husband, he laughs too and we see each other not anyone else. I will seek only his relaxation and say loving kind sweet words to him, as when I don’t react to the evil with more evil its then when we really realize that we don’t care what anyone thinks or says, only what we know God says is important to us, and we are too happy being happy. I even thought just last night snuggling next to him on the sofa and after almost 16 years, we are in our 2nd honeymoon phase, Isn’t God Good?