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 Todayschristianwoman.com:

FAMILY FEUDS

According to an article posted on Todayschristianwoman.com, “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:

HOLIDAYS AND THE IN-LAWS

— ALSO —

PEACE ON EARTH?

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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Comments

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

  1. (CANADA)  After reading several of the posts, I am so encouraged that I am not the only one in a situation like this. I know it sounds dumb to be encouraged by this but I am.

    I have a SIL who thinks the world and especially her brother, my husband, owes her a living. I am just plain tired of it and have decided that not speaking my mind about it to him is the most revealing thing I have done so far. For all the time (4 years) I have expressed my hurts to him, he always took her “side” or backed her up.

    He is now seeing her true colors, just in the last 3 weeks. Not only that but is standing up to her to the point she is turning her claws on him rather than on me. She has always seemed to feel that he would be there for her and her alone. Since I have stopped voicing my hurts and concerns, he has seen them for himself and is doing something about it.

    I will continue to give my grievances over to God. He will not turn His back on me or take her side when I complain, I have even started praying that the Lord will bless both my husband and my SIL. God hears me, He comforts me and I (sadly) take great pleasure in watching what God is doing with the SIL (non-active Christian).

    Yes, I am blamed when she is convicted of things by Christ, and yes, I know I am to blame because I have asked the Lord to bless her, but I will not admit these things to her. I will just keep praying that God would bless her and have His way with her and my husband and the whole relationship.

  2. (USA) I’m single with 2 kids and have a sister who is married and now also has 2 kids. I purchased a home and we all live together. We agreed that this would be temporary until they bought their own but I don’t know how much longer I can stand it. My siser has a newborn and spends almost all day in her room; she only comes out to eat and doesn’t clean up after herself. She has only vaccuumed the living room once in the 3 mos we have lived together.

    We agreed to split half of all expenses and at first it was ok but now neither she nor her hubby have given me any money for food or yard maintenance expenses. I mean she’s the “married” one and she and her hubby have income. Add to that the fact that my niece cries all the time… what should I do? I’ve always been a very upfront person and my family sometimes thinks I come across as rude, which is why I don’t know how to approach the issue… that I feel like they are taking advatange of me?

  3. (NIGERIA) Dear Charity, I understand what you are passing thru. My advice to you is patience. Don’t let his attitude come btw you and your hubby. Don’t even complain again to your hubby and be prayerful. I know it’s hard but try to bear it. Very soon he will move out or decide to settle down. In that way you would have conquered in a subtle way and it will stand for you in future. Some of these inlaws are out to put one down or even worse destroy the marriage. Be wise and pray and all will be well.

  4. (NAMIBIA) I grew up in a small household of 4 two children two adults. I’m in a relationship with my high school sweet heart for the past 8 years. He proposed in 2010 I was 21. We have no children. He then asked me to move into the house where him and his dad where staying as he was in the throes of purchasing it and since I was staying in a flat he asked me to move in with him. which I did.

    He bought the house and all was going well. Till last year November. He is the eldest brother of 8. His siblings were visiting for school holiday and we started chatting and sharing information and stories when we stumbled upon a few situations that his siblings saw and met his dad girlfriend (the dad is still married but his wife and 7 children live in another town). I then kept my mouth and asked my fiancé to start investigating and asking his dad if it was true and to clear this allegation up as soon as possible as this is not a healthy environment for the kids to live and torture themselves with as they are still young and in school.

    So this was done for 2 months till my fiancé found out the truth, told his mum and his mum informed him to ask the dad to move out, which he did. The second eldest child (his sister) moved from his mother’s town to us the beginning of this year as she started work in the city. I really never had a problem with this at all. We then decided to start renovating the house as we both had a lot of savings and money saved up for our wedding, which we decide to invest in His property. (This property was bought is for his siblings.) So we started packing away dad’s things and putting in storage what he left behind (never sold or gave a away a single item). We packed it up neatly and paying a monthly fee for storage. We managed to fix the house up and buy our own items and make it habitable again. (The house was really run down).

    His sister fell ill and had to have an operation, which then led to my fiancés mother coming to town, which I never had a problem with at all. I had some tiles left over from the renovations which someone had bought. I came home early one night and found my Mother in-law packing things into her car without asking me or my fiancé, so I told her, “those tiles someone bought and in future please do not just take things without asking” ( as she has taken and stolen a lot of things, which I just turned a blind eye to 24/7). She went ballistic calling me the devil and saying I’m the reason her husband was cheating etc. (now I lost my atm card a year back and for the past year I have been transferring my money to my fiancés account and using his card). To which his sister told his mum I use all his money and I never pay for anything… this was thrown in my face etc…).

    I really don’t like bad mouthing people but my fiancés mother and his sister are so cold hearted. Since this instance I bought my own flat, which will be built soon and hope to move in with my fiancé then. I always feel I’m good enough to cook and clean and pay bills, but his family constantly blames me for their wrong doings and now his other siblings are being rude to me, not doing their chores shouting and telling me that the house is not mine…. I know it’s not mine but I do pay my way. I pay for things to look nice and decent and make sure it is habitable and that there is always food and the place is tidy. Yet the family thinks I want their money.

    I grew up in a very wealthy family. I don’t like money as I feel it the root to all evil. So I live within my means and make the best of what I have. His parents in my eyes are selfish. They have so many children and trust me to earn over enough money to look after their children but still ask my fiancé for money and send the kids to us for every holiday but don’t even give a 1 dollar for food or water etc. They just expect my fiancé to give and if he says no, then they ask him to ask me…. My fiancé listens but doesn’t hear, nor see my pain. They don’t even invite me to family gatherings or funerals nothing. My fiancé always tells me I’m over reacting and always twists my words to make believe I am wrong and then just allows his family and everyone to live with us. I’m not talking over night; I’m talking 1-10 months at a time, not contributing a cent. Yet they work but I’m not allowed to charge them etc… Maybe I just need someone to tell me what I’ve done wrong as I just don’t know,

    1. God help me. I think I would freak out if my in laws had to live with me for 10 months at a time. Even in the days of polygamous families in Africa, each family still had their own abode they called their own within the family compound. Even at that, families still had problems. I’ve always said that living with in laws for an extended period of time is bad news. Bad bad news. Never ends well. Why don’t men get that? Especially since you are contributing to his and his family’s up keep.

  5. (ENGLAND) I almost feel guilty writing a comment, but would like to get some godly views on my situation. My B.I.L has recently been divorced and lost everything. Tough situation and I sympathise with him. He is looking to rebuild his life and has come to live with us. Now, bear in mind that the decision for him to come to our home was made by my husband. I was informed that he will be coming to stay (no time limit given) with us. I was told a few hours before.

    Since then he has encouraged my husband to purchase a family car for us (we needed a car anyway) and to get one for him as well so that he can find work as a plummer. Apparently he promised to repay my husband and has been doing so whenever he gets money. Again, a decision I was not involved in. I feel very left out of their relationship. My husband seems to prefer speaking to his brother and has been helping him, giving money, etc. My BIL has a % of one of their properties (which he has given his ex the family home and a 2nd property).

    He says he doesn’t want to live in the other house because it is out of London, plus his ex doesn’t want him living so close to her. So he is staying with us. I live in a 2-bed flat and we have 2 kids. A boy and a girl. I feel lost, excluded and hopeless. I’m praying and doing my best to focus on the Word. I cannot complain too much to my husband -he immediately defends his brother. Am I being selfish and unreasonable?

    1. I think you are in a really bad position. I do not have wisdom for you but I would agree this is not a healthy situation for you or your husband.

  6. (USA) I have a nephew by marriage that I love very much. He and my son are three weeks apart and grew up together very close. He’s married to a girl he knew since she was 12 and he was 15. So she knows the family well and we always got along fine. His mother is dead and so is his grandmother who helped raise him and took him to church and helped him know the Lord. They have nothing to do with the family since their marriage about 8 yrs ago. When the Grandmother was alive she had to go to them. He is now a pastor. His wife has lost a baby but is now due in March and everything seems to be going well. She shares on FB so that’s how I know.

    When you call my nephew he won’t talk, you have to talk to her. She’s having her baby shower today and none of his family was invited. It’s tearing my heart out. Why?? My husband and I have always loved them and never disrepected them. We can give a shower but there are only four of us and that’s not much of a shower. I’m ready to have a long talk with them. I want to go to their house and face to face ask why. Is this wrong? Please help!!!

    1. Beverly, it’s not “wrong” to go to their house –it makes perfect sense to you and to me. But for whatever “illogical” reason, that which seems sensible, does not always take hold. I think you’re right in trying to reach out in this way, but pray and ask God to help you one way or another –especially if the results don’t go in the direction you think they should. Life and “logic” can get messy sometimes.

      Hopefully, your reaching out to him and his wife will help bridge whatever walls he has put up between you, and help you to tear it down one brick at a time. Pray and if you believe God is leading you, go in the hope of the Lord that God will get through to your pastor nephew –not only for his sake and his family’s sake, but also for your family’s sake and those he will minister to in the future. We are all called to be peacemakers and are called to the ministry of reconciliation. Pastors are especially called to this ministry –how they personally live effects many beyond his own family life. I hope your nephew will embrace this calling within your family, and I pray God will help you in this.

    2. (USA) Some young married females are shy or not very social. They come around later. Sometimes a young woman wants to raise her family without all the turmoil and expectations from in laws. Can you understand that? I know firsthand. In laws can be cruel to a young woman. I have seen this. I am a little older than this young couple, but, I remember the intrusions from in laws when I was young. It can be rather hard. Then sometimes the husband is the one who is making all the decisions and closing off from his family members and everyone just puts the blame on the young woman. Oh such pressures for a young couple.

  7. (USA) My biggest problem is that my husband doesn’t like my brother and doesn’t want to make the same effort for my family that he makes for his. We see his parents multiple days of the week most of the time but when my brother asks us to babysit it’s a long drawn out discussion and a big pain to him. He is resentful to my brother because he has issues with how he speaks to people but I am tired of being so accommodating to how he likes things and then having to turn around and fight for my family to be a part of anything because he is uncomfortable around them. He refuses to compromise with my family like I compromise with his.

    And the most hurtful thing of all is that I love his family and would do anything for them but he doesn’t like mine and wouldn’t even let them spend the night or take one 15 minute car ride in extremely close quarters. It makes me sad that my family is being discriminated against.

    1. (USA) Then stop doing all the extra stuff for his folk. Don’t spend the night there anymore. Just let him go alone. When someone makes a comment about you not spending the night, etc, tell them the truth. Tell them that he doesn’t treat your folks as well as you treat his people. Stand up for yourself. Just tell him that you will put your foot down. It’s okay if you tell your husband he is being unfair. You are not his child. You are his partner and should not accept the double standard.

  8. (USA) My husband and I have been thru a lot. He has two older siblings. His older brother has never liked me and never got to know me. His sister was close at first but almost instantly after we got married tried to exclude me. She always wants my husband to be alone with her and her teenage daughter. One year she told me that going to their dads house was a family event and insinuated that I am not family and not welcome. My husband didn’t believe me when I told him what she said. Finally a year later she told him the same thing.

    She has also threatened me several times saying he is going to leave me someday. This all caused serious insecurities in our relationship. We have been trying so hard to stay together and get security back. I have talked about leaving him because I just want him happy and his family not liking me and excluding me is really hurting him. They all have serious communication issues and don’t talk about things. Last Christmas they never made eye contact with me let alone spoke to me. They asked for family photos and excluded me. This year my husband refused to go to the holidays as it would be too uncomfortable for us both. We are seeking counseling to deal these issues.

    My husband’s brother’s wife just sent him text (they haven’t spoken in over a year) inviting him to his nephews birthday and said that no drama and the invite is for just him alone, excluding my kids and I! Isn’t that drama in itself? Now did I mention I don’t even know what I did wrong to deserve to be treated so poorly? All I ever wanted was a family. He promised me before we got married that his family would be my family they would love me and be here for me.

    I wanted to move out of state with my family and he convinced me things would be great here. I have felt so alone and sad and feel bad that they are hurting him so badly and seem to be clueless that they are hurting him. He will not let me speak to them. He just wants to ignore them other than to call his sister to check on her as she was just diagnosed with cancer and had mastectomy. I have offered to help reach out to these people several times and have been ignored and rejected. Help!!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  9. (CANADA) Hi everyone! My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years. We have a little son who is 3 years old who has been very sick for the last year. I have spent the last 8 months at the hospital with him day and night. I am about to lose my job and my marriage because of this situation and because my mother in law and her daugther won’t leave my house or let our family be.

    They have done nothing for my son or I. They just keep consuming my husband’s time, money and energy. He invited them over without my consent what so ever (it has been months).

  10. Hi dear sir or madam, Kindly I want an answer for my question on marriage if possible. I’m a Christian Catholic. I’ve fallen in love with my mother’s niece. Is it possible to both of us to get married? Please, I want an answer. Thank you.

  11. My husband and I have been married for about 1 month. But before we got married he and his older sister decided to rent a house that belongs to their brother and wife. We dated for about 1 year before married. The sister sleeps upstairs and my husband lives down in the basement. I worked at a seasonal job overnight that is an hour from my home so when he moved there I would stay several times instead of driving back home tired.

    My husband and I got married before my lease was over so that I could move in with him and do it the right way. We just went to the Court on our own and eloped. We didn’t want to tell all of our family because we plan on having a big wedding later in the year. My husband let his brother and wife know (the owners of the house) and he eventually let his sister know because she lives at the house and she would see my car and me there. She commented by saying “already and that was fast”. She didn’t seem happy about it at all. She started acting weird towards either one of us when she would see us. Eventually she called for a meeting between the siblings and my husband and her were fussing because he didn’t tell her earlier about us getting married. They settled it and she even came to me apologizing for how she’s been barely speaking.

    About a month later she came to us both and asked can her 25 year old son come move in and she doesn’t know for how long to help him get on his feet. This son is one that never keeps a job, has caused her to be evicted from several places because she will give him her money. My husband has also been like a brother/uncle to his nephew anytime he needs anything because he’s that kind of guy. Anyhow my husband and I talked about it later that night and changed our mind about the nephew staying there. We said I wouldn’t be comfortable with another man living there at the house being that we are newly married and I’m home several times a week, either I’m off or I’m working from home. The sister started to act weird again towards us not speaking really or always having to run out.

    She came to us eventually and said that she didn’t understand how someone new coming in the family can come in and think negative about her son. My husband told her he does the most for her son and would give his shirt off his back for him so she should know we don’t feel that way about him. He tried to explain it’s just the principle of two people being married and not being comfortable with a male in the house by himself with his new aunt. That uncomfortability is from me and my husband; however, the sister feels I’m the culprit and that’s the only reason her son can’t stay. What she fails to see is their brother that owns the house wouldn’t want him living there and my husband wouldn’t even if he wasn’t married because he’s not responsible and he’s getting too old to take care of.

  12. My current issue with my marriage right now is the amount of time my husband’s spends with his brother. I don’t want to sound petty and I’m not protesting him having a close relationship with his brother. It’s just that I feel second. My husband works with his brother, they’re together during the day, every day all day. It’s after work that he’d rather go over to his brother’s house instead of coming home to our family. I feel like he’d rather be there than home with me talking about our day and having dinner together.

    I hate when I’m home making dinner and he comes home not hungry because he’s already eaten at his brother’s house. When it comes to our weekends he’s always seeing what they’re doing, we could have plans and the moment his brother calls, I feel he would drop our plans. I’m re-reading this post and I sound so pathetic. I’ve expressed my feelings to my husband and his response was his brother is his only friend. Really? I just don’t think he gets it. I said last night, “I wonder how my sister in-law would feel if your brother came over here every day after work instead of going home to her? And how she would feel if she was home making dinner for her family and he came home not hungry because he’s already eaten at our house. Or how would the other co-workers wife feel if her husband stopped off at his co-workers house every day after work before coming home?” My husband is with his brother more than he is with me. Is it asking too much to want my husband all to myself one day out of the weekend? Maybe I’m a horrible nagging wife… I don’t know. I do know that I’m worn.

    1. You are NOT a horrible nagging wife. There is a time for everything. Time to spend with your family, time for other family, time to eat, time to play, time to pray, etc. He needs to respect his family and make out them for you and your kids. It’s the right thing to do. Why don’t they alternate spending time at his brothers house and then his? That seems like a better compromise. Of course he needs to make up alone time for you and him or you guys will remains strangers even as old married couples.

      This is what happens to a lot of older men. The men retire and the wives begin to find a way out of the marriage. You must find common ground. Book a hotel room and plan a vacation to another city/state/country (if you can afford it). Buy a concert/comedy show/sports ticket for just you and him. I hope you work things out with your husband and he sees the errors of his ways.

  13. I’m actually single but the issue I have is with my brother-in-law. He always seems to have an opinion about my life issues and I get very hurt as he’s quite common and treats me like I was some kind of stupid girl. I cannot avoid my sister listening to him but I wish that she would stand up for me sometimes.

    When I tell her that his comments are sometimes offensive she tells me that that is my problem, that I am too sensitive and that I should be the one to think thoroughly before I say anything. My response to this has been to withdraw and move away from my sister. I don’t want to do this as we have always been very close. But what can I do? I feel very lonely as a result of their marriage.

  14. I was married recently and according to our tradition you first have to move in with your husband’s parents if you don’t have a place of your own as yet. The problem is my husband refuses, so I’m currently staying alone at his parents. He has been living with his brother for so many years. My husband is now 40 and he stil wants to live there. He bought a piece of land and he has the title deeds so that he can start building but he hasn’t even seen the area. He says he is too busy. What hurts me most is that he is too busy running errands for his brother and he never makes time to run his own. He is always busy running errands for his brother and his brother doesnt want him to move. His brother is married.

    I also need my freedom since we just got married. And his brother’s wife might not feel comfortable with having us around as there have been problems before we got married. I am losing hope. I really love my husband so much but I’m beginning to think that maybe he loves his brother too much to let him go and start his own family. What should I do?

  15. I’m currently having trouble with my Brother-In-Law (husband’s brother), let’s call him JL for now. Last October JL moved in with us to escape a bad relationship and get a fresh start, mind you he’s the oldest sibling and a full 5 years older than my husband. He got off the prescription pain meds he had become addicted to and got on the anti-depressants he needed, so I agreed to take him into our home to help him begin anew. I fully regret that decision now.

    The first couple months were okay, he’s very difficult to get along with, but I managed… Then it got worse when he took himself off his anti-depressants. He would say things like “you are just his wife, I’m his blood and will always be here, you won’t last”, would scream at me in my own house, say terrible things about me, and talked about violence to others after a few beers where my children heard. I banned beer in the house, and he went on almost a rampage about how he was paying rent (a very small sum to cover his food and utility expenses, not even paying back the money we paid to get him here originally), and he wouldn’t be treated like a child. I told him I would stop treating him like a child when he stopped acting like one.

    At that point he began telling my husband lies about the conversations, and had my husband defending him and his actions to me. I felt beaten down with no where to go, and like an unwanted guest in my own house. I eventually had enough and told my husband I couldn’t live under the same roof as him, either he had to go or I and the kids would. Again, my husband took his side (which has damaged my views on his trustworthiness now), but did agree to give him 90 days to move out. He stopped paying rent and food costs, so my already tight budget became unbearable. Then my husband had a session with the counselor I was seeing to try to overcome my feelings. After the session he gave his brother 30 days instead of the 90 days (this was already 30 days into the original 90).

    His brother says I’m the one who took my husband away from him, and says I’m psychotic and need medication, but that he is perfectly fine. Though he caused issues with everyone under our roof (the younger Brother in law and both my parents), but of course, I’m the issue, not him. Anyways, I’ve put my foot down and stated that he will not see me or the children again until he sees a counselor and I speak with them (I want to make sure he’s actually trying to resolve his issues and not just going and sitting there).

    Eventually he even alienated my husband, who was the last hold out on his side, and is now cut off from all his family. My husband is now trying to build the relationship back up, and I cannot help but feel conflicted. One one hand, I want my husband to be happy, and having the bad blood between them has hurt him emotionally. One the other hand, I’m worried his brother will manipulate him again, and it will lead to a divorce this time. I refuse to put myself or my children through that again, but I love my husband dearly and don’t want to lose him. How do I make myself okay with him seeing his manipulative, lying, cruel, and judgmental brother?