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“I Wasn’t Invited to My Sister-in-Law’s Party so My Husband Is Going Without Me!”

My husband has been invited to a small 40th birthday dinner for his sister in Chicago (we live in Boston). I have not been invited nor has the absence of my invitation been addressed. My question: is this acceptable?

I feel strongly that my husband should decline a family invitation when I am excluded — and that his acceptance of the invitation would break down the integrity of our marriage. I would never, and I do mean never, accept a family invitation sent only to me and not my husband, simply because we are a unit and the strength of our relationship is the foundation of my life; at the end of the day, I come home to my husband, not my extended family.

However, my husband feels differently. He says that he understands why I’m hurt and doesn’t deny that I was purposely excluded, but, at the end of the day, the greater slight would be to his sister if he was not there to “support” her. — Excluded from SIL’s Birthday

I’m with you that it’s incredibly rude that you weren’t included in the invitation to your SIL’s 40th birthday party. But that’s a simplistic reaction to an issue I’m sure is multi-layered. You don’t just make the “do not invite” list for no reason. I’d be curious to hear your SIL’s side — why she’s excluding her brother’s wife to an important event.

Regardless what the reason is and whether it’s justified — and, yes, I do believe there could be justification for excluding a family member’s spouse to your party though it would have to be a really big deal — the bottom line is that your husband has been invited and you haven’t and now you both have some decisions to make. It sounds like your husband has already decided what he’s going to do and that’s to attend his sister’s party. And while I can certainly understand why that decision would hurt and even anger you, the idea that it threatens the “integrity” of your marriage is nuts. How shaky is the foundation of your marriage that its very integrity would be at risk over such a trivial thing as a birthday party?

Methinks there are some other issues at play here and that you should take the energy you’re funneling into being angry about this invitation and focus it onto your marriage and what’s going on in the larger picture to create such cracks over this one detail. Do you feel disrespected by your husband in general? Obviously, there are issues between you and his family, so do you feel as though your husband, historically, hasn’t defended you enough or given you as much support as you’d like? Has he wasted opportunities to smooth the relationship between you and his family because it was easier to remain neutral? If so, you need to have a discussion — or discussions — about that — about the larger picture. For the record, your SIL’s 40th birthday party probably isn’t the best opportunity to smooth relations. But a call afterward would be.

What would be the purpose of your husband skipping his sister’s 40th birthday party? To prove to everyone how committed he is to you? To prove to YOU how committed he is? To illustrate that nothing will come between you? To show that he has a stronger allegiance to you than to his family? If you really need proof of that — if you really need for your husband to alienate himself from his own sister to feel as if the integrity of your marriage is intact, then something is amiss, and I would urge you to figure out what that something is and address it head-on. If you don’t, I can assure you that this won’t be the last time you feel as if the foundation of your marriage is being tested.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 9:12 am

The ONLY way I see this as acceptable is if it is the SIL, the brother and the parents (and other blood siblings if there are some). Not spouses of anyone, no children, just the “original” family.

I find this to be inexcusably rude and would not want my husband to attend if I was in your shoes, LW. First off, you are part of the family now and secondly, you and your husband are a social unit and etiquette dictates you should always be invited together. I would ask your husband to privately talk with his sister about the issue in a non confrontational way and find out why she chose to not invite you. Unless there is a seriously valid reason I would request he doesn’t go.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 9:32 am

I have to assume everyone knows why she chose not to invite the LW.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 9:51 am

Everyone in the family you mean? It’s possible they all know, but it is possible they don’t. If the LW did something like steal money/goods from the SIL, was physically violent towards her, or hooked up with the sisters spouse then I get it. But like anything else? I think it’s ludicris to not invite the LW over. So if the LW hasn’t stole/hit/cheated on the SIL then I think the husband needs to get to the bottom of it.

avatar csp January 15, 2013, 10:46 am

The two times I have had this type of thing happen, it was personality driven. The first was the hostess claimed I wasn’t invited because another regular at the party always got heated about politics and she thought I instigated it. The other was my mother in law got mad at something I said at a party and she would not want me in her home until I apologized. Both were personality driven things. It is who said what to who about what.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 10:58 am

And I’m saying I think your friend and MIL where in the wrong when they did that to you. They were acting childish in my opinion.

avatar csp January 15, 2013, 12:52 pm

you are right, this is tacky.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 10:54 am

I’m saying I’m certain that at the very minimum, Husband, Sister and LW know why she wasn’t invited, and I assume there was good reason.

FireStar FireStar January 15, 2013, 11:02 am


avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 11:06 am

Presuming that’s the case, I’m not really sure what I’d do. Guess it depends on what was done to cause this.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 11:14 am

LBH, I completely agree. We are all speculating right now because there is such a broad specturm of “things” the LW could have done to piss of the SIL. It could be anywhere from a Facebook comment taken the wrong way to stealing money. Chime in any time LW…

FireStar FireStar January 15, 2013, 11:38 am

It really does turn on the reason why she is excluded. Though I agree with lbh that she knows why (and so does the husband).

avatar Rachel January 15, 2013, 2:17 pm

Who knows if the reason is “good”. The SIL could be a racist troll and the LW stands up to her BS during conversations. Or the SIL could be a generally petty jerk who never liked the LW. There could be a million reasons, none of them good.

becboo84 BecBoo84 January 15, 2013, 10:17 am

I have to agree. Like Wendy said, I’m guessing there are serious issues that led to this very blatant exclusion, and I’m sure the degree of their legitimacy depends on how you talk to.

becboo84 BecBoo84 January 15, 2013, 10:17 am

*who you talk to

Kate B. Kate B. January 15, 2013, 10:22 am

I agree. If it were me, I would strongly request that my husband not go. I would also try to find out why I wasn’t invited. If the SIL wouldn’t talk to me, I’d try others in the family, or ask my husband to do it. This is not acceptable. It is the husband’s job to stand up for his wife to his family and unless, as Wendy suggests, there is a really big reason why she wasn’t invited, he should refuse to go unless she is invited as well.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 10:33 am

I totally agree. In my opinion, once you’re married your spouse becomes your #1 ally in the world.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 10:36 am

but does that exclude you from ever interacting with anyone who doesnt like your spouse?

i mean, i get it, you spouse should be your number one priority, but really- they dont like each other (for whatever reasons- it doesnt really even matter at this point, right?), so he goes to see his sister/family and the wife stays home. is he really supposed to drop all his family because his wife doesnt life them? thats a little controlling, no?

Fabelle Fabelle January 15, 2013, 10:44 am

But if they don’t like each other (& it’s for a petty reason), then I think the sister should just invite the wife anyway. He shouldn’t have to drop his family, no, but he should makes moves to defend his wife & take a stand against unnecessary exclusions (again, IF the reason is anything other than what GG mentioned above…stealing, hitting, etc.)

katie katie January 15, 2013, 10:59 am

see, if i was the husband in this situation, i would just be like you two are petty idiots and i will have NONE of this drama in my life. you two work it out, and until then i dont want to hear any of it.

avatar MMcG January 15, 2013, 1:53 pm

@katie – I think that would be the worst thing to do, everything I have read about creating a strong marriage means that the husband should choose the wife — or at least they need to come to a decision together and present a united front. Pitting your wife against your sister when you have no intention of weighing in could be a disaster!

katie katie January 15, 2013, 3:13 pm

well, im not the kind of person to get involved in drama.

also, i wouldnt marry someone who would get involved in drama, so really our “united front” would be something along the lines of.. so, she doesnt want me to come? alright. are you going to go? ok.

avatar MMcG January 15, 2013, 4:53 pm

sometimes you don’t marry someone who “would get involved in drama” – but you do end up related to them!

katie katie January 15, 2013, 5:02 pm

ah, but you see, it takes two to make drama happen… if you dont feed it, it doesnt grow. if you dont plant the seed, it doesnt grow.

theattack theattack January 15, 2013, 5:12 pm

Katie, I respect that you want to be so drama-free and easy-going about social things. I like that about you. But I don’t think it’s always going to be that simple. Some people will find a way to stew things up no matter how you respond to it. Also, when things start coming into your marriage, it’s completely natural to have feelings about it one way or the other that you want your spouse to respect or at least consider. I just don’t think it’s realistic to think you’re always going to be able to step out and be 100% chill about everything.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 11:01 am

No, I’m not expecting him to drop his family. But I expect adults to be able to act maturely and not exclude a family member from an invitation for something petty. I don’t “like” my uncle but he’s invited to my wedding because he is family. For a less dramatic example- my mom and my aunt (my dad’s sister) do not get along at all, but they both came to Christmas dinner at my grandmother’s. They both managed to have a perfectly fine time and act like adults because, well, they are adults!

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:04 am

so in this instance, the SIL is acting like an idiot- and you cant control that. you cant be like, SIL- act like an adult! but what this LW *can* control is how she acts. so shouldnt she, then, be the adult in this situation?

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 11:09 am

Yes, the LW should act like an adult, of course. And I think she is. Unless she has committed some heinous crime against the SIL the LW has every right to be upset, in my opinion. Especially considering the husband will be traveling half way across the country for this birthday dinner! Which is why I think the husband should talk to his sister and explain she is being crazy. It’s not going to come across well if the LW calls the sister up and asks for an explination. In my opinion, the SIL is acting childish and petty (unless the LW has committed one of the acts I mentioned above) and the LWers husband should stand up to his family for his wife.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:21 am

well, but again, what is the husband going to do? be like, hey, sister! act like an adult! he cant change her behavior either… so then even if she is being a jerk, does that mean that he shouldnt go to her party? i dont think so. i think the adult thing to do would be to go to the party, tell the sister that shes being a jerk, LW to graciously stay at home, and then for the SIL to look like the jerk that she is, like bossy italian wife said.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 11:26 am

Well that’s where we differ. I would not want my husband to go with out me and I don’t think the LW’s should either. The SIL is going to look like a jerk either way, husband’s attendence or not.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 11:33 am

I’m trying to imagine if my SO’s sister hated me and I was unwelcome at her house. I can’t imagine asking/telling my SO to never go there again. Even if my SO said he wouldn’t bc of me, I still think I’d tell him to go.
As most of you know, I hate my sister’s SO, but even him I would invite (while gritting my teeth). If he told my sister not to come home anymore bc he doesn’t like us, I would lose it.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:37 am

i agree, LBH. i just dont want to ever draw lines in the sand like that…

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 11:43 am

LBH, I do think there is a difference from not going once from Boston to Chicago for a birthday party and never talking to the SIL again. I’m not advocating for ending the relationship with the SIL over this snub.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 11:49 am

Where would you draw the line though? Any event you aren’t invited to? Just this one event? Assuming she’s never invited to anything again.

theattack theattack January 15, 2013, 11:56 am

I’m with GG that he should still maintain a relationship with his family, but traveling that far is way too much for an event his wife wasn’t invited to. There’s not a clear-cut line, but he’s going very far out of his way in this scenario. I think it’s the formality of the get-together. Beer and football with his family? Totally fine. Formal party? Not fine. Lots of travel? Not fine.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 11:57 am

I assume the LW is still invited to family events such as Christmas/4th of July. Go to those together. I wouldn’t attend a party my own sister invited me to but didn’t invite my fiance. I would expect him not go to an event hosted by his sibling if I wasn’t invited. Once we’re married (and even now but I know for some people it’s not) we’re each other’s #1 priority.

avatar MMcG January 15, 2013, 1:55 pm

I think if it was closeby then it wouldn’t be a big deal for the husband to go solo , but asking the husband to travel and not the wife could presumably take up vacation or travel money that they have as a household…

avatar wendykh January 18, 2013, 9:51 pm

it doesn’t matter what lw did actually. Hubby needs to stand by her. SHE is his primary family now.

avatar lemongrass January 15, 2013, 10:34 am

I think that she knows why she wasn’t included and that it is a valid reason. She’s not upset that she wasn’t invited, she’s upset that her husband wants to go. I think if it wasn’t a valid reason then she would have pursued getting an invite or a reason why not first, then asked her husband to stay home.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 10:39 am

Where is the LWer?? But like I said in another comment, the only “valid” reasons I see for this big of a snub are stealing, physical violence, or cheatng with the SIL’s spouse. If the LW did those, then I understand the SIL’s lack of an invitation. If it’s anything else then I think the SIL is in the wrong and the LW has every right to ask her husband to either smooth things over with the sister or him to not go.

avatar lemongrass January 15, 2013, 10:44 am

It’s true, it can go either way. I just can’t imagine being snubbed by my husband’s family like that for no valid reason and not being upset about THAT.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:16 am

i think that being upset is very valid and not weird, and then taking that and demanding that the husband not go, and then to say that it will wreck the integrity of your marriage are very different ways to go about this.

one is legitimate and perhaps can be remedied, one is just adding more fuel to the fire and is going to cost everyone in the long run..

avatar lemongrass January 15, 2013, 11:32 am

I meant that I would be upset over it- it doesn’t seem like the LW is though, she’s only upset because her husband wants to go.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 10:56 am

Its a nice thing to do if the husband tried to smooth things over, but it seems the issue is between the LW and the sister. Shouldn’t it be one of them trying to do the smoothing over, or apologizing.

avatar Rita Jones January 23, 2013, 11:27 pm

If the wife was invited to the SIL’s 35th birthday, got drunk, said some nasty things, and acted like a jerk I could understand the lack of invite for the 40th birthday. There are a LOT of reasons it could be justified. My mom never forgave my dad’s sister for getting drunk, driving my brother and me around town (ages 5 & 10) and talking crap about her. I figure if my mom never wanted to see my aunt’s face again, that’s justified.

avatar Ali January 15, 2013, 4:33 pm

I agree. The husband is the link between the LW and the SIL. If he does not help to resolve this issue–whatever it is–he is opening the door for his wife to be excluded from everything and saying it’s okay for the discord in the family to continue. Nobody is saying he should bring the wife anyway and try to have a confrontation at the party, but I disagree that this is “not the time to take a stand.” The first time IS the time to take a stand, because the argument with be more difficult and murky the longer you wait. Whomever the “wrong” party is–whether it was a mutual disagreement or one in which there was an aggressor and a victim–the husband needs to make this the point at which it is resolved. Negative feelings may still linger until the LW and SIL have it out and resolve things, but ground rules should be laid before things start getting ugly and ongoing–and the first thing should be that neither lady can exclude the other from functions. Sorry, that’s part of being adults and being a family.

avatar bethany January 15, 2013, 9:31 am


There’s got to be some reason the LW wasn’t included, and I feel like the LW probably knows why, but left that out. Maybe she’s one of those people who ruins a good time- we often read letters about them- There’s that one person who gets drunk and starts fights, or doesn’t know how to act in public and makes everyone uncomfortable.

avatar j2 January 15, 2013, 11:36 am

I agree. LW did not express surprise, did not mention if she spoke to SiL, did not mention if this was the first time, did not mention all kinds of potentially important things.

Essentially, LW is looking for support that her husband should not go NO MATTER WHAT LW MAY HAVE DONE.

Frankly, I am not about to sign onto something like that, especially when LW’s “the integrity of our marriage” bleat made me suspect that she is the real problem.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:45 am

exactly my theory too- she is just looking for all of us to agree with her that her husband is terrible.

avatar MMcG January 15, 2013, 4:56 pm

or she’s looking to us to agree to some basic principles that a lot of people live their lives and marriages by… that once you become a new family unit your old one becomes secondary in importance.

avatar wendykh January 18, 2013, 9:54 pm

Yup. If you’re not putting your spousal family first you’re not mature enough to marry.

Lianne Lianne January 15, 2013, 9:35 am

I am with Wendy on this one. At face value – what we know just from the content in the letter – this is a huge slight. You are married and that makes you family. However, I feel like there is a pretty big reason your SIL is excluding you specifically. It’s interesting (and telling?) that those details were left out.

avatar SuzyQ January 15, 2013, 10:56 am

I agree with this, but I think that the husband is hurting the situation. If he really thinks the reason she wasn’t invited is valid, he needs to talk to her about her behavior. If he doesn’t, he needs to give his sister a talking-to. Just sitting back and letting hurt feelings simmer on both sides doesn’t help at all.

Lianne Lianne January 15, 2013, 12:17 pm

For all we know, he could have. We only have a teeny bit of info that the LW decided to share with us.

kaluu kaluu January 15, 2013, 4:49 pm

I know! Totally Want more info on this one.

avatar Steph January 15, 2013, 12:21 pm

I don’t know. This is a hard one. My sister in law started hating me because she was always saying terrible things about her husband and I disagreed with her on one of her rants. Since then she hates me. It’s a family consensus that she is insane, but she is invited to every family event and respected. Why? because she is the spouse of someone in the family. My point is sometimes people don’t really need a huge reason to act ridiculously. Maybe she didn’t give the story because its not that interesting of a story?

avatar Melissa January 15, 2013, 9:40 am

Why doesn’t he ask his sister why his wife wasn’t invited?

katie katie January 15, 2013, 9:42 am

so, WWS and WEES (what everyone else said). there is a reason that your excluded. either you are an asshole or your SIL/husband’s family is an asshole. if your the asshole, well, you can take steps to try to change that. you can repair bridges you have burnt with your new family. it’ll take time and energy, but hopefully it can happen. if its her/your husbands family… well, be happy that you werent invited! seriously, why would you even want to go if they are just a bunch of terrible people who hate you for no reason and would go to such lengths to let you know how they feel? just dont go. one of my high school boyfriend’s family was like this. the husbands family hated his mom for whatever reason, and so she just stopped going to FL when they went to visit. no hard feelings (hopefully?), just separation and silence from both parties. sometimes thats a good solution, and thats just how you have to coexist with certain people.

also, really, WWS about this *rocking* the integrity of your marriage. way to be the asshole in this instance, LW, and making your husband choose between family and his wife. thats a really, really shitty position to put someone in… if this was a really important thing, id say that he should side with you, he did marry you after all- but its a freaking birthday party. calm down. if you cant weather this, you have no hope. also, if you cant grasp the fact that he will want to see his family (no matter how you and the family feel about each other), you also have no hope.

Skyblossom Skyblossom January 15, 2013, 10:02 am

Actually, it is his family that is making him choose. They are the ones who didn’t invite his wife and put him in this awkward position.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 10:14 am

yea, i guess that is true if you look at it that way. ok, i change my answer. they are both assholes, and i ultimately feel bad for the husband.

avatar SuzyQ January 15, 2013, 11:05 am

I don’t feel so bad for the husband. He is the natural player to broker a peace and is doing nothing to help!

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:09 am

he is the broker of peace in between two apparently petty jerky women who go out of their way to slight the other one *through* the husband/brother.

i for sure feel bad for him.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 11:11 am

Really, he’s the only one to feel bad for if you ask me. Imagine if your bf/husband and your siblings behaved like this? What a nightmare.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 11:10 am

It’d be nice if he helped (MAYBE HE HAS, WE DON’T KNOW), but is it really his job to work out issues between two grown adults?! I don’t think so. It’d be to his benefit, but still not his duty.

avatar MMcG January 15, 2013, 5:01 pm

lbh – but it isn’t an issue between 2 adults in the same standing, it is an issue between 2 families, and the husband is straddling the two. AS I wrote above your “new” family – the woman you married and perhaps the children you may have – should come before your “old” family in terms of general priorities. Now in lots of cases this isn’t an issue where people use common sense, decency and can function like adults, and that pendulum can swing back and forth pretty easily, but if people don’t behave then the problem shouldn’t be left to fester… At some point he is going to have to choose to stick up for his wife and insist that HIS family is treated a certain way by the rest of HIS family, or not, but he and his wife have to come to some sort of understanding and it doesn’t seem like they are anywhere close.

Fabelle Fabelle January 15, 2013, 9:43 am

I do think this is totally unacceptable— a married couple is a unit. Why hasn’t the husband asked his sister why you were left off of the invitation? I mean, you say he doesn’t deny that you were “purposely excluded”, so what is the reason for this? Barring some extreme circumstance (you stole from her, you punched her in the face, you insulted her in some deliberate way), I actually WOULD expect the husband to decline the invite. But like others, I believe there has to be more to the story, here.

avatar csp January 15, 2013, 9:44 am

LW, I remember the first time I was blatantly snubbed. It was horrible and it was a direct response to my personality. It stung and the relationship with the person was never the same. I am also a person that has a roller coaster relationship with my inlaws. Here is what I have to say. This does not seem like an event that I would take a stand on. I would tell my husband to go and plan fabulous things to do that weekend on my own with my friends, family, or kids. I would take some quality me time and enjoy having the tv remote to myself, clean out some closets one day. The next go to a spa, get your makeup professionally done, then go out with girlfriends for overpriced drinks. Leave the drama in Chicago and simply say good riddance. Would you really want to go anyway?

avatar SuzyQ January 15, 2013, 11:06 am

Make the hubbie jealous that he wasn’t having fun with you!

avatar csp January 15, 2013, 12:48 pm

Right. Post all the fun you are having on Facebook too! I remember when this happened to me with a “friend”, I felt so betrayed. Then I brushed off my ego and said I have tons of friends who do love me, want to be around me, and are worth my time. I then did something way better. Honestly, if the LW’s husband stayed in town he would resent her and if she went to the party it would be awkward. So do the best thing, let him go and be your fabulous self.

FireStar FireStar January 15, 2013, 9:44 am

On the face of it your sister in law seems unbelievably rude …but its like you started telling the story half way through. WHY is she so rude to you? Because she is evil and controlling? Or did you do something to legitimately earn her ire? Because if the fault of the rift rests with you then I have sympathy for your husband. Why should he estrange himself from his family because you have behaved badly in the past? If you are innocent of wrong doing then it would seem your SIL is crazy …and your husband totally fine with it. It just seems less likely that your SIL has some completely unwarranted vendetta against you that your husband is fine with it. And I say this as someone who has an evil sister in law. So I know they exist…you just seem to be omitting the reasons behind her behaviour and that seems to indicate they aren’t favourable to you.
I’m not against drawing a line in the sand or ultimatums but it seems you told your husband “me or her” and he picked her. That is the risk with drawing a line in the sand…someone might just cross it. There must be a reason. So ask him. And if the reason rests with your behaviour then some self reflection is in order if you want harmony in your family. If you truly are blameless and your husband is siding with your SIL for no apparent reason then some couples counselling should help both of you deal with the expectations you have of each other in your marriage.

avatar shanshantastic January 15, 2013, 9:58 am

It makes me wonder if the LW’s attitude has been “me/us vs. your family” from the beginning. Even the most understanding family may start to chafe if they’ve tried to welcome a new spouse into the fold but s/he chooses to stand apart and draw lines in the sand, as you said. But without an update, I guess we won’t know!

LW, you may have some self reflection in store even if you are totally blameless. I have awesome in-laws who have welcomed me as one of their own – except for my MIL’s family. I spent months putting up with awful attitudes and ridiculous demands (not to mention more than one tear-filled conversation), and that was just *planning* the wedding. I didn’t know what I had done to these people! You know what I did? Nothing. They’re just bitter, unhappy, horrible people. And I’m still making compromises to protect my family – my husband, and my MIL – from their own family’s particular brand of nasty.

Maybe you believe you did nothing wrong, and maybe you’re totally right. But maybe in their eyes it just doesn’t matter, and what you can do to keep your relationship with your husband strong is smooth waves of others’ making.

avatar ktfran January 15, 2013, 9:46 am

I’m torn on this letter. On the one hand, I totally see Wendy’s point. I was nodding my head in agreement and she’s right, if this slight ruins the foundation of the LW’s marriage, there are much bigger problems.

However, I’m a people pleaser. It’s what I do. I also have Catholic guilt. Thanks mom and dad. Anyway, I couldn’t imagine not inviting my sister’s husband to some event. Even if I couldn’t stand him and thought he was the worst person in the world, I would invite him to make my family happy. That’s just how we roll.

So I guess I don’t really have any advice. I think it would help to know why the LW wasn’t invited. I might have an answer then. But she left that out, which I think is a little telling.

avatar FossilChick January 15, 2013, 9:53 am

It would definitely help to know if there’s a history of bad blood between the LW and the SIL, or if the SIL has done this in the past. I’m torn because this is a pretty big event — I mean, the husband is planning to travel halfway across the country, so it doesn’t seem like this is some casual, last-minute, thrown-together party. I agree that the LW is a bit dramatic in the whole “this will unravel our marriage” thing, but I would be pretty pissed if my husband was going to take a substantial trip to go to a family event without me, and without even inquiring about it. I don’t agree that his attending the party is a no-brainer. If the LW’s exclusion isn’t warranted, it just sets the standard that it’s OK to exclude her from future events and they’ll meet with no resistance from their family member.

avatar Lindsay January 15, 2013, 9:53 am

I can’t have an opinion without knowing why the LW was excluded. Clearly, she and the husband know that it was on purpose, but do they know why? If not, I assume there’d be some mention of surprise or confusion, and there is none.

Skyblossom Skyblossom January 15, 2013, 10:00 am

This one is difficult because we don’t know enough to give a fair answer.

On the one hand, your spouse is your closest relationship and you should always have their back. Meaning, you don’t allow anyone to be rude or nasty to them.

On the other hand, most people aren’t excluded for no reason and we have no idea why you were excluded. If you cause problems when you are with his family then being excluded is justified.

So, in my mind, if you are being excluded for no good reason then he should stick up for you and not go. If you are being excluded because you’ve earned it, he should go by himself, if he wishes and you should hope he has a fun weekend.

This shouldn’t undermine the entire integrity of you marriage. You should have a better foundation than that but constant, endless slights do take a toll on a marriage and can break it over time. So be honest with yourself about why you’ve been excluded. If you deserve being excluded work on yourself. If you don’t deserve it then be glad there is geographic distance between you and them and talk to your husband about establishing boundaries with his family. Marital counseling might be helpful in getting to the bottom of this and helping you both to see what is fair. Usually no one is perfect and the fault will lie somewhere in the middle.

avatar ktfran January 15, 2013, 10:13 am


avatar EricaSwagger January 15, 2013, 10:02 am

Yes — it was rude of them to not invite you. (It was rude from where I stand, with the info that was given to me in your letter.) But I’m sure there must be some reason why you weren’t included. Whether your SIL is just mean and doesn’t like you, or whether you’ve done something so off-putting to her that she doesn’t want you around on her birthday. Either way, you weren’t invited and your husband was. Tough.

There’s not a lot you can do about it, but I love the suggestion of a phone call after; once your husband gets back from the party. Make a quick call to your SIL and tell her you heard the dinner was really nice and you just wanted to call and wish her a happy birthday. That’s all you need to say. It’s polite, it shows you aren’t feeling vindictive about the whole thing. Whether you’re the reason for the snub or she is… stepping up and being kind from here on out can only help matters.

avatar Essie January 15, 2013, 10:03 am

I think the fact that the OP hasn’t included one single possible reason for the lack of an invitation is pretty telling. I mean, why not say “my SIL and I had a terrible fight”, or “my husband’s family has never liked me”, or…well…something? Or “I can’t imagine why they’d exclude me, everything seemed fine the last time we got together.”

If I thought everything was fine between my SIL and I, or my husband’s family and I, and out of the blue I was not invited to a family celebration, my first thought would not be “Alas! The integrity of my marriage is threatened!” It would be “what the heck did I do to offend them so much?”

I admit that this is a lot of reaching on my part, but it almost seems as if she’s not giving us the backstory on purpose….she wants to make this all about her husband going without her, and not about the possible reasons why.

avatar ebstarr January 15, 2013, 10:28 am

I don’t think you’re reaching. The LW can’t go into these dramatics about cracks in her marriage and expect people to be on her side without justifying why the exclusion is unfair (and I think it has to be a REALLY bad reason, like race or religion or the in-laws being abusive, for her to be this upset).

Also, “alas” is a hilarious word.

avatar Essie January 15, 2013, 10:40 am

LOL…..all that was missing from the original letter was an “alas”. :) When you’re going on about “breaking down the integrity of my marriage” and “my relationship is the foundation of my life”, you need an “alas”.

Fabelle Fabelle January 15, 2013, 10:29 am

Yeah, I feel like there’s been a few letters like this & there’s always SOME kind of hint— “We just got married a year ago & the family never warmed to me….” seems to be a common reason. If that’s the case here, I can definitely see the rudeness. But there’s nothing in the letter. Nothing!

Also, storytime because—although it’s not totally similar—I keep thinking about it: A few years ago, my uncle was dating this married woman. Our family felt sort of uncomfortable around her, but she was still invited to events & everyone was polite. But then one day, she had a little freakout where she told us all how rude we were , & somehow we never made her “feel welcome”. My mom wound up calling her to smooth things over, & she called my mom a bitch. So basically, she’s not invited anymore!

LW, did you do something like this? haha

Skyblossom Skyblossom January 15, 2013, 11:38 am

I have to wonder if it isn’t something like this. If she was the affair that broke up her husband’s previous marriage (which we don’t know if there was one) and he has kids from that marriage who will be at the party then I can see his family refusing to invite her. They would want to protect the kids from the emotional pain of seeing their dad with his affair wife.

avatar Bossy Italian Wife January 15, 2013, 10:20 am

I find it convenient that the LW left out why she and the SIL aren’t speaking and why she feels she wasn’t invited. I agree with Wendy 100% that it doesn’t affect the “foundation” of your marriage. Nonsense.

At the end of the day it sounds like there are divided loyalties…and as a wife, I believe it is important to support your husband, even when you don’t agree with him. LW, did it ever occur to you that you will not be able to change your husband’s mind?? Instead, you might try taking the high road and say something along the lines of, “I’m so hurt that your sister didn’t invite me. We have some issues there, but you know what, I really believe that it’s important to maintain important relationships. Please bring this gift for me, and express that I was upset I wasn’t invited. I would have loved to go with you as your wife.”

Guess what that would do? Make his sister look like a jerk and then there would be no reason for you two not to patch things up. But your attitude doesn’t take the long view. It takes the petty short view. Is this party SO AWESOME you need to cause some huge problem over it? Screw it. Let your husband go, plan a girls’ weekend, and take a spa day!

…And for god sakes, these are your in-laws. Don’t cause trouble on top of trouble…. be the bigger person.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 10:33 am

WBIWS. perfect.

avatar Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 10:42 am

But what if the background story is the in-laws have been horrible to LW for years and her husband has done NOTHING to defend her, ever, except to tell her to suck it up. And now his pussy ways [can I say that here?] is causing him to abandon his wife for the weekend, travel to Chicago to party, spend money on airfare and whatnot, … and she has absolutely no say because it’s his family? I’d be pissed!

Lianne Lianne January 15, 2013, 10:50 am

Well if that’s the case, there are those cracks in her marriage. She should just MOA!

avatar Bossy Italian Wife January 15, 2013, 11:02 am

I totally see your point, Addie, but at the same time, even if that is the case, she shouldn’t give her SIL more occasion to prove her right. Sometimes when someone is being a total douche, you just gotta sit back and allow them to show their cards.

It’s not so different in families. At least not in my experience! If you are calm enough to take the high road, usually you are clear enough to set boundaries….and if her hubby is just being rude and hopping on the bandwagon (if that is what’s going on) then it will be clear to her. However, since she is so defensive, it’s my guess that is not what is going on.

avatar GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 11:19 am

I think the husband would be the real asshole in the situation AP described though. I mean he wouls essentially be chosing his family and their rude ways over his wife, the woman he chose to marry.

bittergaymark bittergaymark January 15, 2013, 12:20 pm

She’s have surely mentioned that… Instead, the LW’s silence is quite damning and most revealing of her guilt.

avatar Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 10:28 am

Great response, Wendy! I hope LW thinks long and hard about all your follow up questions. And I *really* would like LW to respond here with more info – a lot more info, right now. I want the whole history of the LW, her husband, and her in-laws. … I really don’t want to do work today so spill it, LW!

avatar Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 10:46 am

God damnit, now I have some work to do. LW, when I come back later today I want to see more details, ok? Because when I think about all the possible background stories here, my advice ranges from “divorce your husband, you deserve better” to “divorce your husband, he deserves better” and lots of things inbetween. … Ok, buddy, now spill it.

avatar Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 1:19 pm

Hellooooo, I’m back and we got no update from the LW? I’m impatient, sure, but I wanted an update now!

avatar Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 4:43 pm

I’m starting to get really pissed at the LW. You know she is hitting refresh and reading and re-reading all these comments as much as I am — yet, no update with more info. Grrr.

avatar lemongrass January 15, 2013, 10:29 am

Take the high road. Your husband loves his family and has a right to spend time with them with and without you. Obviously things don’t go as well when you are there since you aren’t upset that you didn’t get invited- just that your husband is going. Do you really want to go to the party or do you just want your husband to stay home? If it’s the latter then you are just being petty and adding fuel to the fire. Family is important, especially when a person makes an effort in their adult lives to keep their family together so even if you don’t like your husband’s family, let him enjoy them.

avatar Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 10:30 am

We don’t have enough information to encourage the high or low road. This could very well be a situation that calls for the lowest of all roads! LW, spill it!!!!!

avatar lemongrass January 15, 2013, 10:42 am

You’re right- I want the whole messy story too but I’m taking the lack of story as evidence.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:05 am

oh, what is sampson’s thing- inaction an action in itself?

dang it, she said something like that once and it was awesome!

avatar Wendy (not Wendy) January 15, 2013, 10:39 am

Even if there’s no bad blood between the LW and the SIL, maybe one of the other in-laws is horrible and in order to exclude that person, the SIL has to exclude all spouses.

Maybe her MIL has mama’s boy issues and made it sound to the SIL like the LW would never be willing to come all the way to Chicago for a party in order to get her special boy to come out by himself.

Maybe the SIL thinks they wouldn’t be able to afford the tickets and only invited her brother in an effort to spare them embarrassment….

so many fun possible conspiracy theories! But I guess I’m the only one here who doesn’t think it’s really that big of a deal or that married couples don’t always have to be invited to everything together.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 10:42 am

oh i like the first theory. that is a pretty legit thing, and if i remember right we have had letters about that before

i mean, maybe this really is a small, *specifically* family only gathering. no in-laws, no cousins-by-marriage, no friends, ect.. which is really stupid, to me, im a more the merrier kind of person, but im sure those kinds of people exist.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 11:15 am

If that’s the case, where SIL refuses to invite “new” family members, SIL is a crappy person. If there truly is no reason for not inviting the LW, I don’t even know what to say. Highly doubt it though.

theattack theattack January 15, 2013, 11:20 am

Yeah, I would be offended if my fiance’s family considered me an outsider after we’re married. When you get married, you ARE family, blood or not (let’s hope for not). It’s a possible explanation for sure, but it’s shitty nonetheless.

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:28 am

you guys remember that one wedding letter about that? the husband’s family member was getting married in a very small ceremony, so small that only immediate family was invited? the LW was all pissed off about it.. i dont remember what what we said though.

and yea, ill agree its shitty -id never do that, like i said- but if thats who she wants at her birthday party…

avatar jlyfsh January 15, 2013, 11:31 am

there was an update on that wasn’t there? where’s JK isn’t she the go to person for finding old letters?

katie katie January 15, 2013, 11:33 am

oh i dont know! i just remember being so puzzled as to why she was so upset about it…

JK OR CATS FIND THAT LETTER AND ITS UPDATE!! (cats has be becoming a good DW-sleuth recently as well… haha)

avatar jlyfsh January 15, 2013, 11:40 am

i tried i give up, maybe i’m remembering wrong!

CatsMeow CatsMeow January 15, 2013, 3:24 pm


There’s the original!

avatar jlyfsh January 15, 2013, 3:33 pm

Awesome! Looks like responded at the end of the letter! Ended up that after everyone turned out to be pissed (both sides of family, many people bugging the bride and groom) they caved and changed their minds….

katie katie January 15, 2013, 3:49 pm

which is so lame. i feel bad for that couple…

theattack theattack January 15, 2013, 11:37 am

Oh yeah, that letter does sound familiar. The wedding situation seems especially odd because weddings are where two people become a family, so to excluse someone else’s spouse on the basis of them not being family at an event where you are becoming a family with your SO is pretty hilariously hypocritical.

avatar MISS MJ January 15, 2013, 10:52 am

My advice is a bit different. I don’t care what the LW did, her husband married her and brought her into his family and it is inexcusably rude for the SIL to not invite her to this party and for her husband to incur travel costs, etc. to go without her. He should say no, even if the SIL has a totally valid reason for not inviting his wife. The point is the LW is his wife and that loyalty has to come first. And, if the LW is so awful that the husband totally gets why no one in his family wants to see her, then that’s a marital issue they need to address. And, if the husband’s family is so awful that they’d exclude someone like this with no real justification, that’s an issue to be addressed, too. But, on this one, he married the LW, he’s still married to her and he owes her the loyalty of declining the invitation. Married unit, common front, “our” family, for better or worse and all that jazz.

And, for what it’s worth, if the SIL had written in and said the LW was a terrible, no good rotten person who she loathed and she just wanted to invite her brother to her party and not his wife, my advice would have been that like her or not, the LW is her brother’s wife and the SIL has to respect that. Either invite them both or don’t invite either of them.

FireStar FireStar January 15, 2013, 11:28 am

So if the LW slapped the SIL’s child and berated her MIL to the point of tears, she should still be welcome? Actions have consequences. If the LW did something to make herself unwelcome then that’s on her. While the default position is to support your spouse, certainly you don’t go along with bad behaviour just because it is your spouse. No one should compromise their integrity or their sense of right or wrong for someone else.

avatar MISS MJ January 15, 2013, 11:42 am

My answer remains the same in that the husband should not go, although I’d modify it to the SIL and say just don’t invite either of them. Not because the LW should be welcome – in your scenario, she understandably is not. Not because the LW’s behavior is remotely okay – it certainly isn’t. But because the husband chose the LW, and chose to stay married to her. She has to be his priority in the Should-I-Go-To-A-Party-My-Spouse-Wasn’t-Invited-To situation. It’s not life and death; it’s not a matter of never seeing someone again. It’s a party. And, it sucks for the husband, but that’s the way I see it. And, if your scenario is the case, he should demand that his wife get some serious counseling and mend the rifts she has torn in their family. Really, if this is all on the LW, and I get we’re all assuming it is, but it may not be, her husband should demand that she do whatever it takes to mend fences anyway. And, if it’s the family’s problem, then he should decline to support their efforts to exclude the person he chose to marry and spend his life with.

FireStar FireStar January 15, 2013, 11:59 am

So if I disagree with my spouse my options are to support him or divorce him? Just because he stayed married to her doesn’t wed him to share in the consequences of HER choices. He has his own consequences since lord knows he doesn’t want to be in the middle of his family and his wife. It may just be a party or it may be about the relationship with his sister. That isn’t a small deal. But I agree that the husband should help in the mending of fences if the SIL and wife can’t fix it themselves.

avatar Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 1:49 pm

Ok, you kind of won me over. WMMJS.

avatar lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 11:01 am

Wendy, have you ever replied to a letter asking for more info before you can give advice?