New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. Read some of the most popular Dear Wendy posts here. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), do a search in the search bar, or submit a question for advice at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
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.
You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 9:32 am
I have to assume everyone knows why she chose not to invite the LW.
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.
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.
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.
csp January 15, 2013, 12:52 pm
you are right, this is tacky.
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 January 15, 2013, 11:02 am
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.
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 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).
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 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 January 15, 2013, 10:17 am
*who you talk to
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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 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?
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 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.
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.
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 January 15, 2013, 11:37 am
i agree, LBH. i just dont want to ever draw lines in the sand like that…
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.
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 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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 January 15, 2013, 4:49 pm
I know! Totally Want more info on this one.
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?
Melissa January 15, 2013, 9:40 am
Why doesn’t he ask his sister why his wife wasn’t invited?
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
SuzyQ January 15, 2013, 11:06 am
Make the hubbie jealous that he wasn’t having fun with you!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
ktfran January 15, 2013, 10:13 am
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Lamador March 25, 2017, 9:08 pm
It’s because the sister in law and the family don’t like her!!! I’m going thru the exact same scenario with my husband. My SIL called him the other day to say “they were making the brother a surprise bday and want him to be there at a certain time” no invite to me- it was purposely made that way so I can hear that I wasn’t invited. Did it upset me? Of course it did. I asked him why he didn’t say anything in my defense, or to ask why I wasn’t invited and he just brushed it off and excused her by saying ” oh she doesnt know how to talk! Mind you this is a 34 year old woman! My husband and I got together both with kids from a previous marriage – we have a 11 mo of our own! But his family has never liked anyone that he’s with. They gave his ex a hard time too and enjoyed having him around alone without bringing her to parties or get togethers. Thry would always exclude her and he’d allow it! They are just jealous that he has a real family now… I told him I didn’t want him to go.. I believe he needs to break that cycle. He needs to put me first and stand by me. If he cannot do that then we’re doomed! (at first he said he wasn’t going but )He just left to his brothers bday party without me.
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 January 15, 2013, 10:33 am
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 January 15, 2013, 10:50 am
Well if that’s the case, there are those cracks in her marriage. She should just MOA!
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!!!!!
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 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!
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 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.
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 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 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…
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 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)
jlyfsh January 15, 2013, 11:40 am
i tried i give up, maybe i’m remembering wrong!
CatsMeow January 15, 2013, 3:24 pm
There’s the original!
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 January 15, 2013, 3:49 pm
which is so lame. i feel bad for that couple…
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 1:49 pm
Ok, you kind of won me over. WMMJS.
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?
Amber January 15, 2013, 11:02 am
The fact that the LW did not follow up “I wasn’t invited to the party” with “and I don’t know why!” is definitely glaring.
Obviously there is a reason she did not invite the LW and the LW does not want to say what it is.
TaraMonster January 15, 2013, 12:00 pm
THIS THIS THIS THIS.
I smell crazy all over this LW.
theattack January 15, 2013, 11:17 am
Did anyone else notice that the husband is traveling from Boston to Chicago to go to this birthday party? That is pretty far out of the way to go to something your spouse wasn’t invited to. I do agree that there’s probably a reason the LW wasn’t invited (even though it’s almost always a faux-pas not to invite a spouse, except for the reasons GG said). But the husband is definitely in the wrong for choosing to go to this party without his wife.
I don’t think it’s wrong for the LW to want her husband to show some allegiance to her. It doesn’t mean she’s insecure in her marriage. It’s just a generally accepted part of being married. I don’t think it compromises the integrity of the marriage, but it does put a wedge between the husband and the wife where he could have used the opportunity to solidify how much he cares for her. I would think this if the party was just across town, but this is halfway across the country! He’s using their money to travel out there, depriving her of whatever his chores are while he’s at home, etc. The wife is having to stay home while her husband basically goes on a vacation without her, which seems very wrong in this circumstance.
GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 11:28 am
MMcG January 15, 2013, 5:08 pm
“I don’t think it compromises the integrity of the marriage, but it does put a wedge between the husband and the wife where he could have used the opportunity to solidify how much he cares for her.”
x a million!
Brigitte January 15, 2013, 11:26 am
I have a wonderful husband, but I do not get along with his family. There’s been many an occasion when I’ve been excluded from “family” events in the past (for birthdays to weddings), and while it’s always insulting, at this point, 10 years into the relationship and 5 years into our marriage, I’m happy to let him go visit on his own. I understand or rather know some of the multi-layered excuses and reasons they give themselves for excluding me from events, but it doesn’t make it right. It’s still the sting it’s meant to be, but the sting is losing its bite as the years pass and I am less concerned with their acceptance, refusing to have their disapproval of me be a reflection of who I am.
My husband and I have had many discussions on what’s behind their treatment of me and us as a couple, and he’s right- what ever reason they give themselves for not liking me, they’re just not going to change until they are ready to change, and forcing all of us, myself included, to sit together for events I’m clearly not wanted at and to which I don’t really want to go doesn’t make our relationship stronger, doesn’t bring any of us closer to acceptance. My husband and I pretty much go with the philosophy of whoever’s family it is gets to decide how we deal with them. His family, his veto, he gets to chose. Sure, I give my opinion, and sometimes he decides to go along with what I’m thinking, but ultimately, I let him deal with his peeps and I deal with mine. How I feel about their rejection is something I work on myself. It’s not longer a source of deep pain the way it was many years ago.
LW, I would urge you to let your husband go on his own to the party- heck, I’d even buy the sister a pretty little gift and send it along- twist that knife in the wound! Kill her with kindness!! Do not make him choose between his wife and his sister, it turns you from victim to villain. In the end, your husband wants a relationship with his sibling, for better of worse. Sure, she’s a bitch to you, but don’t be a bitch back to your husband because she’s hurting you. You can clearly state that you wish he’d stay home with you to make it clear that you guys are a unit, but that’s not what he wants to do. He doesn’t need to stay home with you for him to know you guys are a unit. Just don’t make this more difficult on him than it already is.
Now, this is my opinion because this is his sister. If this was a friend dissing you, I’d be all over not letting your husband go. I ended a friendship with a friend who didn’t invite my husband to her wedding. Couples are a unit. Family gets a pass on some stuff, but friends need to know better are aren’t truly friends.
temperance January 15, 2013, 12:06 pm
My situation is sort of similar to yours, but not as drastic. My FSIL has never liked me, and has done whatever she could to undermine me and try to end our relationship. Because she’s the family favorite, that treatment is expanded to me by most of his family.
The difference is, I expect him to stand up for me with his family. They have made ridiculous requests of him (like contributing to their bills when we have student loans and a house down payment to save up for), including using his vacation time to clean their attic and him to spend weekends taking care of his grandparents, who refuse to accept Medicaid nursing assistance and insist on family care only.
WAPS January 15, 2013, 1:59 pm
Those aren’t ridiculous requests. Those are things that families do for each other. My brother helped his in-laws with bills because they needed it, even though he is saving money for basic things, like a car and a house. I am using my vacation this year to help my sister move across the country for her new job. My mom is old enough for Medicare and she is having a big surgery soon, but why would we have her get nursing assistance when we could help her with the things she needs? It sounds like you resent the time and effort that he spends on his family, and that is just really sad. Perhaps that is one reason why FSIL doesn’t like you so much. Family tends to be able to see those things.
Krissy January 15, 2013, 3:27 pm
This is completely cultural. My family would never expect, or even request those types of things of me. It would be quite the adjustment if I ended up with a man who’s family was this demanding. It’s important to be open and understanding of other peoples ideas of family and what it means to them and integrate that into your relationships. Just making a blanket statement “that’s what families do for each other” is not true for all families.
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 5:18 pm
Just because they wouldn’t expect or request those things, doesn’t mean its not normal to offer.
Most people in families care about each other and want to help each other. I totally agree with Waps, and was thinking it myself. Helping people, esp. family, isn’t a bad thing.
Lili January 15, 2013, 6:43 pm
Agreed! It makes me sad to think that families are so fractured that asking for help is seen as ridiculous. I mean, we all have limits but short of a situation like that one letter about the sister getting pregnant by my (ex)husband type actions, my sister will always have a roof over her head as long as I have one to give.
Krissy January 15, 2013, 8:09 pm
I think ensuring that your family isn’t homeless is drastically different from requesting that they spend your vacation time cleaning their attic. While I would never let my family starve, I would also not expect that they give up their time to do things for me that I should be capable of dealing with myself (ie. paying my own bills and getting medical care). Again, I just suggested that this depends on the culture of your family (when I say culture I don’t mean ethnicity). Some families are very dependent on each others and others encourage independence. I just happen to come from a family that values independence and self reliance over “family means everything”. It’s not a good or bad thing, it just is.
MMcG January 15, 2013, 5:12 pm
CORRECTION: Those are things that SOME families do for each other, not all. In fact in my family this would be more than a ridiculous request unless it was for an emergency emergency, it would be an insult… we take care of each other, not enable each other to make bad decisions or fail to plan.
Steeze January 15, 2013, 11:46 am
how annoying is it that this lw doesnt tell us why shes being excluded. she definitely knows.
anyway, i would tell her to be the bigger person and try to fix this mess. if youre planning on being married a long time, its best to get along with the inlaws. im sure theres a solution to this but you left out the why so we cant give you the how.
TaraMonster January 15, 2013, 11:56 am
I find it hard to believe LW doesn’t know why she was excluded. She didn’t even say “I’m not sure why his sister would do this” she said it’s gone “unaddressed” which makes me think she knows EXACTLY why the SIL excluded her, and that it’s probably for a good reason. And people who refuse to address issues like that? They tend to be a bit unhinged. And that line about the “integrity” of her marriage is just flippen weird. Maybe the SIL doesn’t want a crazy person at her party.
Lynn January 15, 2013, 11:58 am
I think it’s rude and awkward, but I really wish the LW had told us the full story. Sorry, but this letter gives me n-o-t-h-i-n-g. All I can do is make assumptions.
Take the high road. You don’t want to make this a messier situation. I guarantee it’s because I’m not married, but I’m very close to my brother and sister, and because they’ve been with me their entire lives… not a lot can get in the way of that relationship, and I certainly wouldn’t want my husband trying to get in the way. Granted, I have a close enough relationship that I can ask, will ask and wouldn’t have an issue telling my brother or sister that they’re being assholes for not inviting him… so I genuinely think that there are a lot of underlying/past issues that the LW has conveniently left out.
jlyfsh January 15, 2013, 11:59 am
Oh so hard to give advice without more information. I always imagine I’m giving advice to one of my friends after reading letters and I feel like the first question I would ask is, WHY do you think you weren’t invited. And secondly I would ask them if this was one of those issues that was worth it. So many ‘little’ issues come up in marriage. Some are worth putting your foot down about, and some just aren’t. Some by putting your foot down create large issues that could have been avoided by saying I’m going to let this little thing roll off my back.
By letting your husband go, you’re not showing the sister and your in-laws that they’ve won or that they have a chance at hurting your marriage. It’s the exact opposite! You’re showing them that you’re comfortable enough with your husband and your marriage to know when someone isn’t worth starting a fight between the two of you.
Maybe your in-laws are awful people who treat you like crap and your husband never does anything to defend you. If that was the case however, I feel like you might have mentioned it. The lack of details are very telling in situations like this.
theattack January 15, 2013, 12:04 pm
Well I agree with you that her husband going doesn’t mean that the SIL has “won” anything, but I don’t think letting him go shows that their marriage is good. To me all it shows his family is that they can still see him whenever they want even if they exclude his wife. They get the best of both worlds in that scenario.
jlyfsh January 15, 2013, 12:11 pm
I guess my question is, is that the case, is it just the SIL who causes issues? Does the rest of the family exclude her? (I guess in my response I was assuming it is just the SIL, but like everything else in this letter we really don’t know!) If they don’t it really is just an issue with this SIL and in that case it is worth it? Is it worth him not going and adding to this fight at this point? I think like Wendy said things need to be smoothed over between the two of them, but after the party. Why cause more issues before? And a potential fight with your husband?
I think the situation is crappy but we really don’t know enough from her letter to tell whether it’s her being crappy or the SIL (or his entire family…). Or if this is a one time thing or happens all the time. And like someone above said, he can let his family know when he goes that he doesn’t appreciate the fact that she was excluded and he thinks it’s rude.
theattack January 15, 2013, 12:17 pm
Yeah, we really don’t have a lot of information to go on here. To me the question isn’t “Is it worth him not going and adding to the fight?” The question for me is “Is it worth him going (which entails quite a travel) when it could cause problems with his wife, and his absence could easily be explained by the distance?”
But the husband has already decided to go, whether or not he should, and the LW is just going to have to deal with that in the best way she can, I guess.
GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 12:05 pm
“WHY do you think you weren’t invited” That is an excellent point jlyfsh. Did the SIL mention the party on the phone to her brother and say soemthing like “Oh, I’m having a party, you should come!” and the LW took that as she wasn’t invited or where there formal invitations mailed out and the one that shows up to their house only had the husband’s name on it? Those are two vastly different instances and in example #1 the LW could be HUGELY blowing this out of proportion if the SIL just spoke wrong/phrased it in a strange way. If maybe she meant “you” to mean “you both” or “you two”.
jlyfsh January 15, 2013, 12:18 pm
I was thinking too more like what is going on between you and this SIL in why to though. Although, like you said unless it was made blatantly clear that the LW was not invited I would probably have assumed that being his wife I was expected to show up (I guess I’m not used to formal invites to birthday parties…usually my friends do evites or emails and one of just says plus 1). Which indicates more and more that there is something more at play between the LW and his family, that she knows or thinks she wasn’t invited. And if this is a continual thing, then she does need to bring it up, with her husband and figure out a way to work through things. The more I think about this letter the more questions I have!
Gine January 15, 2013, 1:54 pm
This is what I was wondering as well! How does she know she wasn’t invited? As the wife, I would assume I was invited, indicating that a conversation took place where it was made known that she was specifically not invited, or that something so terrible has occurred between her and the in-laws that she knows she wasn’t (and, assumably, isn’t invited to any family functions), which is the problem that really needs to be addressed.
Red_Lady January 15, 2013, 9:35 pm
I was thinking the same thing! How do you invite someone to a family function without inviting their spouse?! Isn’t it kind of a given that you get invited to things together? Otherwise, how does the SIL have the balls to call up her brother, invite him to her b-day party, “but, oh, by the way, please make sure you DON’T bring your wife – she is definitely not invited.”
temperance January 15, 2013, 12:07 pm
See, if my fiance left me home to go on a “family vacation” without me, it would show them that they won. I imagine that this situation is similar; SIL gets what she wants, and LW gets to feel like an ass.
I would like to know more, like why her husband hasn’t inquired about her exclusion.
katie January 15, 2013, 12:17 pm
i agree. by not making a fuss about the husband going, the LW will be taking the high road, and above all, be telling the family that what they do doesnt personally effect her, which it shouldnt anyway.
it sucks that families dont get along, but it happens.. it sucks when new family members dont get along, but it happens. sometimes you just have to live and let live, you know? drawing unnecessary lines in the sand is just making the problem worse and worse for everyone involved. it becomes a tug of war with the husband/brother as the rope, and then no one wins.
Oldie January 15, 2013, 1:13 pm
Not true at all. First she is not letting her husband go. Her husband has already decided to go over her objections. The family likely already knows this or will find out. So, in that sense, yes SIL has won, she has caused LW and her husband to fight and created the situation where husband has accepted her invitation against his wife’s wishes. LW is really left with two basic choices: allow husband to implement his decision to attend without her with good grace from this point forward, or continue fighting with him about. Both choices are of course nuanced by the possibility of husband calling his sister and saying he would like his wife to be invited and asking why she wasn’t. But it sounds like husband is going regardless and also sounds like husband will not succeed in convincing his sister to invite LW.
bittergaymark January 15, 2013, 12:17 pm
Obviously, as some have surely suggested — it is rather rare to be so obviously excluded from something unless you truly deserve it. And from the pointed, clipped vagueness of the letter here, it is quite obvious (to me) that the LW knows damn well WHY she was excluded but has deliberately chosen NOT to tell us. (Gee, I wonder why…) And that speaks volumes in my book… Look, it’s bad enough. LW, that you’ve already destroyed your own relationship with your sister in law — but demanding now that your husband do the same? For shame…
Oldie January 15, 2013, 1:23 pm
Not as rare as all that. Quite common when the family strongly objects to their family members choice of mate — wrong religion, wrong skin color, wrong socio-economic status, wrong political views, gay. The family hopes to drive a wedge, break up the marriage, and redirect their family member in a direction they deem more appropriate.
bittergaymark January 15, 2013, 1:49 pm
None of the scenarios you suggest seem true here, however, — especially since the LW oh so conveniently failed to mention any of them…
Oldie January 15, 2013, 4:37 pm
Just wait, LW will send in a clarification that she is a black Ethiopian Jew who campaigned for Obama and her husband’s family is staunch Irish Catholic and anti-immigrant Republican birthers.
MMcG January 15, 2013, 5:15 pm
AMAZING! Thanks for the laugh as I was reading through the comments oldie 🙂
katie January 15, 2013, 1:51 pm
if all it takes is some “single” invites to parties to break up a marriage a family deems “inappropriate”, there are far worse issues going on.
this will only become a wedge if the LW *makes* it a wedge, which is exactly what she seems to be doing here!
spark January 15, 2013, 1:12 pm
What an excellent response, Wendy! I totally agree.
melancholia January 15, 2013, 1:39 pm
The LW sounds like she doesn’t even care whether she goes to this birthday or not, just that her husband is going without her. Quite pathetic if you ask me. There is obviously a reason why she wasn’t invited and judging by the comments the LW made, I can see why. Why does her husband have to ask his sister why she wasn’t invited, why can’t the LW just grow some ladyballs and ask herself if it is such a big deal. It’s not the end of the world if you spend one evening apart from your spouse. The LW came across as snobbish, entitled and demanding. I wouldn’t have invited her either.
Amybelle January 15, 2013, 1:39 pm
Who the hell expects their brother to fly across the country for a “small 40th birthday dinner”? Sorry, adults who make a big deal out of their birthday annoy me. I’m not saying dont celebrate but Boston to Chicago, really? When I turned 40 I had some drinks with a few friends, I certainly wouldn’t have been offended or upset at anyone who didn’t want to come for any reason, because my birthday is not a big deal.
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 1:50 pm
But how do you feel about adults who celebrate their half birthdays?…
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 1:52 pm
Just bc you don’t think birthdays are a big deal, why does everyone have to agree with that?
GatorGirl January 15, 2013, 1:55 pm
I could understand if we’re talking a 37th or 43rd birthday but 40? that is a big deal. They just made a whole movie about turning 40…
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 1:58 pm
40 is half way to death (assuming your’e lucky enough to make it to 80)…. I’m going to celebrate the shit out of 40.
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 2:05 pm
I’m celebrating the shit out of 35, bc there’s no way I’m making it to 80
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 2:09 pm
I’m so depressed – I turn 35 this year. G A S P
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 2:11 pm
C E L E B R A T E
MMcG January 15, 2013, 5:17 pm
Enjoy 35, because when it is in the rearview mirror it’s worse… my thirties are slipping away, which means my 20s were so long ago… and now I’m depressed and the kids today have no idea how lucky they are!
katie January 15, 2013, 2:08 pm
honestly, its just an excuse for a party. usually by that time in your life, you have a mortgage, kids, whatever, stupid stuff that ties you down and doesnt let you just party whenever you want with whoever you want. by making a big deal out of a birthday, and inviting out of town people, you get to have a nice special time with all your friends and family!
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 2:12 pm
I will not be wishing Amybelle a happy birthday this year. In. Your. Face.
Also, totally agree. Love birthdays.
katie January 15, 2013, 2:14 pm
i love any excuse for a good party. make a big deal out of mardi gras, your birthday, your vow renewal, saturday- its cool with me. ill be there.
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 2:15 pm
Only 2 months and 2 days til St. Patricks Day!
jlyfsh January 15, 2013, 2:16 pm
Mardi Gras is only a month away!
katie January 15, 2013, 2:17 pm
AND I LIVE IN CHICAGO NOW!!
epic. im totally partying on st. pattys this year!!
GatorGirl January 16, 2013, 9:03 am
My favorite not holiday is the Kentucky Derby. Totally a valid reason to host a party!
CatsMeow January 15, 2013, 3:47 pm
I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of my birthday this year because 31 is such a dumb number, and then I realized that it’s the 10th anniversary of my 21st birthday, so I invited a bunch of friends to come out and drink with me. It was awesome because it was an excuse to get everyone together all at once, AND yes, a couple friends drove in from out of town. It made me feel special.
OH. And I got carded. Here’s the difference between 21 and 31: At 21 I say, “Yay! I didn’t get carded! I’m so awesome!” and at 31 I’m like, “What? I got carded?! I’m so awesome!”
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 4:03 pm
Good update! Glad you had a great time, and felt special 🙂
Fabelle January 15, 2013, 2:34 pm
Ehh actually, I agree with Amybelle for the most part. I love partying & all, & I make a big fuss over my friends’ and loved ones’ birthdays (with presents, drinks, verbally being excited), but it IS annoying when the birthday man/woman makes a big thing over his or her OWN birthday. Like…you’re an adult! Your friends and family are all adults! There’s no reason to put everybody out because you’re turning _____ old. There’s no reason to invite out-of-state friends— are you getting married? No? It’s just your birthday? Who the fuck do you think you are?
(hahaha sorry, I know I sound like a hag, but my bitterness mayyy be due to this one guy I know who ALWAYS wants to drag a group of 20 or so people somewhere 5 hours away, for an entire weekend, just because it’s his birthday. And then pouts when some can’t make it)
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 2:57 pm
Boo you! Fab, I can’t believe I’m hearing this.
katie January 15, 2013, 3:10 pm
no birthday wishes for fabelle either, amiright?
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 3:18 pm
Actually, I agree with Amybelle and Fabelle only to this extent: Is is super annoying when the adult birthday girl or boy expects people to do so much for their birthdays. Have a party, fine, go nuts, but don’t get all sensitive if your friends don’t throw you a surprise party or don’t fly across the country to party with you or don’t get you presents. What annoys me the MOST is when people WANT to celebrate their birthdays but expect everyone else to initiate the party. You know those people – you ask them what they would like to do for their birthday and they are silent – then they pout and mope when a big party wasn’t thrown. My favorite people are ones that do this: I’M TURNING 33.5 AND WANT TO CELEBRATE MY SPECIAL DAY AT [WHEREVER] – I HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! Boom. I will always go to that party. Hahaha.
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 3:29 pm
Well that just sounds like an annoying person, way different that normal people who just like birthdays!
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 3:56 pm
true. ok, i’m back to agreeing with you.
god, i’m so wishy washy.
Fabelle January 15, 2013, 3:57 pm
haha, but that is what I mean! I guess there’s a fine line, but you KNOW it when you see it—I’m fine with people celebrating (like I said, I’m all for partying), but when they make it this giant, super-special thing that you BETTER attend OR ELSE, it’s kind of self-centered & annoying to me.
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 4:01 pm
Ok, ok, we can be friends again. I agree with you about Those People. I just was thinking of my 30th and it was awesome having everyone in one place, many of them out of staters. In my defense, it was a surprise party.
Amybelle January 15, 2013, 4:04 pm
Well I didn’t really mean that no adult should celebrate their birthday, but it’s not a big deal which is why the husband should stay home if the wife’s not invited (for any reason). But I don’t think his sister should be at all upset at him if he doesn’t fly 1000 miles for her birthday dinner, and I do think the wife has cause to be upset if he goes without her.
bethany January 15, 2013, 3:56 pm
Where does it say he was EXPECTED to attend?
Some people like to get together with their families to celebrate special occasions.
Kelly January 15, 2013, 3:04 pm
Fabelle, I totally agree with you on adults and birthday parties.
I’d like to know who issued the invite. Was it the sil or someone else in the family? Frankly, if my family excluded my husband, I wouldn’t go, but I’m crazy loyal like that. Especially for an adults birthday party.
lets_be_honest January 15, 2013, 3:11 pm
What is so wrong with wanting to have fun though, because that to me is all a birthday party is. I don’t see how you’re putting someone out by inviting them somewhere. Can’t they say no?
Kim January 15, 2013, 3:06 pm
I disagree with Wendy 100% for the first time ever. I think the Husband should NOT go to this party for his sister. I have two brothers and even if I did not like my SIL I would NEVER exclude them from an invite regardless of any incidents that occurred or “valid reasons” for the slight. I don’t care if his wife called me horrible names to my face, treated my parents with disrespect, tanked a job I was up for etc. You create more drama and stress for the family and most of all the brother/husband with this move. The person responsible for the invites did not invite her for a reason whether it is to cause strife in the marriage or trying to remove the drama LW may bring but in doing this they are causing drama in and of itself.
I would not expect nor respect a decision if my brother chose to leave his wife home and travel for this party. If I was the LW and my husband made the decision to go well that to me says a lot about the respect, and value he places on our relationship.
MP January 16, 2013, 12:53 pm
You would invite someone even if they behaved threateningly to you or someone you love (like your SO or your parents or a kid) or if they had a violent criminal conviction or if they’d actually hurt someone else you’re inviting? Really?
Kelly January 15, 2013, 3:06 pm
Fabelle, I totally agree with you on adults and birthday parties.
I’d like to know who issued the invite. Was it the sil or someone else in the family? Frankly, if my family excluded my husband, I wouldn’t go, but I’m crazy loyal like that. Especially for an adults birthday party.
P.S. is their anything more agonizingly embarrassing then being sung Happy Birthday to in a restaurant? Or is that just me?
Krissy January 15, 2013, 3:38 pm
I have a very demanding sister that tends to grate on my fiance’s nerves. They are very similar personalities. Strong opinions and quick tempers. This summer my sister invited me on a trip with her but did not invite my fiance. His response? “thank god!” Why even bother attending an event if it’s going to be awkward or miserable? I don’t think this has to be the giant issue of “loyalty” that some have made it out to be. We tell LWs all the time that they don’t have to include people in their lives that they feel are “toxic”. Since we have no information about why this LW was exluded, we have to assume there is some kind of bad blood (or else she wouldn’t have been so hurt right??) So by that logic, your SIL has every right to invite whomever she wants. Of course in a perfect world both of you could set aside your differences, but either you or her has caused some kind of a problem and it’s that person’s responsibility to repair the relationship (not your husbands). So let your husband go to the party, stop pitting him against his family, and stop basing the stability of your marraige on his willingness to dump his family for you. He didn’t write those invitations, so there is really no reason to make it about him. You also can’t change his family (or the fact that he maintains a relationship with them.) Let him go spend time with them and be thankful that you don’t have to partake in a boring small birthday dinner with some people that it sounds like you don’t really enjoy! (side note: I’m a bit of an introvert so I would have been happy to have an excuse to skip what sounds like a dull evening with in laws…)
wendykh January 19, 2013, 12:22 am
SHE is his family now! What part of that do you “don’t pit him against his family” folks not get???
ele4phant January 15, 2013, 6:41 pm
I’m surprised no ones asked this, but are you *sure* you’re not invited?
In my family/friends we are pretty informal, so even it’s not explicit plus ones are always assumed to be invited. In fact the only times things are explicit is if someone is NOT invited.
So how was hubby invited? Was there a fancy invitation addressed just to him, or did sis call his cell and tell him to be available on her birthday weekend without making it clear the message was meant for the two of you?
Sue Jones January 15, 2013, 8:39 pm
Does anyone remember the Dear Prudence where a woman was getting sick after eating at her MIL’s house every time and in a follow up switched the gravy tureens with her husband and then her HUSBAND got sick and blamed her for trying to poison him? And she immediately left and filed for divorce?
and then later
Sometimes extended family is just evil. I am lucky that my husband’s family is nice. But I wonder what would happen if LW just showed up for the dinner in Chicago if she really didn’t do anything to warrant the exclusion? Or she insisted to her husband that she went to Chicago too? IF it were just an oversight, then she could say “Oh, I thought because I am MARRIED to John that I was invited too!!!!!!” Could be fun!
You Go Girl January 15, 2013, 9:24 pm
When a spouse is excluded from a family event, it may very well be due to poor behavior such as provoking an argument when drunk. But it is also possible that the LW is being excluded even though she did nothing “wrong”. For example, the husband’s family may dislike her because she is of a different race, religion or culture. Family dysfunction could also be a factor here. My step-siblings hated my mother, and for 30 years excluded me from family events in spite of my efforts to develop relationships and get along. Just last year, my brother did not invite me to his son’s wedding. Although I am far from perfect, I did nothing “wrong”.
Readers from more normal families may have trouble fathoming the depth of the dysfunction in my family, and may assume that I must be at fault because only very serious issues would cause them to act in such a mean fashion. In conclusion, I am saying that we do not have enough information to know why the LW was excluded or whether she needs to make amends for poor behavior. I wish her luck because her husband’s refusal to stand up for her and give her guidance on how to get along with his family is going to create major problems in her marriage.
The LW January 15, 2013, 9:41 pm
Wow – thanks so much for all the great comments! I’m floored by all the wisdom. I’ve never written to an advice column before and found Wendy by Googling for advice. I would have chimed in much earlier but I’m only just now reading the responses after getting my kids to bed.
So, in all honesty, I have NO idea why I’m not invited. My SIL is a wonderful person. I love her and I love all my in-laws, crazy as that sounds. She’s been coolish (can’t say cold) to me for several years but we live far apart and don’t see each other much so I always just told myself that I was being silly or paranoid and imagining some aloofness from her that didn’t really exist. But now, with this invitation, my feelings have been confirmed. I can only guess that I must have done something to offend her but I’ve racked my brain and truly have no idea what it was. It stings horribly that she didn’t invite me (some people mentioned that I wasn’t hurt about that, but I am)…but the real hurt for me is that my husband is going to the party knowing that I feel completely left out. I feel a bit like the rug — or at least a corner of the rug — has been pulled out from under me.
I see how I may have sounded extreme by saying that my husband’s acceptance of this invitation shakes the integrity of our marriage. I guess it’s because I feel so terrible about not being invited but yet he is still choosing to go. I feel like I got the 1-2 punch: no invite for me and hubby knows this is wrong and rude but goes anyway.
In the end, I don’t want my husband to choose between his family and me. I’ve told him my feelings and I do feel that my role is now to take the high road and not be petty. I love the idea of sending a gift and following up with a call to my SIL.
Thanks again for all your input! This really has helped me think about the issue from different viewpoints.
theattack January 15, 2013, 9:54 pm
LW, just to echo the question others have had above, how do you know for sure you weren’t invited? Was it a formal invitation through the mail addressed only to your husband? A phone call specifying you weren’t invited? Could it possibly in any way be an oversight, or could she have assumed that you two would know you were also invited?
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 9:57 pm
Are you sure you’re not invited? I mean, I could certainly see myself reaching out to just my brother to tell him about a party and ASSUMING OF COURSE his wife would come.
How did she invite your husband, anyway? Did she send a card addressed to him that said NO GUESTS or something? Or did she simply call up your husband and say “hi bro so i’m having a party and you should totally come out!” – was that it?
Or maybe she’s having a trolley party and one person canceled, so she said “hey bro I know you were thinking of coming out to Chi sometime, maybe you could come the weekend of my birthday because a seat opened up on the trolley – but sadly just one seat”?
I still have so many questions.
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 9:59 pm
And if you were expressly NOT invited and you have no idea why she is snubbing you, if that happened to me I’d be SO SO SO worried that I did something to offend her. I’d call her and say “hey are we ok?!”
ebstarr January 15, 2013, 11:08 pm
Hey LW, just wanted to say that a) I’m excited that you updated because we were all curious! and b) it’s cool of you to be gracious and thank everyone for the advice when so many of us, myself included, were pretty critical of you. I did think your first letter sounded suspiciously dramatic, but maybe that was lack of detail; from everything you’ve said here you seem to be handling the situation with grace and cordiality. Which might lead to mended fences, who knows? Best of luck!
SevenEleven January 17, 2013, 4:11 pm
I think your SO should talk to his sibling and 1) make sure your not invited (it may just be a misunderstanding and 2) if you are not invited, find out why.
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 9:53 pm
The LW January 15, 2013, 10:06 pm
The invite came to my husband via text and it was then followed up with a phone call telling him the specifics (date, other people attending, etc). It wasn’t an invitation in the mail. My husband’s opinion is that a mailed invitation would have been really bad, but that the text method was only kind of bad. I’m definitely not invited, that’s clear from my husband, although he hasn’t expressly asked my SIL why I’m not invited. I haven’t asked him to do that because I don’t want to put him in that spot. I feel like if anyone is going to say anything to her, it should be me.
Addie Pray January 15, 2013, 10:16 pm
Hmmm… is it possible that they used to kick it together with mutual friends and she kind of just was hoping to reconnect and party – and hey what better way to do that than her upcoming bday? … Sorry, I keep asking you questions. (I was bored today.) I think it all goes back to what Wendy said – have discussion(s) with your husband about the fact that this incident has shaken you to the core and caused you to doubt the foundation of your marriage.
Traci January 16, 2013, 9:04 am
I have to wonder, also, if it’s actually your husband doing this and not the SIL? A call to the SIL will LIKELY clear it up. If it was her decision not to invite you, hopefully she’d explain why. Otherwise, she might be as surprised as you were to find out you weren’t invited by your husband. It’s possible that sibling loyalty, however, would tell her to assist her brother in covering up the fact that it was HIM that preferred you not go. Do any other commenters wonder if it’s the husband orchestrating this and not the SIL?
Fabelle January 16, 2013, 9:10 am
Yeah, after reading the clarifications the LW wrote (thanks, LW!), I’m also HIGHLY suspicious that maybe the husband wants to go by himself…for whatever reason? It just seems very odd that he’d tell her she’s definitely *not* invited, & then not even try to ask why? LW, I’d look into this a bit more!
GatorGirl January 16, 2013, 9:21 am
Yeah…it’s not sitting well with me that you’re husband doesn’t want you to go either. I would maybe get it if it was a “guys weekend” or something…but a family birthday party? LW, I think you should either flat out ask your husband what the f is going on or call your SIL and ask her what the f is going on.
bethany January 16, 2013, 9:46 am
Thanks for the update!
I still think something about this is odd. It sounds like there’s no obvious reason why you aren’t included, and no concrete proof that you’re not invited. I know that if I invited my brother to something, it would be assumed that his wife would be invited. I think your husband needs to ask his sister SPECIFICALLY in no uncertain terms, if you’re invited. If he’s not willing to do that, then I think something fishy is going on. He doesn’t need to make a big deal out of it- just call her up and say “hey, I was making my flight arrangements and wanted to double check before I booked the tickets, LW’s invited to the dinner, right?”
MMcG January 16, 2013, 3:35 pm
” I’m definitely not invited, that’s clear from my husband, although he hasn’t expressly asked my SIL why I’m not invited. I haven’t asked him to do that because I don’t want to put him in that spot.”
Can I just say LW, that I feel so sorry for you that you see this as putting your husband in a bad spot… whereas I would have hoped beyond hope that my husband wouldn’t need my prodding to try and include me in family events. it is really fishy. I go back on what I wrote earlier, I think you should contact the SIL directly and express some honesty… I mean best case scenario it was a misunderstanding and your husband is a bit of a pushover, medium case is that your SIL is a nuts control freak and your husband is ok with that… worst case is that there is something else going on in Chicago.
Whatever way you have to find out, esp since you confirmed that you do have children so I guess your hubby’s fun family weekend means you get to stay at home and care for the kids!?! Total BS.
Vathena January 17, 2013, 1:53 pm
Seriously. If something like this was going on with my husband’s family, it would be the first thing out of my mouth, and he would be on the phone. (And he probably wouldn’t need me to even ask.) This makes it sound like something is “off” in a marriage, when one person is this upset and can’t even talk to their spouse about it. It makes me wonder what else gets swept under the rug in the interest of maintaining a false harmony.
Sue Jones January 15, 2013, 10:06 pm
That’s right, LW, send along a NICE gift and let the SIL feel totally embarrassed and awkward! That sounds brilliant!
Sue Jones January 15, 2013, 10:08 pm
with a gushy note and an apology that “sorry you couldn’t make it” as if you were actually invited… paid for from your husband’s credit card, of course!
Sue Jones January 15, 2013, 10:09 pm
“sorry I couldn’t make it”, I mean…
Sue Jones January 15, 2013, 10:16 pm
I have to say that something does sound a little fishy here…. does your husband go to Chicago on business? Is he perhaps having an affair with someone there? Did you actually SEE the text? I might even call your SIL before the party to find out what is up – or to finalize flight arrangements as if you ARE going…then you can suss out whether your husband is not being truthful with you. The fact that he is not supporting you here is a bit fishy. Shame on your husband!!!!!
HmC January 16, 2013, 12:44 am
This is a short letter and how slighted you feel by the sister depends on the context of the snub… did you guys have a fight? Have you never gotten along? Do you always invite her to similar events? I dunno, feel offended by that, perhaps. BUT. Making this so about your marriage is weird. Honestly the way you write about your marriage… to me that is so unappealing. You sound really co-dependant. It’s hard for me to imagine a healthy marriage wherein the two people absolutely could not go anywhere without the other without it “breaking down the integrity” of the marriage.
Lark January 16, 2013, 2:58 am
I could understand getting really pissed about this, both with the SIL and the husband. Not cool at all. From what LW says in the comments, it sounds like she accidentally and unknowingly offended SIL or SIL is just a passive-aggressive beyotch. No drunken rants or anything dramatic. This is an out of state party, and to only invite her brother…Yikes. My advice would be for LW to calmly confront SIL and be prepared to perhaps not like what she hears…Maybe jot some notes down, and call her up. Because this is just going to get worse when LW has kids, for future Holidays, etc. Better to nip this in the bud.
Related story: About four years ago, my cousin’s wife had a brief affair and everyone in my small extended family pretty much found out (long CW channel/soap opera type story in its ridiculousness). Anyway, my cousin decided to stay with his wife after a separation of several months…I know a few people encouraged him to leave her, but pretty much everyone just said “I’ll support whatever you decide to do.” Everyone acted like adults, because it was his decision and in the end it wasn’t truly our business. Basically, people made their point and moved on. She was invited to family birthday parties, dinner, holidays, etc. Some people were kind of cold, but everyone was polite and made an effort to re-include her…My point is, I never understood alienating or refusing to invite the significant other of a relative when it comes to family events unless said person is physically or emotionally abusive or prone to huge, drunken, racist tirades.
Lark January 16, 2013, 3:12 am
That said, I mean family events like major milestone birthday parties where people fly in out of state, big weddings (not small courthouse weddings or weddings where you only want to invite something like 12 people), holiday parties, etc. I do understand not including them for dinner parties, etc. if you find them irritating.
Sue Jones January 16, 2013, 4:03 pm
I can’t wait to hear an update on this one!
You Go Girl January 16, 2013, 6:28 pm
Now that I know that the LW has not committed an offense that calls for being disinvited, I feel very sorry for her because she has a major problem with her husband. If the sister-in-law is being passive aggressive about some minor offense, her husband should be standing up for her and trying to straighten out the problem. If he did not succeed, the LW would at least know that he tried and together they could make a decision about whether he should go to Chicago without her. Other readers also suggest the possibility that the husband is lying about her being invited, and that he wants to go to Chicago alone. This is a real possibility that also needs to be investigated.
Confrontation is never fun, but the LW needs to get to the bottom of this situation for her own personal integrity, and because the situation will escalate in the future. I think she should call the sister-in-law directly and try to find out whether there is a problem. Then she should also talk to her husband about how upset she is that he is not standing up for her. I wish her luck because she is going to need it.
DebMoore January 17, 2013, 4:26 pm
Thank god for my husband! If his sister ever tried to pull off something like that he would tell her where to shove it! Then I wonder, are you sure you are not invited? That just seems so strange. In my family (and my husbands and most families I know) it just known that when one spouse is invited the other is too (and in my family even boyfriends/girlfriends). It is assumed you both will be there unless you state otherwise. If my MIL tells my husband about some party or family gathering I don’t have to call her and ask if I can come too. Same with friends. I thought that was like a given………….and yes even the most intimate family gathering ALWAY includes my husband and he is now a part of the family.
zone June 20, 2014, 12:35 am
I found this blog because I am going through something dead on. My husband was invited to his sister’s high school graduation three hours away. it was known that their wasn’t enough tickets for me so I and our three children would have to stay back at the MIL house where there would be people there getting ready for the graduation party. His mother and I do not get along, however, I always respect her in her presences. so, instead of being around a bunch of people I do not know or my children (our children dont know her either, which is my problem with her) do not know. I planned a college tour to a school my oldest son was interested in to kill time and my husband and I meet up at the house after the graduation. less than twelve hours before we are to depart, he tells me that no one is going to be at the house and there is no where for the children to go. So not only was I not invited initially, I accepted that and made myself busy. Now you are not inviting the three children that are your grandchildren. So yes I feel my husband should not go because she is purposely trying to alienate me( This came from my husband aunt) which I do not care, but you are bringing my children in it and causing problems between my husband and I. All of a sudden it is so important that he is there. The whole ten years we have been married she never called him for any events involving his sister or else wise. All of a sudden it is so important that he is there but not his family. All of you have valid points……But sometimes, people are just pure evil…..
Anna July 22, 2014, 2:27 pm
I LOATHE my nasty, manipulative sister-in-law, her redneck sons, and their not-very-bright offspring, and must avoid discussions about them with my husband. You see, skanky sis reminds him of his nasty, manipulative mother who, upon death, achieved sainthood. Thankfully, we live far away from this SIL, and his other sister feels as I do about the Clampetts, so we have each other with whom to commiserate. If my love feels he must visit his awful sister, he is free to go with my best wishes — I’ll plan FUN things to do with friends, other family members, and grandchildren while he’s gone!
Lexi January 26, 2017, 4:21 pm
I’m so sorry this is happening, I would feel so betrayed by my husband. I don’t have an advice but I can empathize and validate that this is a heartbreak from your husband and to do it in a text was so underhanded.
Great In Laws Who Just Don't Trust Anyone March 24, 2018, 12:44 am
Just wait until its a woman at the office trying to lay hands on your husband, or the lady at the rental place because your husband can’t help but be friendly and caring to all (he’s a minister son and great socializer). Just wait until your MIL, SIL, FIL, fight to keep you out of events to the point where he has no free time with you. Or wait, don’t wait. Fight back! Don’t let others decide how your time as a couple is to be spent. You want to go to this event because you want to be a part of your husband’s extended family, than do it. Make yourself known, make it known your not lying down, not letting them decide what your family is going to look like. I’ve had to fight my way into my in laws family, and they now know that we are a unit and they can’t change that. Don’t wait for this all to blow over because it won’t, and it will just get worse, as the in laws will see this as just a sign that you don’t care. You don’t care who messes with your home life. Yep, divorce rate and infidelity, gambling, addictions, marital strife. This s&#* is real. Don’t take any of lying down. Wendy, don’t give marital advice, you seriously have been married for half a second, and by the sounds of your “about me” section, its been all sweet smelling roses. Leave marital advice to the pros, counsellors. That being said, take my advice with the grain of bitter salt. Cause that’s who I am, a bitter stay at home wife of 4 with many many many outside distractions that (if I’m not careful) could wreck havoc on my precious delicate marriage. I would bend over backwards for my husband, to keep this good man in this family. Try and mess with our family.
Dear Wendy March 24, 2018, 4:57 am
I’ve been married almost nine years, which is a drop in the bucket compared to some marriages, but certainly longer than “half a second.” We have a great marriage but it hasn’t been a “bed of roses,” and I have the hair loss to prove it. We’ve had some very stressful times that challenge a marriage but have ultimately made us stronger. I still have a lot to learn but believe I’ve got a lot of insight to share, too, and give pretty good advice. I’m
Sorry you’re so miserable and bitter. Sounds like you could use some good counseling.
Great In Laws Who Just Don't Trust Anyone March 25, 2018, 1:56 am
Props! I was sure you’d just delete my comment. Good counseling, haha been there, and they tell me what I’ve heard before. It’s not you, your doing it right, they are crazy. Well crazy enmeshed and un-trusting (is that a word?). Anyways, we battle on together to keep our family united. Non hereditary Hair loss? Alopecia? Same here. Turns out we have more in common than this blog posting.
Dear Wendy March 25, 2018, 7:34 am
Anyway, I don’t know your specific circumstances, but I do know what it’s like to feel hopeless and helpless about situations in your life you cannot control or change. It sounds like your inlaws are a problem. A good counselor would not just shrug and say, “Yeah, they sound crazy, you’re doing everything right.” A good counselor would work on how you can change your response and reaction to these problem inlaws to preserve your sanity and honor your boundaries. If you and your husband are united in your battles, that makes the challenges and burdens much easier to navigate that if you aren’t.
My life is not perfect. My husband and I have faced the kinds of challenges typical of a couple in their 40s who has been together a dozen years (caring for aging parents, death of a parent, various illness, job and money and housing woes, miscarriage, special needs parenting challenges, and juggling demands on our time and energy from a variety of sources, for example), but I count my many, many blessings and don’t feel I have anything to be miserable or bitter about at all. Ok, I’m a little bitter about the hair loss. But, I think looking at the things you have vs. what you don’t have — giving more energy and focus to your blessing vs. your challenges can go a long way in improving your mood. And the challenges are easier to handle when you’re in a better mood.
JD March 25, 2018, 7:40 am
So in Wendy’s about me section it should say “my stupid husband left the toilet seat up again”. Really? NO marriage is a bed of roses but I am pretty sure no one will be writing that in the about me section of their website.
Dianne MacKay April 7, 2018, 4:40 pm
Sorry but that is unacceptable,unless she has harmed his family in some way which has not been claimed. He should set boundaries in which family recognizes his own family unit. The type of function it is should ever ever be an invite to only one partner! He should stand besides his wife.
Candice Conner April 10, 2018, 6:03 pm
Wow.So many comments.All I have to ask is what is the real backstory on you and his sister? Do you two get along?If you do please pick up the phone and just like call her. Maybe you were invited.Maybe your hubby just wants to go alone.We really do not know the whole story here.Maybe his sister and you do not get along.If that is the story go whew don’t have to sit thru the family crap. I understand how you feel though.It is like your hubby does not have your back. Talk to him let him know how hurt this has made you.Show him all thease comments.My final word is he should have your back no matter what…tell him I said so. Then if he still goes without you you got some serious thinking to do.But when you are doing that serious thinking do it at a very expensive spa weekend.
brian August 28, 2018, 11:06 am
I would leave his ass. Im a guy and find it disrespectful. You should be included.
Laurie November 7, 2018, 8:54 pm
I am AMAZED that you advised this woman that it does not affect the integrity of her marriage if her husband attends a family gathering in which SHE…..his wife…..is deliberately excluded!
Are you for real? You honestly can not see how this woman is being terribly disrespected by her husband? I would kick his sorry Ass to the kerb.
Kate November 23, 2018, 8:37 pm
Does it get to be different if it’s Christmas, his mom is alcoholic, thinks his adult boys are too fragile to see their dad with anyone 7 years post divorce? I stayed away from his daughter’s wedding- he wouldn’t stand up for me there. His new SIL wouldn’t meet me that weekend but a duo of male relatives came over to intimidate me – one of them told dear partner I couldn’t come for Christmas.
Dear partner was going to go anyway, hadn’t breathed a word of any of it- even about seeing them. I happened to overhear on a Thanksgiving phone call, then heard he was bending to She Who Decides and he was fine.
My crime? Existing. (and no, I didn’t “replace” a beloved first wife)
anonymousse November 24, 2018, 9:46 am
I think you should write in to the forums for advice.
But this line stood out to me:
“he wouldn’t stand up for me there.”
He is the person you really have a problem with. And don’t forget that everything they know about you probably comes from him, too. You have a dear partner problem.
Scout February 23, 2019, 8:28 pm
If there was no reason to be uninvited I would hope that my spouse would immediately have addressed this issue. When you get married your loyalty is to your wife. If you want to remain uninvolved because you are not invested in either side or you don’t want to upset anyone. The reasons I have seen PEOPKE not take sides is due to their own 2 faced behaviour…these people usually play both sides of the fence and are usually opportunistic people. They are selfish and manipulative. Sincere people who truly love everyone want very much to have it out in the open and get together to remedy resolve and repair. Since the day you said i do, you are family. So the i do except some times i don’t would most assuredly clearly signify a question of your commitment your love and your agenda because when you are married you have an unspoken vow that NO ONE SHOULD EVEN HAVE TIME TO ASK ARE YOU GOING that vow is…I love you through thick or thin…I love you and promise to protect you …to walk hand in hand through life’s ups and downs…you didn’t promise to go steady….you promised to love and honor…so by attending…by not bringing everyone together to find a solution like grown ups by ignoring the BLATENT and very public humiliation of being the family member the other half of your husband the uninvited family member is a passive aggressive public humiliation and your attendance is a clear choice to side with hurting you. This is not a solution it is a clear cut and dry signal your spouse no longer considers you to be joined in marriage…last time I checked being married is like being pregnant…no such thing as sort of, kind of or conditionally. If you are not for me, you are against me. There are forms of narcissism where the family of a controlling mother has passed along her traits and there are roles each family member takes on, one tell tale sign thast you my dear are married to a man in such a dysfunctional family is because anyone who speaks up for themselves or says stop blaming me or is being publicly humiliated degraded and put to your husband to choose his sibling over his wife for his sister to have done that to him was HER additional way to punish you for not being a good little scapegoat it is the invalidation tactic. See…even her own husband is here without her because well obviously she is the problem…I would run away from that toxic cauldron. It will suck your soul away you will always be the bad guy and you will never win. You are already suffering and believe me, if your husband is still nursing off the family sickness by attending he is not able to be a grown up. He has a life of his own yet has made a choice to co sign this sick and twisted public humiliation invalidation character assassination to his wife and oddly and perversely chosen his sister over his spouse. This is something for Sigmund Freud..I say find a great counselor beg him to attend witb you if he is unwilling then divorce as quickly as u can and be prepared for the guilt trip he will attempt to lay on you for over reacting …simply reply, abusive degrading mean bullies hurting me repeatedly are not acceptable and anyone who is okay with the pain they are intentionally subjecting me to and going out of their way to ensure they break my heart repeatedly has only been heightened because the person I’ve trusted most in my life the person I have given my heart and soul to love and protect is the one who could easily prevent it. But has chosen not to. I will never trust you, I cannot have my whole heart invested in our marriage because you have broken my heart in two. I am not putting you in a position to choose your spouse over your family…you separated me from them by not considering me family worthy or we would have been all together solving it. So, message received. I’m just not continuing to take this abusive behaviour. It isnt good for me and you are hurting me…daily. I can no longer trust you. You have broken your marriage vows and I am unsure of who you are now. I’ve married a stranger. This is over.
DC January 26, 2021, 1:30 am
I have been bullied, excluded, invalidated and mistreated by my husband’s siblings. I know that I am not perfect, but neither are they, yet, I have tried very hard to fit in because I really loved them and wanted to be a big part of his family. My husband is passive and allowed the abuse for many years. They mostly did it when I was alone so I think that he thought that I was being too sensitive. Well, they finally have showed their true colors to him. And he is done. I am more forgiving than he is once he sees a person’s bad side like they have shown him. I think that your husband should respect YOU first, man up and take you with him whether or not if you are invited. It sounds like they have been allowed to disrespect you and they know that they can get by with it. It can cause deep resentment and strain upon your marriage when your spouse allows that to happen. And frankly, the anxiety and discomfort that you have to go thru dealing with his family can be so exhausting. I disagree with Wendy’s comments going straight to blaming you and questioning more things about other issues in your marriage. The husband is supposed to cleave to his wife and leave his family. The wife comes first. If his family accepts her then they will gain a new sister. If they choose to not accept her, then they lose a brother. I have been married for 33 yrs and now that my husband has stopped talking to his family (which was 100% his idea after my BIL got in my face at a wedding) we have gotten so much closer. I think that I held up a wall to protect myself because I felt betrayed by him for not nipping it in the bud from the beginning. I think that if he would have, they would have treated me better, not for me, but for him, which would have been much better than being abused by them for 33 yrs. Pray for God to open your husband’s heart, ears and mind to your hurt. God is the best marriage counselor.