13 answers

Brother Divorcing. How Do I Maintain a Relationship with My SIL? (Long)

I understand divorce is a personal, and difficult situation for all involved.

My brother and I have never been close. We are each other's only sibling. So, almost by default, we have gotten together around Christmas every year, mostly for my mother. She wants to see her kids and grandkids all being together and opening presents having their "family day". My mom knows that my brother and I aren't "friends" and have a strained relationship.

My brother's wife is a wonderful person. She and I each never had a sister and made a great bond together. I've known for a long time, because of her, that things between her and my brother were getting worse and worse. She has been telling me about how bad things have gotten, and eventually her plans to leave him. (Nothing was ever said by my brother to me or my mom.)

So now they are getting divorced. Things are very bitter and they aren't talking much. I respect that they are going through a hard time. I'm sure it's going to be even harder for them now that the holidays are upon us.

My question is, how do I maintain a relationship with my SIL (and nephews) when my only brother is divorcing her (bitterly) and really doesn't want us talking to her? He is pulling the attitude of "well I'm family". He doesn't want her invited to holiday or birthday parties. This all coming from someone I've barely talked to over the years, almost always misses my kids birthday parties and such because he has to work and really hasn't made an effort to act like my brother.

I really want to take the high road here. But at the same time I'm upset that my mother and husband both agree that Family Comes First, and she is no longer "family".

HELP!

What can I do next?

More Answers

I think this first year you need to respect your brothers wishes... right now it's fresh and he's cranky. It will simmer down in time and everything will turn out fine. Just stay in touch with your SIL so she doesnt have to feel ostracized, especially since she needs to feel comfortable enough to bring the nephews around for visits. I think time will fix this for the most part. You say she's a great person, so I'm sure she will understand as you all work through this. Your brother will come to his senses after his pride shrinks a little.

2 moms found this helpful

I was the "ex-sister in law" with our child in my situation. I am really lucky that my ex-husband and I decided we were going to be close for our daughter. We live less than a mile apart and his very large family followed by being kind and appreciated that a little girl wasn't being used as a tool. Your sister in law is still family - she's your nephews mom! Hopefully their divorce won't get super ugly. And yes, if we had it to do over again we would have tried harder and stayed married!!

2 moms found this helpful

Ok...here is my thought and maybe because my ex and I get along well...is why I feel this way. Because of the fact that she is a biologically related to your nephews and they are biologically related to you through your brother that she is still family.

I think your brother has put you in a bad position and I understand why you seem to not feel very loyal to him even though he is your brother.

Not all divorced families have separate birthday parties. My ex and I still have a party for our twin daughters together.

While it maybe hard for your brother, fostering a healthy "acquaintanceship" between him and his ex for the sake of their children is best and I would just tell him that while you understand his concerns that you are just trying to keep them communicating for the sake of their children.

2 moms found this helpful

Well, really she should not be invited to parties, etc. Generally when couples divorce and have kids, they each celebrate the bday's and holidays with their own families. So lucky you! You can see your nephews at your brothers family parties and hopefully your soon to be ex SIL will invite you to her parties. That way you will still be able to be in contact with her and your brother and family should understand that and it shouldn't be a problem. I'm divorced as well as my hubby and our kids have bday parties at each parents house on separate weekends and the same thing for holidays. So no worries!!! Good luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe you could maintain a limited relationship with her, with the agreement that you never mention your brother out of fairness to him. If she can't agree to that then I would back away. Let him know that out of respect for him that he won't ever be brought up in your presence when you talk to her.

1 mom found this helpful

Don't listen to your family.... I gave up a very good friend because she was my ex's family and I have never been able to quite fill that gap (and more than 10 years have gone by).

Also since their are children depending on the custody arrangements you will proabably be seeing her anyway. Cutting her off now will make for a bad relationship all around.

Someone below said that just becuase he stopped loving her does not mean you need to and she was correct. Your mother and husband are trading on the blood is thicker than water theory of life, that has no application in reality. Even if you gave in you still would have a bad relationship with your bother - so why do it?

Okay - maybe I was ranting a bit - make a list of pros and cons - and see what is best for you, for your nephews, for your mother and last your brother. The order is important - because you need to come first to both you and your husband, then the innocent nephews who are caught in the middle, then your Mom, and last your brother.

I will say a prayer for your family.

Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Please take the time to continue that relationship. i commend you as so many people do the ' family ' thing and in our case for instance it is really fictitious. My applause for your efforts. And see if you can shove some other woman in your brother's path. And perhaps the first holidays you can do separately with her on a different day. Divorce hurts so many people not just the couple. was divorced many years ago and missed seeing my nephews grow up on my ex husband's side. To this day I wish, but know this won't happen that families could have seen how mean their brother, son, was to me which forced me into having to make that painful decision. I have been remarried sixteen years, but even my own family is disloyal but all I hear is 'family' and is a joke. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with Faith, you will still be able to see your nephews at your brothers house. But you shouldnt invite her to a birthday party at your house if your brother is going to be there. But if she invites you to a birthday at her house then they should understand you being there.
My DH parents are divorced. His aunt on his moms side felt the exact same way you do about your brother with his mom. She was alot closer with his dad, and when they got divorced his aunt would invite him to things and it caused alot and I mean alot of tension. I wasnt around when this happened but it still is a sore subject till this day. My hubs mom thinks that when she divorced him her side of the family did as well. So even though they didnt want to eventually they realized it was what was "right" in a sense.
What is weird to me though is that my hubs dad could absoutly care less so at family functions such as the Fourth of July BBQ my hubs uncle(his dads brother) and wife and kids come. I do have to say though out of his dads 5 brothers and sister this particular uncle is the only one that is still in contact.
Its a tough situation you are in and in the end you should do what feels right to you. Try and put yourself in your brothers shoes, if you and your husband were divorcing and you went to your brothers for dinner would you want your ex there all buddie buddie with him? Just something to think about.

1 mom found this helpful

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