How Do You Get Along with YOUR Family?

Updated on April 26, 2011
A.M. asks from Palatine, IL
24 answers

I'm in the middle of a huge email argument with my sister-in-law (and this is our first one, BTW), & I'm so stressed out & anxious about the whole thing. It started because I defriended her on facebook (when I'd told her initially that I'm not comfortable with connecting with family on FB), and even though I gave her a very thoughtful and tactful explanation, it opened up another conversation, in which I confessed that we don't look forward to spending time with my husband's family, that they stress us out, make us feel simultaneously unwelcome and estranged, that they don't know us, that we feel constantly criticized, & that while they may view us as "withdrawing", we see it as protecting ourselves from the inevitable stress and anxiety that comes with frequent interaction. She now thinks I'm completely nuts & is misunderstanding everything I'm saying. I have a bad feeling that there's no positive way out of this situation, which was not my intention. I genuinely thought that she was just as stressed as I was and that an honest conversation might make things better. Boy was I wrong!

So now I'm curious - how much interaction do you have with your family? With your in-laws/extended family? Do family get-togethers totally give you anxiety and frustrate you, or is this just par for the course? How often do you fight with your family? Is it normal for families to get too intrusive with each other, to bring up controversial (and frequently offensive) conversation topics at holidays, to make certain family members feel like the black sheep, to talk about everyone else in the family behind that person's back? She's making it seem like I'm crazy that these things bother me. My family dynamic has its own issues, so I don't really have a "normal" basis for comparison. How does your family stack up? Am I nuts?

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

No, you're not nuts. We don't speak to my in-laws; my husband really has no relationship with his family. It's sad, but this is the way it is right now and probably will be for a long time. The story is WAY too long to explain, but I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in having conflicts with family. My husband is definitely the black sheep of his family and was very much treated that way; and when he pointed out to his parents how they treat him, they just got mad at him and said it was all in his head. Now we live in a different state and don't ever speak to them anymore. It's sad, but I've learned to accept it and just focus on my own family (meaning my husband and two kids). Good luck; I hope you're able to work everything out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I wish I had a sister-in-law!! My own sister was stillborn and my brother, her twin was killed in a car accident 16 yrs ago. He never married or had children. When I was a kid I couldn't wait to grow up and be an aunt, it never happened.
I recommend that you get into counseling and find out why you are so resistant to being close to yor family. Love is supossed to multiply not devide.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Well...My SIL was NEVER on my facebook, if that tells you anything, i am bewildered by her.She will try to shame me for being a vegetarian, and for allowing my kids to be, but yet i just found out she feeds one of her many dogs a vegan diet for health reasons I conclude by this that she just wants to pick fun at me however she can. I love my husbands g-parents though(he has no parents) I think his g-ma is the best!

personally im finding it rewarding to not really exclude the toxic people, merely 'handle them" and focus on the positive.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Anchorage on

We are military and so not get to see our families very often. both of our families have issues and can drive us nuts, but we still miss them everyday. I think people should learn to appreciate what they have, because many of us out here would love to have any time at all with the ones we love, awkward and stressful or not.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Why on Earth would you tell your SIL that you don't like spending time with the family? While "open and honest" is good... "offensive and hurtful" is not. We are not particularly fond of spending a long period of time with my husband's family, but I would never tell them that! Wow- you definitely set yourself up for a bad scene with that "conversation".

First, stop emailing her and have a face-to-face conversation. Tell her that you didn't mean to upset her and that you think she misunderstood what you were trying to say and then be prepared to explain yourself using very few and carefully chosen words.

How often do I fight with my family or my husband's? Rarely. That being said, my SIL completely cut us out of her life for about 6 months because we put our house on the market with another agent- not looking to mix business and family. My husband didn't think he owed her an explanation and the entire thing was blown way out of proportion. It made family events very uncomfortable and forced everyone else to "pick a side"- in the end, he literally walked up to his sister at a family party and hugged her. It was over that quickly.

I talk to my parents and sisters pretty much every day. We disagree and have heated arguments, but they are over before we hang up/leave. It took my husband a long time to understand this concept and get used to be challenged once-in-a-while, but now that he sees that you can argue and disagree without ruining relationships he sees that being the "black sheep" isn't a bad thing all the time.

Yes, it is normal for families to talk about controversial and offensive things. My husband is the "black sheep" of his family b/c he thinks differently than they do and it upsets him all the time. Yes, that's normal too. When we leave my in-laws, the first thing my husband will say in the car is "What's the newest crazy?" because he knows that his family is nuts and we laugh about it b/c you can't change who they are and in the end we know that they would all be there in a heartbeat if we needed something.

You are letting things bother you that shouldn't and my guess is that you are both being very sensitive and are "looking" for examples of "maltreatment". Are you nuts? Maybe, but more likely you have married into a family that communicates and interacts differently that yours does and you haven't adjusted your mindset to let things go!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Like all things in life you get what you give.
Family is really important. Really, really important, friends come and go family is forever.
Yes your inlaws can be weird, they are different and you can have lots of issues but its FAMILY. Their normal is different than your normal.

What you did was just plain mean.

Live by the golden rule, treat other as you would like to be treated. How would you feel if she did that to you?

I'm sure you can say she has done/said things to hurt you. But if you want a different relationship you need to work on it & try to act like an adult, even if she is not. De-friending her on FB and telling her you don't like her was childish.
You need to own up & say sorry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

You should never have engaged in an online argument/fight with a family member in the first place. And you should never have told a sister-in-law what was wrong with her family.

At this point the only way out is a face to face apology for hurting her feelings and do NOT qualify your apology with anything. You keep it simple. "Nevaeh, I'm so sorry we got into that argument. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings and I feel really bad. I hope you'll forgive me."

But you'd better be prepared for the possibility that she told the rest of the family what you said, and you may have more apologies to make than just that one. And yes, you do owe an apology to your SIL.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

the mistake was taking her off as a "friend" matter what the explanation was, it hurt her.

to compound that hurt, you then opened up the can of worms concerning how you really feel about her family.

if you had been on the receiving end of that, how would you feel?

no matter how wrong she is now handling it, you made the 1st TWO wrong moves & it's up to you to fix this mess. She's the one who will be backed by the ILs....& right or wrong, that's how it's going to fall. Time to find a way to fix all of this!

As for my own family, yes....we agree to disagree frequently. BUT we move on. We do a lot together....wkend travel, vacations, holidays, special events....the list goes on & on. Thru the years, this has been especially true for my Mom & Sis. Prior to his death, it was not so easy with my Dad....he was insecure enough that he needed full agreement from everyone. & it was a sad, sad way to live.

Conversely, we do very little with my ILs. They're a large family & 4 of the 6 sisters enjoy a close relationship. They exclude the other 2 95% of the time. & they exclude us, too. I find it very ironic that during my MILs last few years....she spent almost all holidays & celebrations with us. We always made plans to include her....& they rarely saw/called her. That's what I call dysfunction: not hearing/seeing your 6 daughters on Mother's Day! & it happened for years & years..... Oh, & we didn't monopolize my MIL....we always waited to see if one of the sisters would step up to the plate. How sad!

My recommendation: find a way to fix this....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

i'm pretty close with my family, although lately I';ve been bummed and MIA from extended family, but I try and go to everything, and the same with my ex's family...I still talk to them A MIL and M. didn't always get along..well we did, but we had a few arguments all together over my daughter, when she was under 2...the last 2 years have been great..and when they found out their son cheated for years and I didn't want to stay married, they were very supposrtive, and still are...they'll always be in my life and my daughters so I've realized the fights and bad feelings aren't worth it...try and connect with her and your mil, family is extremely impt!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

We are close with both sides of our families. We usually go to my hubby's parents instead of them coming to our house same way with my parents, but since it isn't all that far we don't mind. I also know that if I wanted them to come to my house they would. My sister, brother and I are extremely close and have no problems telling each other how it is. Yes we fight and hang up on each other, but after a few days it is water under the bridge and things are back to normal again. We also all have kids the same age and want them to be close like we are with our cousins. As for family get together's with my family we have them every Sunday in the summer and with my husband's family we have them quite often too.

I know most people think I am weird for all the family time, but I know my family has my back when others won't. Blood is thicker than water. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think it is typical of family members to talk about each other, not necessarily in a bad way though. In our family the "talking behind the back" is done if there is a concern about a family member (someone is ill, having money problems, do they need help, etc.) and is not meant as a form of criticism. I guess, depending on how sensitive someone is, it could be perceived as criticism or being too nosy by some. We rarely have arguments at family gatherings but we do not see each other often. I think all families are different regarding how much information they share with each other, what is too personal, etc. so that can be hard if his family is different than what you're used to in those areas. My husband and I both live in different states than our parents and all but one sibling so our family get togethers do not happen that often. They definitely cause anxiety for me because, when they do happen, someone is usually staying at our house. I think we all can get on each others nerves a little because we are not used to being around each other in such close proximity. I think some of the things our parents/siblings say are actually just observations but we sometimes feel like they are criticisms. I just try to think positive during the visits and remind myself that they will be leaving in a few days. We actually do have fun together & enjoy ourselves most of the time but it is hard having the whole house/routine turned upside down. I am at the age though where some of my friends are losing their parents so I try to remember to be thankful that they are all still here & we are lucky to have this time with our parents/grandparents. Good Luck to you. Family situations can be difficult.


answers from Kansas City on

We are not very close to most of our family. It seems that on both sides of our families, we are expected to do the driving and visiting. Both sides of our families have been guilty of driving by here on the way to visit other relatives and not even stopping.


My husband has tried harder with his family as his father is so much older. My father died so I've all but stopped going. I did join with my nieces and some of my aunts and a couple of cousins on facebook. I'm so glad I did! It's nice to know what goes on in everyone's daily lives and seems to make up for the fact that we don't visit often. We all get a long fine on there and I've found out that I have way more in common with some of them than I could have known. Several of my family members believe in the Lord and are just as committed as I am and that wasn't the case years ago. It's so nice to know that God is moving in my family.

We've never had any out and out major disagreements with our families. But I don't see his hardly ever. It's hard to visit our families on the same weekend as we take one vehicle and our families are spread out all over.



answers from San Diego on

Talk in person, not on face book. FB can be more trouble than it's worth, all family issues can be worked out if all party's come together to talk and really listen to one another, BUT never on FB. J.



answers from Boston on

I personally don't think it's a big deal to defriend someone on facebook, not wanting to connect with family is fine. It's your business, explaining that you just want to keep your facebook life separate from family should be enough. Saying everything else that you did however was probably a mistake. If you're interested in fixing it, your best bet is to just let it be for awhile and then just call her up/invite her to lunch and tell her you were having a bad day...just leave it at that because anything else you say will add fuel to her fire.



answers from Chicago on

When my MIL and FIL were alive (they passed away over the past two years), I could not stand to spend any time with them. They are wealthy, stuck up and self-centered people. Not to mention huge alcoholics. But I sucked it up for my husband's sake and made the best of it. My husband does have a sister and there is no way I would ever say those things to her. My husband and I would talk about it because of course he knew how they are, but I would only agree with what he said and never offer any of my own opinions even to him although I thought they were extremely despicable people. That being said... probably not a good idea for you to have said what you did to your SIL. I think it's best that maybe you guys talk it out over the phone instead of these back and forth emails. In my opinion, emails can be misinterpreted.

The time spent with my in-laws was very minimal - only holidays and birthdays and when we were together they talked about my SIL and her husband behind their backs and we found out from my SIL that she would talk about us behind our backs. On the other hand, my family is fun to be around and we are always laughing. Do we have our disagreements and argue sometimes - sure we do. But at least we are not dysfunctional like my in-laws.

I hope you resolve this situation with your SIL.


answers from Detroit on

my family and i are very close, cousins,mothers,grandmother,uncles,great aunts, EVERYONE! we are friends on facebook and Skype the ones that live far away. mostly the younger generation(40 and under)are friends on facebook my great aunt has a page but she very rarely uses it. we get together on holidays and just for no reason sometimes. my grandmother instilled in us togetherness and that no fighting was allowed in the ranks! lol but we don't always see eye to eye on everything and have had to pull someone to the side and talk to them about issues but nothing major.



answers from Chicago on

No you are not nuts...I was very cautious too on in-laws because they tend to be very nosey. I had to unfriend a niece (on my husband's side) because she is just a b-i-t-c-h (excuse my french but it's true) and I had to unfriend a sister-in-law too. They were too sensitive if I posted something related to my children only they would misread into things. If it gets out of hand you can easily unfriend people.


answers from Champaign on

I'm not sure I understand why you wouldnt want to interact with family on Facebook. I probably would have been very offended as well. What else would you be using Facebook for?
Either way, I dont consider my in-laws my family. They are my husbands family. His family dynamic is very different than the way I was raised. We were very close and did things together. Now dont get me wrong, there were plenty of disagreements and I even remember a few fist fights between relatives but when times were tough we stuck together.
Now I live a thousand miles away with none of my relatives nearby and my husbands family for the most part lives in the same community and doesnt even bother to call and check on each other much less do anything together. I tried to coordinate birthdays and holiday get togethers but got tired of the lack of participation and consideration for my feelings. I am atleast grateful that Facebook allows me to keep up with my nieces and nephews activities because otherwise I would never know.



answers from Lake Charles on

I talk to my SILs every day, my MIL the same. They're amazing people and they don't make me feel any of what you are feeling so i feel so bad for you. I did have a sort of falling out with my MIL over her and my husbands past and how she treated him, it ended up bringing all of us closer because she didnt even realize that she was acting the way she was. I don't blame you for letting your SIL know how you felt and you ARE NOT crazy to feel that this family dynamic is all wrong. Good luck, it doesn't look like a solution is in the near future! Maybe try talking to the MIL? Maybe she can give the SIL more perspective.. or not. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

You are not nuts. I get along with my father in law and used to with my sister in law until her husband basically treated me with disrespect and rudeness enough times. Trips to visit filled my husband with lots of anxiety and we almost split up after every visit. Right now our marriage can not take a visit to his family so my FIL visits a couple times a year.
Due to comments and situations that have arisen with my husbands family, I will not travel to see them (they live 12 hrs away). If he wants to see them, he is welcome but our son is not allowed to go with since they will not respect our rules. It is basically bad for my husbands family because I was the one that always encouraged us to travel back and see them or for him to make a trip out.

Maybe being honest was not the best timing but now you have choices in how you proceed. Now, it is up to him to decide and he chooses not to. You can staying in the back seat and let your husband drive the situation or make ammends. Depends on what you feel is best.



answers from Chicago on

Mine are out of town. We get together once a year at the beach for a week and take turns cooking meals. It has been important for us to connect our kids with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins but difficult to do this because of the miles between us. Father-in-law sends us a weekly paper newsletter letting us know what's going on. We get some emails and a few phone calls and some face book news.
Yes - its possible to be annoyed by other people but understand you are choosing to be annoyed and/or have a disagreement with them. And, you choose the amount of time that you have together. I agree counseling can help you sort things out.


answers from Dallas on

My husband and I are both very close to my extended family. We see them often, and get along with all of them very well. I don't remember any major disagreements. We get along fine with my husband's family, but rarely see or talk to them. They don't live in the same state as us, and they don't travel. There are no major issues on that side of the family either. I'm sorry that you are going through such a stressful time. Facebook seems to complicate things. Good luck, and no, I don't think you're nuts. :)



answers from San Francisco on

Wow, surprised at the in-law animosity. I get along well with my in-laws and when I married my husband decided that they are part of my family and treat them as such. Nobody is perfect on his side or mine and loving each other in spite of that is what "family" is about. Barring any really bad stuff, I try to cut everyone some slack and hope they will do the same for me. ( :



answers from Portland on

No your not nuts. Some people live to gossip, and some of these sites are perfect for it. And for stirring the pot! Its almost impossible not to get caught up in the brew. I think your one of the smart ones to keep it on the low. Just ignore em.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions