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Anxiety over in sister in law visit.

Loulabelle81
Community Member

Hi all,

My partner has just advised that his sister is hoping to visit later in the new year and it is giving me incredible anxiety. I actually feel like I want to leave him and end the relationship rather than have her stay in our home and be around our kids for so long. I’d be more than happy to go to visit them and for us to stay in a hotel and spend time with them for a few hours here and there. But the thought of her being in my home for 2 weeks is too much to bear. We have a long history of her attempting to ostracise me from the family and resorting to almost bullying tactics. I’m not the only one - she’s also done this to her dads partner and her mums partner. After I fell pregnant she started making lots of demands about seeing our daughter when she was born. She is very entitled when it comes to blood relatives and can be very possessive. She was like this with my partner when we lived near her where she would often get jealous and cause rows between us. I really don’t want her in my home or around my kids. I’d be happy if she stayed elsewhere and had other things to do so that it isn’t so intense. But her being in my home and scrutinising everything is really sending my anxiety through the roof. How do I handle this situation? I am worried that my partner will be angry and that it will be made out that I am causing problems with them (this has been the case before - I was accused of getting pregnant to trap him, to stopping him from seeing and speaking to his family - I have no issue with them being in contact and spending time - it’s the intrusiveness of it and the intensity of it that I have issue with. Please help!

12 Replies 12

james1
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Loulabelle81,

That sounds like a really scary situation to have to be in and I can absolutely understand why you would be feeling so anxious about this. You've been treated terribly in the past and you might have those people who treated you poorly, in your face and your life.

Have you spoken to your partner about this and how concerned you are? I guess, whatever you do, it would be helpful to know you have the understanding of him.

James

Hanna3
Community Member

Hi Loulabelle81,

Gosh your sister in law sounds scarily like my sister in law - and I could never find a way of dealing with her! She was so critical I used to get panic attacks when she was around!

I can understand your anxiety!

It doesn't sound good having her stay with you for two weeks. Can you talk to your husband carefully and suggest that she take a little trip away for a few days during the visit, or that he takes her out without you?

Can you suggest they take the opportunity to spend some time with each other? So he takes her out for the day?

Is there any chance she could shorten the visit?

I'm not sure if you live near her or are far away.

These are just some ideas I'm thinking of - ways of getting her away from you for as much time as possible without it being obvious!

Is there any chance she could stay elsewhere?

I hope others here may have some good suggestions! Good luck!

Learn to Fly
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Loulabelle81

I so feel for you… The feeling of being constantly watched and judged either verbally or non-verbally must be unbearable.

I agree with others that a good and honest talk with your partner sounds like the wisest option.

How would you feel about using mainly “I” and “we” messages? It can be a bit tricky, especially if you are upset but in general it helps in leading a more constructive conversation and arguments because it is less confrontational and puts the “blaming game” aside.

To give you an example: “she / you make me feel…” and instead: “I feel unheard and misunderstood. Can we work on this together?”

The aim is to express your feelings and needs and let your partner know how strongly you feel about them without blaming anyone. He might not realise or underestimate how hurt you are and how much his support in this situation would mean to you.

Summer Rose
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Loulabelle81

I can certainly understand your reservations about hosting your sister-in-law for a two week visit. I felt a sense of panic in your post and I don’t blame you for feeling that way after the way she’s treated you.

My first thought is that you could just have a frank and honest conversation with your husband, but I totally understand why you’re reluctant. Think on it though. If you approach it gently, without “attacking” her, your husband might be able to hear your concerns more clearly. You could try putting your feelings in a letter, which could help reduce the potential for hurtful things to be said in the heat of the moment.

I note though that she’s only “hoping” to visit. So, it’s possible that the visit will fall through. If it does, it might be a good idea to get on the front foot and suggest that your family go and visit her sometime next year before she reschedules. At least you’d have control over the duration of the visit and where you stay.

If it doesn’t fall over, you have time to plan as she’s indicated a visit “later in the new year”.

Perhaps you could find her a local hotel or home stay option close to you and suggest she take it up in the interest of respecting everyone’s boundaries, privacy, etc.

Or, if your husband has any other family close by you could suggest she divide her time between homes so everyone gets a chance to visit with her.

If that won’t work, I’d make yourself very busy while she’s with you. And throw in lots of self care and time for yourself.

Kind thoughts to you

Thanks for your reply James.

Yes I’ve had more than a few conversations about this. He says he understands and can see her poor behaviour. Unfortunately he allowed it to happen for a long time. He said he didn’t previously see an issue with it/understand it. Things really came to a head when our daughter was born and he decided to have no contact with his mother and very limited contact with his sister. We have tried to talk about it many many many times but he gets very defensive and either agrees with me about the problematic nature or backtracks and says that he doesn’t see the issue. I have asked him to set boundaries with them before we get to the point of them being overly involved in our lives. His answer to that was to cut contact. It seems that its all or nothing. He admits that he can’t set boundaries with them so if she comes back into our lives it will be without any sort of boundaries and I struggle to trust that my partner will support me or even stick up for me. I am sorry to say that I worry that this will end our relationship. He thinks it’s important for our kids to spend time with her and their cousin. I agree - but with limits to protect our family. I feel so very helpless and scared.

Thanks for taking the time to reply Hanna. We live in another country from her which will involve her taking a 10 hour flight. We don’t have any other family or friends here that she could visit. I have also been thinking about putting in boundaries to cut the trip short. But to be honest it’s the can of worms that it will open that I’m more worried about. When we had our daughter she started demanding that she have a yearly visit where she made it clear that she would be staying with us. I have absolutely no issue with her spending time with my partner and daughters. But when we visit we can limit it to a few hours here and there. I feel sick at the thought of her inserting herself into my life and taking over my home and family whilst I get shoved out and expected to leave or get out of the way so that she can have time with “her family”. I just don’t think that it is ok for someone to disrespect me in my home and in front of my children. And in the past my partner has not said anything to her when she does this. I just don’t want her here at all but if she doesn’t come then it becomes an issue with my partner as I am standing in the way of the family involvement that he wants. There is just no middle ground. It’s either full involvement or nothing.

Thanks learn to fly. Unfortunately we have had this conversation many times and it never seems ti be resolved. He says he understands and is supporting me but then does something like this which tells me that he doesn’t get it and isn’t supporting me. Last time I was home was when my father died. My partner never came with me but I had our kids with us. Soon after my dads death and while I was waiting for his funeral, my partner called and suggested that I take our kids to visit his sister. I felt that I was very vulnerable at the time and not fully ok to do that but he got mad at me. So I took them. I was and still am very angry as I felt that he did not put my needs before his that day. This has been one example of a few albeit this I think was the worst. I just feel very betrayed by him when these things happen. I struggle to explain it. I feel vulnerable when she is around. My anxiety goes through the roof and I struggle to even be civil to her. I feel very alone and angry. For the past 2 years with the pandemic things have been really great between us. We have been so very close and our kids have been very happy and content. Now that things are opening again and plans being made he has become distant again and there is tension between us. It’s how it was before. After my daughter was born we almost separated because of all the issues which his mother and sister were at the middle of. I don’t know why he would put this on me and it really makes me think that he’s demonstrating that I mean nothing to him and he could not care less about how I feel or what I need. I don’t know I’m pretty upset and my head is working overtime. It’s hard to get perspective.

Thanks for your reply Summer Rose. I was thinking of suggesting to him that we go over there instead and then we can plan other things to break up the trip and only see her a handful of times. I feel very powerless in this situation and I already anticipate feeling violated If she comes into my home.
I think if we didn’t have kids I’d easily just be very busy and be out a lot and leave them to have time together. But he always wants the kids to be there. He told me once that it prevents her from talking about things that he doesn’t want to be involved in. I was so angry that he was using our children to shield himself from her behaviour. I worry that she will cause issues for my children and turn them against me. She has a history of bullying behaviours especially towards partners of her family members due to her insecurities and jealousy. My partner told me before that he has to keep in touch with her so that the rest of his family will still be there for him. She has threatened him many times to cut him off, to sell his things that she had stored for him at times where he has not done as she wished. I am terrified that she is going to split up our little family and ruin it. And I don’t think that my partner can see it. Or if he can, there is something that makes him stand by her no matter what she does. I really do not know what to do. I honestly feel like I want to run away.

Hi Loulabelle81.
Please correct me if I misunderstood: you have spoken to your partner on numerous occasions about his sister’s bad influence on him and how her presence and behaviour is toxic to your relationship. Sometimes he seems to understand it and sees it, sometimes he doesn’t, or doesn’t want to take a notice. One way or another, he never confronts her over her behaviour: jealousy and possessiveness and some other unresolved issues from their family’s past. Is this correct?

If you tried to talk to him on several occasions explaining how she makes you feel and that you will not have her in your own house. To no effect from your partner.

What’s left Loulabelle81?

This is your home as much as his. Your kids are as much yours as his. He cannot “make you” agree to host his sister in your own place, if she makes you feel so extremely bad.
What did he say when you pointed out to him how peaceful and happy you were as a family over the last two years of Covid separation and her staying well and truly out of your lives?