Managing relationships with ‘friend-in-laws’

April 20, 2011 | By | Reply Continue Reading

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I have a friend who I have been close to for 11 years. About eight years ago, I met her husband’s brother and fell in love. We are now married. At first this seemed great, my best friend was becoming my sister-in-law!

 

I started to feel over time that I couldn’t talk to her and that she was closed off from me. If I ever did try to be honest with her she would get defensive and angry. I’d like to salvage some kind of relationship with her since our husband’s are brothers but I don’t think we can go back to what we once were. What do you suggest?

Signed
Kate

 

ANSWER

Hi Kate,

Becoming family often changes friendship to something else—not necessarily better or worse, but something different. Some thoughts:

 

  • Maybe your sister-in-law feels so close to you now (like family) that she feels she can tell you whatever she wants without worrying about it.
  • Maybe she wants to keep boundaries between her husband and his brother’s family so doesn’t feel comfortable being real close with you.
  • Maybe she wants to have more of a relationship between your families rather than a one-on-one relationship.
  • Maybe there are things going on between her and her husband (or other people in her family) that she doesn’t feel comfortable sharing with you.
  • Or maybe over such a length of time, one or both of you have changed so the relationship between you is different.

 

Remember that you met your husband because of your sister-in-law so you always have to be appreciative of that.

 

Back off for the time being from over-sharing but act friendly and responsive to her. Seek out other new friendships too. Your friendship may not ever be what it was but it can be a meaningful relationship that adds joy to your life in other ways.

Hope this helps!

Best,
Irene

 

Prior post on The Friendship Blog about in-law issues:

An emotionally drained newlywed

 

 

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