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Estranged sister-in-law invites us to wedding(37 Posts)
My sister-in-law estranged herself from us when we had children (over 10 years ago). She wasn't able to have children herself and didn't feel that she could have anything to do with us anymore. This has upset her parents very much and also obviously, my husband. She is now in a different relationship and is getting married. My in-laws have invited us to her wedding (they sent out all the invitations). They say that her husband-to-be wants to meet us and they really want us to come also. My husband has asked them if she really is keen to have us on her special day, as she hasn't seen us for so long, never met the children and hasn't contacted us herself at all. They say yes. We are going, however, I am apprehensive. How should I handle meeting her and introducing my children?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I would too, that could be a really awkward situation otherwise.
Unless SIL personally gives it the ok, i wouldnt go.
I hadn't thought of that! I did have a distant friend write a few months ago asking if I was going to the wedding. I understand, from my mother-in-law that she is going to be a bridesmaid. I replied to her saying see you at the wedding, if not before. So I would think that even if my mother-in-law hasn't told her, my friend would have?
It's strange to get an invitation out of the blue, have you got a phone number or address for the sister in law ?
I would give a call ostensibly to thank for the invitation - but also to check that everything's above board, plus it would be nice to build some bridges before a big day like a wedding where they are likely to have lots of guests to entertain.
It's not an occasion I'd choose for a reunion.
Maybe ask the distant friend, just for peace of mind.
I have spoken to my husband who says that she definately knows. She has said something to her mother about tying the children up during the dancing! I think she was joking?
As you can see I'm not looking forward to going, but have said that I will, so will be going whatever.
Any advise on dealing with her at the wedding?
I think she's asked you because the new husband might think she's really odd for not asking you.
It's a step in the right direction and it's also not one on one. maybe she's growing up.
But I'd feel a bit odd being in the posed photos as representing family.
I would see if you can arrange to meet up before the wedding. The middle of a wedding is a bad time to discover that a reunion was a stupid idea.
Agree that meeting beforehand would be a much better idea. If your SIL really wants to be reconciled with you, I would have thought she would have suggested this, rather than waiting to see you, meet your children, introduce you to her husband, etc in the middle of the three-ring circus of a wedding?! I think it's frankly strange that, even after accepting the invitation, she still hasn't spoken to you? Frankly, something seems a bit off about the scenario. Are you sure she doesn't just want you there on the day to make the photos look good?
That might be the case Unexpected! I don't really understand why she wants use there, apart from to please her parents. Or as another poster mentioned, so her husband doesn't think it's odd. We sent her an engagement card, but didn't hear anything from her. We have moved since she last saw us, but she could get details from her mother. We can't meet up before as we live too far away and the wedding is in a few weeks. I'm very unsure about talking to her before hand in case it makes everything worse. If we are at the wedding we could be out of the way, as it's a large wedding.
Are family the sort to make scenes at the wedding? Or will they most likely be discreet and 'buttoned up'?
Agree it may be that she's putting up with you being there to 'keep the peace' with wider family. We know what a juggling act keeping people happy about weddings is from reading threads here!
If you can't talk to her first and you do feel that you have to go to the wedding I'd maybe just keep a low profile. Don't say anything other than the most anodyne congratulations, you look lovely type stuff and see what happens. Maybe now she has a happy event in her life she won't feel the same as she did back then.
I think I'll take your advise.
It looks bad on her infront of her inlaws if she has no other family than her parents. You are the token guests that will make her look sane.
I would not go.
If she wants a relationship, fine, she can develop one outside the wedding.
I don't think we can really presume to know the mind of someone the OP hasn't spoken to in 10 years.
Admittedly "sane" was probably a bad choice.
The kind of person that cuts off her own family because they can have DC and she can't is a very mean one indeed.
Add to this the 'tying the kids up' comment, i'd say that an apology's owed before you deign to accept her invitation.
Feels to me that she's doing it to look 'normal', rather than admit it was HER that caused the estrangement.
Hissy, I luffs you
You're such a warrior! (in a good way)
Inthesunnygarden your SIL's reaction was intensely strong; does she have competitive issues with your DH? I hope it all works out.
A wedding is not the right place for a reunion. However, if there is to be a future relationship (do YOU want one? It's not just up to her!) then you do need to go to the wedding.
I would contact her personally (none of this through the mother bullshit) and say that you're pleased to get an invite but you'd like to meet up before the wedding to introduce her to the children and catch up. If she won't, then you have your answer about going to the wedding.
I agree with Waffly. Best smiles, lovely comments and keep a low profile.
If the only reason for the estrangement is because she can't have children, then maybe she feels differently 10 years later. I think that unless we know the pain of not being able to conceive when we desperately want to, it's unfair to judge how others handle it. That said, it does seem a bit extreme.
The hating children might just be how she deals with not being able to have any.
Anyway, you're going, so need to be super gracious and lovely. The last thing the situation needs is for DH's parents to think you weren't being fair in her wedding day.
I would accept the olive branch for what it is and not jump on opportunities to demand an apology. However, I wouldn't make the wedding the first time you see each other. Presumably there's time to meet up weeks beforehand?
It also strikes me that there's more to this. Nobody dumps her brother and his family just because it's hard to see them with children when you want children yourself.
I'd tell the silly bint to fuck right off.
Perhaps she feels very sorry about the estrangement and this is her first step on the path to reconciliation.
I would go. Life is too short to harbour grudges.
It's her olive branch. I'd say accept politely. If you don't you are making a bigger and pettier fuss than she did in the first place.
But, beforehand I'd email her to
force her hand open the channels of communication.
We are very pleased and touched to have been invited to your wedding and very happy for you and future bIL. Congratulations to you both! However before we come we would just like to make sure you are comfortable with us all being there after being out of touch with each other for so long. We very much hope that you are inviting us because you would like to see us and that you haven't felt obliged to have us there. We would love to come and meet BIL and warm up relations between us but don't want to make you feel uncomfortable or pressurised on your special day. Would you let us know how things stand?
Thank you for all the advise. For my in-laws and husband's sake I hope she is hoping for us all to be in contact again. However, I have to say I don't really feel too happy about her seeing the children at the wedding. Vivacia, it really was us just having children why she wouldn't speak to us. She wrote to us when I was pregnant to tell us she couldn't have anything to so with us anymore because I was pregnant. I understand that she also cut a friend out at the same time, as they were having or had just had a child (I'm not sure which). She was always a very intense and highly-strung person. I don't know what she is like now. My parents-in-law say she is very happy with him. So I hope it will all work out, but I'm still apprehensive about it all.
Got to go now. Thanks
I would either arrange to meet up with her with yur children before the wedding, or go to the wedding without them. I agree with others that the wedding is not the place for a reunion, particularly with the children.
p.s. good idea BettyBotter, will show to my husband.
I wouldn't go. Meeting your children for the first time on her wedding day sounds like a very bad idea, she's obviously not the most balanced of individuals.
Erm, but this ISN'T her olive branch, is it? This is the PIL inviting their son.
Beggars belief why they allowed their
spoilt brat of a daughter to be so spectacularly RUDE to their son and his PG wife, but perhaps the face saving is theirs, and theirs alone!
This matter is being papered over, it bodes for an 'interesting atmosphere' at the wedding.
Writing the letter mentioned upthread, imvho happy to be told i'm wrong, is a bad idea as it could look smug/sychophantic/just plain wrong, AND feeding into the drama this SIL-zilla has created.
On balance Cozydressinggown has it I think.
Allows you to test the water and protect your children from being treated badly.
I'm surprised she's even allowing children at the wedding tbh!
Hissy you were really, really nice to me when I was struggling with the aftermath of a DV relationship a few months ago. Very direct and RAH RAH RAH. I found it really useful as it was 'buck up!!! Wanker!!! Get on with it!' so I think you have a really refreshing approach.
I would disagree on the thread though, to a point, I think it's a chance to build bridges.
I know that getting too hung up on the why's and wherefores of others just exhausts us. Best to go with one's gut feeling, be truthful with oneself, honest with oneself and authentic at all times.
It's my new way of living dontya know! it cuts through the smoke others blow out to hide the crap they inflict on others!
It's a very black and white view, but stripping out everything to it's most simple form make decisions much easier, IME anyway!
I know someone who can't have children and had three miscarriages and also know someone who had a still born and neither if them would have anything to do with children for a while but eventually had to accept that life does go on for other people and they had to find a way of dealing with it.
It is harsh to judge her, unless a person has been in her situation. What she did was very drastic and if her feelings ran so deep then she should have had counselling or something to deal with it.
If you are unable to meet before hand due to the distance then could you ring her and have a chat?
To update everyone and thank you for your advise.
To summarise the last few weeks, my husband phoned his sister in the end and asked her if she really wanted us all there. It was a bit stilted, but she said yes we'd all been invited. He told her that the children are lively and we didn't want to ruin her 'special day'. She still said we were all invited (in a 'huffy' way my husband said) and there would be other children there.
We went, parents-in-law very pleased, all other relatives and even the bridesmaids nice, friendly and kind about the the children (saying how lovely they were etc.)
We went up to sister-in-law and her new husband to congratulate them, sister-in-law said about 5 words (I said how nice her dress was, she said something about dieting to get in it). Didn't get to introduce the children as she then went off, pulling husband who said "I think they want us upstairs", as he was pulled away!
Sister-in-laws' husband seemed confused when my husband spoke to him later and said something like "you are now my new brother-in-law". He looked looked oddly a couple of times during the meal! I went at the end to say we are leaving thanks for having us to the bride and she couldn't even look at me!
My eldest realised what was going on and was a bit quiet during the day, but liked seeing all the other relatives who she knows and meeting those she didn't. My other children didn't seem affected by it at all and seemed to have a nice time.
After some thinking about it all. We had a nice day and everyone but the Bride and groom were pleased to see us; and kept saying how lovely it was to see us and what a lovely family we have etc. So it was nice in the end.
However, I think sister-in-law was made to invite us. She should have said to my husband when he phoned her, that she'd rather we didin't go.
I'm glad its all over now!
5th para is supposed to read "he looked at me very oddly, a couple of times during the meal"!
Do you think your SIL hadn't told him who you were? Bit strange all round, obviously no happy families situation in the near future then
Thanks for the update OP. The behaviour of your SIL is so bizarre and so is the fact that your PIL indulged it for all these years! Anyway, I suppose things will go back to the way it was before?
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