Sister's husband keeps her away from family

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    I come from an ‘interesting’ family and my sister and I are pretty close. I (being older and married with a family B”H) did a lot for her when she was single, and helped her through Shidduchim. Even since her marriage, when any issue arose, I’m aways the first person she calls. I’m always there for her.

    We don’t have a great relationship with our parents which made our relationship closer. My sister married a wonderful boy from a large family and moved out of town. I figured we’d maintain our relationship albeit with slight changes while she adjusts to marriage. Well I’m not exactly sure what happened or when, but it seems like her husband tries to distance her from her family. I understand if he were doing that from my parents (we also need distance from them at times) but myself and my husband are pretty warm family-oriented people and I don’t understand why he’s taking her away from us. He lives next to most of his siblings and I know they get together often. Since we are in a differen town, we rarely see each other. But why would he pull her away from her only sister while they get to maintain close relationships with his side of the family? Before their first child, they’d go away often to his relatives/siblings. They came to us only once. Then after the baby, it’s too hard to go away.

    When I speak to her, she sounds happy and she doesn’t seem aware of any of this. (I don’t tell her my feelings.) Anyway, I just wish he’d encourage her to spend more time with us and be more involved with our life. (And no – she doesn’t work – so technically could take a trip to our town during the day.) I feel like I’ve always been there whenever she needed me, but otherwise I don’t hear from her.

    Brooklyn Yenta

    why don’t you tell how you feel? she may not realize it. sometimes when people get married, especially when their home life wasn’t great, they gravitate toward their new family to enjoy the normalcy they never had. tell her you miss the closeness you had previously, and how you’d love to see her more often.


    If she sounds happy LEAVE HER ALONE. It sounds like she wants to grow her own wings and not be under your advice. Respect her wishes. This is how people from ‘interesting” families do things.


    i think that if you two are so close, then you should be able to tell her what’s bothering you. if you don’t, how will she know there is something wrong? apparently she is not figuring it out on her own, or if she is, maybe she just doesn’t know how to open the subject?


    It sounds like you are overreacting. Obviously she speaks to you, if you notice she is happy when speaking to you. And if she’s happy, what’s the issue?

    And what makes you think it is he who is keeping her away? Also, it may be what goes around comes around. You admit that the two of you keep a distance from your parents. Where is the kibud av v’eim here? This may be the just reward from Hashem.

    Additionally, you shouldn’t mix into your sister’s shalom bayis issues. If he wants a distance, that’s between him and her.


    Do you ever speak to your brother-in-law? Does your husband or is it just a relationship with your sister?


    Sometimes when you give and give to someone, when they don’t need it as much they feel the need to step back. It can hurt a lot


    if you want to see her and they claim the issue is that b/c of a baby they can’t get away, then why don’t you arrange to go visit them where they are?


    What is this, a Dear Abby column?


    Very wise of you not to tell her your feelings. If indeed it is her husband that is doing this, why put a wedge between them?

    Perhaps, like others have said, she wants to identify with her new more wholesome family. Also, perhaps your brother-in-law put your whole family into one category, in his mind, and never thought of treating you differently. If the latter is the case then, like Aries said, work on the relationship of you and your husband towards your brother-in-law.

    Please don’t just show up on her doorstep. The fastest way to destroy a relationship is to discuss it. You certainly don’t want to tail her, but you can use subtle remarks about how you wish you can meet more often.

    As 565656 said, (perhaps it’s your sister) someone that received a lot of help may feel the need to back off. She might feel that you are mothering her. It would be an artfull task, but if you can, you should, by subtle statements, bring out the levelness and equality of the two of you. Try not to give advice, ask her opinion on many things, make small talk, and make sure you are not in any way imposing a view (like I am doing now).


    Dear tmb perhaps they have a very good reason for keeping a distance from their parents, not all parents are as perfect as you,

    it is not your place to suggest that Hashem is visiting retribution on the op shame on you! , i moved away from my hometown to get away from my father and had very good reasons to do so it was the smartest thing i ever did


    My big brother (8 yrs my senior) was my BIG BROTHER (sort of surogate father, not that I was neglected by our parents)and to this day I feel that I owe him a lot. When I got married & started my own life we suddenly discovered a genaration gap, and weeks could have gone without contact. Now that Mother ???? needs us we meet almost daily at her home.


    Trying my best – no I am not overreacing. She IS happy – happily enjoying her marriage B”H (which I am happy about) and her husband’s side of the family. When we speak we enjoy it but that’s it. They don’t make any effort to be more involved in our family or for us to be more involved in theirs…

    Yes it is her husband keeping her away. It’s been clear. Like if they come to my town for something they don’t have time to stop by and see the kids (even for a minute)…But they’ll go to his side or meet his friends all the time…And of course I will not mix into their Shalom Bayis – that’s why I won’t tell her anything.

    And as for keeping distance from our parents – good for you that you never needed to know such a concept. But under the circumstances of our family, Rabbanim and therapists have encouraged it. We need the distance for our sanity and Shalom Bayis. Also, when a woman is married, her husband comes before her kibud av v’eim. But thanks for trying to decide Hashem’s rewards and punishments for others…


    Are you saying you know that it comes from your brother-in-law because of the fact that they spend time with his family? That wouldn’t mean that he is deliberately pulling strings. Your sister might share his attitude. She might be trying (perhaps subconsciously) to get more and more swallowed into what she would call a typical family. When she feels more secure as a normal person, then she might finally be more comfortable coming around again. It may be him with a similar attitude. Do you try to arrange get togethers?


    Mevakesh1, I can understand your need to distance yourself from parents for reasons which you don’t have to reveal. I suggest you don’t initiate contact with her for a trial period of time and see if she will then initiate with you. If she doesn’t it may be time to come out & ask if perhaps she feels you have hurt her in some way i.e. being to patronizing etc. Don’t bring up the word husband she will come to that conclusion herself. She will most probably tell you that it has nothing to do with you & the understanding just dawned on her.

    Hazlocha these issues cvan be tricky & require lots of eggshell walking.


    Mevakesh1, I hear your pain, but you haven’t answered my question. Have you and your husband made an effort towards your brother-in-law?

    There might be one of two things going on or both. He might be a very controlling person which is what you are afraid of. Or he might not feel that you have made any effort to be a family with him, just your sister and therefor he is only comfortable with his own family. After all, neither your sister nor he have a relationship with her parents so that is already one step removed, and if he doesn’t feel that you and your husband are making him feel warm and welcome into your very small circle, then don’t expect him to be the one making the effort. He is comfortable among his own and probably wants to give his wife a true sense of family.

    Either way the question is what can YOU do to bring about a different outcome? If he refuses to make time to see you, then it would be up to YOU to make the time and effort to go see them. Maybe when he realizes that you are NOT a threat to his marriage or his other relationships things will slowly change. Maybe your husband can find himself in their neighborhood and stop by for dinner and to see the kids just to test the waters, etc. Usually, the men won’t see the other men in the family as a threat. Hatzlocha.


    Be happy for your sister that she now has an anchor of stability. You found happiness with your husband, let her find happiness with hers. The two of you are at different stage in life and you have to repect that. There is nothing to be insulted about.

    When was the last time you went to her not so far-away community and visited her? Or do you feel she owes it to visit your town in order to visit you?


    How long is your sister married? Why do you assume it is your brother in law? Maybe it is HER decision.


    I think you should write your sister a letter. This way you can be careful what you say, and you won’t be putting her on the spot.

    It would be a real pity if there was just a misunderstanding that has caused this. Or perhaps she has a real reason, that is easy to fix.

    If she doesn’t want to offer any reason, she can just ignore the letter. And if you think it’s better, you could state in the letter that while you would love an explanation, it’s not necessary for her to respond if she doesn’t want to. Or she can respond whenever she feels up to it.

    If you word it right, you won’t offend her. And no harm will be done.

    I don’t agree with those who say leave it alone, just be happy she’s happy. You can be happy she’s happy, but if something can be done, why not try? Futhermore, she may not be happy, but doesn’t want you to know it and that’s why she is keeping away. (Obviously you should take this possiblity with a large grain of salt, since of course I don’t know that is true, just throwing out a possiblity, since I know people who made believe they were the happiest married couple, while nothing was further from the truth.)


    Whichever advice you are going to follow, do anything else before bringing it up openly, whether in a letter or plainly. Discussions like these can have long lasting ramifications.

    Do you ever see active resistance to coming over, or do you just notice that they don’t initiate any get togethers. If the latter is the case, there is a lot you can do and initiate. But keep an eye out for their inner reaction. Never turn yourself into a pest or a tail.

    So, it narrows down to, whether him or her, a disassociation with your family, without actively making you an exception. It can be him only, being that he doesn’t feel a connection. Although, you might ask, isn’t that the chicken before the egg? It may be, either him or her feeling a disconnect, being that you mothered her. A sister is never a mother, she is a big sister. The first step in getting ahead is to rise above or away from the biggers than you. It’s hard to know what it is, but for the last choice, you can search within yourself and ask yourself if it is possible that she would feel that way about you.


    ok guys, sometimes people do need to move away from parents, I have seen situations. (therapy would be befeficial)

    I also have seen where a spose is keeping close with ONE side of the family, and yes, it is unhealthy, andin a long run, wveryone will lose out.

    If a spouse keeps her away from her family, it may be a warning sign. you cant package all family as one (parents and sibs) and therefore cut off from everyone.

    She may be not confident enough, afraid to see it or to challange it.

    maybe developing a relationship with him (you and husband, as a couple), arrange a get away together – try to create some friendship so he gets to know how wonderful you are.

    If all fails, talk to a smart rav. it is something that needs work, no need to giver her up. Good luck!

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