7 Things Your Sister-in-Law Should Never Say to You

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Maybe you grew up with three brothers and always dreamed of having another girl in the house. Or perhaps you already have a sister but you’re just not that close. Or maybe you’re that rare breed of a person who thinks of marriage as a welcome opportunity to expand your family—the more the merrier! And it’s true, having a sister-in-law can be a real blessing…provided that she doesn’t say any of the following phrases, that is. Here, seven things your SIL should never, ever say to you.

1. “Actually, Tommy Likes His Eggplant Parm Baked Not Fried”

Your SIL just loves to remind you that she’s known your spouse the longest—and in her mind, that means she knows him the best. Comments like this are not only cringey (he’s a grown-ass man Sarah, let him decide what to have for dinner), but they’re also meant to undermine you. While it’s tempting to respond with something even more annoying to let your new sis know who really has the inside scoop (“Oh that’s funny…when we were at that adorable Italian place on our honeymoon, we just couldn’t get enough of their fried parm, remember babe?”), we urge you to take the high road here. Your sister-in-law is likely speaking from a place of insecurity and so your best bet is to simply smile sweetly and ignore. (Easier said than done, we know.

2. “I Don’t Need Permission to See My Own Brother!”

Um, except when it comes to barging into your home unannounced, your sister-in-law does, in fact, need permission. For the SIL who thinks that she rules the roost, a gentle reminder (from both you and your spouse) about the new family dynamics may be in order. In other words, if she continues to make surprise visits then it’s on you to politely inform her that your home is not her parents’ house and that you would appreciate a call first. Boundaries, people!

3. “When I Got Married, I Just Knew That I Wanted to Stay Home to Be with the Kids”

If last Thanksgiving’s game of charades taught you anything, it’s that your SIL is very competitive. And as it turns out, she can be real judgey too. Again, if your sister-in-law feels like she needs to one-up you like this then insecurity is most likely at play here. Remind yourself that comments like this are more about her, not you. And in terms of how to react, kindness is the best offense. Compliment her sincerely and see if she’ll ease up on the rivalry. (Think: “And you’re such an amazing stay-at-home mom, the kids are lucky to have you!”).

4. “Oh Oops, I Only Made the Reservation for the Four of Us”

It’s not that you mind your spouse hanging out with his siblings and parents without you, it’s just that your sister-in-law makes a point to exclude you from family events and gatherings on the regular, and it’s just not cool. But hey, let’s give sister dearest the benefit of the doubt and assume that she doesn’t even realize what she’s doing—talk to her about it and be upfront about how her actions make you feel like an outsider. (And if she is leaving you out on purpose, then bringing it to her attention should at least make her blush…especially if you call her out in front of the rest of the fam).

5. “So Have You Guys Started Trying for a Baby Yet?”

Even if this comes from a good place (she just can’t wait to be an auntie), it’s waytoo intrusive and simply not appropriate. To keep her from asking you again (and again and again), respond as such: “I know you’re excited to have a niece or a nephew, but expanding our family is a really big decision—when we’re ready to include you in it then we will.”

6. “Are You Sure You Should Open Another Bottle of Wine? Remember How Hard It Was for Johnny to Get It Up Last Time He Drank Too Much…”

OMG! You regretted telling your SIL details about your sex life as soon as the words came out of your mouth, but it was told to her in confidence…or so you thought. And now she’s gone and blabbed sensitive information out loud and you want to die. Your first order of business should be to change the subject immediately and do some damage control with your spouse. Then take your SIL aside to let her know that you don’t appreciate her spilling your secrets. Finally—and this is the most important thing—remind yourself to never share private info with your blabbermouth sister-in-law again.

7. “I Bumped Into [Your Spouse’s Ex] the Other Day—She Looks Amazing…and She’s Single!”

A jab like this really has no purpose except to hurt your feelings. The appropriate response here from you (and your partner!) is to a. simply ignore or b. counter with a comment guaranteed to shut your SIL’s shenanigans down (“Who, Jenny? Oh yeah, I’ve heard all about her—apparently she was really controlling and they were miserable together!”). Game, set, match.

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