How to Get Along With a Difficult Sister-in-Law

How to make it work with a piece of work

Updated 06/02/18


One thing you may not think about when you first start dating someone, is that if you decide to pursue a future with them, you won’t be just marrying them, you’ll be marrying their family as well. Consider their parents, their siblings, their closest family members and friends as part of your new extended family. Most likely, they'll be there to celebrate occasions with you big and small, and sometimes, annoy you in ways you never imagined.

One member of your new “tribe” that you might not get along with is your sister-in-law. Whether she’s done something disrespectful to you in the past or you feel that you both have absolutely nothing in common, learning how to jive with her and get along will be extremely helpful for family events, your own relationship with your partner, and for your mental health.

Here are tips to help you start to like a difficult sister-in-law.

1. Find Something You Have in Common

It can feel exhausting trying to make conversation with a person you don’t like very much, especially if that person is the sister of your partner. One of the best ways to find a topic of conversation: figure out what you have in common. If you both love a certain workout class, type of food, or even a brand of wine, use that to fuel your interactions. The more things in common you can figure out with your sister-in-law, the more you’ll be able to get through your time together without having to navigate awkward silence.

2. Ask Her a Lot of Questions

A simple trick to help you not only find a way to better understand your sister-in-law but to also strike up conversation with her, is to ask her questions. Generally, people like to talk about themselves. Find questions you can ask that help you uncover who she is, shines a new light on the differences you may have with her, and even help you figure out ways to blend better with her, since she’s now a member of your family.

3. Choose Your Battles

If you’re battling the urge to always engage in conflicts, arguments, or frequent disagreements with your sister-in-law, adopt the mindset that from now on, you will choose your battles with her very carefully. The quest to always be right or to always prove your point isn’t something that’s going to help your relationship, and it may even make you more stressed out. Find alternative ways to vent (maybe to your partner, parent, or BFF), rather than engaging in the argument with your sister-in-law all of the time.

4. Find an IRL Buffer

In the case of a sister-in-law you just don’t even like, let alone love, it might help to make sure that you’re never left alone with her. Find someone to be your IRL buffer, whether it’s a good friend, another family member, or even your partner, so that there’s always someone in between you making conversation and not letting the awkwardness sink in.

5. Give Her a Wedding Task to Handle

When you’re dealing with your sister-in-law during the wedding planning process and notice that she’s causing you headaches, give her one specific wedding task to handle. That way she feels responsible for something, can own something, and can stop asking you to get involved in every single detail.

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