Bright Side

Why Your Sister-in-Law Is Often Way Harder to Deal With Than Your Mother-in-Law

You don’t have to wait until the wedding to know that there’s a lady that will probably become “the other woman” in your marriage: Your mother-in-law. But, even though popular belief insists she’s one of the most complicated to deal with, some women think there’s a bigger price to pay for your sweetheart: His sister.

Bright Side has gathered some revealing facts that could explain why some of us believe sisters-in-law are the real rivals.

Watch out for your mother-in-law sister-in-law.

The bond between a mother and her son is so strong, it’s fair to say that seeing him cut ties and redirect his attention to another woman for good must be painful. But some studies have suggested that the relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law is usually not that hostile. The problems may arise, however, from the sister-in-law.

An online survey, conducted by the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, asked 600 people to share some details about their relationship with their in-laws. They asked participants to state which of their partner’s family members they considered to be more problematic. While a decent 32% pointed to the mother-in-law as their most contentious relationship, a high 56% picked their sister-in-law, as the real “villain.”

Sisters-in-law want to protect their clan and their authority.

The results of the survey are eye-opening, but the reasons behind them are clear, as Paula Sáez, a Chilean psychologist from Diego Portales University, thinks. She stated that when we become adults, our peers replace our parents as the stronger figure in our lives, because we need to be responsible for the future, a reality we share with our own generation. This is why people feel closer to their siblings and create a strong clan as the future generation. A clan your sister-in-law would like to protect, mind you.

But there are other motives behind that conflictive sister-in-law. Sáez also believes that family roles that have been practiced since childhood also play a part. If the older sister has constantly felt entitled to express her views on her brother’s life, the moment she sees she’s starting to lose authority to the new wife, friction arises, because the new partner feels threatened.

Old sibling rivalries could also be making them dislike the new wife.

There could be another reason behind the tension. Psychologist Terri Apter explains that it’s often the case that rivalry between siblings plays a role, even of the unconscious type. If your sweetheart and his sister haven’t been on good terms for a long time, it’s probably the case that you’ll also be considered “persona-non-grata” by her, making Thanksgiving dinner a lot more awkward.

The siblings natural attachment could also play a part in the conflict.

Finally, some research indicates that babies forge a strong attachment with their siblings, similar to the link they create with their mothers. This link will explain why they become a target that needs protection and a source of security at the same time, transforming the new girlfriend or wife into a threat to that bond.

Do you have any good advice on dealing with complex in-laws? How far would you go to defend your wife’s status in front of them? Share your ideas below!

Preview photo credit Friends / Warner Bros.