Brother and SIL broke-up - I miss her

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anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
Brother and SIL broke-up - I miss her
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 5:39pm

My brother and sister-in-law have ended their relationship.  The end got really ugly and they are hopefully soon going to be figuring out custody of their four children (ranging from 10 years old - 10 months old).  Right now my brother has them as my SIL left and has some addiction problems.  It has been a month and a half and I have not contacted her.  At first there was a lot of angry and a court case so I think it was right to stay away.  But I miss her so much - she is/was my sister! 

Today is the birthday of a son that passed away two years ago so I finally broke down and send her a msg to say that I am sending her all my love today and everyday.  No response yet.  I am coming to this board in hope that someone may be able to provide me with some advice.  Do I need to let go?  I support my brother 100% but I don't blame by SIL for what took place - she just couldn't cope and my brother was not the perfect husband.  I don't want to get involved in that but so much of me just wants the line of communication to be open between us.  I do worry though that my brother might not like me contacting her.  Any advice is appreciated as I am not married so I have no idea what it is like to deal with inlaws.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sat, 08-04-2012 - 11:38am

I thik it is fine to contact her and to try to have a relationship with her. You have a history with her, you were close enough to her to consider her a sister and nobody can expect all of that to disappear overnight when she didn't do anything wrong to you. 

You brother may be upset or think you are a traitor for keeping contact with his ex. I think you should talk to him about it soon and reassure him that you will not take sides or talk bad about anybody. Hopefully he will not be adamant that you must cut her out of your life. It would be very hard to feel like you have to choose...but hopefully you could convince him that its better for his kids to see continued caring and peace between the extended family.

There may be a problem if she wants you to take sides or spends your time together bad-mouthing your brother. Obviously that puts you in an difficult situation, you would have to explain to her where your boundaries are, and if she cannot respect them then you would need to rethink continuing the friendship. But assuming that she doesn't do any of that then it should be okay. She will probably need a lot of support in the future and its also in everybody's best interest to help the kids have a stable life with both parents.

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Sat, 08-04-2012 - 11:51pm


I think you let her know you're there and then let her decide when and whether she stays in touch. You can't force her to talk to you or to maintain your friendship.

She's in no condition right now to consider your feelings or your relationship with her. She's probably very devastated and if she's also an addict, she's also dealing with her addiction. So, do yourself a huge favor: don't expect her to take care of your needs. She's probably finding it difficult to take care of her own.

Divorce is very similiar to a death. It's impact is rarely isolated to just the married couple. The end of a marriage is like a bomb dropped on an entire family. Members of a larger community, workplace, and extended family, and even acquaintenaces become collateral damage. 

It also takes time for everyone involved to sort out relationships post divorce. Even if your SIL maintains her friendship with you, don't expect it to resemble anything like it was when she was married to your brother. It will be different. She may also decide it's too painful to be your friend and the friendship will end or become distant.

The ball is in your SIL's court. You'll have to wait and see if she throws it back.


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 3:23pm

Was the child who died your brother's child or was it your SIL's child by a previous relationship?  Either way, you were the child's aunt (even if you were not blood related), so I think it was imperative that you reached out to her and let her know you remember her child with love.  The anniversary of the death of a child is something a parent NEVER forgets and having their child remembered by others is some measure of comfort. 

As for her not responding.  She has a lot on her plate right now.  Addiction.  Divorce.  The anniversary of the death of her child.  I'd let things cool off right now, you did a good thing sending her love on this awful anniversary, but the timing isn't right for her to respond to you.  She has a lot of things to deal with before she can deal with who she wants to remain friends with. 

You sent her your support and love which was wonderful...don't turn it into something else by expecting to get YOUR needs for her friendship fulfilled at this point in her life.  If and when she gets clean and deals with her personal issues, she will remember your outreach to her and will contact you if she is willing/able to remain your friend.  If she doesn't, then trying to push for contact will only cause more problems which isn't good for any of you.  Just be glad you had her for a "sister" for a period of time, that you are the kind of person who thought of her with love on the anniversary of her child's death and let her make the next move.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 1:06pm

Hi Starlite,


I agree with the others - keep letting her know you care and are thinking about her but also allow her the space she needs.  Losing a child and then divorce and addiction - I'm guessing she could use your support and whether she responds soon or not, she's probably feeling good that you are reaching out to her.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-23-2003
Thu, 08-09-2012 - 7:11pm
Just because their marriage failed does not erase your history. Having said that, I'd, as everyone else has said, let her come to you. I'd tell your brother that you are wanting to be friendly with her. As long as you are not the one she complains to re: her divorce, you should be fine.

Don't get mad if it takes her a bit, she is going through a lot. But, if you were close, given time, she will probably reach out. Once she gets her feet back under herself.
Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
Thu, 08-16-2012 - 10:38am

Hi Starlite70: I agree with the others; giver her time and I'm sure she will get back to you in due course. Hang in there with patience.