7 Proven Ways How to Deal With a Controlling Sister in Law

Last Updated on October 4, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester

It can be tough to merge two families as one. When this occurs, a lot of issues arise. For instance, your family members not liking the person you decided to spend the rest of your life with. While the mother-in-law is usually the most significant threat, her daughter doesn’t fall far behind.

As much as meeting your new family may be uneasy, an evil sister-in-law makes it 10 times more difficult.How to Deal With a Controlling Sister in Law? You will receive a complete guideline on how to deal with sister in law’s toxicity and you’ll learn how to manage your controlling sister-in-law.

5 Signs of a Controlling Sister in Law

#1 She treats you like an outsider

She treats you like an outsider

One of the main signals that your sister-in-law is controlling is the way she treats you. In fact, you’ll feel like you’re not a part of their family. This can be very prominent in a family gathering. 

Sanity Daily states that as much as you try to give her the benefit of the doubt, you are an outsider in her eyes. You may even start to wonder if you may be the problem. Then you’ll try your hardest to be very kind to her, yet still, you are not welcome in her circle.

She will look down on you and not even respond to anything you say to her. Or she may deign to give you a forced response.

#2 She feels you are stealing her brother/sister

She feels you are stealing her brother_sister

This may be the leading sign of a controlling sister-in-law! We may all understand that the bond is essential because siblings share a lot of unforgettable experiences. A sister-in-law may feel very down when her sibling makes those memories with someone else who is not her. It may devastate her.

According to The List, it is natural for a newlywed couple to spend lots of time with each other. Their primary focus is on each other. Yet, a sister-in-law will get very jealous. She may compare it, saying her sibling never gave her that amount of attention. For that reason, she would hate the person her sibling has chosen for their lifelong partner. 

First Cry states that sis claims she knows your spouse’s interest more than you do. She would go as far as showing up to your house uninvited. Sis may even storm into the bedroom without knocking.

#3 Your sister-in-law completely rejects you

Your sister-in-law completely rejects you

When someone rejects you, it is a direct hint that this person has no interest in you. You may try all in your might to make things right between you and your sister-in-law, but it never works out.

She would never listen to anything you have to say or even consider your views. Pay attention to her face every time you attend family gatherings. Her face will always show that your presence is invalid to her. Sanity Daily agrees. It says that sis would go as far as excluding herself completely from family gatherings. 

Your spouse may deny your sister-in-law problems by saying things like, “This is absurd!” “My sister cannot tell me who I can and cannot date” “She is being ridiculous.” She sees you as a potential threat to her bond with her sibling. She believes since you are with her sibling, it entitles her to a say in your marriage.

#4 Says things that aren’t true

Says things that aren’t true

A controlling sister-in-law will make up stories that aren’t true to tarnish your name. She will spread rumors to her side of the family and even to your spouse. Also, she would put you in challenging positions.

For example, she’ll have you say things which she will twist completely. This is a part of her evil little plan to drag your name to the ground. She doesn’t think you’re the one for her brother/sister; she wants them all to herself (spoiled brat).

Your sister-in-law doesn’t like you. So, she will ensure that her other family members, including your love, feel the same way.

Reading Suggestion: 15 Toxic Grandparents Warning Signs!

#5 Your sister-in-law tries to control your marriage

Your sister-in-law tries to control your marriage

Does your sister-in-law want to involve herself in everything you and your spouse do? Martha Stewart Magazine refers to this as “The Nosey Nancy” and “The Bossy Babs.” She expects you to follow all her rules and regulations and not say a word.

From the way you walk to the amount of money you spend, she will criticize. She even wants to be the head of the planning committee for your wedding or engagement party. Your sister-in-law bosses you around.

Sometimes you do not know how to react because you do not want to come across as disrespectful. She believes that since her sibling is your spouse, you’re married to her as well. She wants updates on every decision you guys make as a couple and also your personal life.

How do I deal with a controlling sister in law?

Are you surfing the web searching “How to do deal with a two-faced sister-in-law?” Your search is over! Here are a few simple steps which you can take to overcome your controlling sister-in-law.

#1 Involve your spouse

Speaking to your spouse and letting them know your feelings towards their sibling is the #1 rule. It’s the first step to take when dealing with a controlling sister-in-law. Your spouse may not know how she treats you, and you should inform them about it. According to Wikihow, you should try and avoid name-calling or being disrespectful. Instead, tell your spouse how you feel straight up.

For example, “Babe, every time I am around your sister, her face is always serious, and she never even looks me in the eye. Every time I speak to her, she always has something negative to say. I don’t understand why she always looks down on me. It’s important to me that I come to you first before confronting her. Is there anything you can do about this situation?”

Family Education agrees that you should work along with your spouse. It’s the best way to solve this problem. But, they also state that you need to be tactical about it. You shouldn’t put your partner in a position where they would have to choose between you and their sister. On your end, you have to understand the bond they may have. So, show support, and come up with the best solution as a couple.

#2 Don’t lose your cool

You mustn’t lose your cool when dealing with your sister-in-law. She may make you feel very frustrated and angry. But you have to ensure that you control yourself and not lash out to her. Being disrespectful to your sister-in-law will cause even more problems in your relationship. Don’t try to fight fire with fire.

Family Education states that you have to be very mature. Sometimes you have to look at certain situations from other people’s perspectives. Your parents will always love you, but your in-laws don’t have to.

Even if you disagree with certain things they may say, you must be the bigger person! At times, she may even throw something at you to try and get your attention and a vigorous reaction out of you. But you must remain respectful, do not entertain her, and kill her with loads of kindness! Thank me later.

#3 Set limits and boundaries

Controlling sisters-in-law doesn’t know anything about personal space. They don’t know limits. One way to deal with that is by setting boundaries and ensuring that you stress on them.

To do this, Wikihow agrees that you have to state the facts about the areas in your life that she tries to control. You have to do this politely so that it does not sound like you are making it into an issue about her.

It’s also critical that you do not get too emotional when you decide to put your foot down. She will have to respect you. Why? Because you’re not arguing or losing your temper while making your boundaries clear to her.

For instance, “Mary, you always have something to say about my married life. I’m not saying you’re not entitled to your opinion, but you need to know your place in my relationship.

Yes, I am with your brother, and you need to show us some respect at all times. It is very kind of you, Mary, to show concern about our kids eating candy. But Ben and I decided that the kids could have candy once in a while.

You’re my husband’s family, I respect you, and you should do the same in return.” You made your statement, and this should be the end of the discussion. Refuse to reengage on this matter at all cost! And remember, you need to enforce all your boundaries and limits set in place.

#4 Speak up for yourself

This step with dealing with your controlling sister-in-law may be risky. It’s also a little tricky. You have to expect the unexpected when speaking up for yourself. Your spouse’s family members may look at you differently after speaking your mind and making your point.

But this is all for a good cause. Besides, according to Sanity Daily, it is impossible to change how she thinks about you. Yet you need to ensure that you let her know the way it is affecting you. Also, you can’t expect your sister-in-law to understand, but you need to remain tall on your stand.

#5 Understand sibling bond

This may be very easy for you if you have siblings but can be very difficult for a person who’s an only child. You need to understand that a sister-in-law may feel very sad if their sibling moves out.

It’s even more complicated if it’s her only sibling. She treasures a lot of memories with your spouse. You need to acknowledge that this is the reason she behaves the way she does. A single sister-in-law may find it challenging to cope with her sibling not being around as much. She may feel betrayed and as if her brother/sister doesn’t love her anymore.

The sister-in-law would be very controlling for this reason. She expects things to remain as it was before. All in all, you need to be patient and understanding. You should also remember that they shared a bond before you entered their lives.

#6 Know that Direct Communication is Key

Whenever you have to communicate with your sister-in-law, you should try and do it face to face. Avoid third parties. You mustn’t send a message through your spouse to get to her. Family Education states that if a problem arises, you should address it as soon as possible. It may be a real problem, but more than likely, it’s only a misunderstanding between you guys.

Also, you should keep your business with your sister-in-law off social media. Although there is some tension between you guys, the whole world doesn’t have to be aware of that. You should keep your business private.

Don’t throw up any ‘shade’ or ‘tea’ on the internet for her. You should solve your problems in private. Furthermore, ignore any friend requests from your sister-in-law. This can signify her wanting to stalk your life on socials and receive an avenue to spread false information.

#7 Maintain marital privacy

Sanity Daily says that you need to understand that it’s you and your spouse after you have entered the married life. There should be some form of privacy. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how deep a relationship the siblings have. Sisters-in-law cannot be intervening in their brother/sister’s marriage.

“I’m only married, little sis.” “You would always be my little muffin,” “Our relationship is forever and would not change.” Your spouse needs to sit his sister down and explain the concept of marriage or a relationship.

Inform her that they’re now in a relationship, which requires privacy. Hence, she cannot show up when she wants nor do the normal. “I am currently in a serious relationship, and you need to respect it.”

Reading Suggestion: Help! My Mother in law manipulates my husband

How do I set boundaries with my sister in law?

#1 Understand why you need boundaries

The first step is setting boundaries with your sister-in-law. You need to understand that your needs are critical. Your sister-in-law is showing no respect for your marriage. Yet you may think if you put limits in place, you will make her feel bad.  

Cope Better agrees that your needs are as important as hers. You cannot go ahead with your marriage thinking you cannot set boundaries. 

#2 Expand your perspective

We all get married knowing that there may be a few complications with the in-laws. For this reason, you need to tweak your narrow perspective a little bit. You now have to view situations and possible issues from your perspective.

This will improve your ability to gain clarity in most cases. It will also help you to develop the most suitable approach in setting boundaries.  

#3 Let them know that it is not a competition

It is always good to be direct with your sister-in-law and let them know you aren’t in any competition. You need to make her understand that you’re only in a relationship with her sibling.

Nothing more, and nothing less. Besides, Bonobology argues that it also means setting boundaries for yourself. For example, not getting upset or insecure when your spouse wants to spend time with their sister. Instead, encourage your spouse to bond with their side of the family.

Reading Suggestion: How to deal with someone who plays the victim?

#4 Keep your expectations realistic

You need to be realistic with yourself. Do you have the time to deal with your controlling sister-in-law? In what situations would you like to see her? If you know she will only criticize and judge you for the entire night, you don’t have to attend that dinner party.

Spending a lot of time with her is the total opposite of setting boundaries. You have to be logical and act to suit!

#5 Be assertive

Often, people get away with controlling habits. Why? Because no one tells them about it. Cope Better recommends that you be assertive. Telling your sister-in-law about her behavior is enough to put boundaries in place.

A strong person doesn’t make anyone play with them. Such a person will have no tolerance for a controlling individual (like your sister-in-law). So be that person. She will see you as someone who demands respect. Why? Because you’re standing up for yourself rather than giving in to her ridicule.

How do you tell if your sister-in-law is jealous of you?

She copies you

Did your sister-in-law buy the exact purse you got from Chanel? Did she copy your idea, which you were thinking about for the upcoming family reunion? Don’t tell me she made sure to say her pumpkin pie tasted better than yours when everyone praised you for it.

YOUR SISTER-IN-LAW IS JEALOUS OF YOU! Sis cannot see you as better than her, so she makes sure it doesn’t happen. She is always in competition with you, and everything you decide to do, she wants to do it bigger and better. 

Post Wedding Life agrees that your sister-in-law is your biggest competition. She would compete with you in everything!

She loves when you make mistakes (especially within your marriage)

Jealous sisters-in-law adore when you make mistakes, especially in marriage! “I know he wasn’t good for you” “He used your car, and now it has to go to the garage” “What kind of man did you marry?”

They love when you’re at your worst. Jealous sisters-in-law live for those times when their sibling doesn’t even want to speak to you because of a mistake you may have made.

She would even go as far as exaggerating a minor issue that she could’ve dealt with. Sis wants her sibling and other family members against you. She wants to prove that she is better than you. When you realize this, you have to be very careful how you deal with her from now onwards.

Reading Suggestion: How to deal with a sister in law who is competitive?

She does not give you the credit you deserve

WhatToGetMy.com has an interesting perspective. They said to pay attention to if your sister-in-law has ever appreciated your effort. If she has never commended you, that’s a sign that she is jealous of you.

You can get the Employee of the Year award from your company. She would still say to your face that you did not deserve that title. She may even call it luck. Sis creates many excuses for your achievements and hates to accept that you may be better than her.

She is unhappy whenever she hears something good about you. But, on the low, she loves when you fail and enjoys every moment of it.

She loves showing off

Showing off and trying to prove that she is better than you is one of the signs of a manipulative sister-in-law. Look at her behavior every time she purchases something or acquires anything. Does she make sure to push it into your face? “Look at what I got” “I’m pretty sure you don’t have enough money to buy this.”

She also loves going to social media to show off. Your sister-in-law posts up everything for everyone to see and makes sure that it reaches you. Your sister-in-law may even use various captions on her posts to send a shady message. Her posts may imply she is better than you, and you can’t do anything about it.

Loves to bad-mouth you

WhatToGetMy.com says an insulting sister-in-law can feel comfortable putting you down anywhere. She is a jealous sister-in-law who humiliates you in front of your spouse’s family members and spreads a vast amount of lies in your absence.

She is Fake

Fakery is the leading sign of any two-faced, toxic and jealous person. Your sister-in-law is friendly to your face but behaves the worst behind your back. She pretends she is happy for your accomplishments, but, in secret, she hates you and wishes terrible things for you.

Her actions never match her words. She may say all good things to you and don’t mean a single one, and she put a smile on her face in public but hate you in private. You should try your best to stay away from these bad vibes and energy.

Never go against your instinct

If you get a feeling that something is off, trust your gut! Post Wedding Life states that from time to time, your sister-in-law may be in a bad mood. Or, she might be having a bad day.

You should not draw the line there and say she’s jealous of you. But if she always tries to compete with you or is always putting your name on the ground, you are living with a very JEALOUS sister-in-law.

Final Thoughts

Meeting your spouse’s family and dealing with a sister in law is difficult. You can do all in your might and power to deal with your controlling sister-in-law problems. Yet, you cannot change her behavior.

The best advice when moving forward is to take it slow. Likewise, your mental health is essential. You must be very careful when trying to fix that relationship. It is okay if things get worse before they begin to get better. Remember, you are fighting for a healthy and strong bond between you and your sister-in-law.

Reading Suggestion: The Toxic Narcissistic Family Dynamics Explained

Written by Alexander Burgemeester on

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more? Read my author bio page.

Leave a Comment