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Dear Mrs. Bluth,

This has been the worst yom tov I have ever experienced. I am newly married (actually only five weeks) and it was decided that we would spend the first days of Pesach with my in-laws and the second half with my parents and family. As all of the wedding excitement was dying down before Pesach, I learned that my husband’s four sisters and their families would be joining us as well. It’s not a question of room that is the problem, (my in-laws have a huge house that can accommodate the adults as well as the sixteen children). It is more that I don’t particularly like his sisters! Let me explain.


When my husband and I were just dating, he told me how his sisters would often coach him or give him advice on how to act, what to look out for and to be firm on his likes and dislikes. The two of us laughed at this unasked for advice as we got closer and when it came time for the vort, I finally came face to face with these shrews. Before the guests arrived, they cornered me in the kitchen and told me that we were all going to be very close. I had no idea who these women were and from what my husband intimated, growing up the youngest in a household of all women except for his father, they were a force to be reckoned with! So, I was sort of forewarned for the experience beforehand. In fact, I couldn’t quite envision how bad it was really going to be.

A few days after the sheva brachos ended, his two eldest sisters (twins) ‘just happened’ to drop by our apartment after my husband went off to work and I was just getting ready to meet my mother for some additional shopping for what we still needed. They barreled their way in and proceeded to make comments about our furniture selection and placement, the colors we chose to paint the walls and the fact that we were so close to the train station. I tried to not feel put upon by these two awful and opinionated women who had very few nice things to say if at all, I finally got them to leave and was late picking up my mother who was waiting outside in the cold. The visit ruined my ability to choose anything as I now questioned my choices based on the insensitive and insulting comments made by those two. And it didn’t end there. The younger two sisters constantly call asking me to come by and see their babies and toddlers. I cringe to think I’d be thrown together with them during chag!

My mother-in-law is a sweet women (at least so far) who tried to keep her daughters in line and civil when she was in our company, but when her back was turned they were all over me asking me thousands of questions, many of them that were none of their business, and others that were too personal. They were like a pack of hyenas closing in for the kill and as much as I tried to be friendly, it was nothing short of impossible. Every time I looked to my husband to come and rescue me from their midst, he was too busy learning with his father or his brothers-in-law. I couldn’t wait for yom tov to be over to get away from there. That night I wept and told my husband I hated his sisters and didn’t want to ever be in the same room, much less the same proximity, as they were. He tried to calm me down and that he would have a talk with them once yom tov was over. I did calm down just spending second days yom tov with my parents, as we were the only ones there, my siblings spending second days either at their own homes or with their in-laws.

I spoke to my mother, who happens to be a therapist, and she calmed me further by saying that everything would settle down with time, and I being a novelty to their family, would lose much of its luster as everyone returned to being involved with their own lives. However, I don’t see this happening here. These sisters-in-law are just mean and calculating people who chose to see the inadequacies of others to make themselves feel better about who they are. To be fair, it is the youngest sister, who is also in shana rishona, with whom I can foresee having any connection at all. She seems most like my mother-in-law, sweet tempered and mild mannered. Please help me find a way to co-exist with those pit vipers, as I am sure there will be times when I will have to be in their company. I love my husband and I don’t want to hurt him by complaining about his sisters, so your thoughts on this matter are very much needed.


Dear Friend,

As I sit here having finished reading your letter, I try to think back to my early days fresh out from under the chuppah. Understand now, I had to peel back almost sixty-one years, bli ayin hara, and a multitude of events, experiences and trials to reach that moment when life truly began, so as to do justice to your problem. So sit back, take a deep breath and look at your wedding ring as I converse with you.

Firstly, you, by wedding your husband, got the bonus prize of an additional, fully populated and still growing family to which, im yirtze Hashem, you will include your own additions. Since, basically this new family and you are for lack of a better word, strangers to each other, both you and they have a lot of catching up to do and it’s not always easy. There is a multitude of different personalities to process, some likable and some, not so much. However, with patience, a lot of understanding and a truck load of good will towards most, if not all, you will certainly find those members whom you like and those you may choose to keep at arms length. Let’s not forget that they will be doing the same with you. If you love your husband and have caring parents-in-law, your off to a good start in finding others in the family who are the same. Don’t make the mistake of painting everyone with that same broad brush of dislike.

As for your biggest complaint, the two oldest sisters-in-law, all I can suggest without having met them in person, is to give them time to mellow and get used to having you in their family. If you find it too difficult to tolerate them as a team, try to get to know them as individuals. Being twins, they may be used to feeding off each other, but as individuals, they may be quite different with you. Invite them to spend time separately with you, get to know them on a one-on-one basis, you may be surprised to find them very pleasant and amicable.

The first couple of years are hard for most newlyweds. It is a time of finding your place and fitting into your spouse’s family. That takes work, open-mindedness and tolerance but it pays off in every way. You try to present yourself in this way too and I think that this family that gave you your husband, whom you love, has other members in it with the same qualities. Why not at least try? You have a whole lifetime ahead of you with these people. Put on your game face and win them over!

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