Annie Lane: Family exclusion feels personal

Published 5:37 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Dear Annie: I have been married to my husband for 50 years. During that time, I have been close to my husband’s family. Over the years, the family has grown, and our get-togethers have been less frequent. I’ve had a friendship with my husband’s brother’s wife, my sister-in-law, who occasionally has a gathering in which she has included her own adult daughters and one single niece, but she has excluded my daughter and other adult children of the siblings.

The last party was for two other sisters-in-law visiting from out of town at her house, and once again she excluded my daughter. This has caused some very hurt feelings because my daughter knows about the gathering and that she isn’t invited. So I decided to text this sister-in-law to ask if my daughter could be invited, especially since one cousin was unable to attend.

The second party was at my house and everyone was invited!

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I said if it was too much for her, that I could have the party at my house, even though a second party was already scheduled to be at my house. She declined. I offered to come over early and help, but she declined that, too. She finally responded by saying that her husband had group messaged all the nieces and nephews, including my daughter, with an invitation.

When I arrived at the party, she did not greet me, and she treated me coldly when I addressed her for the rest of the evening. She didn’t come to my home for the second get-together and wouldn’t talk to me at another party at the end-of-the-week visit. I am very upset by this. Only my son and daughter came (without their families). The other nieces and nephews didn’t. There were also several people who were at the party who weren’t even family.

I’ve thought about reaching out to my sister-in-law but am not sure if I should, though it has been bothering me a lot. Even disturbing my dreams. Did I do something wrong? What should I do?

– Shunned Sister-In-Law

Dear Shunned: She sounds like an unhappy person. Even if she was upset with you for asking that your daughter come to a family get-together, she should have had better manners than to just ignore you in her own house. Hurt people hurt people, and she must be hurting to be that mean and exclusionary to family. Your choice was also not to go if your daughter had not been invited. I would speak with your husband and get his thoughts on pausing your relationship with your sister-in-law and his brother.

If you think you might have done something wrong, you could always call her and just ask. But before you call, make sure you are doing it from a place of curiosity and not to attack her. Don’t let her steal your joy. If you think calling her will bring you more peace of mind, then call her – but without an expectation. You are calling her out of curiosity, not because you want something out of her.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology – featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation – is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to