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Sister-in-law unwelcome at sisters' weekends

DEAR AMY: My partner is the eldest in a family of five daughters and one brother. Her brother's wife, "Madame X," is fairly close to the family (she has hosted parties; we've stayed at their home, etc.). The other four sisters have hosted very successful sister weekends without including Madame X. There seems to be some resentment toward Madame X, bordering on jealousy (or something similar to it). The latest sisters' weekend is planned for this summer, and Madame X has made it known via her husband that she feels slighted that she has not been invited. My partner is not sure what to do. I was wondering if you could use your analytical skills to broker some type of suggestion that all sisters could agree on. My partner is the more laid-back type but even she does not want Madame X to join them, as she feels it is strictly for the blood sisters only.

-- Confused Partner

DEAR PARTNER: As a sister to two (and sister-in-law to 10), my analytical skills tell me that there is absolutely no answer that five sisters will agree upon. Each sister is responsible for her own behavior.

The idea that these women hold unfounded negative views and act as a sort of sibling monolith is hurtful and makes things worse for "Madame X." This is not behavior to be proud of. She is responding by asking her husband to deliver her message.

If your partner posed this question, I would tell her to behave with personal integrity about her choice. She should contact her sister-in-law personally and be brave enough to say, "This is awkward, but I understand from my brother that you are upset not to be included in our sister weekends. Is that true?" She should listen with a neutral attitude. Then, if appropriate, she should say, "I realize this is upsetting. I know you feel excluded. But I hope you can understand that we see these weekends as opportunities for we birth sisters to spend time together and that it truly is nothing personal."

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