Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: camlan on October 26, 2012, 03:36:08 PM

Title: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: camlan on October 26, 2012, 03:36:08 PM
I'm overthinking this. I know I'm overthinking this, but I can't come to a conclusion.

Usually, I go to visit my sisters-in-law, the women who have married my brothers. But one of my SILs, whom I like very much, will be staying with me for a week, next month. I'm not sure what the best way to introduce her is. "My sister-in-law," or "My brother's wife."

Is one way better or worse than the other? Are they both the same? Would one way feel nicer than the other? I've never really had to introduce her to anyone; it's always the other way around. Which is the nicer, friendlier term, or are they both the same?
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Shoo on October 26, 2012, 03:38:03 PM
Calling her your sister-in-law is way more personal than calling her your brother's wife.  If you want to make her feel like you consider her your close family member, call her your sister-in-law. 
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: TurtleDove on October 26, 2012, 03:38:36 PM
I tend to think "sister-in-law" sounds warmer than "brother's wife."  Sister in law shows her relationship to YOU as opposed to your brother. Oops!  Posted at the same time as Shoo.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: lowspark on October 26, 2012, 03:41:36 PM
POD. Another vote for "sister-in-law". And then say her name.

"This is my sister-in-law, Mary. Mary, I'd like you to meet my friend, Susan."
or something like that.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Two Ravens on October 26, 2012, 03:47:38 PM
I agree with calling her your sister-in-law. If you want to add more information, you can always add it. "This is my sister-in-law June. She's married to my younger brother Tommy"
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Judah on October 26, 2012, 03:54:41 PM
I agree with the others.  Introducing her as "my brothers wife" sounds like you are trying to put distance between the tow of you; her relationship to you is through your brother. On the other hand, referring to her as "my sister-in-law" makes the relationship  closer because you're relating her to yourself.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: whatsanenigma on October 26, 2012, 03:54:44 PM
I'm going to disagree just slightly here and say that there might be some cases where "brother's wife" is more appropriate, such as if you have more than one brother and there might be confusion about whose wife she is.  "I'd like you to meet my brother Jim's wife, Mary" as opposed  to your brother John's wife, that kind of thing.  Or if the person you are talking to is an old friend of your brother who has been out of touch with him for a while.  You could say "You remember my brother Jim, don't you? I'd like to introduce you to his wife, Mary."

But even then, you could probably work both references into the introduction.  Something like "Susan, I'd like you to meet my brother Jim's new wife.  Mary, this is my friend Susan.  Susan, this is my sister in law Mary".

Because overall, I agree, "sister in law" sounds much warmer than "brother's wife".  But I wouldn't make any negative assumptions about someone who did refer to such a person as "brother's wife" or about their relationship, especially if there is any chance of the "brother" part needing to come first for clarity's sake, so I wouldn't worry too much about what phrase happens to pop out of your mouth.  :) 
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Sharnita on October 26, 2012, 03:56:40 PM
yeah, if you have more than one brother I can see saying "This is Mary, Jim's wife"
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Jones on October 26, 2012, 04:00:18 PM
I have several brothers, but only one SIL, and she currently lives with me. (Well, DH has two half sisters too, I barely know one and never met the other so...)

I introduce her as my SIL and then, if it comes up, mention she's married to my brother T.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Roses on October 26, 2012, 04:17:43 PM
I use sister-in-law as it seems warmer and clarifies MY relationship with this person as opposed to my brothers. 
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: JoieGirl7 on October 26, 2012, 04:24:41 PM
It doesn't matter either way.  Your SIL can also be your husband's sister or your husband's brother's wife. Clarifying it is fine.

You can combine it as "My sister-in-law, my brother's wife."
 
I visit my husband's brother and his wife from time to time and its complicated because I can't say "my sister and brother-in-law's place"  because she's not my sister.  She is my sister-in-law and he is my brother-in-law.  Saying it either way has nothing to do with the closeness of our relationship which frankly, is no one else's business.

But, I clarify who they are so that other people don't get confused about how many sisters I have or brothers that I don't.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Dindrane on October 26, 2012, 04:41:38 PM
Usually, when I hear people habitually refer to a by-marriage relative as "[Relative]'s Wife/Husband," it's because the relationship isn't close, and may even be acrimonious. Without other context, using that phrase to refer to an in-law can make people think that you don't much like the person.

I think it's mostly because of the spin the specific language puts on the relationship. Calling someone your sister-in-law says that you think of her as at least similar to a sibling, even if she's not one you grew up with and therefore isn't quite the same as your actual siblings. Calling someone your brother's wife is basically saying you personally have no relationship to her at all.

However, using the term "my brother's wife" or similar in a context that involves explaining which brother she is married to, or perhaps that she is your brother's wife and not your husband's sister, is an entirely different kettle of fish. That comes off as a neutral statement of fact, rather than any sort of statement about the relationship itself. I personally have three sisters-in-law, two of whom are actually my husband's sisters, so I do sometimes say "my brother's wife" or "my husband's sister" if it's important for someone to know the specific details of the relationship. When it's not, I just say "my sister-in-law" and call it good.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: AlansGirl on October 27, 2012, 12:37:11 AM
I'm in favor of clarity whenever more clarity can be conveniently mentioned, so I'd tend to say, "This is my sister-in-law Sandra, my younger brother Bob's wife" or "...my sister-in-law Lily, my husband's older sister."   I kind of agree with what others have posted about one introduction being less friendly than another, but I would tend to go more toward familiarity and explanation than otherwise because I have a lot of good, otherwise close friends that introduce me to people in rather a vacuum:  "Oh, yeah, this is my brother."  Well, that's nice, what should I call him, should I want to?  Which of the brothers might this be? 

Or I get, "Hey, I know you'll have tons in common, you both [whatever interest] so I can't wait for you to meet Karen!" - and Karen might be whom?  Friend, stepmom, half-sister, co-worker, sister-in-law?  In a way I don't need to know 100 years of family dynamics and changes and so in a way it doesn't matter, but while 'Karen' might be perfectly nice and friendly, it's nice to know where she fits into the overall family /friend framework.  That way, one minimizes the chance of inadvertent mis-step or insult.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: sparksals on October 27, 2012, 01:50:17 AM
Calling her your sister-in-law is way more personal than calling her your brother's wife.  If you want to make her feel like you consider her your close family member, call her your sister-in-law.


POD... my MIL introduces me as her son's wife.  It seems so impersonal to me and DIL would sound more like part of the family.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: NyaChan on October 27, 2012, 03:29:56 AM
I would start with her name, then follow with her relationship with you.  Probably over-thinking it, but it seems to me the most important part is identifying her as a person and then the next important part is clarifying who she is to you.

Hi SoAndSo, this is Mary, my sister-in-law. 
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: SingMeAway on October 27, 2012, 05:32:56 PM
I have two SIL's, my brother's wife and my husband's sister. If I was introducing one, I would say "my sister-in-law" because to me that sounds warmer and closer. I will say "Jane" or "my brother's wife" if I'm trying to distinguish between them in a conversation for example.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: bopper on October 27, 2012, 05:38:07 PM
Hi, this is Mary who will be staying with us for the week. She is my sister-in-law...My brother's wife.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: TootsNYC on October 29, 2012, 12:13:23 PM
I agree with calling her your sister-in-law. If you want to add more information, you can always add it. "This is my sister-in-law June. She's married to my younger brother Tommy"

I agree that "my" makes her sound like she's firmly connected to you.

But if you're introducing her to me, I might want to know HOW she is your sister-in-law. Is she your husband's sister? Or is she married to one of the brothers you have previously mentioned to me (or that I have met).

Or you could say, "this is my friend; she's married to my little brother."
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Hmmmmm on October 29, 2012, 12:28:08 PM
If the person you are introducting her to knows your brother, then I think it's fine to say "This is Joe's wife Mary".  Otherwise, I introduce as my sister in law or brother in law.  If they want to clarify if it is my sibling's spouse or my spouse's sibling, they can ask. 

I've also used "Sue, this is my sister in law Mary.  She and my brother Tom are in town visiting."
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: MrTango on October 29, 2012, 12:32:32 PM
For me, it would depend on to whom I'm introducing my BIL.

If it's someone who knows my wife well, I would introduce him as "LadyTango's Brother, Waltz."
If it's someone who doesn't know my wife, I'd say "My BIL, Waltz."
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Oh Joy on October 29, 2012, 02:15:54 PM
Personally, I prefer to be told the relationship (brother's wife versus husband's sister) if I'm not close enough to already know.  If you're concerned about warmth, that can be made clear through tone, body language, and - if appropriate - a compliment as part of the introduction.

Best wishes.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: stitchygreyanonymouse on October 29, 2012, 04:24:07 PM
For me, it would depend on to whom I'm introducing my BIL.

If it's someone who knows my wife well, I would introduce him as "LadyTango's Brother, Waltz."
If it's someone who doesn't know my wife, I'd say "My BIL, Waltz."

I was going to say that I would always prefer to introduce them through their connection to me, unless I was being deliberately distant. But I think in practice, I would find myself closer to as Mr. Tango says.

I think itís a matter of "Iím introducing this person to you and our commonality is only through me (that we know of)" vs. "Iím introducing this person with whom we share mutual acquaintances."

In the second case, however, Iíd be more likely to use the wording of some PPs, though: "This is my SIL Suzie, Johnís wife" or "This is my SIL Sharon, Jackís sister" because in that case itíd be obvious who the latter were, and itís still personal.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Dindrane on October 29, 2012, 08:16:23 PM
I've just realized, in reading the more recent posts, that for myself I mentally distinguish between saying "my brother's wife, Susan" and "Joe's wife, Susan." I wouldn't use the latter for anyone who didn't know that Joe is my brother without being told, and I wouldn't use the former for anyone who did.

So for a friend or acquaintance who has never met my brother and/or really doesn't know him, I'd introduce her as "my sister-in-law, Susan." If I felt it was necessary, I'd mention she was my brother Joe's wife after the introduction. For a friend or acquaintance who does know my brother on a first-name basis, it's possible I'd introduce her as "Joe's wife, Susan," but I might still just call her my sister-in-law. It would depend upon the context, I think, and what information I thought the person actually needed to know.

That's something else that occurs to me, now that I think of it. My pattern of introducing people is pretty habitually to say, "Jane, this is my sister-in-law, Susan. She's married to my brother Joe," and then say, "Susan, this is my friend Jane. She belongs to that book club I told you about." Basically, it's common for me to state the relationship and name in one sentence/phrase, and add some context in another (how I know them, more details about the relationship, etc.).
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: White Lotus on October 30, 2012, 10:29:01 PM
I am with NyaCha and would use the name first.  "This is Mary Leopoldo.  Mary is married to John's (or 'my husband's' if the person didn't know him) brother, Fred Warrant."  I also like to use last names and titles, directly or by inference, where possible.  People won't remember it all, but they will remember there is something they need to ask someone about before writing her.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Betelnut on October 31, 2012, 10:42:30 AM
I too would use "sister in law."

I wish English had a way to distinguish between a sister-in-law that is married to a sibling and a sister-in-law that is your spouse's sister.  I bet other languages have that.
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Poupoune1 on October 31, 2012, 12:03:02 PM
Hi Bethelnut,

I'm French-Canadian, and we also only have only one word to designate a sister-in-law, whether she is our brother's wife, or our spouse's sister: "belle-soeur". Just wanted to let you know. :)
Title: Re: How to introduce my sister-in-law?
Post by: Betelnut on October 31, 2012, 12:35:27 PM
Hi Bethelnut,

I'm French-Canadian, and we also only have only one word to designate a sister-in-law, whether she is our brother's wife, or our spouse's sister: "belle-soeur". Just wanted to let you know. :)

Hmm, interesting.  Oh!  Welcome to the forum!