If you guys don’t know we are going to have to invent one.

How do you describe your relationship when you are related because your siblings married each other?

a) Sisters-in-law-in-law?It's Complicated

b) Sisters-in-law once removed?

c) Second sisters-in-law?

d) Just let it go, Sarah. You guys aren’t really related.


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  1. Are you really “related”? I once dated a guy that insisted that we were related to his sister’s husband’s family, and I didn’t think we were.

    i.e.- We had to go out with his brother-in-law’s sister because she was “family.” I said he was weird.

    We broke up.

  2. I’ve wondered this because of my sister’s significant other. We’re pretty close to his sister and we can never figure out how to explain the relationship. Of course, there is the added level of confusion that my sister and her significant other aren’t married (although they might as well be).

  3. In our family you’re not. You’re extended family in that you hang out from time to time but there’s no definition of relationship.

    Less complicated to just be friends.

  4. If I were in your shoes, I’d say that so-and-so is “my [sister/brother]’s ____-in-law”, but I don’t think you’re actually related to that person, per se.

    In my (gigantic) extended family we have solved a similar problem in my generation by just calling everyone “cousints” (the t is not a typo, it is supposed to be there). I have my cousins, my cousins’ spouses, and my cousins’ children, and there are once-removeds and 2nds and WHATEVER, we call them all cousints. At current count I have 74 cousints (62 on one side, 12 on the other).

  5. yammeringon says:

    I once wondered that about the adult children of my father’s live-in girlfriend. I was expected to buy them birthday/Christmas gifts and hang out with them on holidays, but why again (I was an adult as well at the time we first met)? Fortunately, the two of them eventually got married and I can now call them step-brothers. The confusing thing is that stepbrother the elder is getting married. His fiancee invited my aunts, who are married to my biological uncles, to her bridal shower and was offended when they didn’t turn up. I was confused – so these women are married to the brothers of her stepfather-in-law-to-be and they’re family, how, exactly? (my dad and her fiancee are not.close.at.all, by the way – simmering hatred and resentment controlled only by a desire to not get yelled at by their wife/mother would best describe their mutual feelings)

    I get confused beyond immediate family. If you like her, she’s a friend. If not, she’s not on your radar.

  6. I call it “sister-in-law”. I do the same thing with my husband’s cousin’s wife. She’s my cousin. Or for my stepdad’s brother’s wife’s kids – they are my cousins. Life is too damn short to be trying to explain that shit.

  7. American English doesn’t have a good word for it, or for most relationships outside the nuclear family. Bengali’s fantastic for this sort of thing. There are 10 terms for cousin. They incorporate the gender of the cousin, as well as how their parent is related to yours.

    Your husband’s brother’s wife? That’s your “bhabi”, of course! Husband’s sister? “Nonod”.

    There’s an entire literature out there on kinship terms. English is painfully lacking. :)

  8. You can call her a sister in law, if it seems wrong you can qualify by saying “not by blood”

  9. that depends on whether you are trying to decide how to introduce them or whether sex with them is incest.

  10. Our situation is fun to describe to others – my brother is married to my husband’s sister so I tell people that my brother is also my brother-in-law :)

  11. Personally, I like option A.

  12. When I first read that I thought you meant that your siblings had married each other. Then I thought, Man, she really is from Florida.

  13. I have a “cousin” who was my Uncle’s stepson – but then my Uncle divorced his mother.

    My Uncle doesn’t communicate with him any longer, but our family has somewhat adopted him (and his family). We haven’t figured out what to call them, either…

  14. I’ll be honest, was a little confused by the ‘siblings marrying each other thing’ but in my fam all of my cousins and their spouses are the ‘cousins’, their kids are ‘nieces and nephews’ and to my kids are ‘aunt and uncle’. In laws are in laws – we don’t differentiate unless they are siblings of the in laws then they are just friends.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter – we adopt everyone.

  15. My head hurts. MY dad’s brother married my mom’s sister. Is that what you are talking about?

  16. Who is married to whom? Your question is painfully lacking in details. You could just go with introducing the person as your child’s future spouse, and when the person asks which child, you say “both”

  17. Right, I get this all the time. I say “nephew-in-law” and “sister-in-law-squared” wrt my brother-in-law’s kids and wife, or “cousin-in-law” wrt my cousin’s husband, etc. Everybody seems to get it. However I shy away from “step-brother-in-law” for my stepsister’s husband and just say Bill.

  18. My brother married my best friend’s sister — we all grew up together. Due to the fact that our siblings are married to each other, I consider her more officially family than I did before. We call our kids cousins even though technically they only share a cousin (my brother’s child). My parents are now both (recently with my father) dead. Her parent have essentially adopted my family and we are now in their Christmas letter and her mom identified me as a daughter in law on facebook which feels great. I don’t often put a term to our relationship, i guess when I do I use sister in law.

  19. My mother married my dad and my dad`s sister married my mother`s brother.

    I just tell everyone we`re from Saskatchewan, and they nod knowingly.

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