I was fighting with my sister, and then my husband got involved, and now everyone is fighting with everyone.

This is a long story. My sister, “Julie,” and I are not on good terms. We fight a lot on the phone, in person, and especially over email. I got an email from her that said some hurtful, terrible things about me, and also said some terrible things about my husband’s brother, who lives nearby and who she saw the last time she came to visit. 

In my hurt and anger, I showed the email to my husband. He was upset that she was mean to me, but very, very offended and angry about the things she said about his brother. Despite my begging him not to, my husband wrote an email to my sister telling her not to say things like that about his brother. 

Shit really blew up after his email. Now Julie is furious at me and said I broke a sacred bond of trust between sisters, the rest of my family is angry at me for showing my husband the email, and my husband is non-apologetic and thinks he has every right to defend his brother. Am I a bad sister? Did I break a sacred bond? What do I do to fix this?

I tell my husband all kinds of secrets, without shame. I do this because it’s akin to telling a house plant or a chunk of ricotta salata. Immediately after hearing my story, he’ll have no memory of the fact that my friend Mary is pregnant from an alien who abducted her in a field, and then he’ll see Mary at the grocery store with her little green martian baby and say, “Hey, I didn’t even know you were expecting. Cute kid!” This is why I like telling him things. I get the satisfaction of sharing without the stress of worrying that he’ll let it slip to someone else.

If my husband were the type to go shooting off impassioned emails to my psychotic sister who is prone to fighting, blame, weeping, and dramatics, I wouldn’t tell him anything, not even what we’re having for dinner that night. So in that case, you were wrong. 

But you know who is more wrong? Your dolt of a husband, who took it upon himself to self-righteously email Julie to defend his brother, who didn’t even need defending, since Julie’s complaints about him weren’t going to go any further than your living room. You begged him not to say anything because you knew if he did, you were going to be in a shit load of trouble, and he didn’t care, and he did it anyway. Ugh.

You should apologize to your sister, and tell her you shouldn’t have shared her email and that you’re sorry. Then your husband should apologize to her, and to you (like 4,000 times), and to the rest of your family for starting a big fat fight when clearly everyone was already ready to rumble and just looking for an excuse. 

Your husband can’t be trusted in certain situations, and that’s something you need to accept and then act accordingly. And stop fighting with your sister. It’s not going to do any good. You’re not going to change her mind about whatever is bugging her, and fighting is stressful and pointless. Ignore her email rants, be nice to her in person, even if you want to strangle her, and limit your interaction with her as much as you can. 

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