This whole situation isn’t my business and I realize that someone on the outside never knows the whole story of what goes on in a relationship. But even so I cannot stop feeling shocked and sad about my SIL’s (husband’s sister) situation.

She and her husband both have MBAs. They both work in the same high-earning, demanding field. For as long as I’ve known them, they have both been very career-oriented and ambitious. They also have an infant. You may have an idea of where this is going.

She has cut back on her work hours a lot since the baby was born. Her mother has done the same. All of the descriptors above apply to her as well, but she has been leaving work early every night to help with the baby because my SIL is doing it alone. Her husband has ramped up his hours at work considerably since the baby came (he had already been working six day a week). Whenever we see her it is the same story: it’s like this for a short-term project that’s going to end in the next couple of months. But the goal posts keep moving, another project comes up, and it gets worse. She makes plans to see family and friends all weekend every weekend because she gets depressed sitting at home alone with the baby. She’s taking the baby on vacation alone soon. Talking to her, I realized that she conceptualizes her husband as “gone”— he’s not out of town/deployed/estranged/etc., but he may as well be.

We saw my in-laws this weekend, and apparently when my SIL goes away for a work trip (after her husband’s big project is over), her parents will be taking the baby. Not coming over to help out. Taking. And everyone— the in-laws, my SIL— seems remarkably sanguine about the situation. My husband, who is as shocked as I am, said that he thinks she is starting to get fed up based on a couple of comments she made to him. And maybe it is a case of her and her parents not wanting to say anything negative about her husband in front of me, a relative outsider (which is pretty decent of them if it’ the case, I guess. I wouldn’t want them talking shit about me to him).

I just want to shake her and say “This in’t 1950! It doesn’t have to be this way! You deserve better!” She makes half their income and she has always talked about how important her career is to her! I cannot fathom why anybody thinks it’s ok for him to treat her and their child like this. I’m going to bite my tongue and not say anything because I don’t know her that well and she’s no dummy— she knows feminism happened, she knows this isn’t how it has to be, she has counter-examples all around her. But, god, I hope she isn’t putting up with this without a fight.