'My sister-in-law ruined my marriage at a New Year’s Eve party'

"She told one bad joke and a few weeks later, I was served with divorce papers."

My sister-in-law Abby is one of those huge personalities. She walks into a room and you can’t miss her. She makes a huge entrance both with her voice and also her clothing, which is usually very skimpy.

She is incredibly entertaining but, as I’ve learnt she can also be very dangerous.

What happened on New Year’s Eve five years ago was 100% my fault – it was my fault for telling her a joke I’d made years ago, before I was married, about my husband. Or, more precisely, about the size of his penis. And it was my fault for trusting her.

So we hosted a New Year’s party at our new apartment which was overlooking Sydney harbour. You could see the Harbour Bridge from our bedroom which is why we made it the party room – perfect for the fireworks. The first part of the evening was great and pretty low key but by the time Abby turned up at 10pm she was already absolutely rolling drunk.

A perfect view for an awful night. Image: iStock.

A perfect view for an awful night. Image: iStock.

The fireworks were not the only things going off that night

For the first hour or so she was great, really fun, the life of the party and she’s always hilarious on the dance floor. She’s been known to do the occasional striptease or at least remove her top and prance around in her bra. People have said in the past that it’s not a party until Abby strips off.

Normal rules apply. Discipline the child who stutters just as you do your other children and just as you would if he didn’t stutter.

Well for this party she kept her clothes on but her mouth was in fine form. She insulted a friend of mine by commenting on her ‘fish lips’, she told another friend that she looked like she was related to a character on Pirates of the Caribbean (dark eyeliner, long black hair) and then I recall seeing her pouring half a packet of chips directly into her mouth from the packet.

But the drama came later

'This Christmas was a mess.' Image: iStock.

'This Christmas was a mess.' Image: iStock.

It was after midnight and many of our guests had gone. It was just myself, my husband Henry, Abby and her husband, and about three other people.

Henry said something about wanting to get to bed because he was getting up early for a surf and Abby started making jokes about how Henry just wanted to get into bed so he could have sex with me.

The joke that ruined everything

I said, "I think he’s a bit beyond that tonight". I was referring to the fact that Henry was drunk as well as tired. But my sister in law hit back with a quip about Henry’s ‘weeny cocktail sausage’ and then there was silence.

You see, I had said to Abby some time ago when I’d had too much to drink that my husband had a very small penis. I know I never should have said this, especially not to his sister, but I never expected her to blurt it out like that.

Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, "You're great," try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, "Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was hard, and I really liked your patience."

My brother-in-law changed the subject quickly but when our guests left, Henry gave me the cold shoulder.

A few weeks later, I was served with divorce papers

I really believe Abby’s joke was the trigger for that. Yes, our marriage had problems but that personal joke was clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It’s never been mentioned again and I feel a lot of regret about it – I also regret I never addressed it again.

I should have explained to Henry that it was a joke that I was very sorry about. I know it’s not too late to tell him how sorry I am and one day I will. But that was the worst New Year’s Eve of my life.

What you need to know about your pre-nup


What you need to know about your pre-nup