Couple kissing 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Ayelet writes with the following question: “I have an amazing younger
sister and we were always very close. About a year ago she got married
to a guy she hardly knew and is six years her elder. Ever since they got
together it feels like the sister I once knew and loved is gone.
Instead I got a brother in law who thinks he’s always right, doesn’t
respect my feelings and thoughts, and mostly generates an unpleasant
atmosphere whenever he’s around. My sister refuses to acknowledge these
things and she often sides with him, even when it’s obvious that he’s in
the wrong. Lately the situation has become unbearable and I spend most
of our time together arguing with her. I love my sister to bits and hate
to think we might never go back to being close again. Is there anything
I can do to fix things between us?”
The famous saying,
“You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family,” comes to mind. At some
point, your siblings are going to make a choice that will
bring some new family members into your life. You may be very fortunate
and receive a new “brother” or “sister”, but they might also choose
someone you won’t like one bit.
There are a few different ways people react in such a situation.Denying the situation
are those who will say that the fact that their sibling has added another person to
their life doesn’t matter. They will say that they
can still keep the communication going, ignoring that they think the
sibling has made a tremendous mistake in picking a life partner. They
will invite the sister to one-on-one get-togethers, buy gifts for the
kids and do their best avoiding her partner at family gatherings.
in denial as to the existence of a new family member is only really
possible if you rarely get to meet your sibling. Even so, ignoring such
an important part of her life might not go so unnoticed. Reducing the
frequency with which you meet them as a family might work as a better
option in this case, if you feel you really can’t accept him as part
your life.Make her see the light
option is to have an open conversation with your sister about her
partner. You can let her know exactly what you think of her new partner,
or a slightly gentler version of that. This could serve as a great
outlet for your bad feelings. Bear in mind, though, that you’re probably
not going to convince her to see her partner through your eyes. She
probably won’t appreciate some of the things you have to say about him.
This might result, therefore, in the premature death of your
relationship with her.
Befriend your foe
much nicer to be surrounded by friends than by foes. Make a conscious
decision to do all you can to befriend your sister’s partner. You can
try finding out what you have in common with him and have that as the
basis for your conversations with him. For example, you might both be
very interested in cooking. Try asking for his advice in cooking or
discuss your latest honey cake with him. Plan for some quality time with
him, if possible based on something you have in common or something you
both define as “fun.” For example, if you might both have a similar
taste in music, invite him to a concert. Focusing on what you have in
common may generate some positive feelings in you towards him. This will
allow you to maintain a warm and loving relationship with your sister
and her entire family.
This is not a magic solution and your
brother-in-law might not want play along. In that case, you’ll at least
know you did your best to resolve things. There might be some comfort in
knowing that.Shimrit Nothman
has a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution and believes that like
charity, conflict resolution begins at home. If you have any questions
for Shimrit, please use the comments section below or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.This column is brought to you as general information only and should not be a replacement for professional advice.