The sister-in-law dilemma: how to get along with someone you don’t even know
One thing many brides don’t realize is that when they tie the knot with their new husband, they are also tying the knot with his family. Think about all the family events and milestones still to come. At each of those events his family will be there. This may be an exciting thought to you, or this may be the most dreadful thing you can imagine. His family? There? All the time? But the very nature of family is that you can’t escape them. You can try, of course, but they will always find you, drag you out from under your rock and make you sing “Happy Birthday” to your 5 year old niece.
So that’s families. But let’s dig a little closer to home. Your fiancé, the love of your life, has a sister, possibly the same age as you, give or take a couple of years. You’ve met your fiancés sister various times and no matter how you look at it, you can’t imagine having to feign friendliness to her for the rest of your life. You. Just. Can’t. Imagine. It. You might not even dislike her, but that’s not even the point, is it? The point is how will you survive her company when you have zero in common?
Each situation must be treated a little differently when it comes to handling your new sister-in-law. However, to help you gain an understanding of the other side, here are some things your new sister-in-law might be going through. Seeing as you are marrying her brother, she may be feeling some unexplained resentment towards you for taking her brother away (providing, of course, that she is on good terms with him). If she is still single, she may also be feeling traces of jealousy at watching the happiness you and fiancé share. She may also be feeling inadequate if she feels as if you have more going for youself than she does. If your sister-in-law is feeling any of this, it’s only natural for her feelings to be expressed as hostility towards you.
The only thing you can do to help matters is to try to be as sensitive as you can with your sister-in-law. Recognize that her actions and behaviour are probably less about you and more about what she is going through personally watching you marry her brother. It’s not necessary for you to be buddy-buddy with your sister-in-law, but it is important for everyone’s sake that the two of you are warm and accepting of each other. Don’t expect things to fall into place from the get-go, either. Relationships take time – lots of it. Let time run its course and don’t try to race against the clock by pushing relationships that need to evolve by themselves. If you really find yourself struggling to make conversation with your new sister-in-law, give it a rest and try again another day. There’s nothing worse (not to mention, more exhausting!) than a bride overeager to please everyone all at once.
But what’s the solution to this so-called dilemma?, You may be wondering. The solution is, quite simply, letting things be. Things have a way of slowly working themselves out if you give them time and breathing space. Your sister-in-law needs some space of her own in all of this. Give her time to come around to the idea of you marrying her brother, and maybe – maybe – in a year or two from now she’ll be coming to you for advice. Or at the very least to borrow your best party dress!