How can I forge a friendship with my sister in law? We are such different people and we come from very different backgrounds. If it weren't for our husbands, we probably wouldn't be friends, but I'd really like to get closer to her because she's a lovely person and I feel that family is important.
We are on good terms, but we're just not very close. Do you think that I should start calling her more often? Should I try and reach out a few times and see where it naturally goes from there? Family Forward Fiona
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Dear Family Forward Fiona
I think this is a great idea and one relationship that will be worth putting in a little extra effort into. It can make holidays and get-togethers easier, more pleasant, and actually something that you look forward to. I am sure your husband will also be extra appreciative.
I know that you might be very different people, but now that you share the same family I am willing to bet that you have a lot more in common than you think. Your husbands, or she and your husband, were also cut from the same cloth, so when in doubt, you can always inquire more about the way things were done in their home growing up.
Here are a few suggestions to help put the relationship in motion:
- Always make her feel welcome. She is part of your family now, and don't make her feel as though she is a guest in her brother, or brother-in-laws house.
- Find out what her interests are and make an effort to talk about how she spends her free time.
- Try and carve out some time so you can be alone together. Do an activity, go for a walk/drive. Just something so you can get in a quality conversation from time to time.
- Don't pry. Let her talk to you about sensitive or personal topics. Would you want someone prying into your life and passing judgement?
- Try and focus on the positive when talking to your husband about her. If there are things that you don't like about her or her children, don't harp on them. It's not constructive and isn't going to make him feel good.
- If she likes to make sarcastic remarks at your expense, try your best to let them go. Walk away and don't stir the pot. See how you feel in a few days and then decide how you can best handle the situation.
- If she is much younger than you are, try to be her friend - not her parent. Let her know that no question is too small or too silly to come to you with.
- If she's going through something difficult and only wants to talk to your husband about it, that's ok. If they are brother and sister they've grown up together and have a special bond. Don't push it; in time hopefully she will learn to trust you and see you as her sister.
Try and remember that lasting relationships don't form overnight. They take time and patience to grow. Good luck.