I know firsthand: marrying into a family can be difficult. I've learned that it can be hard to blend different personalities and upbringings, and sometimes, they just won't mix, despite how much we try. It's been no different for me. While many people struggle to get along with their in-laws, I've been blessed to marry into a family who doesn't drive me completely insane. But that doesn't mean it's always been easy — especially with my husband's sister.
I've been blessed to marry into a family who doesn't drive me completely insane.
Sometimes, the relationship with my sister-in-law can get prickly. Throughout the years, I've felt like I'm always the one giving. I listen, I bite my tongue, and I give my time, my ear, and my love to her. My husband's sister relies on me often and, especially within the past two months, it's felt very depleting. Because sometimes I have worries, struggles, and problems that I want to talk about, too. And a listening ear would have been all I needed . . . but she never seems to be around to lend one.
A couple of months ago, our families came together to celebrate Easter. While the kids played, my sister-in-law and I sat down to chat. She talked endlessly about the things going on her life: her job, the kids' new daycare, and a few small problems she was dealing with. I was grateful, as always, that she trusted me enough to share her life with me. And I recognize that it takes a lot for a person to be vulnerable and share their problems with someone else, so I shared some of my insights into the situation. When I thought she was done, I tried to be open with her about something I was struggling with. But I got bulldozed — again.
We got interrupted by one of the kids, so our conversation got sidetracked a bit. I did my best to bring it back to my issue, but her troubles took over. I sat there with her and listened, but honestly, I was steamed. And over the next month, I held onto some of that resentment and allowed it to build up. I thought about our relationship and how much I give, give, give. I threw myself a giant pity party. I just wanted to be heard, but I felt that even if I screamed, she wouldn't listen.
My sister-in-law is a loving woman who simply needs me and my friendship.
But this past weekend, the kids and I went over to my sister-in-law's house again — and my perspective changed. We chatted as we always do while the kids rode bikes outside. I asked her questions about her life, and again, she didn't inquire about mine. As we were sitting there, I studied her face and her mannerisms. After she spoke, she truly waited to hear what I thought about her problems. She was genuinely seeking my advice. And it struck me that she trusted me. My sister-in-law is a loving woman who simply needs me and my friendship. Why would I resent her for that?
After that revelation, I've learned to accept our relationship for what it is. I'm honored to be the giver — of my time, my ear, and my love, regardless of what I get in return — because I know how much she values it. My resentment has evaporated, and I'm thankful that I have a sister-in-law who not only trusts me, but needs me, too. I'm glad that I somehow burst my own bubble and got off my high horse. Because I think in life, if we can just give a little more to each other without expecting to receive something in return, we'll all feel a little more loved. And that's exactly what we all need.