When my older brother was getting married, I never factored in having in-laws or whether I would fit in with my sister-in-law versus my own siblings. I didn’t have any preconceived notions at all about what having in-laws would be like—not outside of when I married into someone else’s family. And it certainly never dawned on me that the spouse my brother chose would actually be chosen for me—let me tell it…
I don’t know if I ever truly felt like I fit in with my entire family. Being the middle child of five, I certainly didn’t always feel like there was a space for me with my siblings. I grew up wanting to do the things I liked, and because I wanted to go left when everyone else went right, it sort of put a stain on me. I was often told I was too impatient, too impetuous, and had no focus. It felt as though no one understood me or was even willing to accept that I was who I was—that one day Iwould grow through the things people didn’t understand and eventually find my footing. No one, that is, until someone married into my family and changed my entire perspective on sibling relationships and sisterhood.
My sister-in-law is Somali and comes from a very family-centered culture that welcomed me with open arms. When my family arrived in London, her family showed us the most amazing hospitality. Instead of allowing us to stay in a hotel, they put us up in an entire apartment, cooked for us, and even left us groceries. It was something I had never seen before, and it felt so much like a home away from home. My sister-in-law is a light. Her style, her candor, and her overall spirit were just what I needed when she entered my family. I needed someone’s kindness, not their ridicule, and she gave that to me right off the bat.
The most important element of the sisterhood my sister-in-law and I built together was getting to know each other as individuals. I wanted to learn about her outside of being my brother’s wife—more like we were friends, and I wanted her to get to know me outside of whatever hearsay was in the air or may have creeped into her conversations with others. These are the things I feel we do best, that really allowed our relationship to flourish:
- We keep her marriage and our sisterhood separate.
- We take time to know each other on a deeper level without preconceived notions or narratives.
- We reciprocate—time, care, and gift-giving. We have similar love languages, and I think that’s important to know even in platonic relationships.
- We don’t lie to each other even at hard moments.
- We know how to let it breathe, giving each other space when it’s needed and getting closer when it’s needed.
- We don’t act like experts. There’s no ‘know-it-all’ in our duo. We allow each other to make mistakes, and we learn together.
Is the relationship I have with my sister-in-law perfect? Um…it’s real close, lol, but we are human and have learned to accept each other’s imperfections too. I believe showing up for each other in these ways can help inform (and improve) any relationship, and everyone is better as a result!
I always envied other women’s relationships with their sisters, things like being able to go on trips together or even just hang out. I’d never experienced that in my own life, but that’s changed. Thanks to my sister-in-law, now it’s all love.Leave a Comment