Sisters’ conflict goes way back
: My sister purposefully missed my wedding. We’re very close sometimes, but she becomes distant when I don’t call or return her calls within a week.
I’m a teacher, early 50s, she works for her husband, volunteers for the church, or is busy with her grandchildren.
In summer, we have long conversations up to three times weekly.
Therefore, if she calls when I’m working on school paperwork, or busy with my family, I reply with a text or social media message.
I wait for time to have a quality conversation with her.
But she’ll become angry, we’ll argue, and not speak until the next birthday or holiday.
This has happened twice a year for the past four years.
The last time, I firmly but lovingly explained that I’d no longer join these arguments, gave my reasons for being busy, and apologized for hurting her feelings.
She didn’t accept my answer and we stopped talking for two months.
Meanwhile, my fiancè of 10 years and I set a wedding date for a month ahead - the best time regarding our jobs.
I contacted her to let her know that I was sorry about the distance between us and missed her. I said that I’d be having a small intimate wedding in a month and would like her to attend.
She stated that I was rude to plan a wedding with such short notice and she’d be visiting family in a nearby town. I saved a spot for her anyway and told her so.
She didn’t come to my wedding. Her Facebook posts showed that she’d stayed at home.
I’m hurt. She doesn’t seem to respect my time or believe that I’m not intentionally hurting her.
She didn’t support me during one of the most special times of my life.
I’m torn whether I should contact her to resolve our differences.
Though I have supportive close friends, she’s my only family left, other than my children.
Part of me thinks I should forgive, forget, and maintain minimal contact with her.
Yet, I feel that she’s very controlling, and unsupportive. I don’t want to continue to be sucked into a toxic relationship.
— Forgive or Give Up
A: Her absence was an over the-top protest and punishment. She’s needy of your attention, retaliates when she doesn’t get it.
You understandably feel it’s the last straw.
But I suspect the pattern goes way back and there’s insecurity driving it (e.g. her feeling that you don’t think her life is as important as yours).
She didn’t buy your reasons for delaying call-backs. Your short-notice wedding was perceived as inconsiderate of her.
Is this dynamic likely to change? Not a lot. But will you be happy with no sibling relationship at all? Not likely.
And yet you’ve been able to have fulsome conversations fairly regularly, so there’s still a bond and things to share.
Me? Despite the hurt, I’d err one last time on the side of forgiving. Others wouldn’t. But from your letter, I think you wouldn’t feel right giving up on her.
Try again. You’ll know soon enough if this truly becomes toxic and you can make a second decision then.
: My friend asked me to drive her to another city to see her child’s father. I agreed.
She’d asked me to stay for the weekend, I said yes. Once there, I dropped her off at her designation and returned home.
On my way, we were texting and I kept telling her that I was driving home.
I soon noticed our friendship became awkward. She finally told me she felt betrayed that I left her in the city. She thought I was joking when I messaged I was driving home.
Now, she only says Hi, then walks away.
Should I just give up on the friendship?
— No Big Deal?
A: First I’m confronting your bigger problem – continuously texting while driving, even on a fast-moving highway.
You’re a danger to many, as well as yourself, yet think nothing of it.
It’s an even bigger “deal” than leaving your friend behind.
Answer: You’ve already lost her.
TIP OF THE DAY
Frequent arguments between adult sisters often have a mutual history of hurt feelings and disappointments.