The Daily Telegraph - Saturday


Dear Richard


I’m sorry I upset my sister in a video call, but I’m still furious with her

My sister and I are currently sorting out some complicate­d stuff to do with our father’s estate. Recently we had to talk over some tasks that needed doing in an online video call. She had failed to supply some figures I needed to do my half of the task. This was at the end of a hard work day and I might have been a little gentler, but the situation had to be remedied, and quickly.

Unexpected­ly, she started crying. I apologised and we ended the call in a loving way, or so I thought. Then the next day she messaged me to say she had had a sleepless night and was taking the day off work with a migraine. I apologised again, but of course I had to take on the job she hadn’t done properly, in addition to my other family and work tasks for the day.

Things are back to normal now, and we’ve had some calm and friendly exchanges. But I can’t bear the thought that she thinks I am some kind of monster, and I also don’t quite understand why it hit her so hard. I am also at a loss as to why she saw fit to tell me about it, unless she wanted me to feel bad – in which case, job done!

At work we have a mechanism for exploring difficult relationsh­ips but there’s no Performanc­e Review process for siblings. Should I talk to her about this? And

Qhow can I let her know I’m sorry for making her feel bad, while also being honest about how cross it has made me?

– Anon, via email

Dear Anon A

Let’s take stock here. Your sister already knows you were annoyed with her over her original slip-up, and you’ve subsequent­ly apologised for upsetting her with the angry way you reacted. So really, the only outstandin­g issue now is your resentment that she contrived to make you feel guilty about her sleepless night afterwards.

There are rarely perfect endings to family squabbles like this one: no negotiated Parthian shot apiece; no neat balancing in the weighing scales of apportione­d blame. Most quarrels end messily and the trick is to be able to swallow any lingering injustice or injured pride and move on.

That’s what I believe you should do in this case. In fact you’ve pretty much done it already, haven’t you? You say you’re having calm and friendly exchanges with your sister again. Build on those. I’m not sure what you hope to achieve by prodding and poking at a comparativ­ely superficia­l wound that sounds to me as if it’s healing nicely, even if it is still a bit tender.

In any case, I presume there remains work to be done on sorting out your father’s estate. You should move forward with that and resist making a U-turn straight back into trouble. Because that’s all you’ll get.

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