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You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your relatives

January 11, 2006

Something that has been weighing on my mind since my return home is how strongly I dislike my sister-in-law. This wasn’t something that changed over the course of my visit, rather, it was emphasized as I spent time around her for the week that I was visiting my family.

I never have quite understood my brother’s relationship with this girl. He’s dated her for years, on and off through high school and they married just over a year ago at the ripe old age of 18. Being what I consider a too-young bride myself at 22, I took issue with this union, considering that I was in the middle of trying to decide whether or not to divorce my husband when news of the engagement came. I didn’t want my brother making the same mistake that I did of marrying young and marrying the wrong person.

Their relationship has always been resplendent with drama. How my brother puts up with it is beyond me. The drama exhausts me and I live two states away. To illustrate how bad it was even then, at their wedding shower the night before their wedding, we were all making bets with each other on how long the marriage would last. Some people almost won the bet when they “broke up” shortly following the shower, and again a few months later when they were forced to move back in with my parents due to financial reasons, and within a week, she moved out.

I still don’t have all of the details of that incident, but what I do know disturbs me. She cheated on my brother during their time apart, and when they got back together, she tried to spin it that she was raped. Something that we all find odd (with the exception of my brother) is that she refused to report it, or even let my brother or brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) go after the guy.

In addition, this girl is a selfish, immature brat. My sister had said a few months back that the only reason my brother stays is because every time he threatens to leave, she threatens suicide. Being a trained suicide counselor, I’m sure her words are empty threats used to get attention or sympathy. My response was that she is too selfish to actually go through with it, as she can’t be the center of attention when she’s dead. She even had the gall to say to my face that she didn’t like the purse I got her for Christmas until she found out that it was a “real designer, not some cheap Target purse.”

I had the luxury of spending an afternoon hanging out with my brother, just the two of us, while I was there. Being seven years apart in age, this isn’t something we had ever done in our lives. I talked to him about the situation he’s in and he shared with me how unhappy he is and how he doesn’t want it to last. It hurt me to hear him actually confirm the things that we’ve all felt were true. What disturbed me most was finding out how he unwillingly ended up on the fast track to marriage.

For all of you couples that cohabitated before marriage, you will be familiar with the constant pressures from friends and family of tying the knot and “making it right” just because you live together. Well, my brother turned 18 in July of 2004 and, like my sister, promptly moved out of my parents’ house that day. He chose to move in with his girlfriend, as he didn’t really have any other place to go, and they thought that it made sense since they’d been dating a while. Sooner than his change of address card was on file with the post office, her family started putting the pressure on them to get married.

Within a month, she came home from visiting her mom and presented him with her grandmother’s wedding ring, and she told him that her mom wanted him to give it to her as an engagement ring. So she handed it to him, and he handed it back to her and said, “here.” And she returned to her family with news that she was engaged. It snowballed from there, with her coming home a few weeks later having purchased a wedding dress, and the invitations went out shortly thereafter (I never did receive an “official” invite). And before he could blink, my brother was getting married, just over three months after his 18th birthday, on what was the sixth anniversary of when my ex and I began dating. Needless to say, it was a very emotional day for me, despite being in max hangover mode (the wedding was in Vegas, and that should fill in all the necessary blanks for anyone that knows me well enough).

He told me that at the time, he was thinking that he would like to marry her, eventually, but at that exact point in his life, he knew he wasn’t ready. He didn’t want to be married because he still had so many personal goals to achieve. At that point in his life, he was focusing on finishing high school, as he had dropped out a couple of times and had committed to going back. He did, the semester following the wedding.

And then a few months later, she decided that she wanted to go to beauty school and that he would have to pay for it. So he dropped out, yet again. He still wants a diploma, as he feels that a GED is the cheap way out, but he can’t afford to support her, pay for her school, and go to school himself, so he chose to make the sacrifice and deeply regrets it. Especially because she’s horrible at the cosmetology thing. She practiced on my mom, and giving her a chemical burn so bad her hair almost fell out, and my sister, leaving her with a bald spot after burning off a section of her hair with a hot comb. We’ll all be amazed if she even finishes though, she is that fickle. She’s never kept a job longer than two months in her life, we doubt that this is much more than a passing phase as well. The sad thing is, my brother is the one losing out because of it.

I honestly think that this is eating away at me much deeper than my sister’s first pregnancy did, and I’m not sure what to do about it. I was open and honest with him about my experience and hoped that he could avoid the pain of divorce, but also reiterated that he needed to do what he felt was best for him. No matter what he chooses, I know that we will all be supportive of him. I just wish that I could take away my baby brother’s pain.

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