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3 Ways You Can Repair a Sibling Relationship

Published:
December 19, 2023
November 13, 2023
Read this article for three tips to develop healthy adult sibling relationships, regardless of your differences and past.|Read this article for three tips to develop healthy adult sibling relationships, regardless of your differences and past.

Growing up, it was obvious that my sister and I were very different. Not only did we each fit the typical first-child and second-child molds, we also had different kinds of friends, different athletic abilities, and different interests. As we grew into adulthood, those differences became deeper and broader through varying political, religious, and social tendencies as well. 

It would have been easy to look at our differences, which often caused feuds and awkward tension, and grow distant from one another or give up on our relationship entirely. In a time where people’s opinions are louder and more divisive than ever, fighting for any relationship is challenging. Many believe that any opposing voice to your own has no place in your life. But I feel this misses what it means to truly love another, and doubts the power of God’s love and grace in healing broken relationships.

Many things ultimately kept my sister and me from that fate of lost sisterhood, all flowing from the grace, love, and mercy of God. We lost our father when we were in high school, and our “family unit” of three, as my mother likes to refer to it, was all we had for holidays, family gatherings, and general everyday support. I dove deep into my Catholic faith and counseling, and sought to deepen and heal my relationships with my family as I was being healed myself. She started a journey of physical and emotional healing as well that led her to be more confident in herself and more passionate about living a better life.

But I feel it was really when I got married and had kids, and she finished moving around and settled in her current job and location, that things started to change. There were a handful of realizations that led us to rebuild our relationship and to create a mature version of sisterhood where we could support one another in the midst of our differences. If you’re in the same position with a sibling, here’s what helped us.

Find what you do have in common and lean into it.

After daily antibiotics led to chronic skin issues in college, my sister pursued holistic and functional medicine to try to heal her gut. This journey led her to form a new worldview based on the root causes of disease and what is truly good for nourishing our whole person. Around the same time, I was having trouble getting pregnant and was diagnosed with low progesterone. I was opened to a similar world, growing in my understanding of how toxins in our environment can shape our hormonal health. Life changes and supplementation allowed me to conceive, and I am now pregnant with my third child.

These changes in our lives opened a door to sharing more in common than we ever have before when it comes to a particular worldview. It’s allowed us to bond and grow together over healthier ways of nourishing our bodies, doctors and blood work, and what our hopes are for us and our family’s futures. We found something we could both be passionate about together, and it has given us the opportunity to really dive deep into what we both find important.

For you, it might be a sport you both play, a new way to make coffee, homebrewing, reading the same genre, outdoor adventures — the possibilities are endless. But for someone to know that you love and care about them, they need to know that you can share in something that they feel deeply about. 

Support and celebrate in the other what you can, and know it’s okay to disagree.

I am a devout Catholic. That comes with its own set of ideologies and beliefs about what is good and true. For a while, I thought I needed to make sure everyone around me agreed with me, no matter the cost. But it became clear the older we got that my sister was forming her own very different worldview and that my well-developed arguments (and subtle guilt trips) weren’t helping our relationship.

It was only when I stopped shoving my ideas down her throat and instead just tried to love her and have a relationship with her that the walls started to come down and we were able to talk about real things. We have since had many late-night chats about the meaning of life — always searching, (almost) never forcing. She knows where I stand on most issues, and I know where she stands on many as well. But we have both decided to recognize that it’s okay to disagree and that our love speaks louder than our differences.

We both still share our beliefs and make it known where our opinions stand, as it’s important to have that freedom in a relationship. But instead of making it an imposition on the other, it is an opportunity to ponder and ask the other questions. And it is in this safe space that we can journey together as we discover the depths of what is objectively true and simultaneously grow in our relationship.

Remember that loving means willing the good of the other.

I want the very best for my sister. And I know she wants the very best for me, too. But showing that through our words and actions is so important.. In a relationship where two people find themselves disagreeing, it can be easy to focus on where you are not on the same page rather than seeking out opportunities to show the other that you love them. This can come in many forms: phone calls and texts, sharing random life updates, sending pictures of your kids or dogs, reading a book together, making time to see one another. 

To the degree that both parties are willing, it’s also vital to make space for healing from past hurts in your own relationship — acknowledge them, apologize for them, take responsibility for them. Know that the other party might not be ready to take those same steps, but trust that trying to build a relationship and show you love the other might open up space for that to come later.

My sister and I are still growing and still have our moments of tension where we wish the other saw things the way we did. But even in these moments, the steps we are taking to try and love each other are opening doors for depth and real friendship within our relationship. And at the end of the day, there is trust there that the other truly loves us, differences and all.

Creators:
Claire Collins
Published:
December 19, 2023
November 13, 2023
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