I’m a man, 32, who was mostly raised by my sister because our parents were alcoholics. They couldn’t have more kids and didn’t want them. My sister was tall, strong and athletic (still is). She taught me to skate, play hockey, shoot hoops, organize my homework and aim for a good education.
I’m grateful for it all. Today, I’m married to the woman I love, and father of our two children, a boy, eight, and a girl, six.
My sister loves her niece and nephew, yet that’s the only problem within my family. (Both grandparents passed away).
Sadly, my sister also couldn’t bear children. She considered adopting but her partner wasn’t enthused about it.
For me, it’s natural that my sister calls sometimes to say she’s able to drop by the kids’ school, take them for a treat, and drive them home.
But for my wife, who has a job, it sometimes feels like an intrusion on her time alone with our children.
Also, my son has heard stories from his aunt about the “great hockey player” I became under her athletic tutoring (she exaggerates). However, this upsets my wife who feels that hockey currently requires too much time from doing his schoolwork and just being with friends.
I don’t want these differences to come between my wife and my sister. I love them both very differently and don’t want either to feel hurt, distanced, or wronged.
Caught Between Two Women
Your sister bravely chose the parenting role that protected you from your parents’ alcoholism. That was then. Today, she’s still important as family and an involved caring relative.
But the mother of your children shares the main role with you, deciding what’s best for the kids. So, when issues arise, you two should agree on your response.
Both of you can together decide when to invite your sister and her partner to visit with your family. However, it’s great if she offers her time to be with the children, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your (or your wife’s) plans.
Help your wife see that your sister only wants to be a part of the family, when possible. She isn’t trying to cause tension.
But remember that your wife needs to feel your own emotional expression of the romantic love you have for her which is very different from that for the children and for your sister.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding “A Punishing Affair” (July 5):
“This gentleman and his wife need to come clean to their daughters a.s.a.p. Otherwise, they will hear the scuttlebutt from neighbourhood gossips, relatives or their friends.
“They don’t need to go into the nitty-gritty details, but the simple truth: The wife had an affair with a colleague and was fired.
“The girls may (as most do) likely be siding with their mother because, I’m assuming, the father left the home. So, their mother would appear the ‘injured’ party. This is not to lay blame, but to set the record straight.
“With regard to the firing, unless his ex-wife was in a position of power over ‘the boyfriend,’ and she coerced him into a sexual affair, she should not have been fired if ‘the boyfriend’ was allowed to stay.
“I suspect the boyfriend had a more powerful position in the company, and the company is trying to save face. This isn’t just a matter of ‘gender discrimination’ but of justice.
“Since the writer feels sorry for his ex-wife, he should tell her to immediately seek legal counsel to determine next steps. At the very least, she deserves financial compensation.”
FEEDBACK Reader’s further response regarding Negative Nellie (Aug. 3):
Reader – “Negative Nellie isn’t negative, she's just tired of being ‘told’ what to do and what to think. She's tuned her husband out, because he's domineering and doesn't know it.
“He needs to be more diplomatic.
‘Rather than tell his wife, ‘We need to figure out where your mom needs to move... this is what I think is the best place.’
“He should engage his wife in the discussion, e.g., ‘let's make a ‘pros and cons’ list of places your mom could stay, so when the time comes, we'll be better prepared.’ (Note: he didn’t mention Mom's input).
‘Instead of suggesting ‘a new restaurant’ he should ask his wife if any of her friends have been there, what she’s heard about it, and if it's somewhere she'd like to try.
“They both need more two-way communication.”
Tip of the day:
A close relationship with a sibling is not the same as an emotionally romantic relationship with a spouse.