“Who’s sister are you anyway?” I wanted to know from my Aunt Mel. She shared a closer resemblance to my father with her caramel brown skin tone but it was always my mother who I saw her with. It was my mother who was always sitting on her couch for hours, chatting about this, that, or the other. It was my mother who she ritually attended summer festivals downtown, shopped with on Christmas Eve, and sat hip to hip at every family gathering. And when my aunt and uncle purchased a house two doors down from our family’s house, I’m almost sure that my dad being close by had nothing to do with anybody’s excitement.
I grew up thinking this was how it was for all sisters-in-law. Even if they didn’t practically grow up together like my mom and my dad’s sister, I thought this type of sisterly closeness by women brought together in marriage was a given. Not so. It’s taken me three marriages to even come close. Honestly, I think being a third wife is playing a major role in my current sister-in-law situation. But not having a dreamy sister-in-law relationship is far better than having a nightmare of a relationship.
The nightmare in-law stories we most often hear about involve mothers and fathers-in-law, usually the mother. But these nightmares can extend to brothers and sisters-in-law too, again, usually the sisters. Sounds like a woman thing, huh? Whatever the case, when these relationships can wreak havoc within the extended family relationship and the married couple.
Can you imagine the heavy tension of family gatherings when in-laws simply don’t like each other? Not how I’d like to spend my Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any holiday gathering, for that matter. But it happens. And the married couple would have to treat the situation very delicately, respecting their spouse and still maintaining a loving relationship with their sibling.
So while I may not have the closest relationship with my sister-in-law, I’m pretty grateful that it hasn’t been the worse. In my latest novel, Reconciliation to Hell, my main character Sandra isn’t so lucky. But she’s more preoccupied with keeping her secrets from ruining her already damaged marriage.