Dear Abby: Sister longs for deeper relationship with siblings

Dear Abby
Jeanne Philips

Dear Abby: I recently moved back to my hometown after being away for six years. My family is great, and we all get along. The problem is my sisters. There are three of us (all in our 40s) and a younger brother who lives out of town.

I always thought I was close to them, but after moving back, it seems I can’t break through the barrier of sister versus friend. I’d like us to be closer, get together for dinners, go shopping, etc. But we only saw each other for family get-togethers (pre-COVID), and when we talk, we discuss family matters mostly.

To see us, you would think we’re close, but it’s not the reality. I yearn for a friendship with both of them. I’d like to know their deeper thoughts and concerns, be a source of support and care and generally be viewed as a close confidant.

At the suggestion of some friends, I have tried to foster this closeness by reaching out just to say hi, inviting them over for sibling nights and making myself vulnerable in our conversations by sharing about my life with them. I have a nice circle of friends, so I know I have the ability to foster long-term friendships. What am I missing? Must I accept our relationship as is, or are there things I can try?

Jeanne Phillips

St. Louis Sister

Dear Sister: This may not be the personal rejection you seem to feel. Was your relationship with your sisters much closer before you moved away six years ago? That you relocated and they found other support systems in your absence may have something to do with this. They could also have busy lives and family responsibilities of their own and therefore be less available for the kind of activities you have in mind. It’s time to stop pushing. Accept that you are all in different stages of life than you may have been when you were younger and concentrate on allowing your friends to be the support system you crave.

Dear Abby: My husband of 20 years constantly blames everything on the political party I lean toward. He tries his best to say hurtful things about them and lure me into a fight. I try to ignore it, but it’s starting to wear on me, and our kids hear his rants as well. He has a lot of hateful feelings. He refuses to get counseling and is getting worse. I would appreciate any advice that you would be willing to give.

Mismatched in Texas

Dear Mismatched: Draw the line. Tell your husband you will no longer tolerate being the target of his verbal abuse. If he can’t calmly discuss your differences — political or otherwise — you do not want them discussed, particularly in front of the children. Offer him the “option” of counseling because it appears he has an anger problem he’s projecting onto you. But if he refuses, schedule some appointments for yourself to help you decide if you want to spend the rest of your life in a marriage like this.

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