From a DGS reader: My sister announced her engagement yesterday- to the petulant man-child she’s been living with for years. She is marrying the wrong person. She does not love this guy; he isn’t worthy.
He’s a selfish, lazy, irresponsible boy. He’s holding her back, and she’s letting him. She’s called me many times to cry and vent all her frustrations. He gaslights her. He finds subtle ways to keep her from family events. He even recently stole money from her. I can’t celebrate with her.
I admittedly laughed out loud when I read this. What woman (and maybe some men) hasn’t felt this way about a friend or a sister’s choice in partners? My friends (I don’t have a sister) were too fantastic for any man, according to me.
Your love for your sister shines through in this comment and how heartbroken you are to watch her marrying the wrong person – someone who you find repugnant. It makes total sense that you are upset and not feeling like you can celebrate this marriage.
Allow yourself the space to feel the sadness, anger, frustration, all of it. You love your sister and you want her to be with someone who treats her well and who she can partner with for a full and wonderful life. Now all you can see is a lifetime of sadness and frustration for her and it’s nearly unbearable for you to see that.
Here’s a hard truth: you can’t fix this for her. You can’t talk her out of marrying the wrong person. You can’t lead her to seeing how dysfunctional their relationship is and you can’t change this. Since those are all true, you now get to decide what you can control and how you can move forward.
You can only control you and how you show up (or not) to this situation. Your sister already knows you don’t like her fiance. She already knows that he’s a schmuck but she’s going to marry him anyway and you can’t change that.
So, do you want to be at your sister’s side? You don’t have to be. You can choose to not go to the wedding and to not be there for her throughout her engagement and wedding. You can choose that and then you can accept the fallout for that, which may be losing your sister.
You can also choose to stand by her with love and acceptance for her even if you don’t want anything to do with him. You can be present for her without trying to fix or change this but again, that is your choice.
Can you tolerate watching your sister suffer through a very painful and unhappy relationship? If not, that’s ok, you get to decide. What can you do to manage your feelings for her relationship and her soon to be husband? You can either learn to live with them or you choose to not have much to do with your sister. I can’t answer it for you but I can push you to think about how you want your future with your sister to go. She must learn her own lessons, as painful as they may be.
Watching our loved ones marrying the wrong person, being treated poorly, suffering, and losing confidence in themselves is truly devastating.
If only we could change that for them, we all would. Sadly you can’t, so how will you manage your own reactions to this, love your sister, and find a way to move forward regardless of what she decides to do? Whatever you choose, I wish you and your sister well. Your sister is lucky to have someone who loves her as much as you do.
Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D., CPC is a professional certified life and executive coach, psychologist, and professional speaker. She helps people tackle that “One day I’ll do this and then I’ll be happy” goal, today. You can reach Lisa at Lisa@lisakaplin.com or lisakaplin.com
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