Welcoming A New Member Into The Family Is Hard

A growing family and growing pains

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Family is complicated.

And when the family expands it is even more complicated.

My brother is getting married this year. I am happy and sad. Happy because he seems happy and he is forging a new family. Sad because the shape and size of our family will be irrevocably changed forever. Our family is changing and that is both joyful and painful.

When my brother brought home his now fiance to meet us for the first time I had no idea she would end up as new addition to our family. I had no idea she even existed. My brother is not one to come home and tell his family what is going on his in life. I had no idea he was even seeing anyone. Let alone someone that would end up being his future wife three years later. Or that they would get engaged after two years after dating.

My relationship with her has not been easy. It has been difficult. She is not an easy person. She can be demanding, selfish and inconsiderate. And for a long time, I had some major concerns about their relationship especially after they got engaged. I could not believe they were getting married. I was shocked because it seemed too soon and so wrong. For a couple of months after the engagement, I expected them to break up. And for a while considered telling my brother my concerns about his new finance and advising him against marriage.

Something always stopped me though.

And that something was my uncertainty whether my concerns for him were genuine or whether my concerns were selfish.

Maybe my concerns were my own selfish desires?

My desire to not have her as my future sister in law and forever a part of our family. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted her for my sister in law. So I kept quiet.

And of course, something else stopped me; that I may alienate my brother. That he would not listen to my ‘advice’ and turn away from me.

I still don’t know whether my concerns are genuine. Whether the things I have seen in their relationship are a cause for concern. I think they are. And yet they may not be a sign of disaster to come. They may be something they have to work through and something the two of them will solve. I cannot predict the future.

As the wedding approaches, I have been thinking a lot about my feelings about this significant event. I am not one of those girls that dream about her wedding and thinks it is the most significant day in my life. I look forward to getting married one day but I don’t want to countdown until the day or have the picture-perfect day in mind. My brother’s fiance does. From the day she got engaged, she has been wedding mad. She is also a wedding planner so that adds a whole new layer to the madness. She booked everything within 1 month and asked her bridesmaids including me, to plan a special event leading up to the wedding. I felt a little shocked at her behaviour. She had a WhatsApp group going with about 50 messages being exchanged per day. I was horrified that she was placing so much importance and effort into this one day.

Is it the most significant day in your life?

I found myself withdrawing from the whole affair and taking a step back. Surely this was madness? Surely one day did not warrant so much attention? But in her books it did. I felt like the wedding was taking over everything. And I could not bear the thought that it would continue this way for a whole year! There was no way every family gathering would be dominated by the ‘the Wedding’. I thought it was silly. Silly and expensive.

And we fought and I almost ended up not being a bridesmaid. And I am glad I still am. Because even though she may not be the person I would choose for my brother or my sister in law she is the person he is choosing. She is going to part of my family whether I like it or not. And maybe she is the right person for him.

My life will be happier if I accept her

I have stopped hoping they will break up. I have to accept that this is it. That my position as the only girl in the family is somewhat changed. That she is here to stay. And that's ok. And it's ok if we are not super close too.

It is hard when your family changes. When people leave and when new people come in. There is a happiness to the whole affair and also a sense of sadness. Sadness that my brother will start a new family and that our family will be less significant to him. Sad that he is leaving our family to start a new one. He has been living with his fiance for some time but marriage is a new level of closeness. Marriage is the start of something new and not the end.

These are growing pains. Pains that our family is shifting and shaping and whether we like it or not a new person is coming in. Maybe that's why weddings are so full of drama. Because planning an event that will change your life is hard. And it makes sense if you want it to be perfect. It makes sense that this day must be significant because it is.

However, the wedding day will be significant whether you wear an expensive dress or not. I don’t believe in spending too much money on the wedding day. I believe in only spending enough to have a good time.

The day will change my brother and our family. And that is hard to accept.

I often wonder if it has been harder because for a long time I was so unsure about her.

She seemed to demand so much from my brother so much of his attention had to always be on her. She seemed to bring him down in subtle ways and always be angry at him for something. Even his friends commented and said it was emasculating. She was and is controlling. She has major mood swings and uses her emotions to control. She is also insecure and she felt like she did not fit in with our family for a while. She can also be manipulative.

All these things are concerning. And yet she is also kind and loving and fun. She clearly makes my brother laugh.

I hope all my concerns are nothing. I hope they are happy and I hope they have a happy life together.

I also wonder whether this whole wedding thing would have been much easier for me to accept if I had no concerns. Or whether it was inevitable.

Welcoming someone new into your family is hard whether you approve of them not. Although I do think it is harder if you don’t approve.

Something has changed though. I no longer think she is wrong for my brother. This last Christmas they seemed really happy and content. They did not fight and she did not snap at him. I was shocked. And happy and relieved.

For so long I have been dreading this wedding. Dreading being a bridesmaid and dreading offering my fake support. I could not stand that I could not be honest about my feelings. And now I am not dreading it. I am actually looking forward to it. Maybe they are right for each other. Maybe they have worked through and are working through issues in their relationship. Maybe she will be a close friend and sister in law. Maybe we can have fun together and enjoy each other’s company.

Maybe I was wrong. I would be glad to be.

I write about family, relationships and love. I write to have a voice.