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How do I establish healthy boundaries with my sister without risking another estrangement

Tagged as: Age differences, Big Questions, Family, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (3 February 2018) 5 Answers - (Newest, 6 February 2018)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

Hi I need some advice on a tough situation. I will start from the beginning. I am 30 and my sister is 36.

She didn't speak to me for 12 years which I thought was because of a really silly argument. in actual fact i found out it was because my mother had told some ridiculously bad Lies about me and made me out to be a monster. she also lied about my sister so neither of us has spoke to her for a year.

I'm actually still angry at the fact she never actually never confronted me if she thought it was true instead of me always being hurt and confused.

so we've been talking for just over a year and her marriage isn't the best. she has mentioned a few times that she could always move in with me if worst came to worst. I neither said yes or no because I couldn't in all honesty be bothered with the arguments if i said no.

I'm happily settled now with a fiance. we're getting married next year and we love living together just us. i don't want to be her back up plan. she has a good job making nearly 3000 a month i don't make half that and she has no savings.

i plan to go to university this year which she says is a waste of time because i might not get a job at the end of it. but I'm tired of minimum wage factory and warehouse jobs. i want to use my brain and enjoy what i do. we also want to move to my fiances country in five years or so which she also always says is not a great idea that I'm best staying here.

we live in different cities and have only seen each other in person once since i was 17! i don't want to argue with her but need advice on how to handle it as it's a delicate situation.

View related questions: fiance, university

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A female reader, aunt honesty Ireland +, writes (6 February 2018):

aunt honesty agony auntIt is so sad to hear that you both went ten years not talking over a lie. It really is a bad situation but it is good that you are both back on good terms again. If you are still angry then you need to try and let go of that anger as it will only eat you up inside.

If she is mentioning moving in with you then yes it does sound like she is hinting at wanting to leave her husband and have somewhere else to go. I would suggest you keep ignoring it every time she says it and if she asks you outright tell her it is something you and your fiance would need to discuss and that it could impact a lot on your relationship. I know personally it would impact in my life if one of us had a sibling living with us both. As a couple you need space. My mother in law had asked could we have my husband's autistic brother to stay if he got work, I was worried what the impact would have been on our relationship and our lives. It is not for everyone so I would let her down gently on that one.

You have seperate lives, it doesn't matter if she doesn't agree with your life choices as they are still yours to make. She may be trying to offer you advice as an older sister, but these are still your choices to make. If she gets to full on just tell her you have already made up your mind.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (4 February 2018):

Oh, and you forgot one other factor. Your boyfriend could say no; and force you to make a choice.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (4 February 2018):

For the life of me, I don't understand people who can go for over a decade not speaking to siblings or parents. For anything short of terrible outright abuse, getting you arrested; or screwing your man! There's not many things that can get two sisters so incredibly angry at each other. Such inner-rage and lack of forgiveness is totally unhealthy. That kind of estrangement requires family-therapy to the Nth-degree! Such hostility goes beyond comprehension!

If only sisters fought to keep each other like they'd kill themselves to keep a no-good man!

The problem with this no-speaking passive-aggressive nonsense is a huge pile of regret and guilt. Somebody dies unexpectedly, and karma does a number on your hateful-asses!

If you can be so upset with each other that you can spend half your lives not talking to each other, tell me how you can live together?


If you're scared of a big disagreement; because she wants to impose or intrude on your relationship; there's one and only one answer.

NO!!! You're grown-ups now. You wasted precious years being hateful to each other. Now comes a sudden flow of love?

Why would you be held an emotional-hostage; because of a probable or hypothetical promise you made in the event something "might" happen?

If you don't want to and she doesn't understand, it's because she's angry she couldn't use you. If she loves you, she will take no with understanding; and she shouldn't want to impose on you anyway. School and your relationship are the top priorities. You've got now and the rest of your lives to be sisters; and one refusal shouldn't determine the fate of your family-ties. You're sisters unto death!

If she was unemployed and was standing between homelessness and starvation, it would be an act of compassion. Otherwise; it's not an obligation that she holds you to; no matter what the circumstances, or if you even have the room!

This lady thought the worst of you and couldn't forgive you for 12 years. What's wrong with you? You survived those 12 years, apparently. So she can compel or force you to do anything under the threat she might not talk to you again?

So, where does love fit into any of this? Her convenience doesn't require love, just your consent.

Meanwhile, you're both ignoring your mother who gave you both life. You're worried about your sister getting mad if you don't take her in; because her life goes to pot while she's earning a lot more money than you do?????

Would she do the same for you, if the situation was in reverse?

Sweetheart, use your common-sense. You're both over 30 and have separate lives to live. I recommend she should go live with your mother, and try to make up for the past. Once your mother's gone; your should-have, could-have, would-haves don't mean diddly-squat!!! You're wasting concern and precious time over the wrong things.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (4 February 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntThis is a bridge you do not yet need to cross. There is no saying the situation will ever present itself. Most relationships go through rough patches. Your sister may never leave her marriage. Even if she does, there is no saying she will actually want to come and stay with you.

It seems your main problem is being assertive with her. When she disagrees with you, you can simply say something like (about university) "I hear what you are saying but this is something I feel I have to do for myself, regardless of the outcome". Acknowledge her view but make it clear you are entitled to your view as well.

Given the amount of money she earns, she can easily afford a place of her own if she splits up from her husband. Be willing to give her a hand to find somewhere but don't allow her to stay with you if it is not what you want. Get your fiance's backing on this if it comes to the crunch.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (4 February 2018):

Oh boy.Do not let your sister live with you no matter what.You will never go to school and you will lose your man if you do I promise you that.And since she makes more and blows her money.. because that is good money she should have a savings you will be on the hook supporting her.You will be stuck in a shitty job just to keep a roof over their heads.Set boundaries with her.Never give her money never let her move in with you.Of course she did not contact you for all those years..she had a husband to pay her bills.Do you want that job now? If she hates you because of that then you know she is only out to use you.It is not really a delicate situation what she is doing is emotional blackmail.So you might have to with your man get your education and get married or support your sister forever and be unhappy.Me personally would pick the man and school you deserve to be happy.

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