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My Husband’s Sister Has a Very Unusual Attachment to Him

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Pricey Care and Feeding,

My husband, “Paul,” is round 10 years older than his sister, “Hallie.” He all the time doted on her and was tremendous concerned in her life when she was little or no, however pulled away when he went to school and met me. Hallie has by no means gotten over this.

She acts much less like a bit sister and extra like a jealous ex. She calls for that her brother take note of her, will bodily get between us if we’re cuddling on the sofa, and brings up weird slights (like he didn’t attend her fourteenth party or missed her choir efficiency). We reside 4 hours away. When Hallie is upset or harm, Paul all the time makes it as much as her by giving her some one-on-one time. That is maddening to me. Severely, aren’t we allowed to have a life that isn’t centered on a teenage woman’s schedule?

Hallie turned 17 final month. My husband was alleged to make the drive down for her occasion, however I acquired violently sick that day. My husband took me to the ER and we by no means made it to Hallie’s party. Properly, it seems I’m pregnant. Hallie responded to this information by screaming at her brother, accusing me of mendacity, and simply wanting her gone—out of our lives for good. Truthfully, at this level, I genuinely do. I’m uninterested in being the larger particular person. Hallie isn’t a child, and treating her like one has solely made her worse. Paul and Hallie misplaced their mother when Hallie was 3 years outdated and she or he by no means actually bonded with their stepmom, although the girl is okay—she and I’ve a beautiful, civil relationship. However Hallie dislikes her: She is as possessive of her dad as she is of her massive brother.

Lord is aware of, I’ve tried to get alongside along with her. I put her in my wedding ceremony occasion after which needed to take heed to her sulk and whine about how every part was silly. She was 13 then, however issues have gotten no higher within the 4 years since. This ought to be a cheerful time for me, and as an alternative, it’s simply Hallie time on a regular basis. I perceive that she wants remedy; I can’t drive her to get some. However I do suppose my husband must make his pregnant spouse his first precedence (perhaps that makes me horrible?). I want some perspective, please.

—About Hallie

Pricey About Hallie,

Right here’s some perspective: Hallie was a toddler when her mom died—a horrible loss, one which has marked her for all times. If she by no means bonded with the girl her father married, it signifies that she spent her childhood (which is only some years behind her) motherless. It’s irrelevant, by the way in which, that you simply think about the stepmother to be “high-quality,” or that your relationship along with her is civil (high-quality/civil—if certainly that was the case for her and Hallie—is a low bar for a stepmother-child relationship). It appears like her massive brother was a stabilizing and loving presence in her life within the years after their mom’s loss of life—till he left for school when she was solely round 8 years outdated. If she continues to be deeply hooked up to him, this appears to me completely comprehensible. If she desires him to be current at necessary milestones in her life—nicely, who can blame her?

It might appear that her massive brother makes each effort to stay linked to her, regardless of the last decade that has handed since he left dwelling, the 4 hours’ distance geographically, and his marriage. As a result of they share a historical past that predates you, as a result of he loves her and her well-being issues to him, as a result of he is aware of she wants him. It appears to me that what you need shouldn’t be (as you declare) to be his first precedence: You need to be his solely precedence. That is by no means going to occur—and I don’t suppose it ought to. After we develop up, if we select to marry, we don’t sever the ties which might be significant to us, in service to the wedding (or, if we do, we’re making a horrible mistake). I want you’d been in a position to be extra beneficiant to Hallie from the git-go—that you simply’d understood her relationship along with your then-boyfriend higher, that you simply’d realized that marrying him meant you’d turn out to be Hallie’s massive sister. She was a bit woman once you and Paul began relationship! A bit of woman whose adored older brother had simply moved out, whose mom was useless, whose father (I’m guessing—you haven’t given me a timeline) had a brand new associate who was not fulfilling a motherly function for her. I’m going to guess that from the beginning, once you and Paul had been round Hallie, you made no effort to incorporate her or make her really feel cherished. (When you had, I can’t think about you wouldn’t say so in your letter.) You say you’ve tried with Hallie—however the instance you provide is that you simply let her be in your wedding ceremony occasion. That’s too little, too late in these circumstances.

In order that’s the angle I can give you. And it appears fairly clear to me that in the event you drive your husband to decide on between you and his sister, in order that he has no selection however to desert her (for actual, this time), you make a grave mistake. Not simply because Hallie clearly wants him however as a result of he desires to be there for her. He might by no means forgive you for this.

Is Hallie, at 17, typically behaving childishly? Sure, she is. Screaming at you—having a tantrum about your being pregnant—is an indication of a fairly vital emotional delay. And yeah, certain, she ought to be in remedy (Paul may definitely counsel this, to her and to their father). This younger girl has had a tough go of it. If yow will discover it in your self to open your coronary heart—to make a real effort, now, not solely to facilitate Paul’s connection to her but in addition to make your personal connection along with her, and to suppose forward about her connection to the newborn you and Paul are having—I count on that issues will go extra easily over time and a long time forward. She’s going to be your little one’s aunt. As an alternative of chopping her out of your loved ones, strive chopping her in. Paul shall be grateful. And I wager your future kids will, too.

—Michelle

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