How To Love My Sister

A Letter to the Man Who Intends to Marry Her


I understand you plan on marrying my sister. Hearing this news makes me tremendously happy. Before you get married, there are a few things I’d like to share with you.

Ever since she entered this world, I’ve been her older brother. I’m the one man in her life she always depended upon and trusted. As such, I have a few words for you about who my sister is and what you can expect of her… and what I expect of you.

I assume you will always love my sister with all your heart and with all your imagination and loyal goodness. That’s why I’m writing this letter to you. I want these words to help you whenever there are moments when you’re confused, or frustrated, or just generally don’t know what to do. In such moments, you can refer back to this letter and consult my friendly advice about how to be the man she needs and deserves.

First off, whenever she doesn’t make sense or is driving you crazy, don’t blame her. You can’t change her. A farmer never blames inclement weather. He works with it and protects his crop and his investment of time. Be a farmer. Accept what you can’t change and focus on what you can change. In this case, that would be you.  You can change. You have 24-hour access to you so there’s nothing standing in your way.

My sister will test your patience.  Trust me, I know. She’s my only sister and our family always treated her like a princess.  Soon she’ll be your wife, but she’s still a princess. You will never have the luxury of distance that I sometimes embraced. You can’t walk away and wait for her to calm down.  You must stay with her and make sense of it all.

The good news is her tests of your patience will make you a better man. Your confusion and frustration will motivate you to find ways to listen to her and strive to understand her. You will have to labor to comprehend what doesn’t come easily. And eventually, through practice you’ll learn to be more patient. Trust me, patience is useful. Especially whenever you two have to go shopping together.  As you probably know well, my sister likes to shop.

Another great thing about my sister, she’s spontaneously fun. Her sense of the immediate moment, her willingness to live in the perpetual “right now” will often mean she surprises you. If she contradicts herself or changes her mind, don’t get hung up on that. Don’t linger in the past. Be with her in the present. Have fun with her. It doesn’t matter what she said, it only matters what she’s saying.

Her feelings, thoughts, desire for new experiences and her unique view of the world will bring you vistas and memories you would’ve never found on your own. I promise I won’t laugh at you when you tell me you two suddenly took lessons and decided to go scuba diving. I’ll know it was her idea and you went along with it. I’ll respect you for making my sister happy and living with her in whatever moment she chooses.

And yes, I know my sister can be moody, sometimes even mean. She’s the only person who’s ever thrown shoes at me, slammed doors in my face and laughed when I was crying over some girl whose name now escapes me. She once laughed at me after I rode my bike home with a broken ankle that I’d fractured while watching a soccer game. Don’t ask how a person breaks a bone cheering. Point is, yes, she can be an emotional tempest. And her lightning flashes of emotion may frustrate you, scare you, irritate you or even embarrass you. But she’s also the most loyal person I know and always had my back. Now she has your back and you’re lucky to have such loyalty and strength of support.

The fire of her emotions is a blessing in disguise. She will teach you the authenticity of expressed feelings and the value of emotional release. Once she expresses it, her fire dies down and she moves on to something new. That’s the good news. She will teach you how expressing your emotions, especially anger is crucial to all relationships. As long as you don’t piss her off so much that she burns your house down, you two should always be good.

My sister’s moods, even when they are dark as a moonless night and impossible to track, they don’t last forever. It may sound backwards but her darkness makes the sound of her laughter that much sweeter. Her anger makes the quiet of her silent joy so much more enjoyable to savor. Don’t fear a fight and try to avoid it. Instead get through it as fast you can. When it starts raining and storming on the prairie, buffalo don’t turn and run like all the other animals and they don’t hide — instead they charge at the storm, knowing it’ll pass over them sooner.  Be like the buffalo.

Make sure you remember this — it’s very important — I don’t ever want to discuss sex with you. This is all I will ever say about sex… and I’m speaking from my own experience and imagining it must be the same for her and you. After you two fight, the reward is make-up sex… the I-must-have-you-right-now-kind… it’s some of the best sex you’ll ever have. Never forget that. But don’t ever, ever, ever, talk to me about sex. If it’s good, if it’s bad, I don’t care. That’s why you have friends, talk to them, not me.

Now my sister isn’t the best when it comes to clocks and timetables. You will often find yourself waiting, sometimes for her to make up her mind, to return your call or text, decide if she wants to go out or not, or you may wait for her to stop crying, to stop yelling, to forgive you… but you’ll be happy to wait for her. Do you know why you’ll be happy?  She’s worth the wait. Time is a valuable gift… so give it to her.

You must understand, my sister is brilliant, very emotional and she experiences life in a way that’s likely more intuitive than you. But you’re a smart guy and you may have figured out these are the same factors that give us great art. Greatness requires a certain depth and expression of contradictory feelings. Help her be great!

Also… you may experience days or weeks or even months when you feel confused. Do not ask me to interpret her. That’s your job. And you should be stoked. Whenever you doubt how super-cool your role in her life is… just consider the opposite. You could have days or weeks or months of always knowing what she’s thinking and feeling but I’m pretty sure you’d grow terribly bored of each other and your lame beige and vanilla relationship. Some mystery is important. Let her keep hers.

Lastly, here’s a general piece of advice and it’s the most important thing to remember. My sister has been called a “difficult woman” all throughout her life. I don’t ever want to hear you say that or hear from her that you called her that. “Difficult women” are difficult because our culture makes it hard for women to fully be themselves, express themselves, feel comfortable with themselves, and if you remember that, you’ll recognize it’s the rest of the world that’s difficult, not her… she’s the woman you love.

And dude… you’re lucky she puts up with your shit.

That’s it.  That’s my advice on how to love my sister. If you ever need help, re-read this letter. If you’re still confused or frustrated, you can contact me. But don’t make a habit of it… my sister doesn’t like a weak and whiny man. She expects her man to be strong, so try to handle your problems on your own. And also, if she asks, I’ll have to tell her you called me because I never lie to her and I don’t keep anything from her.

Oh, one more thing… I’m not a violent person by nature, but I want you to know, my baby sister means the world to me. I come from a long line of protective men. I have no intention of breaking with tradition on your account. This isn’t a threat. I just want you to know, I expect you to always love her, have fun with her, be good to her and treat her right. I won’t sit idly by if you decide to do otherwise. If you ever physically attack her or harm her, please remember… I have a shovel and a few friends who will happily drive out to the desert with me.

Welcome to the family.  Good luck.

All my love,

Your new brother-in-law TC Mark

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