First impressions are telling, but don't always tell the whole story. Here, real brides open up about how their relationships with their sisters-in-law changed over time.
The unimpressed sister-in-law
"To say my eight-year-old sister-in-law didn't like me when I eloped with her 24-year-old brother *Ben is putting it mildly," recalls Tara, who adds, "When we returned home *Lisa ran into his arms and cried, then told us we shouldn't have a baby because she didn't think I'd be a fit mother!" Lisa remained wedded to her dislike of her brother's new wife. Tara said, "Lisa really liked Ben's ex-girlfriend so felt the need to keep telling me intimate details about their relationship."
The little girl only warmed up after her brother and Tara had their first child five years after the elopement even offering to babysit. Tara says, "Twenty-two years later I can't say we're the closest of friends but there's a genuine warmth. She did ask my advice when she got married."
The amazing sister-in-law
Stacey's sister-in-law Marion was newly pregnant at the latter's 2008 wedding but chose not to share the news for fear of taking the spotlight off the bride. That plan was ruined when Marion, a bridesmaid, passed out during the ceremony!
Although the sisters-in-law live across the country from one another, over the ensuring years the women have come to feel like sisters for real. Stacey adores Marion's two daughters. In turn, Marion is bonded to Stacey's daughter from her first marriage, even flying to San Francisco for the girl's high school graduation. Stacey says, "Marion and I try to have as much special 'sister-in-law' time as possible this always includes shopping and getting pedicures." Stacey's latest plan: to surprise Marian with a weekend yoga retreat. "I know yoga is her release and helps her soul!"
The ex sister-in-law
"I have had seven sisters-in-law and I only have three brothers," explains *Pam. Thankfully the current flock are keepers. "The ones who were nasty to me are the ones my brothers ultimately divorced," Pam says, adding, "They just weren't kind people." The 'winner' for worst sister-in-law was *Clarice. "My brother asked only one thing at their wedding that I stand at his side with my other brothers and our dad. She vetoed this. I had to stand next to her." To add insult to injury Pam, a college junior with little funds, had to pay $200 for an "ugly, sailor-collar bridesmaid dress." Pam adds, "On the plus side, I'm still close to my first sister-in-law, who came on board when I was seven. She was the first person I asked to be a bridesmaid at my wedding last year."
*Name has been changed
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.