If you have a sibling, odds are there have been times when you weren't each other's biggest fans. For some people, like me and my older sister, these moments happen every time you see each other.
Meet me (right) and Gabby (left):
Don't be fooled by our smiling faces. Within minutes of walking into the same space, we are usually bickering. If you didn't know us, you would probably think that we just disagree for the sake of fighting.
We have had full-scale screaming matches about things as small as which side of a bed to sleep on. It has even gotten so far, that when we were younger, my mom walked in on the two of us in the middle of a slap fight that you think only happens in movies (which I found out was quite a comical sight and my mom had to hide in the laundry room after separating us to laugh).
Hearing all of this, you probably think that we despise one another, but the truth is that we are super close and love each other a lot. We just have very different ways of functioning, thinking, and solving problems-- but we both think we know how to do everything the best and most effective ways.
You mix two competitive, stubborn people with extreme confidence in their cognitive processes and you get a lot of frustration.
I am sure you're reading this and thinking, "this girl and her sister are nuts!" I am here to tell you that you can have a very healthy, pleasant relationship with your sibling even if you are like this.
We have learned how to handle our relationship. We know we can only take so much of each other before we need to take a break. We know that nothing we bicker about is personal. We know that in five minutes, we will probably be in the car, talking about our boyfriends, on our way to get bubble tea.
Now that we are both older and have gone off to college, our relationship has never been better. We call each other about once every one or two weeks, and we plan trips home at the same time, and we genuinely enjoy doing things together but we just need to ensure we are minding our limits.
These are some foundational aspects of maintaining our relationship:
Guaranteed you know at least a couple things they do that really make you see red. TELL THEM. They might not even know that is what sets you off. Use "I statements" and try to find alternatives.
If you tell them what makes you angry, you need to be ready to hear them out, too. Validate their feelings, regardless whether they align with the intent of your actions. This is crucial to effective communication.
3. Know when to take a time-out
Breathers will be your life-saver. If you are starting to get snappy with each other, just stop. Step away from the conversation, leave the room, or do whatever you need to do to calm down enough to have a civil conversation. This does not mean to sweep things under the rug, but nothing productive is going to come out of a heated argument.
You cannot expect all your relationship with your siblings to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. Some take more effort than others, but that does not take away from the fact that you are family and that you will always have their back.