Humor, respect and little white wine goes a long way toward staying connected to the sibling rival who made you cry, made you laugh and still reminds you what it takes to be a family.
We live in five different cities in three different states. We are married, single, divorced; kids, no kids; apartment-dwellers, homeowners; dog lovers, allergic to dogs; teachers, nurses, executives; grandmothers, aunts; conservatives, moderates, liberal and politically uninvolved. On paper, other than our last names, we don't appear to have that much in common. But for the last 12 years, my four sisters and I have not only gotten along, we've worked together. We started Satellite Sisters, our multimedia project that includes a radio show, website and blog, to celebrate the concept that women could have very different lives but still share a powerful bond.
When you are a "professional" sister, you get a lot of emails asking how we manage to work together, vacation together, deal with family issues together—and still stay friends. It's tempting just to write down "denial" and "white wine" and leave it at that. So I took a look at the last several decades of my relationships with my sisters and discovered four behavioral tactics that have really made all the difference.
Isn't It Time to Forgive, Forget and Move On?
Let's be clear, I am not a psychologist or an officer of the law. So if you and your sisters have some issues in the past that require therapy or jail time, then you need to seek professional help for those situations. For the rest of us with sisters, the issues that may be keeping our relationships from moving forward are often small and decades old. They're the tiny little injustices that occurred in the mid-'80s that you can't get over even in 2011. Yes, several of my sisters did share boyfriends, and that remains a taboo subject amongst them. (But that doesn't stop the rest of us from having a good laugh at their expense.) Then there are the issues of unequal parental attention, who had college loans and who didn't, and why Sheila never seemed to do the dishes. But now with decades of water under the bridge, we've achieved de´tente. The truth is we all made mistakes at 17, and letting those hold you back from a satisfying relationship at 37 or 47 with your sister isn't worth the moral high ground.