I was recently thinking why relationships with members of the closer family circle, mainly between siblings, require effort to maintain. Ironically, isn’t family one of the most close and dependable ties we make? Why then, as we grow older, is it becoming increasingly difficult to acknowledge gaps, understand differences and make changes to adapt ourselves to the ever-dynamic sibling relations? In fact, there is no reason to impress the importance of having close, healthy relationships for our well being – friendships, for eg.- of which a lot has been talked about. In most cases, friendships also need a fair measure of effort, spanning sometimes over several years and several testing time periods, to help keep the relationship healthy, deep and mutually endearing. We have all had our share of experiences with good friends, bad friends, and friends who fall among the spectrum between the two. By making mistakes, sometimes the same one repeatedly, we have learnt how to hand pick and maintain our close and selective niche of friends. 

But why is it then we stagger when it comes to family? Not extended family of uncles or aunts, but of close family of brothers, sisters and their families. Siblings, in particular, depending on the family dynamics, are presumably your oldest friends. It is an incredible relationship, but requires effort. As years rolled out growing up together in the same household, somehow our priorities, interests, perspectives on life, career, support, love, affections, needs and wants, were being pitched out in completely haphazard directions. In my experiences, a time might come when we will unknowingly, or unwittingly withdraw the adhesion holding our sibling relationship. We will be thrown into focusing on our own lives, and soon one day we will realize the growing gap. It takes us even longer to acknowledge and accept those differences that our personalities have accumulated over time. Differences in personality and interests are often the attractive qualities we seek in our friends and even in romantic relationships. But we seem to miserably fail in learning to acknowledge and celebrate these differences among members of our own family. Sometimes we fail in embracing these differences in your siblings, and of those including the new relationships in the lives of our siblings. As families grow in size, relationships will start to becoming intertwined, often pressing against the wishes of the-then childhood siblings you once were. We will find ourselves amidst this, trying to find the balance that our parents seemed to effortlessly carry with their own siblings.

Truth is there will be no balance like you imagine it. But if you took the effort to keep the relationship at its pedestal it so deserves, you can create that inner balance.  Clichéd it is, but I will say it nevertheless: it is far easier to break a relationship than make and sustain one. We can come up with a gazillion complaints and reasons for the perceived differences between us and our siblings. But, whatever be it, it is silly. It was silly when we were growing up, it is silly now, and it might just well continue to be silly as we grow even older.

We have superior digital communication that have brought us closer to each other than we had ever imagined. But I’ve realized that for family relations to be nurtured and maintained, we need to go back in time, and simply: spend time together. Expel the need to have similar interests to have a conversation. Expel the need to judge one another’s weaknesses or dissimilar life experiences.  Just patiently embrace the differences, you will slowly re-align with the sibling you knew best.

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