Family Feuds

My relationship with my sister-in-law brought new meaning to the phrase ''for better or for worse.''

When I first met Tina*, my future sister-in-law, it was during dinner at a nice restaurant where my fiance, Jesse, had arranged for his family to meet me. Trouble brewed even at that first encounter as Tina knocked over her water glass twice, burped loudly, and chain-smoked. She even asked bluntly, "Why do you guys want to get married? You could just live together."

Shocked, I looked at Jesse, not knowing how to respond to such candor. He smiled, reached for my hand, and said firmly but kindly, "We're getting married because we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together." Tina harrumphed. "Oh, please! That'll wear off soon enough. Just wait till you're married."

Life with Tina didn't get easier after Jesse and I married. A month after our wedding, Jesse and I met with his family at a restaurant to celebrate Tina's birthday. When Jesse held my hand during dinner, Tina said sarcastically, "Aren't you guys over that yet?"

Startled, I turned to Jesse, who just smiled as if to say, Okay, it's your turn to explain. When I told Tina Jesse and I believe marriage is for keeps and that we're each other's best friend, she just sniffed. "Get real. Nobody loves like that." She stomped off toward the restroom to smoke a cigarette.

That night I told Jesse heatedly, "I'm sick of your sister—and her attitude. What's wrong with her anyway?" Jesse gently reminded me that none of his family, including Tina, were Christians, as we were. But when he encouraged me to build a friendship with her, I replied angrily, "That's easy for you to say! Guys look at relationships differently." I was realizing that during our wedding ceremony, when I'd vowed to stick with Jesse "for better or for worse," the latter part included his obnoxious sister.

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