Mutual Respect & Admiration

I think relationships between sisters are always complicated.

My Sister Marcie and I (and Baby Kate with the cheeks)

My Sister Marcie and I (and Baby Kate with the cheeks)

They are like taking the already complicated friendships between women and putting them on steroids. Because you are innately alike, but also innately different. Because you have to share the time and attention of your parents, and sharing doesn’t always come naturally. And because you are dependent on one another, forever linked by DNA.

So, as sisters, when your relationship is bad, it’s horrid. And in turn, when it’s good, it’s great.

At least that has been my personal experience. There are five years and six grades between me and my sister Marcie. To say that while growing we had our differences would be an understatement.

My favorite illustration of our childhood strife is when Marcie “pushed” me off a chairlift 15-feet off the ground on a family ski trip. Well, she didn’t really push me. It was more of a misunderstanding. I was 10ish and my parents, against their better judgment, let Marcie and I board the lift together. But something went wrong, really wrong, and I ended up desperately clinging to the seat with the rest of my body and my skis dangling with 15 feet between me and ski bank below. And for some CRAZY reason Marcie “thought” the lift operators instructed her to “Let me drop.” Instead of the message which they were trying to frantically send up “DON’T let her drop.” And so she took the liberty of peeling my fingers off the seat and allowing me to plunge 15 feet into a pile of snow. Thankfully I was unharmed. NOW I know that this was an honest mistake, but there was a period of time when I seriously thought she was trying to kill me because I was such a brat. (And I don’t know if I would have blamed her.)

I would love to say that things got better from there. But not really. Our age difference was just big enough that we completely annoyed each other during each of our adolescences.  And then I graduated from college. And Marcie got married. And our relationship still was pretty spotty.

But over the last ten years things have changed. Things have changed dramatically. Today I can honestly say Marcie is one of my best friends. She is among the handful of people I want to call when I have “news.” I love getting her perspective and advice before I make big decisions. She is truly one of my favorite people.

Earlier this week an inquisitive friend was asking about my relationship and if we’d always been so close. And I shared with her my relationship with Marcie has not always been so rosy. And her obvious question was “what changed?”

What changed is that Marcie and I have developed an intense mutual respect and admiration. I look at her life, overflowing with responsibility and surrounded by a strong husband and three adorable young girls, and I am proud (and maybe a little envious.) And she (I think from things she has told me) looks at my life, surrounded by interesting people and oriented around a job that I love at a company whose driving purpose is to “Inspire the World,” and she is proud (and maybe a little envious.)

It’s that simple. Too bad we didn’t figure this out earlier. (And too bad I went through some phases that didn’t really deserve her respect or admiration.)

Do you have a sister? Do you get along? If so, what makes your relationship work?

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  • Lindsey, I don’t have a sister, but my brother is 3 years and 2 days younger than I am and we experienced some of this growing up. We lived in the country and we good friends up until our teenage years. That is when things got bad, we couldn’t get along and it was hard to live in the same house. After I moved out and went to college, things got better and today we enjoy that closeness again.

    Not a time that I would want to repeat for sure.

  • Ali

    Lindsey, I have become a regular reader of your blog and really like it–and I have left several comments already. I don’t have a sister; I have a brother who is thirteen months younger, and brothers and sisters so close in age usually don’t get along. I laughed our loud when I read about Marcie “pushing” you off a ski lift. It reminds me of how I smashed a huge glass lamp on my brother’s head when I was two and he was one. Fortunately he was not injured, but my parents were pretty worried there for a while. I am glad that you are close to your sister now. I believe that God and family are the two most important things in life.

  • my brothers and i are the same way. we love each other and have a huge amount of respect for one another… and now we have the best of times together. great post!

  • So happy I blog hopped over here! 🙂

    I do not have a sister…..I only have an older brother who does not wish to have anything more than an acquaintance style relationship with me as well. It saddens me, but it also drives me to make sure my children always know that family comes first, even with the wrestling matches, back of the head slaps and name calling.

    God loves unity and family… thankful that you and your sister are cherishing each other. The differences in your lives can pull you closer with the admiration and respect for each other. well, unless you are dangling 15 feet.

    peace and love~

  • John Ireland

    thanks for sharing, Lindsey!

    i wonder if for most siblings, it is not until the point when all have reached their early 20’s that relationships trend toward the better. that really seems to have been the case for my two sisters and me. it’s almost as if there is a certain, key age that everyone has to reach in the sibling group before they can genuinely start to turn their attention toward others.

    also a big factor? it was not until about 10 years ago that all three of us (i was the last, but am the oldest) had received Christ as Lord and Savior. 🙂

  • lindseyreadenobles

    I definitely think there is a transition that happens once all the siblings are grown up. You have to reestablish your relationship as adults. I have several friends who were close to their siblings as children, but now feel this distance. Often times they just need to make the investment of their time to get to know each other.

  • I don’t have a sister, just brothers and I hardly do anything with them. I’m the oldest and only girl, my brother is about 2 and a half years younger and the youngest brother is like 13 years younger than me. (it’s a long story but basically I had another brother that died of cancer when he was 6 and so my parents had another to “fill the void” and help with the loss but can anything or anyone really fill the loss?)
    So, I guess my family is a bit messed up and so I live through the relationships my husband has with his brother. He’s pretty close now to his brother but there was a time when they also did not get along while they roomed together for college. What changed is exactly what you described: They came to a mutual respect for one another. Being forced to live in close proximity, away from mom and dad as “referee” they realized they’d either kill each other or learn to love each other.

    Love won out. It’s a beautiful thing.

  • You know my beautiful sister and let’s just say our growing up years were pretty “interesting”. We are also five years apart and that age difference created lots of strife for us. Now she is my best friend. She understands me better than anyone else. She can read my heart and know when I’m struggling – even when I look composed to the rest of the world. The sister bond is amazingly special.

    Someday we’ll share the details of how I convinced her to jump her bike off a ramp or the multitude of times she attempted to run away when I was supposed to be babysitting her, etc.

  • my sister and i are almost 5 years apart in age and 5 years apart in school. growing up we fought a lot. she was the athlete so from a young age she would beat up on me even though i’m older. after i got married and moved away though it got much better. and we did get a long some of the time growing up. we were so different though. now we get a long great and i have to say she is a great aunt to my kiddo.
    BTW I love your blog!