What to do when your little sis gets married first

Author Whitney Boyd (right) and younger sister Caitlin (left) are still friends even though Caitlin broke their marriage pact!

My sister is two and a half years younger than me. Growing up, whenever we thought about “being old and being married”, we always assumed that we would marry brothers on the same day and then live in New York together where we would attend Broadway plays and be cultured and live in next door apartments and eat sushi every night. Ridiculous? Or ridiculously amazing, I don’t know. Either way, we had it all planned out.

We were on the right track when I left at 21 years old on my mission, an 18 month volunteer opportunity in Salt Lake City. My sister was dating a guy, Camden*, who was about to leave on his own mission… AND he had a brother, Clark, a guy my age who I had known in high school. My sister was planning on waiting. The brother was writing me while attending university. Our creepy incredible lifeplan was unfolding perfectly.

Six months before I returned home, I got Dear John’d… but not by Clark.

My sister emailed me and was very excited. She was getting married… to a guy she had been set up with by her visiting teachers… and it was happening that summer… four months before I would get home. Obviously she was breaking up with Camden, and that in turn meant that Clark would no longer be writing me (his loyalty lay with Team Camden and all that). No big deal… what Clark and I had was a friendship that would probably have never amounted to anything bigger, but coming out of the blue like that, it was a shock.

What do you do when your younger sister decides to get married before you?

It was weird and I felt hurt. I mean, I knew that our dumb plan for New York and brothers and yada-yada-yada was, well, dumb. But despite knowing that, it still was disconcerting to realize that my younger sister would be married (and all that being married entails) before me. Not to mention, I had never met the guy. She was marrying a stranger.

I think alot of people face this problem, especially people who come from large families. There are many girls who choose to marry at 18 or 19. And there are many others who want to serve missions, get some education, travel or whatever before they settle down. And there are others who may want to get married, but their Prince Charming doesn’t seem to ever find them.

You will experience a rush of conflicting emotions when you find out that a younger sibling is getting married before you… jealousy, confusion, happiness for them mixing with bitterness that you haven’t found the one yet. You may cry alone at night when nobody is watching and then the next day paste a smile on your face so nobody will ever know. You are not alone, even if you feel you are. There are alot of people who face the exact same challenge as you.

First of all, don’t feel bad about your range of emotions. They are normal and natural and everyone feels them. However, this does not give you free range to wallow in self pity.

Second, remember who you are. Maybe you want to be married desperately… but don’t let it consume you. Find something else to focus on, whether it is school, work, a nice vacation with some girlfriends, whatever. It’s a dating rule that when you try too hard to find love, it eludes you, but as soon as you look away, it comes knocking.

Third, look at the situation from your sibling’s perspective. It can be super awkward to get married. Remember, they are trying to figure everything out too… not to mention now they have to deal with wedding stress, honeymoon stress, in-law stress and the overall weirdness. Dad’s usually treat their ‘baby girls’ different when they get engaged, brothers act strange. So have a little compassion for your sibling. Sure, they are getting married, but they still have to deal with a huge range of issues. Be supportive. Hide your jealousy and try to be genuinely happy and helpful.

Fourth, DO NOT feel like you are a “loser” or “undesirable” because of this. Even if you are the only one at the wedding who is single, it doesn’t have to be depressing. Read the scriptures and conference talks. Pray. Build your relationship with God and figure out who you are inside. Heavenly Father does not determine your self worth by your marital status. Some of the greatest women I have ever known do not find their husband right away. Some marry into their 30s. Some are still single. But they still have full, meaningful lives.

Finally, there is no magic formula for getting over these feelings when a sibling marries first. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to be positive, some days wear you down. Life can suck, we all face challenges. Marriage is not the be-all, end-all solution to problems. If you think that your life is crappy right now and will turn around and be amazing the second you are married, then you will be disappointed. Marriage is work. Marriage can also be wonderful, but it does not happen overnight. Learn to love yourself now and then you will love yourself in the future, no matter what the future holds.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And the guilty.

Dubbed the Canadian “Sophie Kinsella”,Whitney Boyd is an award-winning author of two novels, Iced Romance and Tanned Toned and Totally faking it. She currently lives in Calgary with her husband and son. To read more from Whitney check out her blog here. You can also purchase a copy of either one of her novels here

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