A very sad event has taken place in our family. My husband’s elder brother is going through a divorce. It isn’t soul detroyingly sad for them; in fact, it is, quite possibly, the best thing that could happen to the two of them. A bit like cutting away the life-sapping vine that strangles a tree. But I find it unsettling (I know – me, me, me; but there is a point to this). Today I have been pondering on what my sister-in-law will be to me. Is there a term for a sister-in-law who is no longer married to my brother-in-law? Why not? I would call her friend, and I am glad to say that over the past few months we have probably become closer than we had ever been in the past 20 odd years we have known each other. But it isn’t enough. She isn’t divorcing me, or my children. But then again, if not for the marriage that is now being dissolved, we would not have known each other, so in a way the divorce is cutting our familial ties.
Then I thought, why can’t she still be my sister-in-law? What does it matter? Whose concern is it? I could call her friend, acquaintance, employer, trainer – it is a title and means sod all if the sentiment behind it is missing. My brother’s first wife I called sister-in-law as I do his second but my emotional attachment to his second wife is far, far greater and I resent that she has to wear the mantle of her predecessor, who was most unworthy of the title.
My sister-in-law (the instigator of this dilemma) will always be my sister-in-law, and so I shall refer to her. My mother-in-law will probably have much to say on the subject, but that’s what ear-plugs were invented for!
When I looked up the term for ‘unmarried’ I came across a website advertising a lecture entitled ‘Letting go after divorce’. A two-hour talk on how to distance yourself. Surely one of the main factors behind a divorce is the very fact that a distance exists? And why go on a course to highlight all the things you’ll be missing? If you weren’t ready to distance yourself then you should have attended a course to get closer – before the divorce! Being distant has surely never been a problem for members of the human race. It is the intricacies of social interaction that is the biggest stumbling block for relationships. I’ll save those of you interested in the course some money – to distance yourself just stop touching, talking and doing things together! I can’t see there’s much more to say.
I could be wrong. I have had a lager.