Living Columns & Blogs

Carolyn Hax: Older sister afraid younger one will marry too soon

Carolyn Hax is away. In her absence, we are offering columns from her archive.

DEAR CAROLYN: My (much) younger sister’s boyfriend is planning to propose on her 21st birthday. I am horrified. My sister still has a year left of college. Neither one has ever lived independently – they both are living with their parents in our small hometown. The boyfriend, while he has a college degree, only recently took his first salaried job. His mom pressured him into immediately buying a condo.

Now, I realize everyone has a right to live their own life, and the chances of my changing things are slight, but I feel that, as the older sister, I need to have a heart-to-heart with my sister. There is so much to see of life and no rush to get married.

I’ve already given my opinion to the boyfriend, who further convinced me of his immaturity by saying, “Marriage will just be changing the title on our relationship.” My mom told me to back off, but I think she has empty-nest syndrome and grandbaby fever. Do I have a right/obligation to give my opinion to my sister?


DEAR VA.: You have a powerful obligation to bite your tongue. So I’m solidly with your mom here, despite having zero investment in your family’s next generation.

This is your sister’s business. It’s her moment to enjoy (or suffer), and her decision to make.

When your sister seeks your opinion, then you can offer it. Don’t worry if she doesn’t ask explicitly; it will be all over your face, body language, sleeve and maybe a few other articles of clothing.

There are risks to having such strong opinions. While I feel as you do about rushing marriage, I’m also humbled on a daily basis by the complexity of outcomes in life.

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