The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I have a problem with one of my younger sisters in her 50s who refuses to marry.
I’m the eldest of three daughters. My youngest sister and I are married. Only the middle sister remains single and lives with our parents, who are in their 80s, at their home in a rural area.
Since she was young, the sister has been a lion at home but a mouse outside. While she always smiles at other people, she is selfish when she is with her family.
She’s had some offers of marriage in the past. However, she shut her heart to all of the men she was introduced to as a prospective marriage partner. Therefore, none of the matchmaking efforts were successful. Also, she worked for only about half a year when she was in her 20s.
Although our parents told her to marry, saying, “We’ll certainly die before you,” she won’t listen to them. When I talk to her to try to persuade her to marry, our opinions remain far apart. She uses all of her strength to resist me. If I still insist, it develops into an argument between us.
If we let this situation continue, I’m afraid she will just end up living a dull life. Also, after our parents die, I must look after her with my youngest sister. So I hope she goes to work and finds a man among the people she meets at work who can become a good marriage partner for her.
Please give me some good advice.
S, Chiba Prefecture
Dear Ms. S:
I’m of similar age to your sister. If I had an elder sister like you, it would probably be a great nuisance for me. Reaching our age, people accept their way of life as they are and want to think that their way of living is right. Therefore, she may think she doesn’t need to marry.
You say her life is dull, but it’s not you who determines whether it’s dull. It’s arrogant to try to change somebody’s life, even though she’s your sister and you think it’s for her sake. So I understand quite well why your sister resists you.
She resists because you’re meddling in her life. If you stop meddling, she will probably notice her own unease and fully realize that she needs to take action by herself. If she comes to you for help, it’s time for you to listen to her. You are trying to force your sister to marry as you don’t want her to rely on you when she becomes old, aren’t you? It seems you are concerned about your sister, but actually you just want to protect yourself, don’t you?
Both you and your parents have interfered in her life too much. If people behave nicely to other people outside, they are exhausted when returning home.
If she is a lion at home but a mouse outside, it’s a backlash as a result of having been expected to be nice even at home for a long time. People who behave that way are most discouraged by noninterference, because they feel unrewarded if people around them don’t react to them when they act self-importantly.
So leave this matter alone. What goes around comes around. Saying nothing to her will be effective.
Hazuki Saisho, writer