Siblings are your first best friends.
They were there when you had your first fall, first pet, your first crush, your first fight, and some were even the first person to snitch on you.
All these first experiences can be bittersweet.
There were times when it was you against them, then it was you and them against your parents.
Now and then, a little sarcasm heats up the moment, a little joke can be funny yet hurtful at the same time.
When you grow up, you learn to have each other’s backs.
Then, your siblings met the one, and soon, a new family member joins the team.
[Image: From Left: Me, my brother, his wife and my other brother.]
When this happens, changes happen.
While these changes are a blessing, sometimes these changes require time, patience and understanding.
When my brother got married, both my brother and I felt the changes that happened.
It was as if we became distant. You start to notice certain things.
1. You don’t hang out as often as you wish
When your brother or sister gets married, they have to spend their time looking out for the other person. They can’t hang out by the mamak listening every night you are free. He or she has a new person in their lives.
When my eldest brother got married, karaoke night, movie night and game night became occasionally-or-when-I’m-free-night.
It sucks that we don’t get to hang out that often, but when we do, we tried to have all three nights in one.
2. You can’t boss them around
Having siblings is when you can ask them to do things without them asking for anything back.
Being the only girl in the family, my brothers are protective of me. Especially my eldest brother, as our age difference is only two years. I used to be his lookout guy whenever he had to sneak out of the house to play Dota at the local cyber centre.
I could ask for anything I want. And after a yelling or two, I always got what I wanted.
Groceries, shopping and chores are some of the must-haves when I’m with him. Among the siblings, we have a rule; the elder must always provide for the younger.
However, when he settled down with a wife and kids, I no longer could boss him around.
You can’t call them to buy KFC and send it to you, just because. You can’t be rude or order them around.
Their spouses wouldn’t like it that you’re treating your siblings like a maid.
3. We talk less and less
Since hanging out is less of an option, talking on the phone or texting is something I look forward to. At least when I need a listen.
But expecting them to be on their phone all the time is unrealistic.
Beginning a new life is a busy phase – people start to learn on the job. They have a new set of goals and people to understand and care for.
4. And you can’t call them any time you like.
Imagine drunk calling them only to have their spouses picking it up and being pissed at you.
They have a job; they have a family. They might be in the middle of preparing dinner, changing the diapers; and there you are, blowing up their phones with texts and missed calls.
When you finally get to talk…
5. You can’t simply talk like how you used to talk
The beautiful thing about a sibling bond was that whenever you mess up, they can be angry for a second and forgive you the next minute.
Heck, we even cuss one another because saying I love you isn’t our thing.
However, in front of their spouse, you are expected to be careful with your words. You can’t simply blurt out words like you used to without offending their spouse.
I remembered my mother said to us,
“Don’t talk to your brother like that when his wife is around.”
“Don’t tell him off over small things that you can fix on your own.”
6. You may no longer be a priority
If you used to be their centre of the world, well babe… check again.
Knocking on their door every time you have a problem, is going to be a problem.
Like in How I Met Your Mother, when Lily and Marshall put up the rules to only consult them when their friends have “an-eight-or-higher” problems.
Knowing you can’t talk to them as frequently as you want, may put you in a bitter place, especially when you have been depending on them for emotional support.
7. Family time becomes a short yam-cha session
Starting a family means a lot of work, and raising a family is hard work.
While most children who got married prefer to stay on their own, family gathering becomes a limited window of opportunity.
While she understood her siblings’ privacy and did not want to burden her parents, Vanessa shared:
“It was painful to see how my siblings’ constant excuses not to attend family gatherings upset our parents.”
Putting it on the record, she said: “It was always busy with work. Busy with the baby. Busy with the new house.”
Sounding upset, Vanessa added, “When they finally come home, they only come for a while and would drive back to their respective place, just because it was more comfortable at their own place.”
8. No more “what’s mine is yours” policy
Taking for granted that whatever is there is yours is something to put in check too.
Their belongings and their money are not yours to simply take and say: “I’ll just borrow it for a while.”
You might have to queue for a turn, right after their spouses.
The same thing happened to Jasper when his brother’s car, which he used to treat like his personal carriage, was no longer available when he wanted to use it.
When his brother got married, he couldn’t even use it to go to the market nearby.
“It was like I have to take a number, and I have to wait for my turn, which is never to come,” he says. “It was frustrating, but then I realised this is his wife. She should come first.”
When asked what happened to the car, he simply said, “My sister-in-law drives it now.”
9. Secrets will be secrets with siblings plus their spouses
Nothing is confidential like before. Every secret you had with your siblings will end up being brought up during the pillow talk between spouses.
Having had first-hand experience on it, Ernie shared that her privacy is no longer kept between just her and her sister.
“I’m uncomfortable sharing my deepest, most private thoughts with my sister after she got married,” she confessed.
“Everything I shared with her, she will tell to her husband as well.”
10. You’ll become independent
Now that they can’t be there for you all the time, somehow, you will learn to rely on yourself.
Yes, you might get into troubles and there is no one to back you up. But you’ll grow into it and learn to be mature and make good decisions.
You’ll learn to respect their spouses and behave wisely around your family. You’ll learn that you can still depend on them for now and then, but sometimes, a bird has got to learn how to fly.
Accepting that my brother is married, the changes aren’t all bad. It just means that I have to grow up and be mature about it.
I learnt to embrace the idea that everyone needs personal space and boundaries.
This experience taught me to be more accommodating with one another and to work hard to keep the sibling bond strong with one another.
Knowing that he might not be able to spend more time with us, my eldest brother promised us that no matter what happens, we will always tag each other with memes and funny videos on Facebook.
At least, with all the changes, my youngest brother and I can still have a laugh with him, no matter where he may be.
For more stories like this read: Growing Up With Siblings V.S. Growing Up An Only Child – What’s The Difference? and 4 Things Every Eldest Child Can Relate To.