A letter to my engaged brother

Clutching my camera as I hiked up the steps leading to the very spot where my brother would propose, my only thought was: He’s getting engaged and it’s happening right now.

Many of you may have already had this whole experience of your brother dating then getting engaged, but for me, it was a new one. This was the first of my four brothers to start seriously dating, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was in for a wild ride.

As I look back on the whole experience, here are a few things I would have asked of my brother at the beginning: 

1. Let me meet her first.

Photo by Alyssa Forman
Photo by Alyssa Forman

My brother and I are very close; we talk about almost everything and are attached at the hip. I consider him one of my best friends. Nearing Christmas two years ago, he asked me to come with him to a holiday party hosted by a friend we hadn’t been in contact with for a while. Little did I know that the reason we were going was so he could see a girl he’d been talking with for the last few months… and who, in his mind, he had already intended to date.

I was not prepared for that kind of news, especially when I didn’t even really know her at all. I love my brother – he’s hardworking, smart, loving, kind, good – I wasn’t about to let just anybody, especially a “stranger” waltz in and date him.

So advice to you, brothers: I know it’s a little weird, but as one of the most important women in your life, your sister wants to know who you are interested in before you’ve decided everything in your mind.

We care about who you love, who you invest in. Let us be a part of that. Sisters and girlfriends already have a lot to overcome to be friends, so help us out a little by letting us in early to give us time to get used to the idea. Also she better be pretty dang great because we love you! So let us meet the girl you’ll be replacing us with before you actually replace us.  

2. Give us time.

Photo by Alyssa Forman
Photo by Alyssa Forman

We may not become the best of friends, but give us time to get to know her.  You’re already sold on her, but we haven’t even had a chance to really talk to her. When my brother was dating, he would stay up late at night talking with his girlfriend on the phone and then when she would visit, they would be inseparable. She lived semi-long distant and would stay over on weekends to spend time with my brother.

It was really hard for me to be friends with her at first, because my brother was always there. He didn’t really allow me time to get to see her for who she really was or get to know her one-on-one. I told him that if he wanted her and I to be friends, then he’d have to stop stealing her away at night and to let me actually get to know her in a normal girl-to-girl friendship.

Let me go to coffee with her, get our nails done together, give us the space to be friends, normal friends, not just, “Oh, this is my brother’s girlfriend so I guess we have to be friends.”

Guys, here’s another tip: Girls bond the most at night. We talk. We laugh. We stay up late. It’s just how we work. We know you’d love to hang out with your girlfriend at night, talk, laugh, but we need that just as much as you and you’ll need to give us time to catch up to you if you care about the GF being part of the friend group.

3. Include me.

Photo by Alyssa Forman
Photo by Alyssa Forman

One thing I really loved about my brother’s dating relationship was that he included me. He listened to my thoughts and advice and didn’t get upset. He valued my opinion and made sure I knew that he still thought I was an important part of his life. He included me on dates and let me hang out with him and his girlfriend. He also took me on my own dates. Since he was always busy with school and work, most of his free time was spent studying or with his girlfriend. But, he would plan coffee and lunch dates specifically for me and him to talk and hang out. I loved that.

Brothers, don’t forget your sisters. When you find “the one” don’t drop everyone else or make them feel less just because you’ve found something “more”.

Include your family, include your friends because we love you and want to be a part of the amazing journey you’re on.

As a sister, it has certainly been an adjustment to having my brother in a relationship. Through the ups and downs, I have learned a lot about myself and was far from perfect. But, as I checked the lighting on my camera as he got down on his knee and asked her to marry him, I realized he was truly happy. And I was happy for him too.

My brother may have made mistakes while dating his now fiancé, but he did do one thing right. He chose to love a kind, compassionate, driven, loyal woman who I know, will make his life ten times more amazing.

To my brother, from your sister, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for always being there for me, including me and making me feel so loved. You have and will continue to do so many amazing things, but giving me a sister-in-law is probably one the best things you’ve done so far.