Imagine two alien groups forging a peaceful alliance through marriage. Warring nations on earth used such a union to amicably share resources and promote trade for the betterment of both communities. Right?
Marriage for love is a pretty new concept in human history, if you think about it. Was there a benefit to arranged marriages that we miss in modern day love-matches? Stateliness, majesty and the reputation of family might be the missing ingredient in today’s sweetness that is marriage. Instead of merely a decision between two individuals, arranged marriages of the past and the theoretical future union in the first paragraph affect larger groups. Another word for group? Corporation.
The Art of Manliness posits interesting ways to develop a brand of family culture, a reputation if you will by creating a family mission statement. If you, from group A, meet an ambassador from group B for the first time, how would you conduct yourself?
A Sister-in-law friendship as a corporate partnership
Envision that you have 7 opportunities in one encounter to start off on the right foot as a corporate partnership. Too Sun Tzu Art of War for you? Hear me out. It can be fun. Picture this: you are meeting your sister-in-law for the first time at an October Football Party that your family is hosting.
Here are some modern day examples of how to make friends as if survival of two cultures depends on it.
1. National Sport
What if NCAA football is a foreign concept to ambassador B (i.e. sister-in-law)? What if volleyball or cricket is the national game in her worldview? Set aside grating jingoism and instead introduce her to the most winsome rituals of watching the SCC together. Put yourself in the bootie pumps of the newcomer. Name 3 hospital rituals that are part of your tribe’s football fandom. Is it doing the victory chicken dance together? Is it assembling a 7-layer dip in the kitchen with Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll” stadium anthem blaring? Be ready to show your silly side.
2. Maker Community
Arts and crafts include mobile app development to gardening. Right? What are 5 talents group B is famous for? Here’s a fantasy fiction example from Lord of the Rings: the dwarves excelled in ironwork. Does ambassador B develop apps to connect citizens of her neighborhood to freshly grown, local produce to be made into organic baby food? Does your group A have a beats lab using your talents with kits using Arduino or Raspberry Pi? Sustainable outdoor patio furniture carpentry? Show off your stuff for the purpose of making a cozier, more entertaining place for guests. Yes, this means to let your sis-in-law sample your home-brewed root beer.
3. Birth Order
Is your sister-in-law an only child? Or did she grow up as the only girl in a family of 3 older brothers? Have some fun in storytelling here. Do you also have stories of growing up as the baby of the family? This breaks down barriers when you can share childhood tales of being dropped off to lacrosse practice by your older brother. Listen to her sharing too.
4. Favorite Media
Is her go-to place for entertainment Hulu or Netflix? Does she follow Click and Clack the Car Talk Brothers on the radio? Is Funny or Die her favorite destination on the internet? Don’t demand to be her Facebook friend. Give her room to breathe and the integrity of her continued private space in digital-land. Instead, let her see 2 Twitter personalities you follow for fun. Don’t be controlling. Quite the opposite! Give her freedom to keep boundaries such as circles of friends on social media that do not include you or anyone from group A. You’ll be glad you did. Why? Because group A and B need time apart even virtually. Think of the fresh topics you’ll have when you see each other again or visit online if there is little “overlap”.
What makes her laugh? Is it Coco’s review of Grand Theft Auto? Is it a gif from Parks and Community? What’s your in-joke internet meme of the week? Even if you and ambassador B don’t see eye to eye, humor breaks down iciness. Right? The Kumars at No. 42 may cause group A to laugh so hard as to crush cardamom cookie crumbs into the couch.
How a being chooses to travel says a lot about him/her. For example, did you sail somewhere recently? How many flights have you taken to New Zealand? Do you bicycle to work on a regular basis? Does your sister-in-law take public transportation? Cool subcultures such as backpackers, bicyclists and other car-free circles have their own language and customs. Learn something new and find out a surprising way group B travels for fun and business.
Rock and rap aren’t the only two music genres. Right? What about electronica and K-pop? How about the blues? Share playlists without stepping on toes. Just as your sister-in-law may not prefer Soundgarden, you might not call Linus’ Blanket your K-indie fave. Live and let live. Take interest in how she chillaxes and maybe you’ll find one or two songs in common across music categories. Come on, who can resist Bob Marley. Right?
In these 7 ways to relate to your new kin-by-marriage, you’re likely to find one or more winners. Raise your glass of Bloodwine, beer or other-worldly cider and toast your new friendship!
Have you forged a successful friendship with your sister-in-law? How did you do it?