A few days ago, a friend of mine had a falling out with her elder sister. The issue of contention was that the elder sister borrowed a large sum of money in August last year with the promise to pay back no later than a month. After two months my friend sent a reminder. The response: “Mana yangye! I am going to pay back your money!”
As the months went by, reminders turned into arguments and arguments turned into harsh text exchanges. Then they both attended a family event and started talking and eventually my friend’s sister said to her: “You are alone. Why do you have to be so greedy with your money?” They went for each other’s throats.
After the elders had admonished both of them for their deplorable behaviour, they ganged up on my friend and told her to be compassionate towards her sister and not demand for payment reason being that unlike my single friend, her sister is a wife and mother and she is thus met with unforeseeable challenges and responsibilities.
This scenario is not shocking or new. Over the years I have watched display of entitlement and utter disrespect by married people towards their single siblings. It needs to change.
So, dear married people with single siblings, listen here.
Being single, while not the most ideal situation, provides three great gifts; the gift of time, the gift of freedom, and the gift of disposable income. You are not entitled to any of those gifts.
Your single sister is not meant to be at your beck and call as a babysitter, house sitter, or errand runner. She can sacrifice her time once in a while out of the kindness of her heart but if she says no to a weekend of being around your rowdy children, she doesn’t owe you an explanation.
Don’t volunteer her to go and check on things in the village, or to care for sick relatives. It’s her time. Make requests, not demands or declarations.
You are not entitled to your single sibling’s money. It’s not your single brother’s job to give you cash bailouts, pay your children’s school fees or get loans to solve your marital or parental challenges. He is not a stakeholder in your decision to be a spouse or a mother. If you borrow money, pay it back without prompting. If he doesn’t want to sacrifice part of his income, don’t guilt-trip him into it by asking: “But what do you do with your money?” He is not accountable to you and he can burn his money if he likes.
On the flip side, sometimes married people forget the struggle of surviving on a single income. They make pledges and say: “Each person is contributing five million Rwandan francs” and while they make their contribution from two incomes, they expect their single siblings who don’t earn as much and are not at the same career level to just fall in line.
Lastly, dear married people, control your impulse to become relentless matchmakers. Give your siblings space to find their own way to love.