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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

Last week my brother moved to Florida to pursue a new career.  We went to elementary, middle, and high school together. We also went to the same college. He’s three years older than me so we were in college together for one year. We also lived in New York during our adult lives, he in Brooklyn, and me in Manhattan. But now we’re living in different states and we’re no longer a subway ride away. My brother is now a 20-hour car trip away.

I feel strange and a little lost not having my brother in the same state as me anymore. We spent all of our lives together (for most of my life, our bedrooms were just across the hall from one another in our childhood home!). But I am also happy that he is on to new, exciting adventures.

The emotional experience of having my brother move away made me think about what it means to have a sibling, particularly how siblings can have such immense impacts on our lives.  We fought constantly when were kids, but our relationship evolved as adults when we were always prepared and willing to support one another. Sure, our relationship has had its ups and downs over the years, but our sibling bond still prevails.   

For better or for worse, our relationships with our siblings will most likely be the most long-term family ties we have. So it’s important for our well-being that we maintain healthy relationships with our siblings.  More notably, research shows that the quality of sibling relationships is one of the most important predictors of mental health in old age. Even more profound, the literature on sibling relationships shows that during middle age and old age, indicators of well-being, such as “mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, life satisfaction,” are connected to how we feel about our brothers and sisters! Just like any relationship, sibling relationships take hard work and effort to be maintained in a healthy state.  

So, if your sibling doesn’t live in the same state as you (like me, as of last week), it’s essential to make time

for one another.  Since life can get busy, it’s helpful to start by scheduling a time where you can talk on the phone and then stick to it. Text messages and communicating through social media are great ways of staying up to date on each other’s lives but they’re no replacement for talking to each other on the telephone or video chatting.  Even if you previously had a tumultuous sibling relationship – it’s highly likely that the relationship is still capable of repair.

According to Reader’s Digest 11 Ways to Become BFFs with Your Siblings As Grown Ups, “The key to establishing good relationships as adults—especially with siblings you may have had a rocky relationship with in the past—is to make good, clear boundaries . . . to do this, know what you need and want from the relationship. Identify your own personal triggers and come up with a list of non-negotiable rules.” It may take some trial and error to figure out what’s right for you and your sibling, but you’ll be better off in the long run if you’re able to take some time and energy now to set the groundwork for a healthy sibling relationship.