My husband and my brother regularly go to the movies together. Generally, they watch films I have zero interest in seeing, such as The Fast and the Furious number anything. They call these beer movies: they smuggle alcohol into the cinema in backpacks like teenagers to endure the (poorly reviewed, more often than not, yet not-to-be-missed) film.
Over the last few years, this moviegoing has become a firm tradition. A ritual. And it’s something that makes my heart smile.
Brothers in law. It’s a relationship not discussed nearly as often as that of the mother in law or even sisters in law. Less drama perhaps? It’s no less important. At least not to me.
I count my younger brother among my closest, dearest, best friends. We were born 22 months apart. We strongly resented one another’s existence for the majority of our childhood, but by the time we were 16 and 14, this had changed. Markedly.
We became inseparable. Allies.
There’s something uniquely special about the sibling bond. It’s far more intense, more forgiving than a regular friendship. When you live in the same space and at times compete for the same parents’ limited attention, a dynamic develops that’s unlike most others. You don’t tip toe around your siblings. You can have loud, screaming, passionate arguments, fling words like stones. A half hour later, you’re completely over it. Mates again.
As we limped out of our teenage years, I came to believe my brother was everything a young man should be: the benchmark for any other male I came into contact with. While I was always close to my father, I admired and respected him from a distance. From another generation. With my brother it was different. I watched him develop and grow from the petulant, floppy-haired 10 year old (who constantly changed rules of games to avoid losing), into a man I was proud, even honored to call family. He was clever and daggy and witty. Kind and protective and driven. With the exception of my father, he was the best man I knew.
By our early twenties, we were used to giving one another’s partners the once-over when they came onto the scene. Fiercely protective of each other, coupled with an underlying and yet irrational sense of possession, we created an intimidating environment for potential dates.
I’d temporarily sworn off love and finding a life partner when I unexpectedly met my current husband. From the outset, our relationship did not scream fairy tale. For numerous reasons, it was messy and tumultuous: on again, off again in the most clichéd of ways. I was studying and he was in a stressful new job, having also recently come out of a long term relationship. Young and greedy and impatient, I wanted more than he felt he could give. Not unreasonably, he wanted time and space to breathe.
As we spent months attempting to reach a happy medium, pushing and pulling to make things fit our needs and expectations, my husband got to see the best of me. It was my brother, back at home, who witnessed the tears. The breaking heart. The insecurity.
Younger than my husband by some years, all he saw was a man messing his sister around. Someone who couldn’t commit but wasn’t prepared to let go. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t my husband’s biggest fan—as we compromised and delicately began building a shared life, my husband had to work extremely hard to turn this around.
Married over three years now, I watch them both, the main men in my life, alongside my son and my father, and I’m flushed with pride and gratitude at the bond they’ve forged. My brother holds the secrets and stories of my past self, the shared, sweet and sour memories of childhood. My husband is my present. My future.
Together, they lovingly tease and taunt me, knowing all of my quirks and flaws and foibles. They’ve joined forces to carry and guide me through serious illness and to support one another as brothers, too. These strong, insightful, beautiful men have my back and my heart.
As silly as it sounds, that they have formed their own “beer movie” tradition, independent from me, is just plain wonderful. It says it all, really.
This article was previously published on The Good Men Project