One working definition of family is “the people you are stuck with.” And the greater you extend out from your nuclear family, the more conflict arises. Your wife’s parents may not see eye-to-eye with you and your Mom may have never really liked your wife. Add in Aunt Alice’s gossiping and Uncle Joe’s alcoholism and your family is officially dysfunctional.
It is challenging to navigate when there is family disagreement, but the default rule is that you side with what your wife wants and she sides with you. For instance, your Mom wants you to come over for a holiday dinner, but your wife would rather your family serve at a homeless shelter. What do you do?
After making a list of pros and cons with your wife, if she really is still adamant about her preference, you go with her. And, she gets your back the next time around. Nothing should ever disunify you and your wife. You are one flesh with her.
Here are 10 ways to avoid extended family conflict:
1. The Alliance
Build a core relationship with the calm level-headed members of your family. Create an alliance of troubleshooters. When things start to brew, it is much easier to squash when caught early. Aunt Betty feels insulted by your step-cousin Rita. Betty’s son Nate steps in to sympathize with his Mom. However he makes a few astute observations on possible legitimate reasons as to why it occurred. Meanwhile your brother Joe talks to your step-cousin Rita. He asks her to try to understand Aunt Betty a little more. The next thing you know, Aunt Betty and Rita are eating dinner together and have grown a deeper bond. The alliance wins again. (Read More)
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