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RoseRed135

Healing family rifts

18 posts in this topic

This article makes the assumption that because you are family you are obligated to heal a rift which I don't agree with. Family doesn't mean that you need them in your life. People can choose family. 

Until til past autumn my father had not spoken to his sister for 26 years because of her actions with the final straw being accusations she made against me. My dad, his sister and his brother all live in different cities with my uncle living in Europe. My parents were in Europe this past autumn visiting my mom's parents who live in the same city as my uncle and my aunt happened to be there. My uncle asked my dad if he would meet him and my aunt for coffee one day if my uncle arranged it. After discussing it with my mom he decided to go. My mom supported him seeing his siblings as it is just the three of them left out of their FOO but my mom will never be around my aunt again nothing can heal that relationship. I will never be around my aunt, again nothing can heal that relationship. I don't owe it to anyone to forgive my aunt and I don't feel I have to forgive her. There is nothing missing from my life because she is not in it.

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5 hours ago, Arabelle said:

This article makes the assumption that because you are family you are obligated to heal a rift which I don't agree with. Family doesn't mean that you need them in your life. People can choose family.

I agree. I thought the article was awful.

I assume people put thought into COs (like in divorce). I see no reason to offer olive branches, be a bigger person, or be a hero who ends the rift. To what end? More abuse?

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Even if you want to heal the rift, it is important to remember that in any fight, there are at least two people involved. We currently have a 'minor' rift in my FOO. Without going into too much detail. one of my siblings has decided that since our dad passed away, our mom needs someone to 'take over for dad'. Well, first of all, if you knew my mom you would know that is laughable. My dad has been sick for a long time and even before that, mom was responsible for pretty much everything.  There is no 'taking over for dad'. My mom took care of dad. If we had lost mom, it would be different. Dad would need someone to step in. But mom is completely independent and self sufficient. This sibling started trying to tell mom what she was going to do. He started with something small in the grand scheme of things, the holidays. He tried to tell mom who could and couldn't come to Thanksgiving. This set us all off, as the first holiday after Dad passed away was very important to mom and she basically got fed up and told us she wasn't hosting if my brother was going to try to control everything. (That backfired on him because she told him if he wanted to control it, he could host it. He ended up doing it and it was kind of a disaster and he and his wife ended up fighting all day, but I digress). He came to me and started telling me what was going to happen going forward and I shut him down. I told him I wasn't going along with it. That he was trying to take things away from Mom when she needed it the most. This is unusual to me, normally I avoid confrontation at all costs. He got upset with me because I wasn't taking his side. He tried playing mom and me against each other. So now he's on the 'naughty' list for both of us. Mom said she's not even sure she wants to do Christmas if he's going to get on her last nerve. 

I say all of that to say this. A single person cannot repair a rift. Yes, sometimes it takes a single person making the first step or overture. BUT, the only way a rift can be repaired is if all parties are ready to deal with the issue, apologize where needed, close the book and move on.  All that happens when a single person is trying to repair the rift is the person ends up expending their energy and becoming resentful about it.

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I read the article.  It was apparent to me that the author had never been in a true family feud, maybe just a spat over who ate the last piece of cake.

Edited by SueSTx
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Oh, it's Dr. Phil. I heard he used to be in favor of cut-offs, until he became a grandparent and had problems with one of his own kids. Now he's like my PILs: "The past is in the past!" Except when it's not, Dumb Phil. Except when history continues to repeat itself.

Yeah, none of that weak advice is going to work in DH's FOO. For one thing, they take no responsibility for ANY of their cruddy behavior. For another, the only thing they think WE should be apologizing for (and never doing again) is when we pointed out how their behavior is hurting us and how we asked them to stop. How dare we ask them to stop doing things that are insulting, disrespectful and that hurt us? For instance, how dare we tell them we're walking out of their house the next time we hear MIL use the N word or the K word? How dare we ask MIL not to wake us up after 10:30 pm on a weeknight, wanting sympathy because a friend's son (who we don't even know) killed himself? How dare DH talk to her so forcefully after she kept pushing him to sell his car to detested OSIL, and kept guilting him about not doing enough to "help" his sister (who has never lifted a single finger for us, instead she usually makes things  more miserable).

Our biggest mistake was in going back for more. We should have cut them off completely years ago.

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I think that this article is from the standpoint that the "root cause" is a one time event, where as many of the rifts I have read about including my own are not "one time" occurences but rather a continued patterns of behavior with the same issues repeating themselves throughout the history of the relationship. When the rift is due to a behavior, there are only two outcomes either you chose to accept the behavior or you do not - and some behaviors are simply not acceptable.  

If I break DH and I problems down to the simplest terms out root cause is that MIL behavior is unacceptable, she refuses to change, we refuse to accept it and thus we are at an impasse and so we are no contact.  The past cannot be the past in a repeating situation - it is always the present. 

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In my case, my family estrangement involved my paternal grandmother. She tried to get my parents divorced, tried to talk my dad into letting her raise me and my sister because our mother was "clearly incapable" and a number of other things, culminating in telling my age 10 self she wished I'd been aborted, since now my dad would refuse to divorce to avoid being a weekend dad.

Yes, she knew her behavior was wrong, no, she didn't care and was never going to change. Some rifts cannot be healed due to this very attitude, and even if the person *is* willing to change, I would not blame anyone in this sort of circumstance for not trusting them to do so. The best thing to do is grieve what can never be, then move forward having chosen a realistic path. The hard part is the criticism people get for refusing to reconcile with a relative, particularly if you grew up in church like I did. Dr. Phil is dead wrong in this case. Sometimes the only way to heal a relationship is for someone to pass away.

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This advice won't work for DH's FOO either.  Currently, DH is being shunned by his DB, aunt IL and 2 cousins IL, and he only has a relationship with his dad whom he does a welfare check on every other Sat morning since FIL is MIL's fulltime caretaker - most of the time MIL is asleep or in a zomby-like state when DH visits.   The shunning is due to a very vocalized perspective that DH's loyalty should be to his parents/DB and that DH should devote the lion's share of his time to my IL's/BIL.  Examine the players in this.  BIL is 45, single, a dx sociopath, and still lives at home.  MIL is his mommy/spouse.  Female cousin IL is 54, single, lives at home and down the street from my IL's with her mommy/spouse (my MIL's sister).  Male cousin IL is 48 and married for the first time 6 months ago and dealing with his mom's wrath for "leaving her" to get married much as DH and I dealt with from MIL throughout our marriage. 

What are the chances of DH solving this family feud?  To solve it, he would need to school me and "get me in line" (BIL's words to DH), so that I understand the order of things in MIL comes first.   DH would need to spend every weekend with his IL's, starting Friday night then return home Sunday night tending to MIL and FIL and being the good, doting son he was trained to be.  He would need to get a new job closer to my IL's as right now his job is 2 hours from them which prevents him being there M-F to do such things as carry his mom up and down her stairs when she has a doctor appt (although BIL can easily lift her and lives there, it was decided by the entire family this is DH's job to do).   He would need to order me and the kids to be at my IL's tending to them, and I would have to return to my IL servant role that I retired from.  He would need to apologize to this idiot, neanderthal clan for not putting them first especially my MIL.  I think that may be what keeps her alive TBH.  She wants her dying wish fulfilled of being re-united with DH after he gives me the boot and finally puts her first.  Have I ever told you how much she sucked as a MIL? 

There is not one IL I want in my life, so I am cool with this shunning especially since it is allowing DH to see how unhealthy this dynamic is/was all along and to really get some clarity to move forward and find peace.  It also saves me the money it would have taken to gather up this group, put them in a container, and ship them back to their homeland...

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I think the very basis of the article is problematic.

Not all rifts need to be, nor SHOULD be, healed.

Family is not diplomatic immunity to be toxic, abusive, nasty, disrespectful.

Some folks find they are far, FAR better off WITHOUT people like that in their lives.

If you wouldn't take it from a friend, why should you take it from family?

I've said it before, I'll say it again: it's only where faaaaamily is concerned that society puts the onus on the victim to make nice with their abuser.

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8 hours ago, SueSTx said:

I read the article.  It was apparent to me that the author had never been in a true family feud, maybe just a spat over who ate the last piece of cake.

I agree. Somehow, it feels very superficial.Also, while the author takes some quotes from Dr. Phil, but  I'm not sure they're exactly in context (not that I necessarily agree w/ all of them, anyhow).

I have mixed feelings about the content of the article. I like the ideas of trying to identify the actual problem and looking at your (general) own part in it, As we've discussed here before, so often people blame a 3rd party, rather than look at what has really gone wrong between them and the person they're in conflict with. 

Also, I like the idea of trying to see the issue from the other person's perspective. That's something posters here often advise, and, in fact, it helped me a lot w/ certain issues I had w/ my ODD.

What I have an issue w/ is the suggestion that you put your own feelings aside for the sake of the larger family. It may be "noble," in a sense, but it also seems to say that your feelings "don't count," even if you're hurt. It also suggests that you need to take whatever injury has been done "lying down," just so everybody else can move forward as if nothing is wrong. To switch metaphors, it just sounds to me like a euphemism for saying, "Hey, just sweep it under the rug."

It's true, IMO, that not everything is "just about you." But it isn't necessarily about other family members, either, especially if they aren't part of the quarrel. Sure, it may be hard for Mom/MIL not to have all her AC at the holiday table, for example, due to a rift between 2 or 3 of them. But she can arrange to see them separately, etc. IMO, it's up to other family members to adjust their expectations, not for the injured party/parties to put their hurt aside and play pretend.

I'm also bothered by the talk of "forgiving" w/o any talk of remorse on anyone's part. As we've often talked about here, it can be hard to forgive when the other person hasn't indicated that they're sorry. And it may be futile, too, b/c then, they're likely to feel they can repeat the offensive behavior, etc. I remember when YDD chose to forgive someone who gave her a rather insincere apology for what they had done. Soon enough, they repeated the exact same offense.

 

Edited by RoseRed135
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Forgiveness doesn't equal reconciliation.

Too often, ppl use, "you need to forgive!" as a goad to get ppl to do what they want. I can forgive someone, but it doesn't mean that I want a relationship w/them again.

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17 hours ago, BlueEyedGirl said:

Even if you want to heal the rift, it is important to remember that in any fight, there are at least two people involved. We currently have a 'minor' rift in my FOO. Without going into too much detail. one of my siblings has decided that since our dad passed away, our mom needs someone to 'take over for dad'. Well, first of all, if you knew my mom you would know that is laughable. My dad has been sick for a long time and even before that, mom was responsible for pretty much everything.  There is no 'taking over for dad'. My mom took care of dad. If we had lost mom, it would be different. Dad would need someone to step in. But mom is completely independent and self sufficient. This sibling started trying to tell mom what she was going to do. He started with something small in the grand scheme of things, the holidays. He tried to tell mom who could and couldn't come to Thanksgiving. This set us all off, as the first holiday after Dad passed away was very important to mom and she basically got fed up and told us she wasn't hosting if my brother was going to try to control everything. (That backfired on him because she told him if he wanted to control it, he could host it. He ended up doing it and it was kind of a disaster and he and his wife ended up fighting all day, but I digress). He came to me and started telling me what was going to happen going forward and I shut him down. I told him I wasn't going along with it. That he was trying to take things away from Mom when she needed it the most. This is unusual to me, normally I avoid confrontation at all costs. He got upset with me because I wasn't taking his side. He tried playing mom and me against each other. So now he's on the 'naughty' list for both of us. Mom said she's not even sure she wants to do Christmas if he's going to get on her last nerve. 

Sorry about this conflict, BEG! Sounds like your sib has been wanting to take over the holidays/change things about the holidays for a long time and thought w/ your dad unfortunately gone, he had his chance (I hope that doesn't sound insensitive. It's not meant to be.). Guess he'll have to think again!

I say all of that to say this. A single person cannot repair a rift. Yes, sometimes it takes a single person making the first step or overture. BUT, the only way a rift can be repaired is if all parties are ready to deal with the issue, apologize where needed, close the book and move on.  All that happens when a single person is trying to repair the rift is the person ends up expending their energy and becoming resentful about it.

Or they may actually "suffer" for their efforts. One of my uncles (by marriage) had been estranged from his brother for years when he married my aunt. Once married, she tried to be the "hero" who brought them back together. IDK exactly what she did (this was before my time  :) ). But, apparently, it didn't work, and just made her DH furious w/ her!

 

Edited by RoseRed135
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18 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

I agree. Somehow, it feels very superficial.Also, while the author takes some quotes from Dr. Phil, but  I'm not sure they're exactly in context (not that I necessarily agree w/ all of them, anyhow).

I have mixed feelings about the content of the article. I like the ideas of trying to identify the actual problem and looking at your (general) own part in it, As we've discussed here before, so often people blame a 3rd party, rather than look at what has really gone wrong between them and the person they're in conflict with. 

Also, I like the idea of trying to see the issue from the other person's perspective. That's something posters here often advise, and, in fact, it helped me a lot w/ certain issues I had w/ my ODD.

What I have an issue w/ is the suggestion that you put your own feelings aside for the sake of the larger family. It may be "noble," in a sense, but it also seems to say that your feelings "don't count," even if you're hurt. It also suggests that you need to take whatever injury has been done "lying down," just so everybody else can move forward as if nothing is wrong. To switch metaphors, it just sounds to me like a euphemism for saying, "Hey, just sweep it under the rug."

It's true, IMO, that not everything is "just about you." But it isn't necessarily about other family members, either, especially if they aren't part of the quarrel. Sure, it may be hard for Mom/MIL not to have all her AC at the holiday table, for example, due to a rift between 2 or 3 of them. But she can arrange to see them separately, etc. IMO, it's up to other family members to adjust their expectations, not for the injured party/parties to put their hurt aside and play pretend.

I'm also bothered by the talk of "forgiving" w/o any talk of remorse on anyone's part. As we've often talked about here, it can be hard to forgive when the other person hasn't indicated that they're sorry. And it may be futile, too, b/c then, they're likely to feel they can repeat the offensive behavior, etc. I remember when YDD chose to forgive someone who gave her a rather insincere apology for what they had done. Soon enough, they repeated the exact same offense.

 

I agree with you. Much as I believe people should try to heal rift and be mature about some issues, even if it means agree to disagree, I am not in favour of anyone’s feelings being walked across just so someone else can feel better. No thank you! Many people tell Christians that they have to forgive, but I like to remind them that even God doesn’t forgive people who don’t confess and repent of their bad behaviours, why should I? 

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3 minutes ago, Gigima said:

I agree with you. Much as I believe people should try to heal rift and be mature about some issues, even if it means agree to disagree, I am not in favour of anyone’s feelings being walked across just so someone else can feel better. No thank you! Many people tell Christians that they have to forgive, but I like to remind them that even God doesn’t forgive people who don’t confess and repent of their bad behaviours, why should I? 

There's a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. FIL is on ITO from me and ELC with Hubby. He tried to destroy our marriage. I have forgiven him, but I do not wish to reconcile unless he's willing to smarten up (very unlikely - he has been the way he is Hubby's whole life).

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17 minutes ago, agnurse said:

There's a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. FIL is on ITO from me and ELC with Hubby. He tried to destroy our marriage. I have forgiven him, but I do not wish to reconcile unless he's willing to smarten up (very unlikely - he has been the way he is Hubby's whole life).

To me forgiveness implies it’s all good again in every way. New slate and all that. That cannot happen unless the other person not only apologised but also stopped their unacceptable or injurious behaviour. With some people hell will freeze over before that happens, so I don’t forgive, but I do let go. Not for them, but for me, because I don’t want people like that to have any part in my life, in my mind or in my heart, not even anger.  I feel sad, I can even step into their shoes and understand where they come from and their issues, but if it’s unacceptable then it’s unacceptable and nothing I can do is going to change that. So I mourn the loss and let it go. I might still feel the odd twitch of anger for a bit, but over time and with repeated letting go it does actually go away. And I move on. 

It can be hard with people who pretend to be nice at times but then go back to doing what they do, but I eventually just get tired of the games they play and walk away. 

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On 12/15/2017 at 9:33 AM, Gigima said:

To me forgiveness implies it’s all good again in every way. New slate and all that. That cannot happen unless the other person not only apologised but also stopped their unacceptable or injurious behaviour. With some people hell will freeze over before that happens, so I don’t forgive, but I do let go. Not for them, but for me, because I don’t want people like that to have any part in my life, in my mind or in my heart, not even anger.  I feel sad, I can even step into their shoes and understand where they come from and their issues, but if it’s unacceptable then it’s unacceptable and nothing I can do is going to change that. So I mourn the loss and let it go. I might still feel the odd twitch of anger for a bit, but over time and with repeated letting go it does actually go away. And I move on. 

It can be hard with people who pretend to be nice at times but then go back to doing what they do, but I eventually just get tired of the games they play and walk away. 

In my case even if my aunt apologized and changed her behavior I would not have her in my life in any way shape or form and it's the same for my mom and the only one of my sisters that knew her (the youngest two have never met her). She is someone I share a genetic connection and nothing else. I never feel like there is something missing from my life because she is not in it. 

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If there's one thing I've learned, that is, people often expend more energy and effort repairing the irreparable, when all along they should have concentrated their efforts to forget and move on, and I don't mean making amends and singing kumbaya, while in a circle group-hugging.

I can honestly say that DH and I, have endured family quarrels and upsets, and some were never forgiven or forgotten, and to this day we're at peace with our decision to move forward and carry on living without those people in our lives. What will be will be.

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