mending family relationships

There comes a time in your life, as we get older and the years go by, that we start to realize just who matters and who’s worth keeping around in your life. Its part of the facts of life that as we grow up, sometimes we lose touch with family that we once spoke to regularly. We get older, we get married and have kids and we get so engulfed in our own busy lives that we aren’t as close with the family we grew up with.

Often, it seems as though time passes far too quickly and before we know it, it’s been a year since you last talked to a relative. Growing up in a big family meant lots of disputes, both small and big ones. No matter how crazy the argument was, I would still see all of my family come together during the holidays. As I’ve got older, that’s hardly seems to be the case anymore.

Cousins argue, brothers argue… all over petty stuff, really. Then they go without speaking to each other for months and sometimes even years at a time. It’s an all too familiar thing in families now days. We fight over petty, nonsensical things. We fight over wills, money, material things… all minuscule things. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that family will go just to not see someone they’re fighting with.

Mending family relationships is not easy. For us who observe these fights, it’s easy for us to say, “Stop it already, just make up and get along!” But for the ones who are in the argument it’s much more complicated than that. Or is it?

You ever hear someone say that they can’t remember how the argument got started? Or that it’s been going on for so long that they don’t remember why they’re even mad at each other? It’s sad.

It’s really ridiculous for someone to stay in argument with someone over—wait, what was the argument about again?—exactly my point! Then there are the more serious arguments. Perhaps it’s over some borrowed money that never got paid back to you, or it’s over a serious lie or deceit. In any of these cases, it’s more difficult to forgive.

But why? Why does it seem so hard when at one point you adored everything about this person, and you couldn’t envision your life without this family member? How did we get from A to B? And how do we mend these broken family relationships?

Therapy
This option isn’t for everyone, but for those willing to try, it could end up being a great thing! I always say there isn’t anything that should ever come between you and your family. And there isn’t an argument in the world that can’t be fixed among family—with a few exceptions like committing a heinous or sick crime. Talking to a professional who has dealt with patients with the same issues can really help you. And understand you better than most could.

Being the bigger person
Sometimes, you just have to look deep inside the mirror and realize that you may just be the cause of the problem. It could take time to realize this or maybe you know it and are just in denial. Let me tell you something, throw the ego out the window, face the facts, address the issue on hand and be real with yourself and the other person. Admit that you may have been the one in the wrong and that you are working on yourself. It will go a long way!

Talking it out in person—just the two of you
There will come a time in your life when you start to miss the brother or cousin you haven’t talked to in a while. Pick up the phone, set up a date and plan to talk it out. Be mature, be calm, hear each other out completely and then address the issues. For some people this is easier than getting a therapist involved.

Realizing the effect on others
I have two uncles who haven’t spoken to each other in about 20 years. This has always made it difficult for organizing family parties, birthdays, and events. Trust me when I say that your 20-year long argument has not only affected your immediate family, but basically the entire family. We all have to plan several dinners because two people can’t be in the same room. Please realize this and if it’s not the right time for you to make up with this family member then at least deal with being in the same room with them… for the entire family.

Being at peace
This is a big one. There are arguments where in all honesty, it’s childish and nonsensical. Sometimes you even try to reach out to the other person to out the issue behind you, but they are just too stubborn to admit they’re wrong or admit that the situation was childish.

There are family members we may not get along with because of the fact that they weren’t there for us, like a parent, sibling or even a grandparent. In these situations, all you can do is find your own forgiveness. If you know that there is no hope in reconciling because this person is that stubborn then there is nothing more you can do but hope that maybe they will come around one day. But until then, learn to accept that. Learn to forgive them if they have hurt you; learn to forgive them if they weren’t there for you like they should have been. Then be at peace with it.

Mending family relationships will always be an ongoing factor in many of our lives. If you are in a current argument with someone that is making you not speak to them, take a step back and look at the bigger issue. Is it your fault or theirs? Was it serious or childish? Can it be fixed? If so, then fix it.

Any day can be our last on this earth. I know too many people who have had regrets not telling someone they were sorry before their family member passed. It’s the type of regret you don’t want to burden yourself with for the rest of your life.

When you go to sleep tonight, make sure you aren’t in argument with someone you care about. Forgive, be at peace, and mend any and all broken relationships with family.


Reader Survey - end of articles