It seems that they don’t want to see your husband at all and find fault with him for no reason. This often leads to a quarrel. Then they don’t want to talk to you for a long time, behave childishly, don’t come to visit, talk dryly on the phone and all in all don’t want to have anything to do with you.
Like a peace envoy, you try to smooth out the wrinkles and build up the fragile relationship, but it seems that they don’t need any of it.
You’re smothered in bitterness and hard feelings.
“Why on earth? I keep trying, but they…”
Finally, you take a deep breath, find the right words, ask after their health and email them a photo of their granddaughter… Nothing doing.
“What, they are not even interested in what we’re doing? They couldn’t care less about their grandchildren?”
A view from the other side
Before blaming your parents for being hardhearted, it is a good idea to see the situation through their eyes. Maybe if you could see it from their point of view, it would be easier to build bridges in your family.
So, imagine that you have new neighbors.
They immediately invite themselves for a visit and during tea talk only about themselves, their plans and interests. They are not interested in the least in your life or your concerns, even though they sometimes ask about them, just to be polite. All in all, they are young and noisy and after their visit you feel like a squeezed-out lemon.
You have divergent interests and nothing to talk about. In addition, they are offended that you don’t come to visit and insulted that you are not interested in them.
What would you do in that situation?
- At first you would probably subtly try to put some distance between you.
- Then you would begin avoiding them.
- If that doesn’t help, you would most likely look for a reason to have a grandiose fight with them, the kind that blows the entire neighborhood.
That might make them disappear from your life at least for a while.
Could your parents feel something like that? Can they be fatigued by having to talk to you and by the noisy games of their grandchildren? Are you as interested in their lives as you expect them to be in yours?
It may be that a quarrel is simply an excuse to get rid of the burden of communication. Your parents are sure to have some concerns of their own and having a fight with your husband is just their way to stop wasting energy on something that’s tiresome to them.
If these family gatherings were a source of joy and made them feel good, no quarrel could prevent them, could it?
What follows can go either of two ways:
- You continue to put pressure on your parents, to demand love, attention and involvement loudly and aggrievedly. You demand everything else they owe you too (although it’s not quite clear why they do). You cannot force your parents to talk to you. They are grown-up people and they do as they see fit. They don’t want to meet with you and found a good excuse for it.
- You adjust to your parents. You arrange your family meetings in such a way that your parents’ joy and pleasure in them are a priority.
Why does it bother you so much?
I can well imagine how annoying the thought of adjusting to your parents may be to you. It’s as if you have to beg for love and approval again, as if you were 15 again and felt useless, abandoned and unloved.
Here’s a question: What is happening to you? Right now you feel a storm of emotions, all of them negative. You worry, you run various possible dialogues in your head, you come up with arguments. Actually, you are virtually giving up all your energy to these wrong relationships with nothing to show for it.
You are doing yourself a great disservice and all for the sake of getting your parents’ attention. Do you realize how unhealthy this situation is?
It seems to you that since you are married and have a family of your own you are grown up and independent. But that’s not really the case, because right now you are painfully dependent on your parents’ opinion.
Love for the family as a case of disease
People who have that approach to the family are like an alcoholic looking for money for a pick-me-up. It is not a pleasant comparison, but it’s quite accurate. Such relationships poison, they do harm, yet you continue to insist on a new doze.
I am sure you want to object,
“How can you compare a person who does everything for their loved ones, who takes care of them and sacrifices many things for them to an alcoholic or a druggie?”
The comparison does not demean them at all. We are talking about a disease, about a condition when a person may be their own enemy, may not be aware of some of their actions or may harm those near them. Not necessarily consciously and even out of love.
How can you fix a relationship?
Any relationship can be fixed. It does not matter how poor it may be right now. What matters is how badly you want results and how hard you are willing to work for them.
You have two tasks:
- On the one hand, you need to deal with your feelings of being useless, abandoned, repelled or other negative feelings, because it is likely that you were raised by being boycotted;
- On the other hand, for the sake of the cause, you need to get your parents “hooked” on talking to you and communicating with you. You have to do it carefully and patiently. It is almost like making a man fall in love with you :).
Just imagine a pouting girl come up to a man who is not particularly interested in her. She makes sheep’s eyes at him and says,
“Look at me, see how beautiful and smart I am. See what a pretty dress I’m wearing, I can cook really nicely too, and so on and so on. But you have to buy me this, take me there, give me such and such…”
All in all, it’s loads of airs and tons of claims. Is he going to fall in love? The answer is obvious.
Think about the right way to behave in order to make a good impression. How would you become an interesting person to talk to, a friend? How would you make him count the days till you meet again?
Now match that to your family meetings. And act.
- Become interested in your parents’ life, their health, whatever they’re interested in. Be sincere even if you do not share their concerns.
- Admire them, they must be great at something.
- Thank them. If you do something for somebody you expect them to be grateful, it’s logical. So, express your thanks to your parents as often as you can.
If you learn to look at your relationship with your mom’s and dad’s eyes, you will have a chance to build it from scratch, so that both sides enjoy every meeting.