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Question
Posted by: Noddie | 2004/01/21

In-laws

Hi Doc

Just want to say that Christmas went well - filled our days with friends and selected family outings with in-laws very carefully - yes they were fustrated because they did not get their way but we saw them enough not to make them nag and and nag and nag (even though they phoned my husband almost every day and drove him mad)!!!!!!! I have decided that just as I have to deal with their incapability to accept that their son has his own life now - they have to deal with my outlook that they need to grow up. What I have realised, though is that my husband is still playing the "little brother" and that is why is elder sister can not accept that he is married now - now, Doc, that would never change as he is so damn scared of causing conflict - I speak to him about it and every time he says that he will talk to them - but talking and not walking the talk is not going to bring him anywhere - so I might just tell him to take his things and go and force him to see a counselor! his actually pathetic and i actually "hate" his sister. When I told her that we might want to move to another country (just for fun to see what her reaction would be) she said, but you only have one family and what are you going to do if they die and you did not spend enough time with them - she has serious issues and need to become more independent (remember I said she's 33, not married). This year is my year for making peace with this woman (whom I feel very sorry for) and if my husband does not shape up - he's going to be very sorry and I might just start a little war in the process!

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Our expert says:
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Dear Noddie,
Yes, isn't it remarkable how strongly many of us stick to roles, especially those we have got used to playing within our families, even when a specific role is no longer appropriate. It's as if he's still insisting on playing Lady Macbeth, though the rest of the cast has moved on to playing Romeo and Juliet, and he's supposed to be Romeo !
Sounds like his sister is stuck in the Big Sister / Little Brother role, because she hasn't moved up into adult territory and other lasting relationships of her own. Maybe making peace with her, and nuging her ently towards other acivities and relationships rather than an excessively exclusive concentration on old family relationships, could help more than open warfare. And one wonders, for your husband to be so extremely sensitive about avoiding conflict within the family, whether this famil has had a history of severe past conflicts, or really bad conflict management skills ?

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