How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

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How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by Bum »

Greetings everyone,

since I've started meditating and went down the Buddhism rabbit hole, I've managed to recognize a few patterns in human behavior I wasn't aware of before, simply because I was doing (and I still am, but not that often) the same mistakes.

Anyway, to keep this as short as possible, my wife's sister was my ex-friend before her sister and I started dating. We've been having beers together, going to gigs, all that fun stuff. She used to be cool with me until the point where I've started dating her sister. Now, after we started dating, the ex-friend turned out to be completely different person, the one I never knew before - judgmental, trapped in her own fears, full of her own issues that didn't reflect before because I wasn't that present.

My wife and I became parents few years ago and that only intensified the conflict. At certain point, I drew some borders and told myself there are some thing I will not tolerate. However, back then, my wife was (and she still) is in a way upset with her sister. They're clashing like mad dogs all the time, whenever they see each other (my wife is now with me, her sister stayed at their mom's).

My wife wants to have a Disney Channel relationship with her sister. Meaningful, loving. Unfortunately, it was never that way and the hole between them grew larger and bigger when she left her her home and formed a new family with me. Her sister is accusing her of being 'a traitor', 'reason why she (sister) never did anything with her life because she was taking care of everything in the family (not true at all)'. She often attacks with things from the past, emotional blackmail being one of the main tools she uses.

My wife and I had conflicts of our own, due to my own nature I am trying to change a bit (with meditation and learning to listen) and her introvert-based relationship where she was attacked by everyone and then she took it all out on me.

These days, I see meditation truly helps. There's a great story in a book by Joko Beck that says we're not having problems with other people, but with our own baseboards, in which we plug in every time we are challenged, so we can feel something.

I would really like to hear your own opinions on the following - in what way I could give advice and make my wife realize she should forgive herself, forgive her sister, establish some borders and not feel worthless because, probably, the relationship she wanted to have with her sister will probably never happen?

Thank you all.

P.S. I am willing to answer some more questions if you do need to clear your picture.
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Re: How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by jkarlins »

Family karma is heavy. Just a guess, but it sounds like there is both a lot of anger, and a level of addiction to the relationship (desire), in terms of your wife and her sister.

No suggestions. Glad you're practicing. Good luck.

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Re: How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by Malcolm »

Bum wrote: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:40 pm

I would really like to hear your own opinions on the following - in what way I could give advice and make my wife realize she should forgive herself, forgive her sister, establish some borders and not feel worthless because, probably, the relationship she wanted to have with her sister will probably never happen?
Dharma can never be used to change others. It can only be used to change oneself.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
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Re: How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by kirtu »

Family counseling? Beyond that just be as aware and kind as possible.

Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Change doesn't come from being directed by others, even loved ones. You can't make anyone do anything, really. Trying to do so is usually disastrous, in my experience at least.

If you want to help, just listen more, and help her figure out what she wants to do...

Don't try to fix anyone.

Other than that, it's probably out of your hands entirely.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Re: How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by KathyLauren »

You can't. It's their karma; they'll have to deal with it in their own way.

My brother and our mother had a huge feud that lasted for years. I have had some conflict resolution / mediation training, so I was motivated to help. But I knew I couldn't be objective with family. I'll help strangers resolve conflicts but it just wouldn't work with family. The best I could do was to recommend that they hire a mediator, and to help them with finding one. The conflict resolved itself (or rather was successfully swept under the carpet) when my mother became terminally ill with cancer.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by Bum »

Thank you all.

Basically, the same thing I've expected to hear: you can't change anything and keep on :meditate:


I am not even trying to help anymore. Back then, few years ago, I was giving my best advice, really trying to wear someone else's skin, but my advice were like steel armor - each next one was additional steel plate and at the end it started wearing me down. I've felt like my wife's an 'askhole' - someone who asked too much and never really paid any attention to what's being said.

Truth be told, I've made myself think my advice was asked in my desperate need to help a loving one.

Probably the only thing I can do is be here and hope someone will install the idea of meditation and loving kindness in these two - be it wind, chimes, rivers or infomercials, all is welcome :)
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Re: How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by muni »

Emotional frustrations are 'artists', forming a scenario like a tv drama soap, seeing faults with others, which allows no inner peace, no harmony, no patience.

Listening without pointing a finger, they perhaps can do?
Remain aware of own mind, to not run in destructive dialogues, would help. Because we all are interdependent and there is influence of behaviour. See for example how to be in the presence of Awaken Nature, amazing Compassion is as a blessing medicine itself for own practice.

All the best on your path, Bum.
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Re: How to (try to) resolve family conflict?

Post by tomschwarz »

))) you cant change people? yes you can... case in point, the dalai lama has changed me significantly. and if you consider his teaching of many to be an exception )))) consider that you changed me. i am writing all of this directly because of your most excellent post and some of the predictable responses to it about "not trying to change people". the opposite, there is this big part of the dharma called emptiness, it means that everything i do, is not "me" independently, it originates dependent on you! Wup! You responders to bum's post changed me again! ...among other things... but that is a totally different subject.

first off, great written statement. you wrote down the whole situation very clearly. thank you for sharing your experience. i somehow feel very close to you in that i understand some of the complex dynamics that you are describing. and, yes, i have advice for you ))))) that is funny. so, yes, i believe that i can change you bum, my intention is to make you more happy based on buddhism and my very limited understanding of it, as well as buddhahood.

...death bum, that is the key here. i get it, the buddhist (buddhism) idea of always keeping death in mind is not for your wife or her sister, but it is for you. the point, of thinking about death, in the end, is that it makes us care for eachother and not for ourselves. it is the ultimate answer to self-obsession, because, you will die. end of your empire. so, in short, my suggestion, is use the fruits of your excellent meditation to turn off all ego. you can not be hurt. you are stronger and at the same time more sensative than that. put your shoulders back, open your heart and care for these people. step one is always acceptance. in buddhism that is called the wisdom of discernemnt (vajrayana) natural transformation of desire. so your wife is like this, her sister is like that, true. accepted _as_ existing exactly as it exists and there are causes which 100% justify everything that exists as being 100% caused and in that sense 100% logical.

from acceptance (of dependent origination), we can move on to caring for these people. they have not thought much about their own death. they are still very interested in defining and fortifying their sense of self and conquering all that is contrary. that is why the first noble truth is so true. these people are suffering very, very deeply, fighting a loosing battle on many, many fronts. so compassion. so some quiet caring words or silence at their side.

then comes wisdom practice, based on who they are (see acceptance and discernment), which you always put as top priority (a.k.a. listenting), you use what they call "skillfull means" to deliver that wam bam thank you mam, superkalofragilistic seed, that can over time, with luck, blossom into some form of real and stable happiness for your wife and for her sister on their own terms.

that is love.

the whole subject of them throwing that seed right back at you, is not even applicable to what i am talking about, because that would relate to your own sense of self/self-protection. and i firmly believe that, that whole direction is in opposition to your happiness.

Good luck brother!
i dedicate this post to your happiness, the causes of your happiness, the absence of your suffering the causes of the absence of your suffering that we may not have too much attachment nor aversion. SAMAYAMANUPALAYA
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