Take Charge of Your Relationships – Family

“Family” can encompass a lot of people: mother, father, sister, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, children, even pets. Your relationships with some or all of them may be strained, whether it’s a personality conflict or they just did something that really ticked you off. Or maybe you’re looking to enhance your relationships, get closer to some of your family members. Maybe you want to add to your family by having a child or adopting a pet.

Your Relatives
They’re the people in your life you didn’t pick: your blood relations who may or may not bring you joy. If you’re content in your relationship with them, you likely don’t need this section. But if they drive you crazy (not in a good way!) and you find yourself avoiding them, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your relationship and see what to do about it.

There are different types of conflict, and you have to decide if you’re willing to deal with it or if you want to step back. If you want to have a close relationship with family members who have certain qualities or past actions that have hurt you, then you have to learn to let some things go. While you can never forget who they are or what they’ve done, you have to accept them for who they are — flaws and all. Can you do that? If not, the relationship may not be salvagable. If your interactions will constantly be tainted by memories and teeth-grinding, perhaps you should limit your interactions as much as possible. But if you truly want to build a relationship with them, look inside yourself and think about what you can accept. It’s not about forgetting what they did or who they are — it’s about accepting it and not letting it consume you and your relationship. Can you move past it?

Your spouse
All relationships require work, but these are perhaps the most crucial. You love your spouse (theoretically). You have chosen to spend your life with him or her. Where you live, what you do, how you act — chances are they’re all affected by your spouse and the decision to be together.

If you’re at the point of divorce, I won’t try to talk to you out of it. That’s none of my business. I believe you have to do what’s right for you. But I will ask this: are you sure? Have you looked at your relationship and determined there’s no way to fix what’s wrong? Only you can answer that question, and only you can make the ultimate decision. I would just encourage you to make sure that this is what you want.

That being said, what could use improving in your relationship? Chances are there’s something. I love my husband dearly, but there are still times he drives me nuts. And I know I do the same for him. It’s just human nature. But if there’s something that truly needs changing, sit down and talk about it. Talk about what’s missing, what’s not working, what needs help. Try not to get defensive or attack your spouse. This is supposed to bring you closer, not drive you farther apart. Do you need more affection? He or she won’t know unless you say something. Do you need help around the house? Support in a decision you’ve made? Feedback on a career change? No matter what it is, talk about it. Not only will it help you get what you need, but it can also bring you closer.

The conversation shouldn’t be one-sided though. If you’ve been feeling some tension, chances are your partner has as well. Listen to what he or she says, what he or she needs. And don’t brush off his or her concerns. Listen and respond accordingly. For your relationship to work, you need to be able to give as well as take. And don’t forget to thank your spouse for actions he or she has taken that address your needs. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

Kids

For me, I was happy with my marriage, my friendships, my relatives, etc. The part I wanted to change was becoming a parent. My husband and I wanted to have a child, and we were already trying to conceive when I decided to make changes in my life. But we had been having some difficulty, and that was very discouraging and depressing, especially when combined with my general unhappiness.There are obviously medical issues that can delay or prevent you from conceiving a child. Some can be overcome; some cannot. I won’t say that simply deciding to take charge of your life will magically make these issues disappear. All I can say is that figuring out what’s going on, and determining what you can do about it, can give you the information you need to take the steps that will get you where you want to be. When we were having trouble, we talked about our options. If we hadn’t been able to conceive, we had considered adoption. We are fortunate in that we were able to get pregnant, but it’s a fact of life that it may not have happened. That doesn’t mean we would have had to give up our dream of becoming parents. If you’re having trouble conceiving, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about your options. Then you can make the decisions that are right for you and your significant other.

Perhaps, however, you already have kids — and they’re driving you nuts. Hey, they’re kids, right? True, but some kids have issues that need addressing. Accept your kids as much as possible, then seek help for the concerns that really need taking care of, whether they be medical issues or behavioral issues. Books, doctors, counselors and support groups can all help you in your goals. Just make sure the problems are actually problems — and not you trying to make your children into people they’re not. Forcing your idea of what your child should be can not only cause your child to act out and rebel, it can also cause irreparable damage in the form of a strained relationship or repercussions from actions taken while acting out.

Pets
Animals can be welcome additions to any family. They offer love and affection and even have medical benefits. From what I’ve read they can help diminish the chance of allergies in children, reduce stress, and help the elderly in finding purpose and improving quality of life. Adopt a pet instead of purchase one, and you can also help an animal in need.

Just like kids, pets need love, attention, medical care and basic needs taken care of. If you want to welcome an animal into your home, make sure you’re able and willing to meet all these needs before taking a life into your hands.

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