Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

The secret to happiness is self-honesty

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

Based on all the questions you see, is there any one nugget of advice you would give to EVERYONE to be happier and to find their own inner solutions to problems?

-- In General

Be honest with yourself about who you are -- the good and bad in balance. You'll make better decisions, for one, about everything. And you'll be more mindful of having one set of standards by which you judge both yourself and others, which in turn will make you more open-minded, less judgmental and all around on better terms with your surroundings. For further reading, Google "fundamental attribution error."

Dear Carolyn:

I'm getting married very soon, and my future in-laws are all in the wedding. For various reasons, the primary one being that there are some cultural differences and they do things differently than I do, they have all pre-emptively refused to do the few things I've asked them to do: be at a certain place at a certain time, wearing venue-appropriate clothing.

I talked this over with my fiance and told him I accept that they want to be themselves and do things their own way, and that I'm OK with it. He got very upset about the fact that they aren't respecting my wishes, and intervened on my behalf. I think this involved a yelling fight with at least one relative, though I wasn't there.

I now sense that the future in-laws are all upset with me. They think I sicced my fiance on them, which I didn't, and I'm not sure how to proceed from here! How do I do damage control that doesn't undermine my fiance, who was just trying to support me?

-- Weddingy Fluff 'n' Stuff

There comes a point when trying to fix something starts to make it worse, and your fiance unfortunately reached that point when he challenged his family.

I suggest you say nothing further about this, in your defense or your fiance's or anything else. Instead, be nothing but warm and welcoming to his family hereafter, and consider tweaking or outright eliminating items on the wedding agenda that expose these cultural differences. I don't know if this last one is even possible, but have a look. It's hard to think of a specific wedding event that's worth having if the place/timing/clothes are going to present such a problem. (Please feel free to correct me on this, anyone, if you have a specific example that says otherwise.)

At least, this is true of the specific wedding issue. Your fiance might have also been trying to fix something with his family in a larger sense -- marrying someone outside their/his culture could even be part of that.

If true, the outcome of this part of the story probably won't be known for some time. It's also something I suggest you leave to him to navigate, although it would be appropriate and even useful to prompt him to talk/think about the possibility that this wedding issue is just a proxy for a bigger battle he's trying to fight with them. It's possible he himself hasn't entirely seen it for what it is.

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Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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