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Health & Spirit

Pressured to repair husband's relationship with his sisters

Carolyn Hax on

[Pause for her to say her piece. To which you listen carefully.]

If she resumes her push to have you be the agent of family unity, then remind her, warmly and with empathy, that you have made efforts over the years that were rebuffed. That her children are the ones who have opened this distance between them and so must be the ones who close it. That it pains you to see a future where your baby isn't close to these aunties.

Up till now you've deflected her as a nuisance without first, as far as I can tell, approaching her as a fellow parent. Please rethink that and summon the patience to engage.

Her knowing you want the same thing she does, and your knowing her pain in not being able to make it happen, may not do anything to bring these siblings closer. It does have the power, though, to redefine how you and your mother-in-law interact. Less stiff-arm, more respect.

Once you've heard each other out, then you can go back to deflecting any continuing, unwelcome pressure from your mother-in-law -- lightly, sympathetically and as needed: "You know how I feel about this: I've tried, you've tried -- and it's not up to us anyway. Take it up with those stubborn offspring of yours." Streamline as needed.

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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) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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