Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Questions from the first Girl Talk

Last night was the first "Girl Talk" WOW, it was great. Thanks to the fabulous ladies who showed up, participated and critique this event. I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to the next one.

Girl Talk is an event where a group of women get together and discuss whatever issues are impacting their lives and I do my best to offer a mental health, clinical perspective. Actually, it is my effort to support people, in this case women, to offer hope and healing for the pain we all face at one time or another.

So, I promised the girls last night I would address some of the anonymous questions submitted last night. They are such good questions, I will do my best to offer up some hope and healing for the situations these questions embody.

Let me preface this by saying. There are no black and white answers to these questions. What I offer is my own academic, spiritual, and experiential thoughts.

Here we go.
Question #1
My husband and his sister aren't getting along - do I stay out of it or butt in - and if so how?

Yep this one comes up a lot, and I am just talking about my own life.

It is so difficult to watch two people you know and often love, miscommunicate, or, well, fight and tear each other down. Any descent person would feel like they needed to do something to help. Makes sense. The thing is it does not, I repeat, DOES NOT work that way. It does not work when one person, with good intentions, tries to mediate two people they are in a close relationship with. Friends or family, it doesn't matter. The ironic thing is the person with the good intentions, will not be able to help and will most likely damage, maybe even destroy the relationship with the two people he or she is trying to help. Harsh, I know, but pretty much true. Here is why. With communication, every time another individual is added into the communication loop, it becomes more complicated. Makes sense right?

That said, back to the question. If two people are not getting along, aka - communicating, adding a third will not make things better, it will make things more complicated. That part is pretty straight forward, what comes next is the difficult part. If you are the 3rd party in this communication loop, you have a challenging role - remain neutral. Neutral is code for - stay out of it, don't pick sides. Next, you, the 3rd party, must support both parties from a neutral position. This requires a great amount of restraint and maturity. There are 60 year olds who are not mature enough to conquer this challenge. Having this knowledge about the dynamics of communication may help you and save you years of frustration and pain.

So to the person who asked the question, try to remain neutral and supportive to both parties. Pray for them to work it out. It may be difficult, but trying to help will not give you the outcome you are hoping for. Making a decision to not try to help may actually help. Just so you know, there are no guarantees in relationships. Your husband and your sister-in-law may or may not work it out. When people do work out communication issues, it usually takes longer than anyone is comfortable with. Modeling maturity and patience is the greatest gift anyone can offer to the ones they love.

Let me know what you think. If you have experienced a similar situation, share your positive thoughts.