Oh, my goodness! We had a small holiday gathering with my parents, and politics came up in conversation. After we disagreed with his feelings around the recent election, my father became so upset he got up and left the house before dessert. He has never reacted so poorly. He has not spoken to me since. What should I do to help remedy the situation?
– Holiday Blow-Up Disaster
Dear Holiday Blow-Up Disaster,
Unfortunately, I doubt your family situation is unique for our times. We have been through so much during the past year; many people are worn out and reacting poorly to situations they used to be able to let go. I recommend calling your father and setting up a time to talk. If possible, do it safely in person or via Facetime/Skype, since being able to see each other’s body language is important for reconciliation (verbal and physical cues help us to be empathic towards others). Share your desire to move forward from the dinner and accept you both have feelings about the event, but your relationship is more important than words said in the past. Agree to disagree. Say “sorry” to each other and that you love each other deeply, then move forward, agreeing to keep politics a taboo topic. It is OK for us to not talk about politics, money, and religion with friends and family if it leads to heated debates that go nowhere – that’s called good decision making. Good luck!
My daughter recently got engaged. She met her fiancé online two months ago. I am very concerned she is jumping way too fast into marriage. She has had only 10 dates with her fiancé, yet they plan to get married on Valentine’s Day this year. How can I help her see rushing into a legal marriage is not a good decision, and she should wait until she gets to know her fiancé better?
– Afraid of a Big Regret
Dear Afraid of a Big Regret,
I agree with you; 10 dates is a short time period for a couple to get engaged. I am more concerned about the wedding occurring so soon this year. I suggest you talk with your daughter and offer support of the relationship while gently encouraging her to allow more time to develop a stronger bond within the relationship, modeling that doing so will only help the relationship in the long run. I also suggest you give them the book “Eight Dates,” by John and Julie Gottman; it can offer your daughter and her fiancé a quick guide to exploring each other’s personalities and belief systems, which are important to know before committing to each other legally.
Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW is a clinical social worker, owner of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group, and an Issaquah Highlands resident.
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