Thursday, May 17, 2012

When Those Who Spitefully Use You are Family

A friend once shared his family situation with me - and particularly that his parents constantly badgered him about his marriage, since they didn't like or approve of his wife.  The following was my response to him: 

Patience is a virtue, and Jesus said to love those that spitefully use us.

It's hard - probably one of the hardest things there is - when the spiteful users are parents. This probably is your own Gethsemane, where you are pleading for the cup to be taken from you. It can't be, so I advise you to set inviolable boundaries - "acceptable minimums" that will result in temporary withdrawal if crossed.

Say to them something like:

"We love and always will honor you, but we can't allow you to hurt us by doing (or saying) _____________. We will never withdraw from you if you don't do (or say) _____________, but if you do we simply won't be able to see you or talk with you for _______________ (an established time frame)."

After saying it, stick to it. They really do love you, even if they are messed up in how they express it and need to repent in this particular instance. It might take a long time, but they will get the message - and even if they don't, you will be a better person for taking a calm, measured, loving approach. 


Paul said...

Your boundary language is excellent, and it allows the parents in this case to make their own choice, and thereby to choose the associated consequence, just as a boundary should do.

Sad case, but excellent advice.

Bonnie said...

And it often works out quite well. My family of origin had a massive implosion about 7 years ago and most thought it was my fault. It was harder for me than my divorce was. I was estranged for some years trying to wrap my mind and heart around what happened and then things began to heal. I am really grateful I was relatively silent during that time instead of talking about my hurt feelings and participating in the polarizing (trying to get people on "our side") because things have largely healed. Time does heal. So does faith.