Mending Family Relationships

Every family goes through difficult times at some point. Occasionally experiencing problems and conflict in personal relationships is common, and is to be expected. But these problems can sometimes be overwhelming.

Our family members are often the most important people to us. This makes problems in family relationships especially distressing. Family problems can arise between spouses, between parents and children, and among siblings. Here are some common signs of serious problems in family relationships:

  • Arguing.
  • Frequent disagreements.
  • Communication disruptions.
  • Outbursts of anger.
  • Avoiding each other.
  • Physical abuse.

Tension Triggers

Sometimes family members just flat-out don’t get along. But it’s common for problems in family relationships to be caused or aggravated by outside influences. Here are some common triggers that can produce tension in family relationships:

  • Different opinions and personalities
  • Variances in beliefs, values or goals.
  • A change in the circumstances of the family, such as a new baby, a divorce or a separation, or newly blended families.
  • Changes in life circumstances, such as unemployment, moving to a different home, or a retirement.
  • Financial issues.
  • Stress from outside the home, at work or at school.
  • Sexuality issues.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse or addiction.
  • Gambling addiction.
  • A new physical or mental health issue.
  • The death of a family member, close friend, co-worker or pet.
  • Harassment or bullying.
  • A catastrophic natural disaster.
  • A lack of respect or trust in the relationship.

Effects of Family Relationship Strife

Since our family members are so important to us, rifts in our relationships with them can have wide-ranging effects on other areas of our lives. Among other things, strife in our family relationships can lead to:

  • Negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety or anger.
  • Physical manifestations of stress, exhaustion and confusion.
  • Feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Withdrawal from family members and other relationships.
  • Lack of ability to concentrate.
  • Problems with eating or sleeping.
  • Difficulties with friends, colleagues and family members.
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol to deal with problems.
  • Inability to enjoy normal activities or hobbies.

Working It All Out

If you are experiencing issues in your family relationships, there are some things you can do to address those issues and begin working through the problems.

  • Talk things out. Communication is key. Talking to each other is the first step to achieving solutions. Try to stay calm, and always be honest when expressing your concerns over problems with your loved ones.
  • Accept your differences. This can help everyone involved when trying to avoid conflict. Acknowledge that it’s okay for people to have different beliefs, opinions and ideas. It’s common for these not to match in relationships. Sometimes, they’re not even close!
  • Try to enjoy yourselves together. It’s important to find a way to have fun with your loved ones. It’s especially important when things aren’t going so well.
  • Devise a plan. This can aid in reducing stress, and helps to give family members a set of common goals. One example is if you’re experiencing financial difficulties, it can help to work together and set a budget.

Seek Outside Help

Maybe you’ve been trying to work things out for a while now. It’s possible that everyone involved is really trying to work everything out. But despite your efforts, it’s possible that your family may not be able to find a solution on its own. You may need some outside help. Here are some external resources that may be able to help you.

  • Talk to friends or other family members.
  • Seek relationship mediation or family therapy with a professional counselor.
  • Participate in courses or workshops focusing on communication skills, budget management or positive parenting.
  • Set up an appointment with your family doctor if you’re concerned about physical or mental health problems, and encourage family members to do so as well.
  • Take advantage of technology. Seek resources and information online, or call a telephone helpline.

People in loving, supportive relationships should be able to help each other both practically and emotionally. Members of families with healthy relationships are less likely to have physical or mental health problems, and are more likely to feel happier, be healthier and more satisfied with their lives.