Many have reported struggling with their families the past few months of lock downs and curfews, some saying that they have realized a lot about their families, including wives and husbands who sometimes have had to face that besides the children, they don’t have that much in common. We noticed that the calls purporting to be about nutrition or some other health issue, often ended up turning to family relationships.
So we checked some facts and it seams the curfew has brought some unwanted feelings. First of all, it seems that many had expected hanging out with their families to be nicer than it was in reality. Referring to the statistics, it seems the strain has been huge in many families, domestic violence being one number that boomed and even made some governments illegalize alcohol.
Second, some presumed that spouses, siblings, kids or parents would, or even should, be interested in what we were, i.e., the content of our lives (our interests) . When we get disappointed, it’s most likely connected to a thinking that something “ought” to be different, such as my husband should want to speak about what interests me and vice versa.
When we realized it’s not as we hoped or thought, we can get irritated, sad, frustrated and try to push our interests onto the other, until we realize it’s a dead end. The best way to get out of that is to question why we expected some sort of content connection in the first place. Where did that thinking come from?
I see family as emotional strings that often lack content. We have emotional strings in the form of memories from past times, of loving the same parents or siblings, but we wrongly presume and therefore expect the other to like what we like, or at the least show an interest. Why should they? Why should the other be interested in us beyond our well-being (if even that). I realized long ago that my family just wanted me to do my thing and stay happy, but not necessarily hear about it. I remember being asked about my interests, and when I excitedly started talking, they drifted off or wandered away. It seems they may have asked out of politeness, rather than having been interested.
Content in a relationship is what we call a “friendship” and content changes in life. I have had many fields of interest and can’t expect my family to come along on my various rides, liking all that I liked and like, just as I can’t sincerely latch onto their interests as much as they might wish. What is left to do is often eating and drinking together and that’s exactly what we do at holidays, often very unhealthily too which we have normalized and accept even if we feel terrible after.
When we accept that we don’t have common interests, many unfortunately cut the family off totally out of disappointment. We believe that it can be healing to question the idea that just because we are family we should like the same things, in the first place. If we feel an emotional attachment we can show it through short touch downs such as sending an emoji, a five minute call to ensure all he/she is fine or a quick visit. But intriguing conversations are better done with friends of common interests, as they develop naturally and without force. Expecting something from families that can’t be easily given can end in fights and tragedy. In more modern, technical terms one anthropologist I know refers to this behavior as a kind of colonialism.
Love is always tricky when we don’t know what it means, really means. Most people use the word but what we noticed is that very few have reflected upon what Love means to them and to their loved ones. At the retreat you did the exercise we call the Love Exercise which you can dust off and do again. Invite your 💚 ones.