Dear Barb – Boyfriend Can Lead with Positive Example

Dear Barb:

Six months ago I met a wonderful girl. We get along great together and are in love. Our only problem is her family. I guess I should say It’s my problem. I have not talked to my girlfriend about this. She always wants me to go to her parents? house and I just find it really difficult to spend any time with them. They are always negative and find fault with everyone, even people they don’t know. It’s like they can’t see any good in anyone.

They constantly criticize my girlfriend and she doesn’t react. It’s funny but she isn’t that way at all; in fact, she always sees the good in people. I want to say something to her parents but I don’t want to cause problems. I feel so strongly about this that I really don’t feel I can ignore it, but on the other hand I care deeply for Susan and don’t want to cause problems between her and her family. Any suggestions on how I can handle this without ruining my relationship?

Jeff

Hi, Jeff. You are fortunate that you seem to have found someone you truly care about and have a good relationship with. Therefore you are right in not wanting to do anything to jeopardize that.

Everyone has good qualities and I would suggest you try to focus on these with your girlfriend’s family. Her family must have some redeeming qualities; after all, they raised her. Perhaps when they say something critical you could change the subject. If they speak of the negative in a person or situation, gently point out the positive. Choose your words carefully so they don’t feel you are attacking them, because then they may become defensive.

Your girlfriend may not react to the criticism because she is so used to it. As you show her another perspective she may not be as tolerant with her family’s behaviour and as a result may feel confident enough to discuss her feelings with them. As well, her family may have simply fallen into a habit of being negative and critical and not even realize it.

Whatever you do, don’t speak critically to your girlfriend about her family as this will put her on guard and will undoubtedly affect your relationship. Sometimes all it takes to change a situation is to point out another way of approaching it. Hopefully this will be the case in your situation.

This may sound simplistic, but don’t you think It’s worth a try?

Thanks, Jeff.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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