#128 Wife upset about my family's integrity / Husband conned fiancé
DEAR ABBY: “Amy” and I have been married seven years. I used to enjoy family gatherings with my parents and brothers, but I am finding them stressful. Amy always seems to have an issue with “time.”
My family is easygoing and sometimes late for various reasons. Amy doesn’t understand why this happens. She believes the timelines are being amended to suit one of my brothers and his family.
Their tardiness bothers Amy, and she asked me to talk to my family members about it. I did, and they don’t see a problem. This is the way our family has always been. Amy stresses me out (high blood pressure runs on the male side of my family) when I should be enjoying these gatherings. By the way, my wife is an only child and has no extended family. She has never experienced what larger families go through. Should she ease off, or should I ask my loved ones to change their ways? — PRESSURED IN TORONTO
DEAR PRESSURED: You said you have already talked to your family about this. Because this is the way your family has always functioned, it is highly unlikely that they’re going to change now. Sometimes you have to accept family warts and all, and this appears to be one of them. If Amy’s complaining is truly causing your blood pressure to spike, your physician should be telling her to lower the “pressure” she’s putting on you. —Abby
Hi Pressured: I'm so pleased with your letter, many readers will see themselves.
I wouldn't be surprised if one of the qualities you first admired about Amy was her integrity and the fact that she kept her time agreements with you.* That said, you’ve got yourself a huge problem, as does she. What you believe to be the problem ain’t it.
Let’s begin with the fact that you describe your family as “easygoing,“ covertly placing the blame on Amy, instead of asking for support in identifying your cause in the friction, as though it’s only a "time" problem. In truth, it’s about integrity—telling the truth, honoring agreements, respect, blame, and the effects of communicating abusively.
You and your family are unconscious. Your mind has created a story (a smoke-screen) that keeps you from seeing your integrity as the cause of this friction, your high blood pressure, and the less-than-satisfactions (having to do with harmony, happiness, health, and prosperity) you are all experiencing.
You, yes you, are the leader; you're pretending you don't know that broken time agreements (even those non-verbally implied) are lies and are abusive. You're pretending to not know the effects of not honoring ones word. I say you because you take their side and make her wrong; you are covertly trying to enroll her in compromising her values, trying to get her to resort back to irresponsible, childhood, thwarting behaviors. She, on the other hand, is trying to change you and your family; whatever love is being professed is conceptual, not experiential.
If she continues to compromise her integrity the relationship in its present form is doomed; communication breakdowns such as this begin to affect ones aliveness, eventually everyone's health.
Until one commits to honoring agreements they can't eliminate the consequences of lies as a variable when it comes to less-than desirable results, to manifesting results other than one's stated intentions. Mastery begins with a foundation of integrity, keeping ones word, in service to others, as opposed to thwarting and upsetting and supporting thwarting and upsetting others.
It appears that you are unconsciously masterminding a divorce. Once you're clear as to your intentions your communications and actions will be consistent with the results you envision. To get clear do The Clearing Process —five clearings, one per day for five days in a row (it's free). Once you've completed your five clearings then invite her to do The Clearing Process for Couples, also free.
In this matter any compromise, such as her submitting to your abusive treatment of her, affects everyone's outcomes. She is right and all of you are wrong. What will disappear this problem (but create a new one) is for all of you, each to her face, verbally tell her that none of you are willing to allow her to support them in honoring agreements; then she would have a clear choice, as she would have at the beginning while dating you, to continue or to quit. Instead, you all irresponsibly communicate this same ultimatum non-verbally, thereby deceiving her into thinking that her communications might have a positive effect, that things might change. You're all acting as though you love, value, and respect her. You can’t see that you are treating her disrespectfully. Specifically, you all are treating her abusively. It’s too bad because you brilliantly brought into your clan someone who has more experience about integrity than you and your family and now you’re not taking advantage of the awesome benefits she offers. Sadly, daily, if you have children, you are teaching them to lie, deceive, and blame. It starts with them deceiving and thwarting you by not doing homework and chores—hiding all sorts of important thoughts from everyone.
Notice how you blame Amy for your experience of being pressured. You can’t begin to imagine what it feels like for her to be invalidated by you taking your family’s side. Had she written my answer to her would have been.**
You’re oblivious to the fact that she can see through the insulting lies they proffer as excuses. None of the reasons they give are the truth as to why they are late. It would be somewhat less insulting if they said; “Amy, we just don’t respect you enough to honor our time agreements with you. You’ll have to change because we refuse to.”
It could be said that you conned her into assuming your family was honest and responsible. An ethical person would have warned her, up front, “BTW: My family lies a lot, they make time agreements and don’t keep them, and, they refuse to acknowledge that implied agreements are agreements or that broken agreements are lies. Will that be a problem for you?” Instead, you force her to compromise her integrity and to question her sanity, her ethics, daily.
She is incorrect in her judgment that agreements are being broken because of your brother and his family. In truth it’s because you, using your powerful non-verbal leadership-communication skills, support them in disrespecting her.
Re: “. . . she asked me to talk to my family members about it.” It was irresponsible of you to allow her to dump this request in your space. What works is to go to the person with whom you have the problem; instead you supported her in badmouthing them behind their backs. I understand why you did; obviously there’s fear in her relationship with your family and she intuited the result you unconsciously intended, that, “. . . they don’t see a problem.” Your result also reveals that you had no intention for them to get what it feels like for you for them to disrespect her. In effect you communicated to them, [Self-righteous Amy has a problem with your tardiness. Tell me to tell her that you don't see it as a problem and that you refuse to honor time agreements.]
The problem you describe is not THE problem in your relationship with her, it’s so much more. I predict with absolute certainty that unless you get counseling/coaching you will eventually drive her out of your life. A person of integrity can’t survive in the space of those who communicate abusively. —With aloha, Gabby
P.S. Show this to everyone concerned.
* If not, if she breaks agreements with you, or others, then she is merely reaping the consequences of her own out-integrities. In any case, this problem of hers is definitely a consequence of her own out-integrity; she has an out-integrity that she has yet to see as being the cause of others thwarting her. A person who operates with integrity, and cleans up (acknowledges) all withholds and perpetrations, simply doesn't create such problems. Reunion Conversations supports one in recalling life's accumulated unacknowledged perpetrations. Arrogance is—trying to make life work without cleaning up the messes.
** What we're looking at here is your inability to create agreements that work. It's both irresponsible and unethical to set up others to break agreements with you. If you want harmony and abuse-free relationships play with people who honor agreements. Ask Dear Gabby for support in creating (co-creating) agreements.
Check back occasionally for minor corrections/edits. (last edited 9/18/11)