Trials and Trees

Hi, Bloggers! I need your help! I have to teach Sunday School this Sunday (I actually got 4 days notice instead of two!) and it's a family relations class. A little background -- in our ward, we have already gone through the text for this class, and now it's kind of a 'shoot from your hip' type thing. The bishop did not want to disband the class once the 12-week course was finished, because all of a sudden a lot of people were going to Sunday School that previously spent the hour chatting in the foyer. (No comment on whether or not this is a reflection on the gospel doctrine teacher). The bishop called an LCSW to teach the class, and he's FABULOUS, but he's going to be out of town for Easter. Since he's so good, the bar is set really very high. Well, my degree is in communication, so obviously I'm going to go in that direction. So I was thinking about conflict resolution in relationships - and not just family ones. What conflicts have you had, and how have you resolved them? I want to do role plays to demonstrate different resolution techniques (They did this in one of my favorite college courses. This might just be an attempt on my part to relive my college days...) Any neighbor relationships ruined because your neighbor's tree dropped leaves into your yard? (I know people that refused to speak for years in our old neighborhood because of tree issues. Seriously. Stuff like this paralyzes relationships.) Anybody have neighbors start a garage band just as your newborn learned to sleep through the night? It's their right to start a band. Just as it's your right to a peaceful neighborhood. No, Nate, I haven't been to law school, I'm just talking in generalities here. What did you do about it? Anybody get caught blind-sided by someone telling you they've been resenting you for years, and here you thought the friendship was in great shape? Why would you resent someone for years without mentioning it? Anyone get the silent treatment? This is one of the absolute WORST methods of communication. It's so toxic to relationships. Poison. What did you do about it? Force them to talk, or simply ignore them, and choose not to waste the emotional energy? What conflicts have you had, and what was the resolution? (or are they not resolved) Can I use them in my Sunday School? In the meantime, I've got to track down my notes from that class....I know they're around here somewhere.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bloggernacle regular posting anonymously because you never know . . .

we visit my inlaws and stay in their home about once per year, and stay for a week.

After doing this 6 or so years, I arrived home to an ANGRY phone call from a teenaged sister-in-law, which resulted in a LENGTHY and UNPLEASANT conversation with mil about how she HATED how we never cleaned up after ourselves.

(Where I come from, the polite thing to do is to 'straighten up' as in return everything to its original position, make the bed, etc., but she thought that EVERYONE knew that you were supposed to CLEAN with CLEANING PRODUCTS, vacuum, etc, before you left someone's home. It never occured to me to do this . . .)

Anyway, she was ticked big time. I was ticked that, instead of saying something after our first visit, she just simmered and hated me for all those years.

3/23/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

I had a similar experience with a classmate of mine in grad school. I commented on her turtleneck, and said that I had the same one. I asked her if she bought it at the GAP. Then I said, half to myself, "Yeah, I bought it a few years back", thinking of a particularly emotional situation that sent me on the spending spree when I bought it. She was highly offended, thinking that I meant that she was still wearing something that was in style years ago. She simmered about this until I wore MY turtleneck to class, about a year later, and she said, "Hey, that's the turtleneck you told me was out of style!" What? We talked about it, and I told her the whole story, and she was cool. But it explained an entire year's distance from me. Funny how one offhand, insensitive comment can completely ruin a friendship. Unfortunately, she and I never regained the relatinship we had the year before. Sad.

3/23/2005 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Woah. Sounds a little like my in-laws. Dear Abby got a letter from angry sisters whose soon to be SIL wasn't helping in the kitchen with the sisters and mom, she was talking with the men and her fiance in the other room. Dear Abby rightly told the angry sister that she should request help from the brother.
If your inlaws wanted you to clean, they should have been wanting your HUSBAND to clean, and they should have raised him to clean and then reminded him to clean when he forgot.
I have less than perfect in-laws. They blame me for things that are my husband's fault entirely, or a joint decision we've made that they disagree with. I've pretty much quit worrying about it. They are going to think what they want, do what they want, etc. I have no control over that. I can control what I do. I will do what I think is fair and right, and not worry about their desire to resent me.
My husband DOES tell his family I come first and I appreciate that. I think that that is very important with in-law problems. The husband needs to make it clear to an unhappy MIL that he loves and supports his wife.
Besides my MIL and some other in-laws, I can't think of any communication problem. I usually get along with people since I'm the quiet, accomodating type. I can be a little too concerned with making people around me happy so I stress out just planning what restaurant to go to or something.

As for marriage communication, I think that sometimes going to bed when you are angry is great. Especially late at night when its PMS. You know? You're all worked up about nothing. Go to sleep. Wake up. There is no problem anymore.
Of course the problem wasn't infidelity or lying, etc. After 12 years of marriage, we can now drop things more easily. There are some problems that DO need to be resolved, you know? You DO need to talk about it, discuss solutions, etc. But you also learn to identify the misunderstandings, unintentional hurt feelings, the I was grumpy and I don't know why we are fighting kinds of things. So it is so easy now to drop it because it wasn't a real problem. Forget it. Move on.
In the parents of late talkers class, it was interesting to have people list what makes someone NOT a good conversationalist.... one person controlling the subject or doing all the talking, changing topics too fast, being bored with what the other person is saying, doing something else that is taking their attention away from you, thinking about what they get to say next when it is their turn rather than listening, etc., asking too many questions like its a quiz or a job interview, etc.
We then acted out the bad conversations and people had to guess which kind it was.
Also, my husband and I have rules about fighting. We discussed them before we got married. I think it is great for married couples to do that. Otherwise it is easy to cross lines that shouldn't be crossed.
Our rules are:
1. No yelling
2. No name calling
3. No leaving the house without a word
4. No saying hurtful things (my parents told me of their friend who had freckles and was always insecure about them. Her husband loved them. But one day in a fight, he said "And I never liked your freckles." He could NEVER ever take it back. He destroyed something precious with that comment.
5. No slamming doors
6. No silent treatment
7. No sex as a weapon
Anyway, we've lived these. We've come close on the yelling, but if our voices start to get louder one of us usually points it out and we calm down. And once or twice I accidentally slammed the door when I was mad, and I even opened it and said sorry, I didn't mean to close it that hard. I wasn't slamming. Because even though I was mad, I know my husband put that rule in there because of his upbringing and I wouldn't want him to feel that hurt since that is why the rule is in there.

3/23/2005 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

In my above comment, I mentioned acting out the bad conversation habits. I think that two people would try to have a conversation in front of the class. One would be trying to act out a bad habit, while the other one would try to keep having a nice conversation. I believe the teacher gave the situation like husband and wife discussing what to do on a date or meeting a parent at school, etc.

3/23/2005 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent approach. Because it's Easter I would end with this thought. Christ atoned for the sins of the world. All of them and for all of us. Remember the atonement is also for your husband, your wife wichever the case may be and most importantly for you. Accept forgiveness, and please try to forget. Replace the act with an outpouring of love and remember the person you fell in love with.


3/24/2005 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

Well, I have lived in my neighborhood for 26 years and we have all been mad at each other for one thing or another. Take my neighbor just across the street, they had a meltdown when my then 9 year old ate all the candy off their beautiful snowman.

Then they went to Hawaii and left their 18 year old in charge of the 16, 14, and 12 year old. It was a week long party with fireworks all night long, over my house. I called the cops on them.

The neighbor to the west of us had a daughter who fought with my son on our tramp and our son beat up their son. The neighbor on the east of us kicked my three year old once when she was fighting with his kids. I didn't talk to him for a year.

When my son committed suicide, those damn kids who kept me awake all night were the pall bearers. Their mom spoke at the funeral and their dad dedicated the grave. The neighbors to the east came to my house with faces covered in tears and we embraced. The neighbor to the west brought food and played the piano. Her daughter sang.

Now I have a new neighbor on the west. She drives us all nuts. She is negative, onery, self-absorbed, and a pain in the butt. I take it in stride, while still asserting my boundaries (I told her I was going to take her by the throat and strangle her at a Relief Society dinner when she was haranguing me, if she didn't shut up about me and something I said months before), because I know, if she really needs me, I will be there, and when I am old and senile, she will be next door, helping me into my wheelchair and having her kids get my mail.

The older I get, the more I know it's all relative.

3/24/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/24/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

I have found that so much conflict can be avoided if we just steer clear of what I think is our natural inclination to attach the worst intentions onto one another’s “offensive” actions. That doesn’t mean that if you are upset with someone your shouldn’t communicate your feelings. I believe that communication absent the anger that usually comes when you have already decided their bad intentions is a communication that can more easily lead to resolution.

3/24/2005 11:43:00 AM  

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