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Old 08-30-2011, 11:54 AM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 11,135,497 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Looking again at the subject of this thread, in my mind there's no difference in dealing with dysfunctional family members in retirement than dealing with them before retirement. They're still dysfunctional and that hasn't changed, nor has my approach to them. If there is any difference at all it's because some have assumed room temperature but that's it. I mean, why wait until you retire to come to terms with the dysfunction. As presumable adults, those issues should have been addressed and laid to rest long before.
I wanted to explore this subject as it relates to Retirement for many reasons. First of all, prior to retirement, I was too busy to think about the effects of dysfunction much.

Secondly, I always thought that life would get better and better . . . it never occurred to me that I would have to think about things in retirement, or as I was getting older, that are extremely upsetting (in terms of family relationships). I just had this idea that as people mature (all of us in the family) that we would just get happier and happier . . .Idealistic, but that's what I thought.

I never had the notion that as I got older family problems would become MORE challenging . . . as some people began acting out more . . . I didn't realize that my compromised immune system (from stress) would not be up to dealing with family problems, ad infinitum . . .

That, for me, is why this is an issue for Retirement, or advancing age . . . who wants to deal with personal problems as they are aging?

I always thought that a family was there for each other - boy, is that wrong, in my family at least. In my family, some people are there for some people and some aren't. There are givers and takers and the takers can be very draining.

Also, I don't have the resources I used to have - so I can't help indefinitely, without bounds.

And I think I deserve some respect - that I should not be expected to pitch in and help the way I did when I was younger. So for me, it has many applications to retirement.
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Old 08-30-2011, 01:36 PM
 
Location: SW MO
23,604 posts, read 32,142,820 times
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Oh my. I think this is the key:

Quote:
First of all, prior to retirement, I was too busy to think about the effects of dysfunction much.
I think that describes a lot of us. Then reality hits because we have the time to permit it to.

If it's any help, I had similar Pollyanna ideals which lasted right up until I got divorced. Then reality set in.

The best lesson I ever taught myself was to have no expectations. That way I could never be disappointed. It worked so I happily entered into retirement without preconceived notions or unrealistic views of my family and those relationships.

Only once, and very recently at that, have I been blind-sided by one of my offspring. It was painful but very shortly I came to terms with it and let it go. Life is too damn short for drama and those who would create it.
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:35 PM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 19,396,741 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Oh my. I think this is the key:

I think that describes a lot of us. Then reality hits because we have the time to permit it to.

If it's any help, I had similar Pollyanna ideals which lasted right up until I got divorced. Then reality set in.

The best lesson I ever taught myself was to have no expectations. That way I could never be disappointed. It worked so I happily entered into retirement without preconceived notions or unrealistic views of my family and those relationships.

Only once, and very recently at that, have I been blind-sided by one of my offspring. It was painful but very shortly I came to terms with it and let it go. Life is too damn short for drama and those who would create it.
Your post makes me wonder about whether men and women deal with family dysfunction better than others. My ex, and I'd say most of the men I personally know, tend to distance themselves more easily than women do. Women, in my experience, tend to want to fix things, make them better, and sometimes become martyrs to helping others over and above. I am still obsessing over my long-gone parents' violence and unhappiness, wondering how even as a kid I might have done something to fix it. That feeds a little into survivor guilt, too. I am not trying to be sexist here, just wondering about the general difference between women and men when it comes to dealing with family trouble.
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:43 PM
 
Location: SW MO
23,604 posts, read 32,142,820 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Your post makes me wonder about whether men and women deal with family dysfunction better than others. My ex, and I'd say most of the men I personally know, tend to distance themselves more easily than women do. Women, in my experience, tend to want to fix things, make them better, and sometimes become martyrs to helping others over and above. I am still obsessing over my long-gone parents' violence and unhappiness, wondering how even as a kid I might have done something to fix it. That feeds a little into survivor guilt, too. I am not trying to be sexist here, just wondering about the general difference between women and men when it comes to dealing with family trouble.
It's not sexist, NEG. It's genetic. Women bear, give birth and nurture (good ones, that is). Men provide and protect (good ones, that is).

Men, as the protectors, are more apt to become conflict-adverse whereas the nurturing woman wants to enfold and fix it. Unfortunately, sometimes neither is the right answer.
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:47 PM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 11,135,497 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Your post makes me wonder about whether men and women deal with family dysfunction better than others. My ex, and I'd say most of the men I personally know, tend to distance themselves more easily than women do. Women, in my experience, tend to want to fix things, make them better, and sometimes become martyrs to helping others over and above. I am still obsessing over my long-gone parents' violence and unhappiness, wondering how even as a kid I might have done something to fix it. That feeds a little into survivor guilt, too. I am not trying to be sexist here, just wondering about the general difference between women and men when it comes to dealing with family trouble.

I personally believe it is biology and maybe conditioning . . .not sure . . . but I think it is very difficult for some mothers to detach, easily. I have found this to be the case with myself. I don't know how much of it is nature or nurture going in all directions . . .
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:00 PM
 
Location: California
4,619 posts, read 5,655,056 times
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As the years are rolling on, more and more people I know are no longer with us. I have noticed that the happiest people I know, just refuse to even discuss the newest lost one but seem to focus only on what is still here. I have another old friend who just shuts out anything but her faith, select family members & friends. It seems that there just isn't enough time left to worry about what we can't change.
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:22 AM
 
Location: SW MO
23,604 posts, read 32,142,820 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heidi60 View Post
As the years are rolling on, more and more people I know are no longer with us. I have noticed that the happiest people I know, just refuse to even discuss the newest lost one but seem to focus only on what is still here. I have another old friend who just shuts out anything but her faith, select family members & friends. It seems that there just isn't enough time left to worry about what we can't change.
There never was. Those things over which you have some control you may be able to influence or change. Those things over which you don't are better let go.
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Old 08-31-2011, 11:03 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,885 posts, read 68,223,162 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imcurious View Post
I wanted to explore this subject as it relates to Retirement for many reasons. First of all, prior to retirement, I was too busy to think about the effects of dysfunction much.

Secondly, I always thought that life would get better and better . . . it never occurred to me that I would have to think about things in retirement, or as I was getting older, that are extremely upsetting (in terms of family relationships). I just had this idea that as people mature (all of us in the family) that we would just get happier and happier . . .Idealistic, but that's what I thought.

I never had the notion that as I got older family problems would become MORE challenging . . . as some people began acting out more . . . I didn't realize that my compromised immune system (from stress) would not be up to dealing with family problems, ad infinitum . . .

That, for me, is why this is an issue for Retirement, or advancing age . . . who wants to deal with personal problems as they are aging?

I always thought that a family was there for each other - boy, is that wrong, in my family at least. In my family, some people are there for some people and some aren't. There are givers and takers and the takers can be very draining.

Also, I don't have the resources I used to have - so I can't help indefinitely, without bounds.

And I think I deserve some respect - that I should not be expected to pitch in and help the way I did when I was younger. So for me, it has many applications to retirement.
I have read this thread several times, as I found it very interesting.

Maybe I won't have much of real importance to add - but my 81 year old Dad told us all something maybe 30 years or so ago that has stuck with my siblings and me - and which we have discussed many times over the years.

Dad, a very wise man who is the actual "Norman Rockwell" reality of a paternal touchstone for our family (he is a retired minister) . . . said that experience had taught him: "People only get more themselves as they age."

People rarely "change" as they age. Sure, years of therapy, a sentinel life event - that may shake people up to the point that they re-examine their lives, their interactions, their ways of dealing with anxiety or stress . . . and some suddenly decide to "come to Jesus" . . . but real change - deliberate change - such as - learning how to interact w/ others without constantly creating a "situation" (and drama) . . . it rarely happens without serious intent and years of self-analysis and self-awareness.

The healthiest thing we can do is refuse to be part of the family dysfunction. Every family has it to some extent. Think about individual roles. There will very often be 1. the black sheep 2. the martyr 3. the helpless one 4. the Know-it-All 5. the User 6. the relationship splitter, and so forth.

The only sane thing to do is disengage. This doesn't always mean we have to completely "divorce" the whole family, lol. But we don't have to play the games and get sucked into the drama. And we can still be polite and civil - send a card, visit someone in the hospital, etc.

Realize that what hurts us most is when our expectations are not met. Luckily, I learned at a very young age to do what I feel good about doing and what I feel right about doing - and EXPECT NOTHING IN RETURN.

In other words, if I wish to financially help out a family member (or friend, for that matter) - it is no strings attached. Make it a gift. Don't expect a repayment. Don't even expect a thank you.

And about "thank yous" . . . people who continually ask for assistance usually come to resent the giver. Funny how that works, isn't it?

It does not make us bad people when we come to realize we are only being used . . .or when we realize we are enabling another person's continued bad behaviors . . . or when we realize our good intentions (and sometimes, sacrifices) are not appreciated.

Family may be connected by DNA, but that doesn't mean they are gonna be people we enjoy having in our lives. Conversely, not having them in our lives may be a blessed relief.

If you are a giving person, I have found that volunteering and helping people who really need it and appreciate it may be a lot better use of one's effort and time - than getting embroiled w/ ungrateful family members.

Last edited by brokensky; 08-31-2011 at 11:41 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:16 AM
 
1 posts, read 1,002 times
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We are in a situation where, my brother-in-law who is my husband's brother and was at one time my sister's husband so 2 sisters married 2 brothers (if you can follow that) is staying in a homeless shelter. The guilt I feel for no longer trying to help this person is horrible. Family members are upset with us because we live the closest and are in a position to help but we feel we cannot to help someone who refuses to help themselves. It is a losing battle. He lived with his dad following his divorce for 13 years, worked but eventually would get fired from every job he had, and continued to live off of his dad who recently passed away. He then lived off of his stepmother for 2 years until she told him he had to leave. For our quality of life and sanity, we cannot allow this person who is 60 years old to do this to us. We have raised our children who are both self sufficient and we are enjoying our alone time. We have bought a home on the water and just want to enjoy the peacefullness we have there. We have tried to help him in the past and he does absolutely nothing to help himself. Are we wrong to walk away. It is the hardest thing we probably have every done.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:59 AM
 
Location: SW MO
23,604 posts, read 32,142,820 times
Reputation: 29135
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebringlady1956 View Post
We have bought a home on the water and just want to enjoy the peacefullness we have there. We have tried to help him in the past and he does absolutely nothing to help himself. Are we wrong to walk away. It is the hardest thing we probably have every done.
In some respects you sound like us. Once I retired we made a 2,000 mile move to another state and bought our retirement home on the water. We prize our peace, quiet, serenity and the abundant nature that surrounds us. We worked hard for and deserve it.

Enter family; in our case my wife's oldest daughter and her children. She lost her job, lost her house and said they had nowhere else to go so out they came and in they moved. Five weeks later we invited them to leave. She always has been and remains toxic, and I'm being kind. She also did nothing to find a job here and become self-sufficient. Rather, she expected others to do it for her. She also had no regard or appreciation for her mother or me, turned the children against us so she had to go. There is no place in our lives for unpleasantness and conflict.

I'm sure it was difficult for you and not an easy thing to do. It wasn't easy for us either. However, especially once retired, life is too short to spend with or on those who only take and are disagreeable. We tried and it went nowhere. We felt we did the right thing for us and I believe you and your husband did the same. Now enjoy that peacefulness you also worked hard for. You deseerve it too.
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