No matter it’s Chinese, American, or Hispanics, etc.. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the partner by marriage saying: “You made me feel like an outsider;” while the partner who is biologically related to the extended family saying: “I am stuck in the middle between my spouse/partner and my parents.”
So, how do you unstuck from this situation? The key is to make your relationship and your spousal relationship as a priority and see your partner’s feelings is yours no matter you agree with him/her.
I grew up in a big Taiwanese family. My dad has four siblings and my mom has five siblings. I often joked with my friends that the craziness of my family drama trains me to be a good couple’s therapist. Taiwanese is the culture with traditions during holidays. Holidays are the time when all the in-law issues played out. I often saw the fights between my parents because of the in-law dramas.
The idea of this post started with an innocent conversation with a friend on Facebook. My friend lives in a tiny apartment in a big city. He posted something on Facebook like this: “Why would anyone fry fish at midnight?”
I responded with: “maybe your neighbor is hungry?”
The messages exchange on his facebook wall went on for 5-6 times when I realized that his original post was not a question but a complaint.
If we enter the intimate relationships to be accepted as who we are as a person, to feel loved, worthy, and valued, and to see our partners as a whole, and the majority of the mistakes in the relationship are made unintentionally, what do we do when we stuck in the relationship?
The answer is: holding space for each other. The fact is that we are all different. No matter how similar you are as a couple, you still have your differences. No matter which family life cycle stages they are in, communication is the key to resolve the disputes.
Knowing that we all walk into the marriage hoping to be accepted and loved the way we are,knowing that how we respond to our partners is how they assess their value and self-worth in the relationship, and knowing that I don’t do anything intentionally to hurt my partner and my partner is hurt because of the way I think, I experiences, and my values, now what?
As a therapist, I have to believe that people can change. Otherwise, what’s the point of psychotherapy if a person will feel miserable for the rest of his/her life because of his/her personality? Also, what can “I,” as a therapist, do, to facilitate the change? Or, in another word, based on the research result, how can I assist a person’s motivation to change?