Monday, September 10, 2012

There's Bound to Be a Fight - Revised After Google Got Hungry

Since Google ate half my post and I didn't save an offline copy, I've edited and added back in what I was trying to say in the first place. Google just got hungry, someone has to feed the beast right?

I'm trying really hard to refrain from posting a rant about how much I detest the American men in my life. Y'all just don't know how hard that is.

Anytime you live in any joint family there is bound to be turmoil of some kind at some point. That's true globally. I've made no secret of the turmoil going on in my Indian home and I don't intend to sugar coat what goes on in my American home. I didn't hide those secrets before I left and I'm not starting now.

I don't get along well with most men, that's no big secret either. I prefer to keep men at a distance and there's only a few in my offline life that I even talk to. They're all family and at most I tolerate many of them out of respect. Nope, I didn't grow up with daddy issues. The man who raised me and led me as a child was absolutely amazing. I have wonderful childhood memories actually. It's only since I've grown up and met too many jerks that my attitude toward American men has drastically changed.

I don't see the same jackass type behavior in most Indian men though I haven't met that many. I can only go by what I see in my family of how they treat their wives, their children and their friends, etc. With friends, I can only judge what I know from seeing their behavior.

I'm convinced (by only myself) that raising boys in America to think and believe that they have to be macho, unemotional and self-centered is just wrong. Add to that the absent parent issues that too many youth in the US face and you're left with a rotten jerk that most women just won't tolerate. It's my opinion that this kind of attitude is responsible for more than half the divorces in the US. Yes, there are rotten women too but from what I see the women try to tolerate this behavior then just get fed up and leave.

I think I'm veering off topic. Let me get back to the fighting.

As I was saying, there's bound to come a time where two personalities, ideals or thoughts clash when you live in a home with multiple people. It happens when there are only two people in the home and it will happen with more than two people in the home. That's common sense of course. It's just that in joint families there are many types of relationships rather than just the love relationship that everyone recognizes. To name a few there are:

  • Father/son
  • Mother/daughter
  • Brother/sister
  • Grandparent/grandchild
  • Aunt or uncle/niece and nephew

These relationships have many dynamic factors and less dismissal of the behaviors. They come with more expectations and social rules and obligations. Not only do these complicate the issue but when trouble arises it causes tension, stress and a negative atmosphere. Navigating through the home becomes tedious when issues arise.

To complicate the matter further each family member has different ideals and opinions, etc. Minor disagreements happen often even if in most cases no one ever argues and these have the potential to create more tension. Sometimes the tension builds over time when one person keeps their disagreement to themselves.

In India I've noticed that when family members disagree they fuss for a minute over it then go their seperate ways. Minutes, hours or days later (whenever they encounter each other again) they act as if nothing happened. The family relationship is not broken at any cost. These disagreements are all seen as small and insignificant.

In the US all parties to the disagreement continue arguing until they feel they have stated all they need to say. This could go on indefinitely and they may take breaks and begin arguing again later (not structured but they get upset, walk away and the next time they see each other they start up again). The argument/disagreement is rarely settled until all parties are satisfied they have talked it out (sometimes loudly and sometimes not). They don't usually forget but they find peace in knowing they stood their ground and worked out a resolution.

In either country, fights could break out but that's not as common among family members. If a fight does break out, it doesn't always break/end the relationship.

I myself am anti-argument. I don't like to yell or fight, it's just not my thing but that doesn't mean I won't. In my opinion that you can have a rational discussion in a normal tone of voice and talk about whatever the issue is. I don't respond well to being ordered to agree, give in, etc. That makes me fight harder and get more angry.

In intercultural joint families this can be an issue. The general attitude in India is not to talk so hubby and I run into a few issues here and there. I don't force him to talk, it's not my place to change him and he's an adult. In my previous uncle ji posts where we weren't getting along I wasn't able to talk to him. He spoke good English but couldn't hear well and had a very hard time hearing me when I talked. You can't carry on a long drawn out conversation like that and maybe that's why I always felt like the issues were unfinished.

In the US I have to put up with my step-father who is adamant he could never be wrong. He has no interest in talking to you, he only talks at you. So that leaves me with this kind of issue in the US as well. (Story coming soon.)

This is death to joint families - unresolved issues. You can't live at peace in a home with so much tension. It leads to disruptions of all sorts, a general negative atmosphere and a lot of unhappiness. I was fortunate in that my mother and father in law and my husband are all open to talking about issues and I've been open with them about letting some things go. I learned to feel at peace without the long discussion. I just got my way and be done, move on and know that I will not be living in a joint family permanently. That makes me happy.

How do you settle issues in your joint family?
How do you settle issues between family members you don't deal with?
What's your best tip for anyone embarking upon a joint family adventure?

1 comment:

  1. What happened? It's like when I'm listening to my four year old and he falls asleep mid sentence.