Marion Goertz, a registered marriage and family therapist in Toronto, says it takes a commitment of time, energy, courage and resources to work through a family feud. She warns the process can "feel profoundly painful and intense as the barriers and bandages are removed and the wound is exposed to fresh air and new perspectives." But, she says, it is possible to repair damaged relationships.
What causes family feuds
According to Goertz, many family feuds come to a head over disagreements but may be about other underlying issues. They may be rooted in past wrongs or built-up frustrations that have occurred over many years. Quite often, a breaking point will coincide with a major life event or stressor; for example, a birth, death, marriage or divorce. "While [the fight] may appear to be over something that seems trivial to an outside observer, the wounds, abandonment and betrayal can run deep, coming to the surface in sometimes startling and unexpected ways," says Goertz.
Feuds may occur between two people or may force a number of family members to choose sides. They can also cause feelings of sadness, fear, abandonment and betrayal, as well as anger, rage, hatred and frustration.
It's important to recognize that everyone involved may see the problem and the steps to reconciliation differently, so approach reparations cautiously. Goertz suggests first meeting in a neutral space. Be flexible to plan for the next steps toward a more healthy and happy relationship, she says.
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