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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stop Playing the "Game" of Family

Dear AB,

It’s all about money, isn’t it? As I shared before, your insights in the note you wrote recently really lifted my spirits and helped me get perspective. I'd like to tell you about the content of the troubling conversation.  This is LONG...If you don't have time to read...I understand.

I went over to the neighborhood where both my sisters live to see two open houses in their vicinity.  I wasn't sure why I was looking.  Guess I'm very curious about real estate and home values and what's "out there."  Maybe I just thought it would be fun. So the three "girls" & their husbands all went together.  It was a fun day.  Everyone seemed to enjoy looking around & discussing the features of the houses.

Later, at sister #1's house, I was asked by sister #2 why I was looking at houses in their city. I told her I didn't know, really.  Said I did like the character & charm the  houses in their area have. I previously owned an old house. Then again, I added, before I would seriously make a move, I'd have to carefully look at the numbers with the decline in value of my house,

Since the economic downturn, I've lost equity in my current house.  I told her that by the time I paid my agent’s commission & paid the bank what I owed it, I could pay cash for the cheaper of the two houses we looked at.  But, I added, that would be like trading a $426,000 house for a $249,000 house.  Well...that's when she went nuts.  She screamed, "You DO NOT have a $426,000 house! You paid $426,000 for it, but you knew you paid too much for it when you bought it."  "Yes," I agreed, "true, it is not worth that now, you are right."  "A house is worth what ever someone will pay for it," she sternly added.   

It went round & round like this.  I shouldn't have shared my details, I realize that now. Lesson learned! I just assumed that merely stating that I needed to be responsible and prudent and that I wanted to pay off my bills would be met with a nod of the head.    Instead, when I said I was just trying to be responsible, I was told  "No, you're not ...you need to loosen up."

When we do home improvements we don't go get a "home equity loan."  If we can't pay cash, we don't do the project.  We don't have credit card debt.  Both our cars are paid for.  I try my best not to use other people's money!

I thought family always wanted the best for its members.  I'm the youngest.  Thought they'd be proud of me for not wildly spending, for beig prudent. 

 I do think my sisters would like me better if I were more like my niece,  who is wasteful and spends whatever she has. They seem to think she can do no wrong!  G.

Dear G,

It's not all about money. It's all about love. The point is not to get your sisters to like you. The point is to for you to get to the place where you can love them, regardless of their obvious flaws (we all have them.) Love isn't a game. Family relationships are a game if you are in survival mode all the time by having to be the winner (being uptight)--the game is usually about being one up or one down--much competition going on. So what?

See if you can't transcend the "game of family" and see family for what it really is, a sacred bond that we are lucky to have. Annoying yes, foolish yes, antagonizing yes. So what? If you don't try to be the winner, maybe they won't be so competitive in having to put you down.

Read the Paradoxical Commandments on my website.

We have to grow up sometime. I  know sometimes you want to be able to let your hair down and brag, and complain, and find someone who cares about what you are feeling or suffering at the moment. You have to seek this out usually in a best friend of some kind. Your sisters can't be this for you because they are stuck in playing the "game." You are not going to unstick them by beating them at the game.

Love is the only thing that works and if that is all you end up with, love for others, it's not a bad place. Remember, love is not something we get or give, it's something we ARE. A. B. Curtiss


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