As if Halloween wasn’t scary enough, we’ve been talking this month about some of the frightening aspects of relationships, like the Money Monster and the Ghosts of Intimacy. Now, from the crypt of doom rises the Mummy that wouldn’t die – or at least that wouldn’t go home after the first week!

Ok, yes, we’re poking fun at the in-laws here, but in all seriousness, in-laws (including you, if you are one) can be spine-tingling at times! Conflicts with or about in-laws and extended family are among the top three reasons people in committed relationships fight.

Your in-laws may not be chasing you around the house with a chainsaw (do NOT go upstairs, for crying out loud!) but some of those snide remarks, passive-aggressive comments, and not-so-subtle criticisms can feel like they’re after you with a deadly vengeance.

Their cutting words and piercing glances tell the real-life horror story of their own past pain, anger, and unresolved issues – all flying out of their mouths in your direction like flames from a fire-breathing dragon. They often don’t intend to hurt you, but you may just happen to be the most convenient target at the time.

An encounter like that can leave you angry, exhausted, and fearful of the next time you’re in the same room – even if the encounter is just a string of critical remarks and sarcasm or a cold shoulder in front of the rest of the family – emotional wounds are for real, and they take their toll on your soul.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep that interaction from happening in the first place? The good news is you can! And no, the answer does NOT involve changing your name and moving across the country; it’s much simpler and more effective than that. You can put your nightmare relationship with difficult in-laws, close family friends, or creepy cousin Chucky to rest by learning and using Safe Conversations.

Safe Conversations skills can help soothe the savage beast that is your family member’s pain – the kind of pain we ALL struggle with – that causes us to focus on what we don’t like or can’t accept about others. Especially others that were not a part of our family before, but now are; who have sometimes vastly different backgrounds, behaviors, and worldviews from us. It should be no great mystery that your willingness to listen to them without judgment, to talk to them without criticism, and to make every effort to connect with them beyond your differences can act as a balm (not B-O-M-B!) for their hurts. It’s the hurts that are talking when cousin Chucky gets snarky or when you flay Uncle Frank with your razor-sharp wit.

Family dynamics can be tricky. Give yourself, and them, the treat of Safe Conversations. Watch the dynamic duo of Compassion and Empathy melt the Mummy’s heart. When you make it safe for them to be around you, they’ll begin to respond in kind, and soon that Mummy will return to its original, loving, human form.

And that’s a wrap.

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