General Question

bassist_king1's avatar

How to help an arguing couple?

Asked by bassist_king1 (310points) March 25th, 2008

my brother and my sister in law often argue. sometimes about money issues, sometimes about being able to do something on a school night (my brother is going to college) or sometimes about buying cigarrettes or whatever. do you have any ideas on how i could help them out? i know they kinda got to sort stuff out on their own, but it just feels weird when im with them and they start arguing about things.

like one time, i was in my brothers truck and my sister in law turned the radio on, and my brother didnt like the song, so he wanted to change it to his cd, but she said to leave it, and they kept switching it back and forth, untill i finally stepped in and seemed to act like the mature one (even though im only 16 and they’re both in their 20s) and said “if you cant decide on what to listen to, then you cant listen to anything” and i just shut the radio off..

any ideas on how i could help them? maybe a marriage counseling book or something? i dont really know what to do.. or do i just need to leave them alone to sort their own things out?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

paulc's avatar

Get them to understand that they’re in a partnership. You can’t expect to get your way more than 50% of the time. If that doesn’t appeal to them, time to call the lawyers.

whatthefluther's avatar

That was a good move with the radio and I think your intentions are admirable, but I think you would be placing yourself in a can’t win situation if you try to solve the problem yourself. The chances of this marriage succeeding are slim, so you don’t want to completely alienate your brother. I recommend you continue to point out their immature behavior and suggest they get counseling. And, if you are in the position to walk away, do so and let them know you don’t want to or have to put up with their nonsense and to grow-up. Hearing this repeatedly from a mature 16 year old may ultimately sink in. Good luck to you.

cwilbur's avatar

One important thing to remember: you can’t take the initiative in solving other people’s problems. They need to do that themselves.

Other than that, just refuse to put up with it when they’re around you. Take yourself out of situations where they’re arguing, or do as you did when they were fighting over the radio and just end the argument.

kevbo's avatar

Sounds like they are in the middle of a power struggle, which is common among new-ish couples, especially younger ones such as your brother and sister-in-law seem to be. That’s why their arguments can be about something as small as what’s playing on the radio. It’s not about the thing, it’s about who’s going to be right. Eventually, they’ll agree that one or the other is dominant or they won’t.

Voice your concerns to your brother, but be clear that you’re not taking his side, you’re just being supportive.

Don’t reward the behavior. I’m sure that sounds strange, because you probably feel like you’re not rewarding the behavior, but what I mean by that is maintain your boundaries with respect to the behavior. Avoid situations where you’ll be around them while they’re arguing (drive separately when practical, for example), and if you’re with them and they start in on each other up get up and leave. If they ask why you are leaving, tell them that their arguing makes you uncomfortable, and that you’ll be happy to hang out with them when they are done.

iSteve's avatar

Some couples just do that. Is their relationship okay otherwise? I’ll bet it’s pretty annoying though and it sounds like it’s getting to you. If that’s the issue, you may want to tell them that it bothers you and that you would prefer they didn’t argue around you.

Angelina's avatar

A great book: If the Buddha Married by Charlotte Kasl. I like it because it focuses on both the individual and the couple. For example, it points out the reasons why a person might feel wronged, and how to move past that feeling and put it into a bigger perspective so that the couple flourishes. Funnily enough, it talks about scenarios much like the one you’re describing with the car radio.

NB: I’m not a Buddhist and find this book useful. It’s not a religious book at all, just a very smart and helpful book on marriage and how to handle conflict.

scamp's avatar

Did you copy and paste this question from yahoo answers? I swear I saw it there word for word last week. Just curious.

The best thing to do is stay out of it. They will have to find their own answer to their problems. Tell them that you don’t want to be involved, and that it bothers them when they fight around you. but otherwise, it’s up to them. When they fight, just walk away.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther