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Family disagreements - how do you move on without an apology?

(49 Posts)

I'm the sort of person who likes to sort things out - explain why I'm upset, clear the air and hopefully work stuff out so all is well again. I hate the feeling of 'injustice' when someone won't even acknowledge you are upset. If I upset people, especially people I care about, I want to put it right and say sorry.

If you're the sort of person who finds it difficult to apologise when you know you're in the wrong why is that? What are you thinking? Do you find it more or less difficult the closer you are to that person? I would just like to get the other perspective.

At the moment I am having to act as if all is fine with a close family member who refuses to apologise or even talk about an incident that recently happened. For the benefit of the family as a whole I have remained civil but it's hard. This person refuses to speak about the issue and I'm really puzzled as to why. Any experiences useful.

RandomMess Sat 08-Mar-14 20:08:14

Probably to do with how conflict was resolved (or not resolved) in her nuclear family?

Lavenderhoney Sat 08-Mar-14 20:20:47

Oh yes, my family and my dh family go by the mantra " never explain, never apologise" and I can't stand it.

They can't say sorry. They behave as though everything's ok and if you push it they get very defensive even if so wrong total strangers would apologise ( and have!) for them. If you have done something stupid and apologise they get even more defensivesad

I'm not like that as I have learnt not to be, and the younger generation of my family ( well, two of them!) happily apologise, discuss and move on.

You won't change them. All you can do is make sure you apologise to your dc/dh, and behave as you want everyone else to.

Thanks for the replies.

Randommess - yes it could well be down to earlier family dynamics.

Lavenderhoney - you have just described this person completely. The bit about them not liking anyone to apologise to them either made me laugh as on occasions when I have tried to they have cut me short and changed the subject. Very odd - glad I'm not the only one this infuriates.

Wigeon Sat 08-Mar-14 20:42:14

My father has done various things over the years which have made my DSis and I very upset. He knows we are upset. He has never apologised at all. I am fairly sure that it's because he doesn't think he is wrong, he thinks we are being unreasonable and he has almost zero emotional intelligence or empathy. I think he genuinely has no idea how hurt my DSis and I have been by some of his actions. I therefore have no expectation of an apology. I don't think he's taking a principled stand that he "never apologises" or anything. I just think he sees no reason to.

Does that resonate in the situation you find yourself in at the moment?

Wigeon Sat 08-Mar-14 20:43:57

Oh, and I agree with Lavenderhoney that you will never change them (assuming they are adults?). I just have to accept that this is how my father is. Previous attempts at expressing how hurt DSis and I are have just ended in tears (ours), feeling bad (us) and absolutely nothing changing (him). So I gave up years ago.

Lavenderhoney Sat 08-Mar-14 20:48:49

Emotion makes people uncomfortable, and my family didn't do emotion. And its loss of face somewhere as well, for them.

Actually, I have a friend who can't apologise, has no idea if they should, and hopes it will all go away. Public school upbringing and a stiff upper lipsmile and arrogancesmile we have discussed it throughly together and have come to the conclusion they have an ego the size of the UKsmile

Seriously, though, I think a lot of nc is because people won't apologise. They know they have fucked up, but can't process it because its too hard. They can't deal with the emotions- leading to drink, drugs, having to smoke etcetera, going away and coming back hoping its forgotten..

I encourage my dc to feel their way through feeling bad at upsetting someone, thinking what to do, doing it, and the aftermath. Its a process. The terrible feeling of dread and acknowledging it by apologising and meaning it, is something that should be learnt. And its really hard.

ScarletStar Sat 08-Mar-14 20:53:32

My best friend used to find it impossible to apologise and one night drunkenly admitted that it was because she felt FURIOUS that she wasn't right. grin It was a skill she had to learn, so I agree with Lavenderhoney. I'm the opposite, I apologise for things that aren't even my fault and feel furious at myself afterwards!

Thanks Wigeon - sorry about your father, that sounds really hard.

This person knows from my own reaction and then a third party explaining to them exactly why I was so upset and they still refuse to acknowledge any responsibility. Previously we have done lots of things together as an extended family and had what I considered a good relationship - although we are very different. I no longer want to be around this person and it will make normal family commitments uncomfortable. I am angry at this person for putting me in this position. They are intelligent and kind in their own way - just seem to lack empathy - or lack empathy in relation to those close to home anyway! It is really frustrating I could shake them - aargh.

Andro Sat 08-Mar-14 21:03:47

How do I deal with it? I retreat behind an icy wall of ultra perfect manners. Anyone who knows me reasonably well will know I'm not happy with the situation, anyone who doesn't need to know what I'm feeling wouldn't be able to work it out anyway.

The icy wall in question has been in place with respect to my mother for 15 years (she know what I'm doing and why, but she won't apologise/discuss it further because she doesn't think her actions were/are/continue to be wrong).

Twitterqueen Sat 08-Mar-14 21:10:13

My twatish exh refused to apolgise for anything -ever. He also used to have a real go at the DCs when they said "sorry" - he would always say "don't aplogise"" don't say sorry."

I found this really really difficult, having been bought up to aplogise when in the wrong. So for example if he stepped on my foot, or dropped a tin on my head (RL incident), he would say nothing, or laugh.

I couldn't live with this - it shows a huge huge disrespect for others.

My Dsis and I had a huge argument some years ago - her response was always "I regret that you feel that way... " Crap crap crap.

No answers I'm afraid.

Lavenderhoney Sat 08-Mar-14 21:13:08

Op, you can't change others reactions, only yours to them.

This person will never apologise and in the end ( even after years if being frosty) you will have to suck it up, for family. You won't be the only one, in your family, I can assure you.

My db was a total twat to me and I went nc. We are ok now, but only because I had to, what with a death in the family. Its not ophrah by any means, and I still think he's a twat, and he still thinks I'm over emotional and he can say what he likes to family(!)

I get on very well with his dd, and she says the same- you have to acknowledge his psyche and its not your problem. She and I both left home at 16 and worked in the corporate world. Nothing like a bunch of Americans to help you get in touch with your inner emotional intelligence.

And sometimes a cup of tea with someone who doesn't give a shit about EI is restful as wellsmile

Let it go, ( ie don't stress yourself and stay clear.)

sillymillyb Sat 08-Mar-14 21:20:52

I don't know if I'm coming at this from a different angle, but here's my two pennies worth!

I am usually an apologiser, probably overly so. I hate upsetting people! However a few years ago I had a massive incident with my brother and his wife and some really hurtful behaviour was displayed both by them, and by me.

I cannot and have not apologised for my part of it. I actually went nc with them over it (and still am with his wife) I know I have hurt my brother but I just can't talk about it with him because I can't find the words to explain to him how his behaviour made me feel. It feels too big to dissect and try to convey.

Like I say, this is unusual for me, but maybe shows how someone who has acted that way (only the once I promise!) feels? Sorry if not helpful or relevant, but thought I'd chuck it into the conversation in case it was!

IloveJudgeJudy Sat 08-Mar-14 22:21:09

Thank you for starting this thread.

Something similar has happened in my family, involving DD (who is having mental health problems atm). We (the siblings and families) are meant to be meeting next weekend. I'm really in a dilemma of what to do.

I think I'm going to tell DD she doesn't have to go if she doesn't want to (DB spoke to her in an inappropriate manner, precipitated by DM "bleating" to him about something DS said to her (DM)).

I have met DB and wife in between at a function. That was OK as we didn't really have to socialise with him.

I've really been thinking about the situation recently and I'm going with "let's just move on". I'm not going to say that to DB, but I am going to tell DD just to let things go as she's got much more important things to think about. I just can't even go with the big apology and all the ensuing drama. I just want to get this whole situation out of my head and move on with my life. I'm not normally like this, but there's nothing like a life-changing situation with one of your DC to put things into perspective sad.

I haven't ever tried this moving on without apology, but I'm going to give it a try.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Sun 09-Mar-14 01:21:14

I got the apology I wanted most in the world 32 years later, as DM was dying.

It was quite a complex sensation: relief, anger, and oddly, disappointment. This woman, whose achievements and abilities were real, not least her ferocious courage, should only buckle at the thought of judgement...tsk.

horsetowater Sun 09-Mar-14 03:23:23

Emphatic - just because you were upset doesn't mean the other person did anything bad. Some people get upset if you ask them for the time. To then expect you to apologise for asking the time is just going to upset you even more.

I think a lot of people get upset in order to put a distance between you, it's a coward's way out and can sometimes be used as way to control someone.

innisglas Sun 09-Mar-14 03:54:07

I'm a great believer in apologies, but my dd and I often have screaming fights and then twenty minutes are back to normal. Sometimes there are apologies, sometimes we don't even bother.
I knew one man who made his life very difficult by never apologizing. He told me that sometimes people take advantage of your apology and think that you have admitted that everything you do is wrong. This has happened to me, but not very much.

NMFP Sun 09-Mar-14 09:16:41

There are several people in my family who don't apologise, and they don't really accept apologies either. My mum will say "I'm sorry YOU FEEL LIKE THAT" about something she has done. I don't think my brother has every apologised for anything, ever.

I haven't really found I way to manage any of this but am pretty much nc with my brother, and my mum is now in very fragile condition and apologises for things she doesn't need to apologise for sad.

I model apologising to my own children, but will be clear if I'm making an apology for something I have done, or expressing regret that they are upset about something that has happened but which doesn't merit an 'apology'.

Thanks for all the interesting insights.

Horsetowater - hmm - am I being cowardly? I hope not - I know I'm not feigning upset - I am genuinely hurt. More so because I expect more from this person - they manage empathy and supportiveness for those who are not directly connected with their lives but don't seem to be able to extend it to those they interact with in their family. Also as it indirectly concerns my child it is even more difficult to let it go.

However I do see how 'being upset' could be used as a form of control and keep people walking on eggshells - this is the last thing I want. I generally let most negative comments go and try to see the bigger picture - but I do expect those that are aware of genuine hurt they have caused over important issues to want to put it right. If they don't I presume they place very little value on the relationship - sadly I think this may be the case.

horsetowater Sun 09-Mar-14 23:15:54

I'm glad you see my point there, of course I don't know your circumstances and I'm sure you had good reason to be upset.
But people do need to understand that it's as easy to get upset as it is to upset someone else.

There seem to be a lot of professionally offended people about these days and I find the whole culture of avoidance and over-sensitivity permeating society. It seems to have become part of the culture of our public services. Where we used to be officious and a bit hard-line we are now never putting our heads above the parapet afraid to speak in case someone sues us for upsetting them. Or in case we appear to be negative. We don't want to upset the boss, so we never tell them what's really going on and what needs to change. It's a serious problem.

Sorry to turn it to politics, I tend to do that!

rainbowsmiles Mon 10-Mar-14 00:27:31

I think it depends on what your upset over. If I am upset enough to think I deserve an apology then I wouldn't get over not getting one. But it would have to be really bad. I'm actually in this very situation.

The apology is not forthcoming and everyone would much rather I just let it go because it's easier for the family dynamic but it's something which I am not going to move on. I've cut this person off and I know that unless I get a genuine apology that will not change and I'm fairly certain this person isn't capable of genuine anything.

But I do not upset easily. I apologise readily and if I could sort it I would. And the family all understand why I've cut this person off.

I actually don't think that just because they are family they get a pass. I would have cut this person out of my life completely a long time before if she wasn't family actually but I suppose you try harder with family.

But if it's a minor thing I would just let it go. I tend to fade people out until it stops bothering me then fade them back in. It's a least said soonest mended option that works for me.

NMFP Mon 10-Mar-14 07:52:16

The act of saying 'sorry' isn't the big deal, its the acknowledgement of causing hurt or doing wrong.

Sometimes people hurt others because they lack empathy and don't realise - they may need to be guided to see that they have caused hurt. This is where a healthy family come in. A word at the right time from a trusted relative acting in a non-judgmental way, with guidance as to how to fix things, or even mediation. The same goes when someone is overreacting - a gentle word, a bit of reassurance.

Meerka Mon 10-Mar-14 08:17:15

I don't think some people realise how healing an apology can be. Sure, it's hard to give one but once you do, then things can really, really improve.

Also, some people do see either giving an apology or getting one as a sign of real weakness and use it to play moral-superiority games, ugh.

Got this in what remains of my family atm, someone sent me six whole months of werid, ranting, off the wall nasty emails and despite trying to respond reasonably to her, after 6 months i'd had enough. I'm afraid that for any sort of relationship to be rebuilt, I'd need an apology though and a promise that if she has a problem then she'll try to talk instead of hysterical hate. I genuinely have no idea why she aimed all this at me, it came out of the blue, it was like she was dumping a load of hate on someone just behind my shoulder cause it seemed to have so little to do with me personally.

oldwomaninashoe Mon 10-Mar-14 08:36:50

My BIL will never apologise or acknowledge that he is wrong and accordingly my sister is now the same. It is not the way she was brought up and after they seem to think their atrocious behaviour towards other members of the family should be brushed aside, they are now ostracised by the majority of our extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles etc)
It is a shame and I am civil when I see them, but only see them when I have to see them. They will never change, unfortunately for their children who are missing out on a lovely large family.

Thanks for all the food for thought.

Still not sure what I will do about this situation or if indeed there is anything I can do but it has been useful to get other perspectives.

Meerka - I agree about the healing nature on both sides of an apology - I can only live in hope!

WhereOWhere Mon 10-Mar-14 16:34:52

I have this sort of situation going on in my family. Someone close said some horrible things and then twisted it so I was in the wrong, which I absolutely wasn't.

I believe it was because she was stressed (possibly mentally ill) but those closest to her (who really should, a perhaps do, know better) choose to see me as the bad guy.

I've tried to talk with her and them about it, but they just want to blame me for it. Her DP has been with her forever and I now see he enables her to be such a vile, toxic bitch like this.

I choose to have as little contact as possible and when we meet intend to be icily cool, but impeccably mannered.

AngelaDaviesHair Mon 10-Mar-14 16:50:50

The last time a close relative did this to me (refusal to apologise-for a shocking wrong too, nothing trivial) I told them to fuck off, at length, and with real rage. When they got angry and hurt, I said, 'Now you know how I feel. We're even. You don't get an apology, and neither do I.' Petty? Yes. Childish? Definitely. Cathartic? Absolutely.

QueenofallIsee Mon 10-Mar-14 17:04:58

I had this with my BIL - big fall out, lots of tension and because he would never admit that he was in the wrong, I got lumbered with the blame as I should just 'let it go'. It was over 2 years before I could and that was only because my MIL was so sad about it that I felt bad.

Still pissed at him, just had to accept that I can't control his response to conflict, only my own to him

ZingSweetMango Mon 10-Mar-14 17:57:01

I don't know.

MIL really upset me last week and not apologised.
she knows how I feel but has not explained herself yet in text or on the phone.

I don't want to talk to her until she says sorry - but it's impossible, she normally helps with kids twice a week.
I can't pretend nothing happened either, but I think she will want to.

I don't know what to do, she's supposed to get LOs tomorrow.
I'm going to have to confront her, in person.
not looking forward to it.

springykyrie Tue 11-Mar-14 00:03:38

Just watched Long Lost Families and a girl hunted down her dad who abandoned her when she was 5. He promised to come back but never did, or contacted his daughter at all. When they found him and he was interviewed he said 'And then before you knew it, 20 years had gone by' ( shock ). When they met, and he was obviously contrite, we were all desperate to hear the SORRY - but it never came. Somehow he said this and that but never 'I'm sorry I let you down, I want to make it up to you'. The daughter had forgiven him (greater woman than I, gungadin).

My sister doesn't say sorry. She broke my tv and hummed and hawed, clearly in a panic, didn't know what to say/how to get out of it. 'Oh no! Sorry, I broke your telly!' would've sufficed: accidents happen. She doesn't say sorry on the huge (and I mean HUGE) issues and we are now nc - my choice, mainly because she's toxic.

I've hardly ever had an apology my whole life, it is extremely rare imo for someone to apologise when they're in the wrong. How sweet it would be to hear just one: healing, loving, validating.

springykyrie Tue 11-Mar-14 00:09:03

I mean an apology for the things that have smacked me in the face, not run of the mill things. I've had lots of the latter, but never the former.

horsetowater Tue 11-Mar-14 00:38:35

I upset someone recently. Had no idea, thought she was upset about something else. I heard via someone else and then I approached her to ask what happened. She reeled and ranted and thought I was an absolute cow to 'do what I did'. I reeled and ranted back at her and explained that actually I was doing what I thought was right at the time and it needed to be done. I said I was sorry I upset her, she completely gushed with apologies and we both feel a lot lot better. But I couldn't have apologised without her hearing my side of the story as well, it wouldn't have been fair.

It's never as simple as expecting an apology, I think a discussion needs to be had and that's what people avoid. The professionally offended are often avoiders so it happens a lot IME. Perhaps I'm an optimist but I think people very rarely deliberately set out to upset someone and as long as that's the case, both parties have a duty to hear each other out. It has to be a win/win.

I totally agree with someone who said earlier that a word from a close friend or family is a good idea to smooth things like this over and find reconciliation.

whyisthishappening Tue 11-Mar-14 00:46:56

I find apologies worthless from some people. I find them meaningless if the same behavior is going to get repeated again and again. I prefer action over empty words.

The 'I've apologized' in an angry burst, 'what more can I do' type of conversation when a real apologist knows what they could do to make things up if they wanted or the half apology/half blame one.

I very rarely apologize if I don't believe I'm in the wrong. When I do apologize I try to mean it. I apologize for upsetting people if they are upset, but not for my actions if I believe I am right. I find it hard to apologize if I have done wrong - but I do it. I feel better for saying it.

I apologized to keep the peace with a family member and whilst it seems clear the person involved knows they were at fault, I find it still stings and I wish I'd not apologized for something I hadn't done.

My family like to hide these things and hope they disappear.

saffronwblue Tue 11-Mar-14 01:55:26

I think people who are weak think that an apology will further weaken them whereas I think a genuine heartfelt apology and acknowledgement of injury is a demonstration of strength and grace. It is hard to forge on without an apology. I guess you have to consider whether these are people you want to be around in the future and whether that justifies swallowing your feelings. It is unfair.

springykyrie Tue 11-Mar-14 08:35:09

I didn't answer the q (above) - sorry! grin

I still see my parents, when a whole city of apologies have been unsaid - from them (of course! Though has a think about anything I could apologise for....). They are old and I've stopped expecting an apology. But it does mean that the relationship is drastically small. I try to make the best of a small patch but it's the best I - we? - can manage. Unfortunately, I find that the relationship matters to me less: I don't have much respect for it and it's more like duty these days. They love me in their weird way, I love them too.

Which brings it on to forgiveness - re unforgiveness/bitterness hurts me more than it hurts the person I am holding a grudge against. Which seems very unfair. Not that 'forgiveness' is covering over a hurt, more letting go the need for/insistence on some level of accountability. Not stupidly, ignoring it, but letting it pass. Always wary though.

I just had to check your profile Emphatic to be sure you aren't my sister wink but you clearly aren't grin

I upset her a year or so ago saying something that needed to be said for the sake of a more vulnerable family member - all the extended family who live close have got in the habit of making huge allowances for my sister and assuming everything she does must be "her best" - and they had gone along with har in making a child a scapegoat. I visited and after seeing this go on for a few days had to point it out. This upset my sister - obviously - but I absolutely would do the same again, not enable her as the rest of the family were doing for the sake of "harmony". Lots of extended families get into twisted ruts of pacifying certain members and not talking about things that need raising and changing but might upset somebody - the ruling philosophy is "don't rock the boat" and the cardinal sin "upsetting" people.

I won't apologise for upsetting my sister as I still think she needed upsetting, to bring everybody out of their weird state of acceptance of the status quo they had all allowed to develop and were too close to actually see (to be charitable and assume they didn't see it, rather than were just joining in for an easy life).

Sometimes an apology is just smoothing over something broken to mend the ego of a party who has been called on something, and allow a disfunctional set up to reset to the unsatisfactory way it was - sometimes what is needed is a thorough, honest discussion - that is what most families seem incapable of IMO.

Xenadog Tue 11-Mar-14 09:23:38

Why are you "Having to act fine" if you don't feel that way? If it's just to keep the peace consider what it's costing you. You are posting on MN asking for advice so it's clearly upsetting you.

Personally if someone has done something to hurt me and they don't apologise I move them out of my life. Even if it's family. I am always happy to apologise when I have said/done something offensive or wrong but if others can't extend me that courtesy then why would I ever waste time on them?

If you HAVE to see this person because they are extended family then I would not speak to them except for the barest minimum to preserve the peace for others.

Meerka Tue 11-Mar-14 09:32:20

slightly off direct topic but actually, I'm starting to think that the ability to genuinely apologise comes with being a resilient person. People who can't apologise or who see it as a sign of weakness tend maybe to be brittle people.

Lots of people struggling with similar situations - aren't human relationships complicated?

MrTumbles - I understand what you are saying about the need sometimes to raise your head above the parapet - really I do. I do not want family to pussyfoot around me. This is why straight after the incident happened I rang to discuss it - not to demand an apology but to just talk. They refused to speak to me. This person has been making snipey, passive aggressive comments about the ongoing difficulties of one of my children for years. I have ignored, ignored ignored. I really wish if they had something to say they would just come out and say it. I am always happy to listen to any constructive thoughts.

The last incident came in the middle of an extremely worrying time - as a family we are exhausted and consumed with worry. We are doing everything we can, as we have for many years to do the best for all our DCs. If this person had something constructive to add believe me I would listen - I am not proud and I am pretty desperate. I acknowledge we have made mistakes - SN and mental health issues are never easy to deal with for any families. However this person has no real insight or experience of any of these issues and offers no real practical support or solutions - only thinly veiled criticisms or sometimes not even thinly veiled.

After reading that back I am wondering why I care about what this person thinks?
I think it is because in other matters I do respect this person's opinions. I have had a good relationship with them and they can be thoughtful and kind. For some reason it is important to me that they at least listen to my perspective - perhaps this is because as a parent, especially a parent with a child with difficulties, you are constantly blaming and questioning yourself. When someone adds to that criticism they should at least be prepared to discuss it - otherwise the only outcome is the other person feeling even worse and no real insight or progress made.

This at least has been cathartic writing it down - thanks for all replies.

springykyrie Tue 11-Mar-14 11:51:50

it is important to me that they at least listen to my perspective - perhaps this is because as a parent, especially a parent with a child with difficulties, you are constantly blaming and questioning yourself. When someone adds to that criticism they should at least be prepared to discuss it - otherwise the only outcome is the other person feeling even worse and no real insight or progress made.

say that! It's perfect.

I recently had a discussion with my parents, in which I calmly asked - not pointed out - why there was an entire lack of equity (actually, bullying) in a particular situation (though I didn't use those words: I asked why such and such happened, genuinely why was that? I wanted to know what was behind it, what their reasoning was). They shouted, attacked and insulted me, but I stayed absolutely calm throughout. I deserve an award tbf but 1. I'm not as invested in the relationship any more and it's not as hard to be unemotional and 2. I needed to flag up the issue and wanted to find out their take on it. I suppose my question, which I repeatedly returned to, especially with the side-tracking of insults etc, was hitting at the root of the family dysfunction and they didn't take kindly to it - but it helped me a lot to bring it up, especially completely calmly.

If I'm honest, I doubt they will 'hear' it - and evidence since suggests that this particular dysfunction is mushrooming as a result of our discussion (actually, always there but perhaps fully coming out instead of hidden under the surface) - but I'm not prepared to stand by and go along with it. The reality is that I no longer care about their opinion of me any more. I have chosen to stay in contact with them because they are old and there is genuine love between us, even if it is laced with some heavy dysfunction; and, although I have significantly cut back the time I spend with them and the quality of interaction, I think it is worth maintaining a relationship of sorts. I have cut off my siblings but that isn't a piece of cake tbf - and the only reason I won't have an unemotional discussion with them is because, at root, I do care what they think and their opinion, because it still hurts. My parents are kind of toothless to me now, though I am still not prepared to entirely lay down and die to keep them happy. I'm not going to get an apology but it has helped me, at least, to talk about it and, perhaps, to 'agree to differ'? I can move on with that (especially as they won't be around for long now because they're so old).

I'm sorry that's long-winded - it's hard to be succinct about intensely emotional family stuff - and I'm not sure if it makes much sense (it does to me!).

Hope you get it sorted out Emphatic - sounds like quite a different situation. I do think in some or many cases apologising for upsetting people is not a positive, but just a way of trying to pretend something was never said and go back to pretending everything is perfect - open communication is surely a healthier aim, with both parties allowed to say things without fear if being rounded on for upsetting family harmony... it sounds as if there is no open communication in your situation, as the other party is now refusing to speak to you! People should either be prepared to talk it out and listen to each other, or, I suppose, say nothing (though biting your tongue is often cowardice IMO and only honestly meant apologies are worth anyone's breath - not ones that are about smoothing feathers that needed ruffling (not the case in your situation).

matana Wed 12-Mar-14 10:28:22

I don't get the concept of not apologising either. Neither my mum or dad have ever admitted to being in the wrong and my sister tends to believe everybody else is always wrong and she's beyond reproach. As a consequence family arguments tend to drift on until the stronger person is able to make an effort at reconciliation. BIL likewise never apologises or, if he does, he later weakens it by saying "but i wouldn't have done x if you hadn't done y". Consequently i am no longer speaking to either and actually have no intention at this point of making peace. They need to learn to accept responsibiility for their actions and stop behaving like spoilt brats. I am not normally one to dig my heels in and would much rather apologise (even if i don't feel i am in the wrong) and move on. But sometimes it's a necessary evil.

horsetowater Wed 12-Mar-14 10:52:43

I'm with MrTumble on this - if it is hard to address conflict with a reasonable discussion or acknowledgement of difference then 'expecting an apology' could simply add to this dysfunction and drive a wedge.

I have recently 'upset' someone who organised a family event without discussing it with me and sent out invitations. She told me (via a friend) that I should just learn to forgive, however this is the second time she's done this. Her assumption that people should forgive each other has meant she learned nothing when she did it the first time and assumes it's my problem because she wants to believe that I don't forgive her!

Families are a kind of murky ground as boundaries can be more stretched. It's important that when there is a conflict between two people, others try to broker some kind of peace and refrain from taking sides.

With friends it's a bit more black and white - leaving the relationship has no major consequences for others.

springykyrie Wed 12-Mar-14 12:58:32

Perhaps we need to hear some conflict resolution ideas. Countries can find a way to some kind of peace to stop blowing one another up, we could do with some of those skills. We need a Mo Mowlam!

I met someone who has done our family tree - she married into the family. Turns out there's a history of relatives not speaking to one another that stretches right back. eg two brothers lived next door to one another with their families and refused to speak for decades, literally walking up the paths to their houses right next to one another and refusing to speak.

(Knowing my family, mind, this shouldn't be a surprise.)

bubblegoose Wed 12-Mar-14 13:25:58

I find apologies worthless from some people. I find them meaningless if the same behavior is going to get repeated again and again. I prefer action over empty words.

My mum illustrates this one perfectly. She will say something horrible, or have a fit of shouting and tears, and leave everyone reeling. The next day she will apologise and say "I'm sorry I was upset last night, I was very tired." So no actual apology for the things she said.

I once asked her if she treated her friends like this, or just her family. She couldn't answer me. Because to face the fact that she treats the people she cares most about in the world the way she does is too difficult to contemplate, I think.

This thread has been really interesting.

Thanks for the vote of confidence springykyrie - unfortunately I'm unlikely to be given the opportunity to say anything at all.

The heat of my anger has gone now and I'm just sad about it all really - seems so pointless when it could have been discussed and a better understanding reached. Someone upthread said I can only be responsible for my own response to the situation, which is true. Thinking about it I'm actually quite happy with how I handled it which is quite healing in itself.

A big yes to conflict resolution ideas - maybe it should be taught seriously in schools. I would nominate my relative for an intensive course!

peggyundercrackers Wed 12-Mar-14 20:35:49

I don't always think an apology is needed, some people seem to over react to anything an everything and are just drama queens, they need to get over themselves. Also think giving an apology means you recognise you have done wrong, if you don't believe you are in the wrong why would you apologise?

As for not speaking after you fall out with someone life's too short. I can't feel bad enough over 1 falling out to stop speaking to someone.

horsetowater Sat 15-Mar-14 23:51:04

My dd gets taught conflict resolution but she has SEN and gets special classes. All children should get this kind of thing. It has been really helpful.

yegodsandlittlefishes Sun 16-Mar-14 00:03:26

Emphatic, if you've been criticised for the way you parent your own children, been told you're wrong and not listened to or understood when you have given any explanation then I think yiu had wvery right to feel angry. I don't think an apology is going to be forthcoming though, as the person causing you problems is grasping hold of the wrong end of the stick too tightly!

(If I've read this wrongly and this is about your advicevto someone else about their parenting, then you may be BU.)

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