Why Does My Family Quarrel?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From India: Hello doctor,
I am the eldest daughter in the family.my father is a business man,mother is a house wife.i have two younger sisters.totally we are 5 in the house.there are disputes in the family every time since my childhood between father and mother.as the time passed this disputes continued and now all the 5 are quarreling for small issues and making others to interfere in the family.during quarrel we use to even slap others.

i am feeling shame to write this but i am in helpless situation.when we go outside all the neighbors will be asking us why are you people quareling like this.every one use to shout like anything on other family member,there is no happiness.they will use abusive language while quarreling.we dont have any financial crisis.we are well settled.

my parents are searching for a guy for my marriage.if i get married at this situation,i mean at this mental situation ,how can lead my new life happily. i already loved a person for 4 years and my parents rejected him.now that guy rejected me.i am not in a situation to take right decision for my life.help me out of this pathetic situation.

A: What an unhappy way to live. I’m sorry for everyone in the family. It seems that your parents never learned how to be a harmonious couple that makes compromises for everyone’s benefit. Instead they seem to think that the way to settle a disagreement is to “win” — either by making more noise or by getting violent. Quarreling is the only language they understand. It’s happened so much, they’ve come to see it as normal.

You can’t change them. The only person you can change is yourself. Eventually, others might follow your example. But whether or not they do, you can learn to be a more reasonable person when there are disagreements to settle.

When someone starts to quarrel with you, simply say, “I don’t like to fight. When you want to calmly discuss this issue with me, let me know.” Then leave for the next room or for a walk. If the person follows you and is still rude, repeat what you said. Then simply look at them respectfully and don’t respond. When they stop yelling, say something like, “Thank you. Now let’s see if we can come to an agreement.” If the person starts to fight again, just stop talking.

This won’t be easy. Quarreling is the language of your family. But if you want to have a chance of making a different kind of family for yourself, you do need to practice getting out of fights and talking quietly and reasonably with others.

As for picking your marriage partner: I may not understand the situation as I’m in America. But it seems to me that people like your parents are likely to pick someone who speaks their quarrelsome language because that’s what they find most comfortable. If you want a different kind of partner, you may need to do some looking on your own and then not care so much what your parents think. But only you understand whether the consequences of doing so are worth it to you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jul 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). Why Does My Family Quarrel?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/07/22/why-does-my-family-quarrel/