I have always envied people who got along well with their families. As well as loving their family members, they genuinely like them, and would hang out with them for preference. Sometimes I have aspired to be like that with my family, but it has fallen flat in the past and I end up feeling that painful mix of resentment and guilt.
On the other side of the coin, I think it is a terrible shame when there are such deep rifts within families that they no longer speak to or see each other.
My family is somewhere in between. The honest truth is confronting, but it is as such:
We have so little in common, apart from shared origins. We are vastly different in personality. Were there no shared origins, no interaction would ever get past the first contact.
There have been many times in recent years where I have bemoaned the lack of understanding within the family. I am sure my other family members have bemoaned the same thing about me. It all arises from the fact that we are essentially different despite the fact we are family.
Unfortunately, though, you don't get a choice about your family. In my humble opinion, at the end of the day, there is only one thing you have to do, and that is be there when they really need you. Of course you love them, but what is love without action?
Beyond this, I keep interactions pleasant and reasonably frequent, but brief and superficial. I listen, smile, nod and make the appropriate sounds, without offering much in the way of advice. I offer practical help.
I've stopped trying to rationalise or understand how they do things. I don't like being told what to do, and apply that rationale to them. I offer gentle but firm explanations of my boundaries when that comes up.
It might sound a bit cold, but it makes for peace and calm, and ultimately a more functional relationship.
What about you?