In-Laws, Out-Laws, and the Triangle of Truth

triangle
by Lisa Earle McLeod 

The pressure may be subtle or it might be full-on war, but there’s hardly anyone alive who hasn’t felt judged and critiqued by their in-laws.

Whether it’s your father-in-law suggesting that being a freelance designer isn’t a “real career” or your mother-in-law giving you lessons on the proper way to load the dishwasher, there’s just something about being judged that brings out the worst in us.

Go figure.

But in-law feuds—like so many other debates—are often less about people doing things wrong than they are about people needing to prove they’re doing it right.

Case in point. Whether the son’s wife decides that she’s going to work or stay home, if it’s different than what hubby’s mom did, poor mother-in-law often feels like she’s being slapped in the face.

It’s like every day when the wifey trots off to work, or stays home, she’s saying to her mother-in-law, “The way you raised your kids was wrong, and the fact that your son is supporting me in a different choice proves it.”

The daughter-in-law might not be saying or even thinking that. But the mere fact that she’s doing it differently without someone calling her on the carpet for her obviously egregious behavior is enough to make a mother-in-law feel like her son is indicting her for bad parenting.

I’d laugh, but I’ve been on both sides of this one myself. And if I’m truly honest, there have been numerous other instances in my life where my own insecurities and my need to be right have blinded me to another’s perspective.

Whether it’s the suggestion that perhaps there’s more than one way to be a good parent, or the notion that our chosen faith doesn’t have exclusive rights to the divine, we can’t seem to assimilate multiple points of view.

Yet in many cases, the dichotomy we create in our minds is false.

I recently introduced The Triangle of Truth©, a new model for solving conflict and creating more peace. Instead of arguing opposing positions on either side of a straight line, or trying to compromise in the middle, The Triangle of Truth© provides a way to reconcile two seemingly opposing points of view by creating a higher-level solution, at the top of the triangle, the pinnacle that’s supported by both sides.

For example: It’s not the big picture vs. day-to-day chores. Fabulous organizations and successful individuals operate on both planes at the same time.

It’s not the male perspective vs. the female perspective. Creating a civilized and productive world requires both.

And it’s not working vs. staying home, either. Because the truth is, good mothers do both. What’s at the top of the triangle is our love for our kids.

Because in our hearts, we humans all want the same thing. We want a better world where we’re appreciated and loved. And we want our kids to be happy and find their purpose on this planet.

Here’s another false dichotomy I’d like to dispel. God has a larger plan for your life, but you’re also 100 percent in charge of your own destiny.

So do you really want to waste more time posturing and fighting? Or are you ready to acknowledge another’s truth and become a better human being.

***

Lisa Earle McLeod is a syndicated columnist, author, keynote speaker and business consultant who specializes in helping individuals and organizations create happiness and success. Her latest book is Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear. For more info, visit www.ForgetPerfect.com.

*Photo courtesy of Benjamin Earwicker

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