Dear Coleen: How can I fix my broken family after marriage row?

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Dear Coleen

A year ago, my mum and older brother had a huge argument over the fact that he went to Las Vegas and his without telling anyone. My mum has never really liked my brother’s wife anyway as their personalities clash.

Just before they went to Vegas, their was on the rocks and they called off their original wedding, using the honeymoon as a kind of last chance attempt to save things.

Anyway, they ended up marrying while they were away. I was chuffed for them because I love my older brother and I think his wife is good for him.

But the argument escalated and my mum and brother both became very aggressive towards each other. I wasn’t there, so I’ve heard two sides of the story.

Things were said and they haven’t spoken for a year now. My dad finds it difficult to call my brother for fear of upsetting mum. She is one of those formidable matriarchal women and only has to give me a for me to know I’m in trouble.

I love my parents as well as my brother and his family. I have a nephew who is five and another nephew on the way, and I feel bad that they won’t be seeing their grandparents.

I don’t feel pressured by any of them to be piggy in the middle, but that’s how I feel. We used to be so close, especially after my dad suffered a heart attack a of years ago. So it’s sad that we’re now so distant. My mum and brother are both volatile people and it is no use trying to reason with either of them as they’re both also very stubborn.

I don’t know where to start piecing the family back together. Any ideas?

Coleen says

Family feuds are a nightmare and, in all honesty, can be very hard to come back from because the emotions and relationships are so intense.

From your letter, I think your mum is the one at fault . It’s OK to be disappointed that her son didn’t have the big wedding she was looking forward to, but it’s his life, not hers.

And maybe part of the reason their relationship hit the rocks was because they felt pressured to have a big white wedding when it wasn’t actually what they wanted.

I eloped with my first husband Shane and didn’t tell any of my family because that’s what we wanted to do. My parents must have been very disappointed, but made out that they were thrilled and, ultimately, they just wanted me to be happy.

Your mum sounds very controlling, and she probably clashes with your brother because he stands up to her. It’s all very well sitting on the fence, but sometimes you need to speak up.

Why not say: “Look, Mum, I love you and don’t want to fall out with you, but I don’t think you’ve handled things the right way. It’s his life and his decision. It would be very sad not to see your son and grandchildren any more – is that what you really want?”

Maybe she doesn’t believe they’re a match made in heaven, but if your child is in love, you have to make an effort or you risk losing everything.

Your nephews will get to an age when they’ll want to see their grandparents. It would be a terrible shame if your brother prevented that – whatever happens the kids shouldn’t be dragged into it.

More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, and relationship problems

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