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Snubbed wife won't forgive her brothers-in-law

forgiveness on Family - Dear Amy: More than 30 years ago, my fundamentalist parents did everything they could to prevent my wife and me from marrying (we were atheists).

My brothers kept neutral or sided with my parents. My wife would have nothing to do with them after we were married.

My parents are now gone. My brothers tried to be nice to my wife, but she resists. I visit my brothers' families by myself.

I understand her position, but I feel she should let bygones be bygones. This is the only bone of contention between my wife and me. -- Want Peace

Dear Peace: One of the biggest challenges in family relationships is to grasp this reality: You cannot have people's relationships for them.

Sometimes you can influence or mediate between people to broker peace, but essentially the relationship is controlled by the opposing parties.

Your wife can choose not to accept olive branches extended her way. She can choose not to forgive people who were cruel to her. She can stay in a state of sadness or anger.

You can continue to try to encourage your family, and your wife, to come together. You can encourage each party to try harder (for instance, have your family members actually acknowledge what they did and ask for forgiveness. That would be a start).

But you can accomplish very little, besides acceptance.

You need to manage your anxiety over this. You cannot force her to see people, and she cannot force you to stay away.

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