Maybe your parents have “issues.”
Maybe you have trouble getting along with your siblings.
Maybe your spouse and you are very different.
Maybe you have a “Just No Mother-in-Law.”
Maybe you have a kid who has struggled with addiction, with anger issues, with a disability.
Maybe you have all these things and more.
It’s tough. Sometimes you resent it. Sometimes it drives you crazy.
Marcus Aurelius knew this feeling well. His step-brother, Lucius Verus, was almost his complete opposite. Where Marcus was strict and serious, his brother, from what we hear, was not. Where Marcus was philosophical and wise, his brother was not. Did this drive him crazy sometimes? You bet. But he also cherished this relationship—not just because they grew up together, but because it made him better. Because he chose to see the good in it.
“That I had the kind of brother I did,” he says gratefully in Meditations, “One whose character challenged me to improve my own. One whose love and affection enriched my life.”
You have to take this philosophical approach with your own family, with your own kids. Or life will chew you up and spit you out. Or the stress and the conflict will break you and break your heart.
Epictetus, speaking of his own relatives, talked about grabbing situations by the right handle. Not the one of resentment or frustration, but the one of love. The one of connection. The one that challenges you to fix yourself rather than other people. Because that’s all you can do. Because that’s what love is all about.