You can't choose your family -- or your husband's. Whatever you feel about them, you're stuck with them. Family squabbles are common and usually fairly easy to get over. However, if your husband is reluctant to spend any time at all with his family, this may indicate a deeper problem. He's happy to hang out with friends, so you know the problem isn't shyness or a lack of social skills. Unless you are aware of an argument or issue that would stop your husband wanting to hang out with his family, the only way to find out what's going on is to talk to him.
1. Find Out the Truth
It's not always easy getting someone to open up, particularly if there's something they don't want to talk about. Men, in particular, may be reluctant to share their emotions. Men think more than they feel, explains psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith in the article, "Men, Women, Emotions and Communication," for "Psychology Today." While women can think and feel simultaneously, men can only do one or the other, reveals Goldsmith. This makes it challenging to talk at length about their feelings. Use good communication skills to encourage your husband to share what's on his mind. Maintain a positive attitude when you talk to your husband, advises the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center in the article, "A Game Plan for Effective Communication." Pick the right time to talk, when he is calm, well fed, rested and relaxed. Express your feelings about the situation by saying something like, "I feel worried that you don't want to spend any time with your family. Could we talk about this?" Using "I" statements will help prevent him from becoming defensive or angry, as he won't feel that you are blaming him for the situation, says the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. Really listen to what he has to say in response. Avoid interrupting him until he has finished talking, regardless of how you feel about his views.
2. He's Avoiding Someone
If there is a particular person in your husband's family who gets on his nerves or makes him feel insecure, unhappy or anxious, this may be the reason for his withdrawal from the family. He's not alone. According to Leonard Felder, author of "When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People," more than 70 percent of people have a difficult family member who instigates conflict. In the article, "Tips For Dealing With Difficult Family Members," for Florida International University, Felder reveals that many people in this situation ignore what is going on, rather than try to deal with the problem. Your husband may find it easier to stay away from family gatherings, rather than confront the difficult relative.
3. He's Feeling Ashamed
Perhaps the problems lies with your husband, and not another member of his family. He may have behaved inappropriately or dishonestly, and feel uncomfortable spending time in his family's company because it makes him feel guilty. Guilt is an unpleasant emotion, and one that people try to avoid, says psychotherapist F. Diane Barth in the article, "What Makes Us Feel Guilty?" for "Psychology Today." If your husband has betrayed a member of his family, spending time in the company of that person may force him to face up to his guilt.
4. How You Can Help
You can help your husband enjoy the company of his family by learning conflict resolution skills together. The first step is accepting that conflict is a natural part of every healthy relationship. Facing up to conflict, and dealing with it in an appropriate way, is far more productive than avoiding it, says psychotherapist Jeanne Segal in the article, "Conflict Resolution Skills," for "HelpGuide.org." Explore ways your husband can relieve the stress caused by his family, such as yoga, meditation, exercise or therapy. Encourage him to acknowledge his feelings, and accept them as being normal. Ask him what he needs for the difficult situation with his family to be resolved. He may need to make peace with a relative, which requires good listening skills and a willingness to forgive. He may need to admit that he has been in the wrong, which involves understanding how another person feels, and then putting time and energy into making amends.
- Andrea Morini/Photodisc/Getty Images