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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: My Wife Is Not Talking to Me Because I Argued with Her Father about Politics

Dear Stavroula, 

I was born and raised in Greece and I came to America because I married a Greek-American woman. This year is the first time I will vote in the U.S. election, because I recently became an American citizen. And this is where my problem begins. My wife's family directly influences her, and they do not accept my political beliefs. In fact, the last time we were at a family dinner, the situation escalated, I was accused of not caring about the country I live in, because I intend to vote differently from them. My father-in-law was furious and nearly threw me out of his house when I tried to prove to him with fact-based arguments that his point of view – and his choice – was wrong. Since then my wife has been giving me the cold shoulder, the situation in our house is unbearable, and I cannot believe that it all started with a political debate, even when she knows my views. I'm afraid my wife has not yet realized that she has started a new family. How else can I explain her attitude? Is it possible that she doesn’t talk to me and avoids me, because I argued with her father about politics? In fact, right at the moment when the man is irrational? Or maybe she found an opportunity to distance herself from me, because whatever happens, the difference in viewpoints is a major problem in any relationship. 

Vasilis 

Dear Vasilis, 

Politics has always been a burning issue for us Greeks, whether we live in Greece or anywhere else in the world. We are a Mediterranean people, we express our views intensely and with passion. Many times we take the opposite view of the other as a personal attack, forgetting that this is exactly the meaning of democracy born in our country: To respect the other's point of view, to let him express it freely even if we radically disagree with him. This seems to have been forgotten by you and your father-in-law. You challenged his political choices and he took it personally and got angry. From the fact that he became furious, as you write to me, I can assume that the discussion on your part was particularly intense. The only thing I would like to add here is that democracy starts from everyday life, from our attitude towards the simplest things. 

Let us now turn to the second issue in the father-daughter relationship. If your wife is really upset because you argued with her father, she may feel that you do not accept her family, or that your attitude did not show the respect she expected for her parents. With this overreaction, she may think that she will prevent a similar event in the future or that you will eventually reach the point of apologizing to her father. 

It might be a good idea to talk calmly with her, to admit that you made a mistake if you also overreacted in the disagreement with her father, and to ask her to find another way to resolve your differences, more creative than closing off from each other and holding a grudge against the other. 

If you still think that your wife's relationship with her father is a co-dependent relationship that affects your daily life, you may need to seek the help of a specialist, so that your wife can gradually cut the umbilical cord from her family. You still have to think about what it is in your relationship that prevents her from feeling safe or even stable, because it may be what still keeps her so close to her father. 

As for the difference in point of view between Greeks from Greece and Greeks in America, it is natural that it exists since the social and cultural environment is different. However, there are positive elements in both ways of thinking, as well as negative ones. What matters is which one we focus on. 

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