Q: Your parents have been fighting a lot lately, and you think they should go to therapy. How do you tell them without seeming patronizing?

A: Nobody likes to hear, “You need therapy!” It feels judgmental and makes people get defensive.

It’s very tough to see your parents fight. Growing up around domestic chaos and aggression, even if it is verbal, can be traumatizing.

If you decide to speak with your parents, do so in a time of calm, rather than when they are embroiled in a heated fight. Start the conversation by discussing common goals that everyone will likely agree on. For example, ask them if they want to build a loving home for the family. Who can say “no” to that?

Then suggest it would be worth considering speaking to people who are trained in helping couples do exactly that! Plumbers know pipes, dentists know teeth — why not go to a marriage counselor trained in improving a couple’s relationship? Let them know you are suggesting this because you love and care for them and want their happiness.

— Alyson Schafer, family counselor, parenting expert and author of “Honey, I Wrecked the Kids”

A: What they do in their marriage is always their choice.

Couples who fight are usually aware of their behavior. It’s possible that they are working through it more than you know. They may already be in therapy but haven’t disclosed it to you. Or there could be a reason they aren’t receiving support right now.

Often when we see people in crisis, we want to fix the issue. We ignore what is happening to us by focusing on them. Allowing emotions to move, rather than suppressing them, creates clearing and self-resolution.

Enter the conversation without an agenda. You’ll find the most serenity for yourself when you are detached from the outcome of what they do or don’t do.

Begin by mentioning that you’ve noticed they’ve been fighting more recently, get curious about what’s happening for them, ask if they’ve been getting any support and see where the conversation takes you.

— Laurie Davis Edwards, relationship coach

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©2019 Chicago Tribune

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