Lost in Translation

Like most unadventurous, domesticated couples, my husband and I take the same route every day when we walk our dog. About three quarters of the way through, we pass a house and the old man who lives there, if he’s outside, yells “beautiful dog!” to us across the street. Every time.

He insists our dog is a German Shorthair (he’s a Husky/Heeler mix). We could correct him a thousand times, wave back or ignore him, and he’d probably be of the same opinion until his last breath. (“Beautiful dog.” Looong sigh. Croak.)

If you’re planning a wedding, you may or may not have a family member or friend who does something like this. No matter how many times you try to explain something as explicitly as possible, it gets translated back into the same incorrect thought each time. So how do you deal with that stubborn sibling? Here’s what I did and didn’t do to move past these issues and stay on track:

Understand Yourself

If it bothers you, there’s a reason why. You may feel ignored, like you’re being treated like a child, or that you have an obligation to create an event that satisfies everyone. Until you know why your opinion is important to you, you’ll have a hard time explaining why. And if you’re really ticked off, follow the universal advice of taking an hour or a day to cool down first.

Don’t Ignore It

Yes, the age-old method of just pretending the problem doesn’t exist. This almost never works, and usually makes things worse, so don’t even try it. It’s also the easiest solution, so I’m officially here to disabuse you of that notion right up front.

Rephrase Ad Nauseum

Sometimes it just takes hearing something a few times before you can accept that it has been seriously considered and isn’t just some off-hand comment. Depending on the relationship you have with this person, this assumption of what you mean versus what you say can be very deeply entrenched (in the case of parents) or relatively easy to overcome (siblings-in-law). If you can, rephrase your explanation instead of just repeating yourself.

Get Backup

If someone won’t listen, you’ll need some backup. Be careful choosing who, though, this can quickly make the target feel defensive. It’s uncomfortable, but it can get the point across most effectively. Come prepared to listen—there might be more to the story than you expect.

Let It Go

I know, I know, this sounds a lot like “ignore it” which I pretty forcefully told you not to do. The added element here is acceptance. If you choose to let it go, you have to decide for yourself that you can live with the results.

And yes, our dog is beautiful. So we let it go, smile, and wave back every time.

About the author


The naturally irreverent man-of-many-hats: musician, author, app developer, amateur photographer, and the creator of misters.com.

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