In a normal relationship, there are fights. However, I feel all my parents do is fight. They're so completely opposite, and they clash all the time on so many things. They say they love each other, but I really doubt it. In my culture, divorce is looked down on, and I feel like the only reason they haven't gotten a divorce is because everybody will talk.
I really don't want to have a relationship of any kind now because I've seen what it does to people. My dad will sleep in the guest bedroom and my mom will cry herself to sleep pretty much 3 times a month. It's exhausting and I just want to leave this house and go far away and never come back. It's hard concentrating on work and listening to them fight, and then going to school and smiling and acting like everything's just dandy. My sister is only 10 and I worry about her too. She'll start sobbing when they fight and she takes her frustration out by screaming at everyone, which causes the whole family to be mad at each other. Playing the blame game is all anyone in my family knows how to do. So basically, what I'm asking you is what I should do. Just put up with it? Run away? Sitting down and talking with them isn't going to work. Trust me, I've tried. I just want a normal, happy life. Is that too much to ask for?
Um. Well. I... no, it isn't?
Except yes, it is.
Except... oh, balls.
Because in truth, Sparkler, I wish I could grab your hand, whisk you off to the nearest ice cream shop, buy you a milkshake, and assure you that it'll all be okay, don't worry, and of course a normal, happy life is within your grasp. Responding to this heartbreaking letter by walloping you with a giant fist made of more bad news is the last thing I want to do.
But the truth is, "normal" and "happy" may be more than you can reasonably hope for at this point—at least not without readjusting your idea of both to fit within the current parameters of an undeniably crappy situation. I'm sorry.
As you've discovered, your parents can't be talked out of their marriage, or talked into a better one. And barring an intervention by a professional—ideally, a sit-down with you, your sis, and your warring parents headed up by a therapist—you're in the really unenviable position of having to make the best of things on your own.
Of course, if there is any chance of getting your family some qualified help, that should be your next step—either by asking your parents to schedule an appointment for the sake of you and your sister, or by talking yourself to a guidance counselor or a religious leader who might be able to request that they meet. With luck, they might at least recognize the importance of improving their communication and not fighting in front of you, even if their marriage is unsalvageable.
But if they won't address their problems, then your only real choice is to do what you can, as best you can, until you can make your escape. Seek comfort and quiet where you can get it—whether it's on long walks, or in a library, or behind your bedroom door with a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Find things that make you happy, from hobbies to books to bad television, and enjoy them as often as possible. And please, stop wasting your energy and time on the pointless effort of pretending that everything's fine; instead, make a point of spending as much time as you can in the homes of friends with happy, healthy families, so you have a chance to see what a good relationship looks like. And whenever you can, pass along your strength, your perspective, and your love to your little sister. You can help her better than anyone, by giving her the stability your parents won't.
And hard as it is, unfair as it is, accept that your parents are, in fact, incapable of ever having a healthy dynamic—and that pinning your hopes on them will only yield disappointment. Because for them, the answer to your question, sadly, is yes: happy and normal are beyond their reach. But they don't have to be beyond yours. All you have to do is stop wishing your parents could provide them, and instead start looking for them from better, more trustworthy, more reliable people... beginning with yourself.
Are your parents at each other's throats? How do you handle it? Share your feedback in the comments, and to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.