Family Matters

This is really crazy.” yelled Belinda. “But why the statement?” I asked. “I met my husband’s family a week prior to our wedding!” She replied.

Not a smart move. You don’t marry someone without getting to know the family. Why? Because when you marry,the rest of the family comes in the deal-whether you want them or not. It also saves a lot of grief on the back

end. Your spouse’s family is more a part of your relationship than you probably care to believe. Spend time and get to know them prior to any commitment.Pay attention to family matters inorder to avoid this myth that will derail your marriage. Here’s why.

You ‘re Sleeping with Five Other People!

Consider this lovely thought; there are at least six people in your marital bed! Now don’t go checking for bodies. They aren’t there physically.Two families are emotionally present- you and your parents,and your spouse with his/her parents. And if your spouse has siblings,the bed is even more crowded. There is an entire family system joining you in marriage.

Most of you probably didn’t pay that much attention to your spouse’s family when you married. If you did,no doubt it was only for a second. If you were like me,you didn’t concern yourself at all with how the extended family behaved.Afterall you were enamored with your new love. You only had to put up with the larger group on special occasions.

While your extended families may not be physically present, they show up in the thoughts,beliefs,and actions of you and your spouse. You both act in ways that support what you ‘ve learned growing up. Sure,you might sometimes rebel and try to oppose that training in the process of becoming you.But that process involves integrating parts of the family into who you are. You take on good parts and not-so- good parts. It’s the not-so-good parts that usually cause problems.

While you try to integrate all the parts of self into a whole person,you must also work on seperating from your extended family. This emotional and physical seperation is tricky business.It takes great skill to be your own unique person while still remaining attached to the larger extended family. The better you are able to seperate emotionally and still keep your family connection,the better marital partner you ‘ll make.It is important to develop a strong sense of self. Otherwise,you ‘ll expect your partner to complete the missing part.

Developing individuality is difficult to achieve because of family emotional ties. Families can be powerful systems of intense emotion and loyalty. Do any of the following statements sound familiar? These keep people stuck in the seperation process.

  • You feel guilty if you pull away,have your own thoughts,or do things differently.
  • You feel obligated to take care of weaker family members.
  • You decide to guard dangerous family secrets out of loyalty to the group.
  • You are afraid to leave home.
  • You are angry about certain family matters and consequently want nothing to do with family members.

The balance between seperation and connection is difficult to achieve because family members have interpersonal power. Strong personalities can overwhelm.Alliances can form. Siblings can gang up on one another. Subgroups form. Members can abuse power and play on emotions in unhealthy ways. You want to be emotionally close and yet not so close you lose sight of who you are. On the other hand,you cannot achieve seperation by avoiding your family. You must endeavor to create that balance with wisdom.

There comes a day when you realized turning the page is the best feeling in the world because you realize there’s much more to the book than the page you were stuck on- Zaya Malik

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