Sometimes, you know from the beginning that your in-laws are not part of your fan club. But other times, it may not be so obvious that your in-laws present any danger to your relationship because rather than reject you, they actually embrace you and accept you with open arms, except you don’t fully understand what that means until you’re really part of the family….
Some families only talk once a week and give each other the Arizona Sunshine Report, which means everything is always sunny and pleasant. (This is exactly what I was trained to do in boarding school– we never told our parents about the sex, drugs, or other alarming events occurring at our high school.) But throughout the years, I have met others that actually tell their parents everything, and much to my surprise I have even encountered grown men that talk to mommy every single day– maybe not by phone, by even just by text or via Facebook. Maybe if you have a similar pattern, then this would be okay for you, but for someone like me, who wants privacy and space, it’s a bit much to stomach.
Holidays and vacations can be another hot button topic. If you are used to planning romantic vacations with just the two of you, or if you envision a fun family vacation as being just your nuclear family, but meanwhile your spouse wants to include everyone on his/her side of the family, then Houston we have a problem…. and if your solution becomes some notion of divide and conquer, so that you go your separate ways and do your separate things, you really need to play that out over time and ask yourself: how long can we keep doing this, and is this really what we want to do?
When you share all your sorrows and joys with someone other than your spouse, you are emotionally cheating. When you fail to connect with your own partner, and instead spend time bonding with others, you are emotionally withdrawing. And when you make your own family a priority over your spouse, you are failing to commit to the one person your vowed to honor and cherish, for better or worse, in sickness and in health.
If your family ties are creating issues in your marriage, you need to find a way to address this problem fast. You cannot divorce your family, nor should you try to. But remember, your family will always be your family, however, your spouse can choose to change his/her marital status at any time if you don’t create sufficient boundaries with others to protect the love you have.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.