Family Matters and Your Relationship

As a relationship expert, I’d say one of the biggest challenges for a couple is trying to bridge the differences between them. Though the two of you can be the same race, the same religion, and even from the same neighborhood, you’re still going to have differences because you’ve been raised in different families. Too often after the “love goggles” come off, disappointment sets in because you don’t do things the same way. What’s even worse is thinking that your partner doesn’t care when truly it’s nothing more than a stylistic difference.

Many romantic fantasies would have you believe that when a couple is in love it will all work out; it’s just not true — as I’ve indicated in past writings, there are lots of skills to be learned if a couple is to have solid relationship.

Most of my blogs have been devoted to the actual couple. Today, I want to uncover another myth: that you marry (or are only involved) with your partner. In reality, your significant other comes with significant others known as their family. Therein lies a lot of stress. There’s a reason that the in-laws are often referred to as “outlaws.” The truth is family matters in your relationship!

It’s rare that someone will say, “I love my mother-in-law!” Rather, what’s far more common is for couples to be plagued by in-laws. What varies is the degree to which they’re bothered.

This can become a real issue in the relationship. After all, the partner whose parent it is will now feel like he or she is in the middle. Since it’s their parent, the behavior may not bother them. If it does, it’s likely not to be to the same degree — after all, they’re used to it, they’ve grown up with it. On the other hand, their mate is upset. If the feelings of the in-law partner aren’t considered, it’s likely to cause a great deal of friction between the couple. After all, marriage (or lifetime commitment) means that priorities should have shifted.

Yet, the child of the parents may have a difficult time speaking up because there are still old feelings of discomfort about speaking up to one’s parents. Conversely, the partner who hasn’t been raised by these people isn’t as likely to have a concern about bringing up issues that aren’t pleasing. This becomes sticky.

Here’s what I generally see as the result: the offspring of the parents who are creating the problem wants to just let it be. The in-law partner starts to feel unimportant and disrespected. What’s not understood by the in-law partner is that this isn’t really personal — at least it’s not about them; rather it’s self-protective for the mate.

However, because the in-law partner is upset, many times there’s an unwillingness to be involved in family gatherings. Though understandable, this creates even more tension.

Is this happening in your relationship? Here are some tips:
1. It’s important to talk about the situation and understand and appreciate your partner’s perspective.
2. Recognize that the partnership between the two of you should take priority and the extended family is now in the background.
3. Discuss what boundaries you can start to set.
4. I believe that blood talks to blood.
5. And though the execution of the new standards should be presented by the blood relative, it should still be done respectfully and with a loving explanation.

Making changes is always a bit difficult. The joining together of two people is certainly an adjustment. Family matters in your relationship and is part of the adjustment. Handled properly it will make things smoother for all involved!