When we marry, we do not often think about how it may affect our relationships with extended family — our own or our in-laws. Yet both can have an impact on our marriage, lives, and family, especially when it comes to raising our children.
When we get married or vow to take another in our lives, we are committing to them, not the extension of their family. An extended family is one that goes beyond the nuclear family, consisting of parents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews.
While we are not necessarily committing to the extended family of our partner, accepting the family you marry into (and your own) is an important step in moving forward in a conscious way. They are who they are, and you are not going to be able to change them, their reactions or their beliefs.
Accepting these new family members does not mean you have to like them, love them, or have a close relationship with them.
What is important to stay focused on is your reaction to them.
We are all different and will see things differently. The more we accept the other and their differences, the easier it is to move forward.
You can agree to disagree as you do this.
Things to remember:
● Focus on your spouse – stay loyal to and connect with each other, despite any issues you may be experiencing with members of their family.
● Share what truly feels comfortable for you – don’t overshare what you don’t want comments about. At the end of the day, your business is between you and your spouse, not you, your spouse, and your extended families.
● Be sure to create your own boundaries with clarity and commitment.
● Talk about the issues with your spouse in a calm process – talk it through with a level head instead of having a heated argument.
● Recognize social and cultural conditioning. Are you doing something because society says you should, or because you really want to?
● Discuss the role that you want your in-laws to have in your lives with your spouse. Be open to compromise.
● Always think before reacting and speaking (a challenge for sure).
● Talk about all of it – be honest.
● Stay in your lane – living your life, your way.
● Don’t involve your kids in your day to day thoughts about the other members of your extended family.
● Always listen to try to understand the perspective of your spouse or extended family member. Find out where they are coming from, and respect their point of view. That does not mean you have to agree with it.
● Share your views, especially when it is about raising your children.
● State what you would like to see in regards to the interactions of your extended family with your children. What values are really important to you? Instead of making a demand on the other, try to create an understanding — a respectful sharing of your own values and customs and how they play out in your family unit.
Ultimately as a married couple, you need to create your own family unit, with your own personal values, traditions, and boundaries. This is your priority. When you work together as a couple to approach issues relating to extended family (on both sides), you can build effective solutions.
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