Welcome To The Family

What importance does family approval of your partner play in your relationship? If your parents and/or siblings are active members in your life, they could add a lot of stress to your relationship if they don’t like your partner.

I just came back from a 10 day family vacation where my boyfriend of one year met my parents, sister and my sister’s husband for the first time.

My family, including my boyfriend, had booked this cruise 8 months ago. My boyfriend was a bit nervous as he said, “We have only been dating 5 months and the cruise is 8 months away…time wise that is farther away than we have been dating. What if we break up before then?”

I smirked and giggled as I said, “Then just pretend to be happy until October and after the cruise we can break up!”

My brother-in-laws sister and husband joined us on the cruise as well. To make a long story short, my sister and her in-laws don’t get along very well. It causes a lot of stress in their marriage.

What is it about our own family that makes us blind to their short comings?

I know my family is not perfect but we are honest with each other about what we are thinking – actually we are pretty blunt with each other but that is our way of communicating.

Example: On the trip, my father made a racist comment. My jaw dropped. Then he made the comment again. I told him that was enough…that it was wrong and ignorant. He realized what he said was not funny and never said it again.

My boyfriend’s family…well I hazard to say they don’t communicate.

They assume each other understands what they are thinking. They leave subtle hints and think it should be understood.

I shake my head sometimes but they have survived this long so I just observe quietly as it is not my place to say anything.

And then there is my brother-in-laws family. My brother-in-laws sister caused a lot of unneeded drama and stress on our vacation – even though she is over the age of 40.

When it was happening, my brother-in-law was embarrassed and angry by his sister’s actions and yet the following day, he had basically forgotten what she had done and acted like it was no big deal. He then proceeded to be angry at my sister (his wife) for being upset about the unneeded drama which was never dealt with and or resolved.

This unneeded drama created by his family is nothing new but my brother-in-law is almost blind to it. He never confronts his family about it. Maybe it is just easier for him to ignore it – but by ignoring it, it causes arguments with my sister (his wife) as she won’t take the disrespect sitting down.

When my boyfriend and I started dating, we both agreed that any problems I had with his family, he would handle and vice versa. So far it has worked out well.

There have been a few small issues with his family and he handled it. On our vacation, there were a few times my boyfriend needed some space as he was meeting everyone for the first time – so I made sure he/we got some space. He respects my feelings and respect his.

We both feel lucky as I get along with his family really well and my family really likes my boyfriend. We both have witnessed first hand how outside family influences can cause stress to a relationship and are thankful that so far it is not affecting our relationship negatively.

Do you have family related stresses in your relationship? If so, how do you resolve them? Please feel free to share your comments as someone reading might benefit.