When you form a relationship, is this just with an individual? Maybe. But can a person truly cut off from their family? And should you do this, if your lover can’t get on with them? In times gone by, when you committed to a person you also took on their relatives, and this is still the case in many cultures. These issues need to be managed with skill and awareness if your love is to last, and thrive.
Is your dear one clear about the aspects of your family they find unpleasant? Most importantly, do you agree with them? It may well be that you do not get on with your family, or with certain family members, and you may have excellent reason for this. For instance, if a relative has committed a crime or been violent or abusive, you may well shun them. In such a case the support of your lover will be invaluable. But if he or she just takes exception to their politics, or religious beliefs, or even the fact they snore on the sofa after lunch, the matter needs looking at more carefully. Do not let love blind you to your lover’s prejudices, if that’s what they are.
Your partner may hate the in-laws, but that doesn’t mean there has to be a complete break. You can maintain the connection. In fact it’s desirable that you should maintain this, because your family are always your family and even though there may be aspects you don’t like, they will always be a part of you, in a sense. If your partner insists that you make a choice and keep away from your relatives, why is this? If it is for a selfish reason, then what does this tell you about your lover, long-term? Anyone that truly cares for your well-being will support your other links and responsibilities and see things from your point of view, even if he or she finds it all too unpleasant to be a part of.
If there is a history of abuse, or similar, you may wish to reject your family completely, and that’s no surprise. But do be honest with yourself and look at how the issues have affected you, and where you carry family characteristics. That may be horrid to think about, but it doesn’t mean you’re contaminated, or fated to go down a specific path. To avoid anything of that nature you need to be self-aware. It is natural to try to simplify this as in ‘My family were harsh and punitive, so I’ll be totally tolerant and gentle to prove I’m not like them’. However, that kind of approach could lead to you continuing to be abused in some subtle way, because you’re a pushover. It could also mean that you carry on the deeper issues, without realizing. For instance, harsh treatment can make a person feel unloved, but being too lenient can have the same effect, because it may give the message that you don’t care. So be very careful how your past spills over into the present. You couldn’t help the way your family were, or are, but you can help the way you behave. Never jeopardize your relationship by being ‘in denial’ about how your family have shaped you.
When your partner says ‘No’ to your family, is he or she saying that to parts of you that they find unacceptable? If this is the case you will already have been given hints – for instance, does your partner nag you or criticize you for little things that you do? And do these actions tie in with your family? For instance, are your weekend glasses of wine linked up with your alcoholic parent, and used as a stick to beat you with? Be aware of any agenda that your partner may have, for you are entitled to be yourself without having to ‘prove’ that you don’t embody the worst aspects of your parents.
With honesty, love, tolerance and a lot of discussion and compromise, it is perfectly possible to have a lovely relationship even if your partner can’t stand the ‘out-laws’! But you need to keep a sense of perspective and a calm outlook. When it all threatens to overwhelm you, there is help at hand. Our readers at The Circle are a fund of experience, understanding and insight. Take advantage of this and make a call today – you’ll soon see it’s all manageable!
PUBLISHED: 29 October 2014