Saturday, March 26, 2011

In a Marriage

Goin' a bit serious this post.

When it comes to family, it is surprising how complicated things can get. Ryan and I are still working this out.

Some of you know, most of you don't, that Ryan and I have had some problems since the beginning of our marriage. There was a lot of my insecurities and worries at first as a young, new wife and Ryan wanted to do well with his job and worked waaaay more hours than necessary. And then I was working opposite hours and going to school and doing church stuff, and, and, and...

Things have morphed into other issues as time goes on. The biggest change: having kids.

Now add to that a child with special needs.

It can be very hard to work things out between a couple. Especially with such different backgrounds. We are trying to make decisions between us that we feel is best for our marriage and our children.

One of our complication comes from our upbringings. You can't deny it -- you often model your relationships based on what you grew up with. I came from a household where dad was out to sea A LOT so mom had to take over most everything and was responsible for the kids as well as basic everyday stuff and when dad was home he was involved, but again, mom was our world growing up. Ryan came from a single-parent home where the responsible person was in charge of everything and did not have to really negotiate or compromise with a partner on how to do things.

This whole compromise thing in marriage can be really hard sometimes.

But anyway...

Here's the thing -- we do not have family nearby. Sadly, we have to recognize that neither of our families know all that much about what is going on with us personally or our little ones. I can blog about it, maybe post a Facebook update, there's e-mail and phone calls... but they do not sit in on conversations, go to the doctor appointments or therapy sessions or hang around and actually experience our kids' personalities and our day-to-day life.

We do love our families. I have wonderful parents and siblings and my in-laws are caring and helpful as well.

Our problem lies with both of us, at some point or another, having felt that one or both sides of the family have over-stepped their boundaries. Now, whether that was an actual or just a "felt" experience, in the end that's what the outcome is.

Stuff has happened in which Ryan has made it "uncomfortable" for about half of my family to ever feel like visiting and I know that I've been burning a few bridges with his family too.

Kinda sucks.

But it is what it is for now. In the future things may change.

I can speak for myself that I have no ill-will towards my immediate family or my in-laws. But I will say this:

I can understand that everyone may be doing something or want to do something that they think is helpful. They want to help. I understand that because they love us and our kids. But there are some things that are sensitive issues to us (or one of us) and we'd prefer to make decisions about them for ourselves.

Through these different experiences I'm trying to learn. One thing I am learning is to take advice with a grain of salt and also to for me to not just give advice whenever I think I know something. I should also work on my confrontation skills, 'cause I admit, I'm an avoider and can be passive-aggressive.

Yeah, we've made mistakes, but I've had to stand up for my marriage to my family and I know Ryan has had to do the same. That's what's important, right?

So how do you handle the extended family issues and interference? If you live close to your family and in-laws, how do you keep enough distance that the involvement is not detrimental to your marriage?



  1. We do not live very close to either side of the family. The closest are my in-laws and they live about 5 hours away. I keep in touch with my family and he keeps in touch with his. While we like each others families it's easiest this way for us. And no marriage is perfect...and all marriages are hard work! We are dealing with issues in ours. Thankfully our families don't try to interfere. I get advice from my side he gets advice from his and we do with it what we want.

    And for the record...I totally agree that compromise can be really hard!!!

  2. When Mike and I were courting, Mike's mom started to overstep some boundaries, I felt. So I did my best to write her a letter in love and kindness and basically said we were adults and we wanted to make the best decisions that we could. She took it extremely well. She is very sensitive about overstepping boundaries in all of her kids marriages . . . I didn't have any hard feelings and we have a really great relationship now. If she gives advice, I listen and then decide if I'll follow or not. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Same with anyone who gives me advice.

    I hope you guys can work things out. I'll be praying for you guys.