His family is into camping. Yours wouldn’t venture outside their backyard. His family goes mad for the footie. Yours prefer formal dinner parties. His family believes in openness, in expressing emotions and in telling others how they feel. Your family is like a series of closed doors. Does this sound at all familiar to you? Are you marrying into a family that is the chalk to your cheese and the cheese to your chalk? Believe it or not, it happens quite often. What some people don’t realize is that marriage is not only a commitment between husband and wife, but also between the extended marital families. While you may only be marrying your fiancé, you are also developing a long-standing bond between his family and yours. Think about all those future family events: birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and yes – more weddings. There will always be occasions that bring both your family and his family together, so it is important to find ways of getting along despite the differences – but how?
While it is not essential to get along brilliantly with your husband’s family, for the sake of not upsetting your husband and keeping the peace, it is important to maintain a healthy relationship with them. If you do feel negatively towards them, try to shift that negativity and transform it into tolerance, otherwise it is bound to leak our slowly and cause damage. Realize that you are marrying your husband who may have the same genetic makeup as his family, but is likely to be quite different to them. Find the humour in the situation and laugh about it with your husband after family events. Humour has a way of making even the hardest situations feel lighter.
Another thing to remember is that getting along is a two way street. It’s important for both parties to maintain an open and friendly attitude. This means when you see his Mum downing one too many Bloody Mary’s and getting a little loose, you simply laugh along with her. And when he sees your Mum all buttoned up and stiff, he just lets it go, attributing it to a serious case of politeness. Families are melting pots of weirdness. Accept this fact and you’ll be a lot happier.
Another thing to keep in mind is that people are about as likely to change as a kettle is about to turn into a vacuum cleaner. So his sister has a fetish for mushrooms? No biggie. So, your brother utters a maximum of twenty words a day? Why, he must be a genius and far too smart to talk. Let all the family members live out their eccentricities while you live out yours. See? Freedom!
So how do we deal with it? We just do, because we have to. We try to see the funny side of things, we try to be understanding, accommodating, friendly and polite. We try to say the right thing and do the right thing, in situations where nothing may feel right and everything we try to do backfires. And we do all of the above because we love our partners and want nothing to stand in the way of our relationship with them. Even those embarrassing, cringe-worthy things we call families.