We’ve all got parents, right? Here are two facts that illuminate the world of parents as related to their adult children:
- They live in a generation apart from us with values and cares of their own.
- They can’t run our lives or our marriage without us becoming messed-up.
You may initially feel more loyalty to your parents than your partner. The challenge, though, as Jesus says, is to leave your parents and become one with your spouse (Mt 19:6). Placing Christ at the center of your marriage, and utilizing the Couples Family Compass will help you in this process.
If you want to qualify for intimacy with someone who is your peer, you must cut the psychological umbilical cord to both parents. This is called growing up, and means that, like the thirteen colonies, you declare independence and write your own constitution. You may have to fight a brief war, because some immature parents want to continue their unchallenged policy of taxation without representation. Nevertheless, to share your life with an intimate partner requires that you gain full possession of your selfhood.
|Declaration of Independence|
What happens when a parent lays a guilt trip on you about attending a family function, or worse yet, makes a snide remark about your partner? It’s simple, really. You align yourself with your partner, let your parents have their views, and don’t honor their commands.
You’ve got to work out all the logistics, but keep in mind this one thing: parents are formidable foes to couple’s intimacy precisely because they can feel entitled to claims of family loyalty that supercede your intimate relationship.
They may object, but these behaviors will diminish to the degree that they come to accept that you are your own person, and that your highest loyalty is not childlike obedience to them, but healthy love of your partner.
How does the Couples Family Compass help you do this?
|Couples Family Compass|
From the Love compass point, you place your marriage first. Nurture your love for one another. At family gatherings, step aside for a moment and touch base. Share a hug, a smile. Make sure you feel connected with each other as you interact with others.From the Assertion compass point, you stand up for your spouse if need be. "Mom, I can't help what you think about my husband. That's your choice. But please treat him respectfully. I like him."From the Weakness compass point, you talk with your partner about family issues to get them off your chest. Acknowledge the frustration or sadness you feel. Be careful not to explode at your spouse, and be tactful if it's about their family. But sharing feelings will bring you closer and help you form strategies for handling family issues together.From the Strength compass point, plan ahead for family contact. Take charge of what works for you as a couple. What invitations will you accept or diplomatically decline? Compromise about the length of time you'll stay, or number of times you'll see family.