How much time should we spend with our extended families?
Extended family may often cause conflict and stress in a relationship.
You may choose to spend more time with one of your parents or siblings than the other. One spouse may be annoyed by unannounced visitors or a weekly tradition of spending time with extended relatives.
Discuss how you anticipate the appropriate amount of time to spend with extended family (both sets) and any underlying sentiments that may cause conflict in this circumstance with each other.
What festivals or customs do you insist we observe with your extended family?
Both of you may have significant and vital holiday customs with your ancestral families. Alternatively, one of you may firmly believe that you create new rituals with your own family that may not necessarily include your parents or siblings. Discuss with your friends and family what is important to you about holidays and customs, and why. How can you both respect one other’s desires and come to an agreement?
How should we convey our new family customs to our wider family and establish family boundaries?
Your extended family may have expectations about how you celebrate the holidays or establish family customs. They may expect that you will spend every holiday together or that you will only visit their house during the holidays. When you know your family would not accept your limits and diverse wishes, it might be tough to explain them. How can you help each other while telling your family about this? Should one of you or both of you take part in the discussion?
How can we come to an agreement if we differ on how much time we spend with our extended family?
Before you face another tough scenario involving time spent with extended family, talk about a strategy for resolving future conflicts: Is it okay for one of you to spend time with extended family without the other? Is it possible to find a happy medium without resentment?
Make a plan so you’ll have something to refer to when you’re faced with a difficult choice in the future.
How do we deal with unwelcome conduct, expectations, or demands from our extended family?
Your mother could spoil your kids more than you’d want. Your father may try to influence your financial choices. Perhaps one of your siblings is always asking you to babysit. Something will inevitably come up with an extended family member that will generate conflict.
If the family member is an in-law, it’s much more difficult to confront. It might produce smoldering anger with your spouse if one or both of you are more passive in dealing with disagreement. What are some of the circumstances with extended relatives that you don’t want to happen? Discuss how you want to handle these issues and who will lead the discussion.
How can we ensure that our partnership takes precedence over our extended families?
Conflict and disagreements with extended relatives and in-laws may create serious issues in your marriage. When you have divided loyalties, it’s considerably more difficult to solve difficulties since you’re unsure what the ideal course of action is.
You can always find a way out of a problem if you both agree that the health of your partnership comes first. Ask yourself, “What result is best for the benefit of our relationship?” in every particular scenario. If you can’t sort things out together, get assistance from a counselor. Don’t let bitterness or dispute fester.
Is there anything I do that gives you the impression that I don’t prioritize you above my extended family?
This is an excellent moment to address any latent resentments you may have regarding your partner’s relationship with extended relatives. Even if you’re defensive or wounded, listen freely and compassionately to each other about any bad sentiments.
Allow your spouse to fully express and recognize his or her emotions without passing judgment. Sometimes all that is required to repair a problem is just hearing and recognizing it. However, talk about any particular adjustments or acts your spouse may require, and think about what you’re prepared to alter.
How would you want me to respond if a member of my family offends you, whether in public or behind your back?
One or more members of your family may be quietly or overtly disrespectful or unfriendly to your spouse or partner in certain households. They may complain to other family members about your spouse or make snarky comments in your or your partner’s company.
Ask your partner how he or she wishes to handle the matter if this happens. Is she hoping for you to speak out, or would she prefer to handle things herself? How can you prevent the problem from happening again or growing worse? What is your bottom line for both of you, and what will you do if things don’t get better?
Who in our family would be most suited to be our children’s guardians?
It’s tough to imagine requiring guardians for your children, but if the worst happens, you want them to be cared for in a caring setting.
Ideally, your children should go to a family member with whom they are connected and who makes them happy and comfortable. However, your family members must be willing and capable of raising your children. Is there someone in either of your extended families who you think would be the ideal guardian for your kids? Discuss with your partner what you perceive to be the ideal guardian arrangement, and who in your family (or friends, if required) would be the best match.
As a couple, what is your policy on addressing marital issues with extended family?
If you have a close relationship with your parents or siblings, they may be the first people you contact if you and your spouse are experiencing issues. Even after you and your spouse have resolved the argument, this might generate division among your family.
Talk about what you think is appropriate when it comes to discussing your marriage or your partner’s conduct with your extended family.
Follow-up: Is there anything you’d want your spouse to do differently when it comes to extended family and spending time with them?
What concrete actions will you both take to better understand each other and yourself in terms of your family and how you deal with them? Make a list of them and decide how and when you will implement these modifications or activities.