Saturday, April 11, 2015

On Family and In-Laws

A lot of people say that how you get along with a person's family is something important to consider when you're going to marry them because you're going to be a part of that family. I've always been sort of conflicted about that because I don't want to hold things against people that aren't their fault. If someone's parents are really horrible to them, that's not their fault and I would never want to say, "I can't date you unless you have nice parents." But I think in my past relationship, I tried to ignore that aspect a little too much. I tried to act like everything was fine when I knew that my boyfriend's family didn't accept me or my priorities or lifestyle. Here's what I've figured out about my relationship with potential in-laws:

First of all, I already have a family. I am not looking for a new one. I'm open to letting more people into my family circle if it feels right, but I am not specifically going into a relationship with the goal of making everyone in other person's family part of my family. 

That said, here is the important part, the piece of the puzzle that was missing from my last relationship and that I wish I had had the words to explain from the start:

This is a list of activities that I'm willing and not willing to do based on how I feel. Talking with very close friends or family is at the center, something I'm willing to do when I feel horrible (and something that I NEED to do when I feel horrible in order for there to be any chance that I'll feel good again). But socializing with people I don't know, or with people who I have to act happy around and I can't talk about how I'm really feeling with, is part of the outer circle. That's something I am only willing to do when I feel good. And being around people that I can't be myself around is just not something I'm willing to do a lot of. Since I already have to do that at work, I'm basically not willing to do that AT ALL in my life outside of work. Outside of work, I will not go to any events or hang around with anybody who I have to act polite and cheerful around.

I am okay with it if my significant other's family does not feel like my family or close friends and if I don't feel like I can go to them when something is wrong and talk about my feelings. But I am NOT willing to spend very much time with them if this is the case. Basically, the more open and honest that I can be with your family, the more time I'm willing to spend with them. The less open and honest I can be with your family, the less time I'm willing to spend with them. It's very simple. The problem with my last relationship was that I was pressured to spend more time with people than I was really willing to based on how much I could really be myself around them. It's okay with me if your family doesn't truly accept me. It's just not okay if you push me to be around them in spite of that.

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