Why does it matter? This is a question that sparked my interest today while having a discussion with a friend of mine. Is a normal family really a requirement to find a suitable partner? So often have I heard of a great couple that are perfectly compatible with each other but friction with the family brought about an unsettled end to the romance. The question I pose is Why??
Before I begin I leave my usual disclaimer. I say “Girl” in this entry because obviously I’m a male and that’s who I would be courting. However, this does work both ways, it isn’t gender specific. And As always this is completely opinionated.
If you were to meet the girl of your dreams, she was everything you could ask for in a girlfriend and a little bit more. Would the fact that she has an unorthodox or crazy family really prevent you from being happy with her? I guess there are lots of things to really look at here on this topic eh?
First I must say that I do understand that when it comes to family, first and foremost you will have it in the back of your mind that in order to be with this girl you are going to have to be at least in a small way, a part of her family as well. Seeing them at social functions and family traditions. So in a sense the family is something you will have to endure, so therefore you need to weigh whether or not the agony of dealing with them is greater or less than the joy you feel from being with her. Then I guess you also need to consider where the relationship is going, especially if she is a girl that you really feel strong for. If you have even the smallest inclination of marriage, then that family will now become your in-laws and thus the likelihood grows that you will be seeing them more often.
I’m still not sold on the idea that someone becomes no longer a viable candidate for courtship just because you have issues with her family. It’s still not decidable yet, because it isn’t the family that you are going to be in love with, it’s the girl. I still don’t think that family issues should trump romantic interest…
…that being said. I just got a flashback of my time in St. John’s and I have discovered something that I didn’t think about thus far. Family issues plagued me back then. Looking back I’m pretty confident in saying that I’m sure that the first (and most frequent) fights that would take place between myself and my girlfriend was concerning her family. I had the strongest feeling that for some reason they didn’t like me and tried to not be around them too much, in turn I think they actually didn’t like me because I refused to be around very much.
The real kicker is that I really didn’t have any problem with her family, I was just intimidated. This was back in a day when I was still coming out of my shell, in the infancy of the ShallopNewf you all know. The loud, outspoken, I’ll even go as far as to say charismatic creature that you all know today. The relationship in St. John’s broke me free of my timidness in most aspects of my life, and yet for some reason her family still fell into the “I’m Scared to talk to you” category.
Thinking back, the friction started there and just continued to get worse until the relationship was over. Of course it would be foolish to say that we didn’t work because of the inability I had to get along with her family, but it certainly didn’t help.
In light of this maybe family is more important than I was giving it credit for. What does this mean though? That you can’t be with someone if the relations with the family is shaky. No, I refuse to believe that. I think that the problem can be easily smoothed over by just paying lip service and biting your tongue. There still remains a problem with that plan though, biting your tongue can only last for so long before the mountain of opinion overwhelms and comes out.
Here’s an interesting point though. If you have issues with her family then the best thing you can possible do would be to bite your tongue but still vent later. Now, if this girl is everything that you’ve built her up to be, she should be able to handle your criticism about the family and help you with it. Now, if you are to vent to this girl and she is to be offended that you don’t get along with her family and you get the response of “but you’re not giving them a chance” or “why can’t you just get along with them… for me??” How is that helping. There is even the possibility of her being anger or offended. If this was to happen, you should ask yourself, “Is this really the girl for me?” and if she isn’t then what was the problem.. was the problem simply that you didn’t get along with her family, or was it that you two just weren’t compatible?
I am of the opinion that you do need to give the potential future in-laws the benefit of a doubt, you can’t walk in with your guard up because, as human beings, they will sense that. It’s easy to tell when someone is being defensive. So, walk in with an open mind, disregard any “warnings” given to you by your significant other and just be yourself. If they don’t like it, then you have to figure out how you want to proceed from there, if they do then no problem.
Whether you decide to bite you tongue, and vent to your girl… or even go down to the tavern and vent to your buddies (which can be a very volatile method if she finds out). Or if you just confront them right then and there. It’s been clear the more I type and the more I consider all of the variables that family relations is indeed important, and how you deal with them can sometimes be crucial to the harmony of a strong relationship.
There is one other situation I want to touch on. Let’s say you’re involved with a girl who comes from a not-so-ideal family background. This isn’t a case where you are going to have to go to Christmas dinner with them, or family reunions, because she has somewhat distanced herself from them because of a really shady past. This is a factor that one needs to look at when analyzing the family impact on dating, mainly because I know lots of people who would be spooked by this, and truthfully I do not understand why.
An estranged relationship with the family is indeed unorthodox, but hardly something difficult to deal with. Family members causing trouble in her life will require you to step up and be there for her at times, but other than that why should it matter how insane her family is, ESPECIALLY if they are not in the same timezone.
I think when it comes to relationships, everybody spooks way too easily. Everyone is looking for that perfect, harmonious relationship without any issues. I’m sorry you are not going to find it. You are only going to find those with sketchy histories, cracks in their persona due to trauma, the commitment phobic, the completely introverted, and other imperfect characters. Thing is, in my opinion, it is this issues and these quote unquote “flaws” that define a good relationship.
It is the similarities that provide the romantic foundation, but it is the differences that build the walls and structure and it is how their flaws mesh together with your flaws that furnish the interior. This is how a relationship is born.
Family or no Family, you need to find the person that is right for you. Once you do, nothing else matters.
So final conclusion: It would be naive to eliminate the family factor as a contributor to a healthy relationship, but it would be foolish to throw away the relationship strictly based on it.