This week on Ivan we heard from a young man who had a number of concerns about the prospect of introducing his new love to his mother see below if you want to listen back.
He was afraid his family would not like her, or accept her and indeed that they would not give her the welcome that he hoped for.
This made me think about a whole host of pressures that are there when it comes to meeting the parents and it made me think about family cultures and how they impact on relationships.
We all know that there are norms in families, what is more accepted, what is considered normal, who we think is cool and we know that we each have our own kind of family communication style. You notice that you will find the same things to be quite funny. This closeness that comes from shared history, shared happiness and often shared sadness or dysfunction can bind us as family.
But everyone has a family and the person you love will too. They will likely love them and like them quite like you do yours and it is important to keep in mind that this hoped for acceptance cuts both ways.
Relationships, especially those that go the long term, involve the coming together of these two family systems/ family cultures so to speak and it is not only in the actual meeting of the people involved, like our young man on Monday’s show but also the meeting up of these two sets of what is internalised in your mind as normal.
Your expectations of your partner, what you know to be the role of mother, father are all utterly determined by your family story, what you have experienced and what you have come to love or hate.
Again we have to remind ourselves that our way is not the only way. It is in fact only one of two ways in the relationship and both must be valued, heard and all differences discussed.
We see clashes of culture most especially after marriage and or after the arrival of children, because the expectations that until now are unspoken become alive in the new situation.
You will have an internalized view of what fathers should do, and or mothers and or husbands or wives so disappointment or dissatisfaction begins to rear it’s head.
As a clinician what I see very often is that a couple can be happily going along but the bump in the relationship commences right at the point where the front door closes and they are now a family unit and the family culture clash begins.
Criticism becomes more frequent, tensions rise and fractures can begin.
What was lovely and loving now changes. Understanding what is driving your satisfaction or dissatisfaction is important.