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When I work with couples of all ages and especially young couples we discuss how they will navigate life as a couple with their families. “ My family does it this way, but my family does it that way”. What will be the way that ‘we”, no longer just an “I”, will do it?

One partner’s family may expect them for Sunday dinner every week. The other partner would rather be with friends or participating in a favorite activity (ie water skiing at the lake). One spouse has trouble saying no thank you to their relatives. The other partner doesn’t. Does the new spouse chose their family first or working out compromises with their spouse first? Does grandma or Uncle Joe get to bug you about wedding plans or baby making? What kind of boundaries will you and your partner define around your relationship so that you will be aligned in your decisions?

I was from a close large family. My parents thought that my new husband and I would just go along with my family ways. Well my husband had already declared independence with his family and wasn’t having another family tell him how it was going to be. From the wedding day we loved both families deeply but we made our own decisions. I recommend that you and your partner discuss a vision for your marriage (money, sex, affection, family, children, religion, division of household jobs, recreation, vacations, career moves etc.) This is your partner and your life together. That is enough to begin with.

Your family can come a loving second. Otherwise one of you can make the excuse, "My family made me do it”.