Family Matters

Becky and I are coming up on our one year anniversary and I’m amazed at how much my life has changed in the last couple of years, especially this last year. My best friend got married last weekend and I’ve been thinking about how much my friendships have changed since I left college, but the relationship that I’m having the most trouble
reconciling with my life now and in the future is with my family.

For the most part, there’s just been four of us: my mom, my dad, and my younger sister. We’ve always been close, many times too close for someone like my self who tends to be private and stubborn and selfish, and now that I live an hour away and I’m working and spending time with Becky and her family they’re feeling neglected.

I can understand where they’re coming from, but there’s not much I can do about it and I think there’s more than just common neglect being addressed here. As I look to my future with Becky, she’s going to be the one I look to for support and encouragement and even bossing around. That’s going to be tough on people who have pretty much had me to themselves for 30 years.  And it really probably doesn’t help that I’m spending more time with Becky’s parents. The biggest reason for
this is that they live closer. Like fifteen minutes away closer. But I also really like spending time with her family. They’ve got a big family with a baby I absolutely adore and they do things as a big family that I never did with my small family. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the whole “grass is greener” thing because I didn’t have to
deal with all of the troubles associated with being part of a big family.

As all of this goes on longer, my family of course tries harder to be included in my life which only frustrates me (and them) more and it becomes a vicious circle. Because she doesn’t get to talk to me as much, my mom feels like I’m drifting away and she’s not happy with some of the lifestyle and religious choices I’ve made which of course
makes things work. It’s not as big of a deal when you see or talk to the person everyday, but when you only get a few choice periods to talk to someone, the last thing you want to do is spend it arguing about something trivial.

I know my family loves me and wants the best for me, and I love them and want to be part of their life. But I’m not a kid anymore, I have more than myself and them to worry about now, and I don’t want to have to defend everything I do all the time. This blog post is probably not going to help any, and certain wisdom might say it would be better not to talk about any of this and keep it private. But my main goal with all of my writing, this blog included, has been to be honest. I want to portray an accurate view of my life with warts and all as much as possible. I don’t want to be malicious about it and I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but these are the thoughts on my mind and I’m trying to work my way through them and my writing has always been the best venue for that.

How do you guys deal with family or close friends who have trouble sharing you and would you ever write about these kinds of issues in a public forum? Am I just being a jerk here?

7 thoughts on “Family Matters

  1. my thought on this – going through some similar things, but not in the same way – is just to say, families shift and change. and what might feel like permanent damage right now, might just be a blip on the radar of your life. and now let me shoot myself for that cliche’…

    anyway, point is – i think what really matters is openness, forgiveness, and compassion, with families. because no one is perfect, lease of all families, and sometimes within families it is harder to see what the real issue is than if we were outside it. but family doesn’t change. you can get rid of friends or other relatives but your parents/siblings are there forever. and in the end those are the relationships you want to do your best to keep strong. does that mean you’re wrong? not at all. i think this is a time of transition. so let it be what it is, awkwardness and hurt feelings and all, but keep your heart and mind open. and eventually, things will get better. and hopefully, better in a more HONEST way because you’ve worked through differences. you can’t have true bonding if you’re not being honest, on both sides, so right on with that.

  2. It would be nice to maintain as good and close a relationship on both sides as is possible, but… you’re preparing for life with Becky. You guys are turning into a unit, seperate from your families. In fact, some may even say you’re becoming a family of your own. The Bible says something about this. Genesis 2:24. Cleaving is mentioned. Notice that it is the man that leaves his family.

  3. This seems, believe it or not, like a very natural thing to happen. It still sucks, but I think this happens more times than not. A woman steals a man’s heart, she’s the one, and things change — it is natural; men need women to help them grow. But it is threatening for moms, and siblings often don’t like seeing their brothers change (i.e, grow). They usually will feel this change is for the worse (“I don’t know who you are anymore”) but in most cases, these changes are for the better because we all need more people than just our immediate families to help us become the husbands and fathers we need to become. … Still, it sucks for the man’s family. It has to be hard, but I think they’ll probably come around. I used to hear all that business from my mom and sister when I moved in with my future wife, but there came a time when my mom had to accept that this was natural, as sucky as it was for her, and that this was the way it was, period. Time does heal, or at least make things a little bit more bearable. And as one of the others wrote here, your sis and parents will be the people who will always be there, especially when the caca hits the fan in some big ways, so I do agree its good to try to be as understanding as possible, and to keep them close.

  4. I don’t have much to add… except that I’m in complete agreement with Steven. And also: get used to defending your choices, because this is just the start. Sorry, but once you have kids, you will have disagreements – with both sets of parents, and maybe Becky too.

    We’ve been dealing with this ourselves, and we likewise feel sick of defending our decisions. One thing that has helped is to be more “concrete” rather than “abstract” such as “We’ll spend every third Sunday at your house, and I’ll call you once a week” rather than “we’ll spend more time with you.” It gives them something to look forward to (rather than dread) and takes the pressure off trying to say deep things but having it all come out wrong.

    You are absolutely not being a jerk and I do think that these are the types of changes no one really talks about (along with what happens when you have kids, when the kids go to school and leave the house, etc.). The most important thing to remember is that you are dealing with people who DO want the best for you… they are not trying to control or enmesh you. That means ultimately, everyone will be able to work something out that makes all of you happy.

  5. How do you guys deal with family or close friends who have trouble sharing you and would you ever write about these kinds of issues in a public forum? Am I just being a jerk here?

    We live in a different state from my parents and in-laws. This typically makes life easier. Familial angst such as you describe is limited to the duration of a visit, or the occasional outbreak after a phone call or something. (Perhaps this is a case of peeling the Band-Aid off slowly rather than tearing it off quickly, but based on what people who live near their families say I don’t think that’s true.)

    Re: public forums, I am a WASP, so repression happens as a matter of course. But obviously there’s not a complete information blackout. And it’s your public forum; write whatever you want. If people get bored hearing about your family life, they’ll stop reading. Either way, everybody’s happy.

    My only piece of advice is to be a bit territorial (sort of feeding into the cleaving thing). My parents lived about twenty minutes away from both sets of grandparents, and when I was born they declared that Christmas was for the kid. It was a day to open presents and play with toys. That meant no traveling. Other family members were welcome to come to our house, but we did not go anywhere. It worked pretty well, even well past the point when my sister and I needed the whole day to play with our new toys.

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