Dealing with family
There are many issues that can affect a marriage. These often start becoming a possible issue in the first two to three years of the marriage.
One of these is Parent/family interference.
Often parents are unwilling to let their son or daughter go. This is especially true with some mothers and their sons. They insist that the couple buy a home close to them and that they are always at the house for important occasions.
Mothers are especially prone to expect everything to be held at her house. This includes Christmas, birthdays (even the in-law partner’s birthday) and grandchildren’s parties.
This is especially difficult for the daughter-in-law who wants to build her own family at her own home.
This sort of situation can have a very serious effect on the marriage. The wife might feel that her husband has not totally cut ties with his mother. Also often when they argue he sides more with his mother than with her suggestions.
I have in a few marriage sessions been led to believe this is a serious problem in the relationship and also can be seen as a possible reason for divorce.
This sort of issue needs to be resolved early in the marriage; otherwise, it can lead to unresolved feelings towards each other’s families. It can become so bad that spouses do not want to visit their in-laws anymore which can lead to stress on the marriage.
The real issue is about loyalty to the marriage versus loyalty to the family of origin, and competition between spouses over these priorities.
The spouse whose family are the problem needs to be the one who is firstly loyal to his/her marriage and spouse, and secondly to their own family of origin.
To solve the problem it is necessary for the couple to decide on their basic minimum expectations of their extended family towards the in-law spouse, their family, and their marriage.
The ground rules are then explained to the problem in-laws. If they break the rules then they need to be gently reminded until they heed them.
In most cases, they will give up when you set the limits and calmly enforce them. Once they understand and show respect towards your spouse and your marriage, then you will all enjoy your time together.