Sometimes I think there’s too many do(s) and don’t(s) when it come to marriage. I once read that a marriage is a separate entity from the couple who forms it. And whatever it becomes is always a surprise. This means that your marriage is mostly what you make of it. Marriage is a union between just two people – a man and a woman, but these individual people didn’t just drop into planet earth from space, they have parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, you name it and for a country like Nigeria where it’s commonly said that it takes a whole community to raise a child, the list is a whole lot longer. In Yoruba land they say, “you get married to a man and his family”. It’s almost inevitable. You just can’t get rid of a man or a woman’s family and expect them to never pay a visit or at least be present or existent in your lives somehow. The gist here now is how much intrusion is actually too much? How can one salvage the situation without being partial to your spouse or on the other hand making your family dislike your spouse for fear that he/she turned your heart against them as is typical speculations with Nigerian families.
Marriage creates a new family. Though you will always love and respect your parents, your mate is now the most important person on earth for you. This may be difficult for some relatives to accept but you need to find a balance so you can keep peace with your relatives as you work hard to build your new family relationship. You need to maintain a proper view of your relatives and understand them. You as a person, regardless of how old you are, you always need to honor and respect your parents. Recognize that your spouse too, as a son or daughter needs to give attention to his or her parents so you don’t have to feel threatened by the relationship your spouse may have with their parents, siblings or other members of their family. Try to see things from your spouse’s perspective as much as you would want them to see things from your own perspective. In-law interference can be extremely damaging to a couple and if not dealt with in a correct manner, it can lead to families being torn apart. It is very important to understand the feelings and point of view of your family and in-laws, parents and parents-in-laws especially. Most times they do not mean any harm with their involvement but rather genuinely care about you. It can be difficult for your parents to view you and your mate as an independent family. They may even feel abandoned but by having open communication, you will still be able to honor your parents without compromising your marriage. Avoid making broad statements like “that’s how families from your state behave” or “your mother never likes what I do” just because your in-laws offer their seemingly unwelcomed opinions or advice on how best to take care of their child, they’re still getting used to the whole idea of handing their child over to into the hands of a friendly stranger.
It is only natural for your parents or spouse’s parents to be interested in your marriage. Your parents or in-laws may feel that they are still responsible for you or your spouse when you both get married, and may want to be more involved in your marriage than they should be, especially when you are from a clingy and closely knitted family – Talk about the momma’s boy and the daddy’s girl. It is up to you and your spouse to agree on what you want and don’t want, set boundaries for them and come to a mutual agreement on how you will take care of the matter. Lovingly let them know as humble, mild and patient as possible, you can be open and direct without being rude. Don’t expect immediate miracles, they’ll need time to adjust to the new development as long as it’s not so much time. You need to be firm when necessary. I know some in-laws can really encroach on personal space – unexpected weekend visits and over stayed welcomes, meddling into home affairs and making you feel quite uncomfortable and unheard in your own home. You and your partner just need to sit down and set boundaries and stick by them. I’m not saying you can’t have family over or have advice from them once in a while but this marriage is about you and not them. Know how to put your mate first, and at the same time show respect for your parents and family.