Last night Joey and I started to talk about the boundaries we needed to set up in our home regarding establishing “our family” in “our home” with “our rules”. We were both extremely tired so the discussion will have to continue through this week before we set anything into stone. I’m starting to feel better about it all though now that we have started to talk it out. After blowing my top over the weekend and just being livid and sick of all the interference in our lives – I took the time yesterday to do some research and figure out what the best course for us was. I found some great articles here and here about “leaving and cleaving” and establishing boundaries that I printed out and shared with Joey. We will be using these as our baseline for what goes on in our home. I’m going to quote the articles as I go along here with what we are trying to do.
First off the issues arose because there hasn’t been leaving and cleaving going on. My dear hubby thought you could just keep tacking people on without changing anything and life would be dandy. That didn’t work and this situation has been festering for quite some time.
“1. Leave – This indicates that in a family there are two types of relationships. The parent-child relationship is the temporary one…there will be a “leaving.” The husband-wife relationship is the permanent one (”let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). Problems occur in family life when these two roles are reversed and the parent-child relationship is treated as the primary relationship. When an adult child has married and this parent-child relationship remains primary, the newly-formed union is seriously threatened.”
Joey initially took great offense at my insistence that when you get married you start your own family that has to be your priority and take precedence over any other relationship. You simply cannot establish a strong marriage without making it your first priority above all else. That means you have to unify as one and have your parents understand that you are still their child but you have your own family now which will come first. Easier said than done. He's starting to come around to the idea now and even put his wedding band back on yesterday. (He hadn't been wearing it since it can be a hazard for him at work which I completely understood since my dad never wore his for the same reason)
“2. Cleave – the Hebrew word translated “cleave” refers to 1) the pursuing hard after someone else and 2) being glued or stuck to something/someone. So a man is to pursue hard after his wife after the marriage has occurred (the courtship should not end with the wedding vows!) and is to be “stuck to her like glue.” This cleaving indicates such closeness that there should be no closer relationship than that between the two spouses, not with any former friend or with any parent.”
We’ve also had trouble here – sticking by each other and not letting any one else interfere. Its difficult in our relationship as I will try to involve Joey in the decision making and run things by him and I always get – “Yea, Ok. That’s fine.” Joey just agrees to everything and later on accuses me of railroading him. We are working on getting him to be an active participant though.
So this week we will be working on these steps -
• There can be no divided loyalties. When you married your spouse and spoke your wedding vows, you promised to put your husband or wife as the first and primary person in your life, and that’s where your loyalty rightly belongs. If your wife has a problem with her mother-in-law, it’s the husband who needs to step in and work on fixing it. The same applies if a husband has a problem with his in-laws, his wife must speak up on behalf of her husband.
• Good fences make good neighbors. Clear boundaries, as in really good fences, need to be established and set in place about when in-laws are and are not invited into your lives. Negotiate the boundaries with your spouse regarding the role you want your in-laws to have in your life, being as specific as you feel is necessary. Write it all down on paper if that would work well for you during discussion and negotiations.
• Your parents and in-laws only know what you tell them. Set boundaries so you and your spouse know what specific information will or will not be shared with your family. If you go to your parents or family members every time you’re angry, frustrated, or having problems in your marriage, they hear that but they don’t hear when you’ve resolved the issues. If you’re having a problem in your marriage, you need to resolve it in the marriage, privately.
• Set time boundaries so that you both will know how much time will be spent at the in-laws’ house and how often they will be in your home. Sometimes husbands and wives argue because the in-laws are always at your house and you don’t seem to have a moment to yourselves. Or, the wife is almost always at her parents’ home and not taking care of responsibilities at home, or constant phone calls by the in-law to find out personal details that impose upon the time and privacy of your marriage.
• Set decision-making boundaries so that both husband and wife understand that they will make the decisions in their marriage without having to consult the in-laws first. Once a decision is made you should not allow your mind to be changed because one of the in-laws voices disapproval. You have a backbone, so use it.
• Set boundaries about the care and discipline of your children, so the standards and rules established in your home are not contradicted by your in-laws. If boundaries are not set, clearly communicated amongst the family, problems and conflicts will arise. Problems and conflicts also persist when the husband or wife fails to correct their unruly parent or family member when boundaries have been breeched.
• Once the boundaries are decided upon, you must now keep to them. If one of the marriage partners violates the agreement then the whole process breaks down and sends a double message to the in-laws. In addition, failing to keep an agreement with your spouse is a violation of your word and his or her trust. You must realize that if you violate your mate’s trust you have betrayed your vows to honor your spouse above all others.
• Talk to your parents (or the in-law that is driving you crazy) about the boundaries you’ve decided upon together. Make it perfectly clear that the boundaries set have been decided upon and mutually agreed to by both husband and wife. Believe it or not, some mother-in-laws may not even realize how their intrusion and criticisms hurt or belittle you, so you must learn how to be assertive, using assertive techniques to express how you feel when she says or does x,y,z.
We know that this isn’t going to be easy for everyone to swallow and that these boundaries will change along the way as we figure them out but they are a necessary evil. We shouldn’t expect to accommodate guests every weekend. I mean we are trying to start a family here and it’s a little difficult to get in the mood when you have family in the next room. We can give each family their time every month and also have time to ourselves – that way we can give our marriage legs to stand on.
The other boundary we are also really going to work on is establishing the fact that our home is our responsibility. Unless we have asked someone for help with a particular task we don’t want someone coming in and taking over the running of our household and its chores. Joey and I both take pride in our home and taking care of it. We are both adults and will see to our home in the time and function that fits our lives – we don’t need someone else to do it for us. That takes all the pride right out of you, it makes you feel like why bother doing anything to “my house” anyway when someone else is just going to come in and change everything or take over. That hurts. So – no more. We love our home and want to make it our own – together.
It’s going to be a big week, with lots of changes and adjustments but I think once we get it all sorted out everyone will be much happier overall.