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Keep your parents out of your marriage

POSTED: May 28, 2014 10:00 a.m.
Junior Alves Junior/

Trust, let go, and watch a new generation begin

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They created you, they love you, and they raised you, but if there's one place your parents don't belong, it's in the middle of your marriage. It's one thing to learn from the successes and failures of your parents' marriage, but when parents become overly involved in the marriages of their children, it creates discord and tension. If you're facing parental meddling in your otherwise happy household, set some boundaries now and restore the peace.
Your first marriage example
For good or bad, your parents' marriage was your first exposure to how companionship works. As kids, we learned a lot from how our parents interacted with each other, how they communicated and how they shared household duties. This largely influenced our adult relationships. For the lucky people raised in a loving household, it's a great idea to learn from what your parents did right and follow their stellar example. However, for those of us with not-so-wonderful examples, adulthood becomes a time of correcting bad habits and learning not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Your first step in creating boundaries in your parent/marriage relationship is to acknowledge the influence your parents have on your relationships. Accepting past behavior does not mean condoning bad decisions, but forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves that allows us to move on and heal. Seeing the past for what it was gives us an opportunity to build a brighter future.
When you took your own vows
No matter how your childhood went, marriage really is a chance for a man to leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, as the Bible says. When we take those solemn marriage vows, we have to acknowledge that we are separating ourselves from our family of origin. As a spouse, your loyalty should always be with your husband or wife first and your extended family second. Your parents have no place in your marital disagreements. Show respect to your spouse by not venting frustration or finding fault with your spouse in front of your parents.
The more you are willing to accept your spouse as your primary family member, the better off everyone will be. Side with your husband or wife in family matters, compromising when necessary, and agree not to get in the middle of family feuds. Often, the best way to protect your immediate family is to stay out of extended family drama.
Creating meaningful boundaries
Honoring your father and mother is a good thing, so long as everyone understands the difference between well-meaning and interfering. Seeking out your parents for wisdom and guidance shows maturity, but allowing your parents to micromanage in your adult life is inappropriate. If you're faced with a meddling parent problem, lovingly but firmly tell your parent that he needs to stay out of your marriage. It may cause some ruffled feathers, but setting clear guidelines for parental involvement is essential for the health of your marriage.
There is room for everyone in your family — husband, wife, mother and father. You set the tone for your interactions between your spouse and your extended family members, so choose your words carefully and set clear limits on help and advice. You can achieve family peace; all it takes is everyone stepping up and acting like adults.
Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan, mom to two crazy boys, and wife to one amazing husband. You can learn more about her eco-conscious lifestyle at moderatelycrunchy.com.

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