EMAIL THIS PAGE       PRINT       RSS      

Overcoming Family

I love my family.  I have two loving, supportive parents who have been married for over 40 years.  I have two older siblings, two older sibling-in-laws, a beautiful niece, and four rambunctious nephews (five, when you include my step-nephew).  We’re blessed enough to live within 20 minutes of each other - and even though we don’t see each other nearly as much as we should (given our proximity!), our family gatherings are fun, rowdy, stressful, and entertaining.  (This is where I should mention that my niece is 9, two of my nephews are 8, and the other two are 5ish.  That’s a LOT of kid energy!).

Growing up, our family dynamic was slightly different than most - I’m the youngest kid by nearly 9 years. My experience of growing up was a hybrid of being the “baby” in the family, while also feeling like the only child - since my older siblings were grown up and in college by the time I was entering 4th grade.  The glue holding us together though, were my folks.  Married young, my parents had a couple decades of marriage under the belt when I came on to the scene.  Though they certainly had their ups and downs, they stuck things out (and still do!) and I’ve witnessed their marriage grow and flourish because of it.

I share this because my family background was a near opposite experience of my ex-wife’s.  To protect her privacy, I won’t go into the specifics - but I will say that her parent’s marriage was not as successful as mine.  You may be wondering why this is even worth bringing up - after all, the country’s divorce rate hovers at the 50% mark, and I am part of that statistic.  There are a lot of couples that have to overcome difficult family baggage to be successful.  Family dynamics often play a role in present day relationships. Even strong marriages are made of two imperfect people and there are imperfections, hang-ups, and reactions the rest of the family pick up on as a result.  Even the Cosby kids had their fair share of relationship issues!  

The point is, everyone has their share of family baggage - myself included.  But, I can’t help but wonder - when your folks are divorced, is it easier to see divorce as a way out in your own marriage?  When your folks have a long marriage, is it easier to see yourself overcoming present-day conflict for the promise of a stronger marriage?  When things got difficult in our marriage, my ex-wife and I certainly disagreed in this area.  She couldn’t see any way out for us.  I was ready to work through our challenges and could envision how much stronger our relationship would be as a result.

But, that’s just my experience.  Like it says on my profile page, I’m a relationship non-expert.  So, I want to hear from you. I’m not really interested in the statistics - I’m interested in the story.  What has your experience been with this?  Has the success (or failure) of your parents marriage impacted your marriage?

 

Comments

Jim,

I can definately relate to my share of family and personal baggage.. My parents were married 21 years before they divorced. They had 3 children.. My brother (37) myself (22) and my sister (18). Looking back, they honestly grew apart. But they are friends and get along to this day.

When I was 18 proposed to my gf of 2 years we were togeter in more year before it went down hill.. We grew apart and she cheated with me with my best friend.. I have been single now by choice for 3 yrs and it's been a long road to recovery and finding myself since then..

I'm really not sure if the failure of my parents marriage affected my ability to save my relationship. I'm still seeking closure from this whole thing and not a day goes by where I don't think "what if?"...

-J

Jason,

Thanks for sharing a bit about your family story. I think whether our parents marriage was strong, weak, or non-existant, it all has some sort of influence on dealing with our present relationships. That's not to say that everyone who has divorced parents will have unsuccessful relationships - not saying that at all. I think the major difference is how aware you are of your family history and how it impacts you. Like I said before, my parents stayed married - yet, when I did marriage counseling, it surfaced some unhealthy patterns in myself that manifested in my relationship that I think are related to my parent's relationship at all. (Mom, if you're reading this - it's not a blame thing at all, just the reality of how humans operate! Love you!)

I'm sorry to hear about what happened with you and your fiance. Closure from a difficult relationship can often be a difficult thing to reach, but remaining strong in Christ, and not shying away from dealing with the "ish" certainly help...

Jim

Jim,

Interesting topic--definitely something I've pondered, myself.

My story is similar to yours, in that I grew up with parents that are still together, to this day. As a matter of fact, my parents have been what I believe to be the ultimate example of marriage. As a kid, I always viewed them as a "united front"-- I couldn't, nor did I ever expect to, get in trouble by one of them, and get away with the same thing by the other. They were a team, and they made sure to show us that. Growing older, my father became a Christian, and my mother finally had someone equally yoked to her. I'd never realized that was missing in my father (I was fairly young--about 10), but I DID notice how much they grew together from that point forward. To this day, they are like little love birds. They hold hands everywhere they go, and oooo and ahhh at each other like teenagers. Don't get me wrong, I occassionally witness the under-the-breath-murmuring when they disagree. But whenever I'd pick up on the subtle huffs and puffs as a kid, they'd explain, "we're not fighting, we're simply disagreeing...and we'll be working this out soon".

The percieved result? A grown woman that has no intentions of even considering divorce in her own marraige. It's just not an option to me. We'll just HAVE to work out whatever problems we encountered.

I'd say I'm pretty lucky to have married someone that grew up with a similar point of view. I say "lucky" because I didn't realize how important it was when I was out dating--I have only realized the importance since engagement and marraige. And now, in our somewhat new, but fairly mature marraige, knowing that divorce is not an option for either of us allows us to be real with each other in our arguments and disagreements, and know that the other is always working toward a solution, and not toward a way out.

I hope this adds to your conversation--I'm interested to hear other points of view, as well.

Gigi

Gigi,

I love what you shared about being able to be "real" in arguments. When you both know you are committed to each other, it does give a sense of freedom to be who you are, speak your mind, deal with the fight, and know you'll be the better for it in the end, no matter how crappy it is to deal with in the moment. Of course, that must be tempered with mutual respect, grace, and love, yeah?

Jim

Hi Son,
Love you posts as always. Never feel like you have to filter what you say because I read them. It would defeat the whole purpose of honest feedback and open diaglog. No one ever said marriage was easy and when you have been married as long as your dad and I have there are bound to be bumps along the way. This much I do know; God has been our anchor. I also know that the woman who walks by your side as your wife will be your bride till you are old and gray! Happy Valentine's Day.

I would agree with your premise. I think growing up with parents who are committed to sticking it out definitely changes your worldview. I also think observing parents who divorce makes people more susceptible to seeing it as an option.

You have a lovely big family and counting. I wish our family was big too. - KSA Kosher

»  Become a Fan or Friend of this Blogger
About
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things. I'm no relationship expert, but when my marriage fell apart, God's grace was extended through His community. This is the place to explore that community together.


Media