It took me time to realize what was causing me so much stress and strain over the holidays and in general life settings. It wasn’t until I had a startling conversation with my significant other that helped me open my eyes to how much of a hold certain people had in how I made my decisions.
There are people in our lives that mean more to us than life itself. You would give up what was your last, you would love until your last breath, and you would sacrifice yourself to ensure their safety. To me, this represents my family.
We all have some form of family – whether through blood, marriage, real or imaginary adoption. These are your forever people. They will stick around until death parts you. These people deserve attention, love, praise, admiration, etc. They create the make-up of who we ultimately are and eventually become.
I love my family.
But, as I look at the future I want to create and the dream I envision in my head that I want to be a reality, my steps don’t align with the steps my family wants me to take.
My family has molded me, in many ways, to who I am. I also have my friends, my church, and my education that have molded me in other ways that I also give credit to. I am a Robinson, but I am also Jennie. A different person from the rest of my family just like they are all different from myself and each other.
We all have varying ethical standards and models of behavior that we follow based on our personal life experiences. We clash because it doesn’t always align.
This holiday season, the time of year where we spend a significant amount of time with our family, I realized that I have to start setting boundaries to prepare for the future I want to see. I really value creating a sustainable, loving, and fair relationship that communicates and listens to each other. I value this above many things!
My significant other, the amazing Bruce Hayes, is someone I have been with for over 7 years. Yes – I will marry him and I literally can not wait! We have had a million conversations about the marriage we want to create. We have seen the successes and pitfalls of other couples and we know what we want to have and what we want to avoid.
This year, and every year, we have spent the majority of our days with my family: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Years Day. Every holiday is centered on my side of the family. The woman’s side.
My dad has said on a handful of occasions that he doesn’t feel appreciated. Father’s day is not a big day we celebrate, his birthday isn’t made into a grande ordeal, and we hardly make a significant effort about visiting his side of the family even though we love them equally.
The point is, I made every effort this year to please my family. Every time they wailed about me not spending time with them I caved and satisfied their needs. Therefore, I spent Christmas Eve, most of Christmas, and I will be spending New Year’s Eve and New Years with them.
One of my sister’s said to me: “You aren’t even engaged. Family should come first.”
Sure…there is a lot of truth to that statement, but what am I creating in our relationship NOW by allowing this?
Marriage doesn’t change how you act as a couple – it’s what you build prior to that, that will determine how your marriage will be.
I never want Bruce to feel like I don’t care about his side of the family. I don’t ever want Bruce to feel insignificant because we don’t celebrate Fathers’ day with as much enthusiasm and excitement as Mother’s day!
Bruce has told me on several occasions that he can’t wait to be a dad, and he wants to be a great one!! I want to take that time to build appreciation into our relationship and care just as much about his wants and needs during the holidays and every other celebration.
I want to build a marriage that is fair and loving. Where we listen to each other’s needs/wants so we can grow together. We will change as people as we age and experience life. I need/want to build a foundation that can support the changes.
I know my family wants me for the entire holiday, and that makes me feel SO good to be loved and wanted. But Bruce’s family wants him there too, and they also want to see me, because we are building a future together.
I need to set boundaries for my family – when to say yes to their wants so I can spend time with them, and when to say no to their wants so that I can meet Bruce’s needs.
What are you building in your relationship now to prepare for the future you two envision?
Photo by Raphael Mittendorfer on Unsplash