Monday, March 06, 2006

Family Differences

This weekend there was a day where I straightened my hair. Now my hair isn't excessively curly, but it is wavy, and sometimes a bit unruly. It really threw my husband off for me to have straight hair. At one point he came up behind me and said, "You look like someone in my family with your hair like that."

I reminded him that I am a member of his family.
...

This has been an ongoing struggle for us. His family sees blood as the only definer of family, and mine sees it as the people you choose to spend time with. At our wedding reception, one of the other people that had married into my husband's family came up to me and welcomed me to "The Outlaws (because we'll never be in-laws, you see)." And that's pretty much how it's been. I wasn't allowed to go to the grandfather's funeral, because those kinds of things are "just for family." And on, and on.

This causes us both a lot of issues. I constantly feel like an outsider in what should be my family. He feels like he is treated too familiarly, but can't tell my parents that he already has a Mom and Dad and doesn't need any more sets.

So, I'm curious and I want to ask you, kind readers, whether you have seen similar differences in the way family is perceived, and whether you've found creative solutions to the outsider/insider dilemma.

5 comments:

James said...

I come from a tight nuclear family without much contact with the larger crew (my dad left Arizona to go work for the goddam gummit, an unpardonable sin), but my wife's family is very extended and very tight. I now have four parents, which took some getting used to, but now I like it.

mr. kyle said...

I think everyone feels like an outsider in the beginning, it's totally normal. And not liking your inlaws is normal. So if that leads to distance, so be it. It's common. Maintaining that distance not because you dislike one another, but because of some 'blood' dividing line is tough to get around creativly. My advice is to have everyone start hating everyone and then the blood issue become secondary.

Heather said...

I think everyone feels like an outsider in the beginning,...

Except, we've been married for 7+ years now. Isn't "the beginning" coming to an end? And it's not like I dislike my in-laws. I actually like them very much.

mr. kyle said...

Well, yeah. That was really me just kind of trying to soften the overall comment, which is that I think the situation is not good, at all. But you're a person who endures any number of things I wouldn't be able to tolerate and I can only assume that you do so because you enjoy all sorts of benefits that I can't imagine. I hope so anyway. Regardless, in situations like this, I think it's often a mistake to feel like it's your problem to solve, your creativity that is necessary to make the breakthough. Sometimes people are what they are, and if you're getting enough good out of your relationships with all these people, then I guess that will just have to make up for these painful oddities.

Heather said...

Ah yes....You are so wise.