I've been thinking a lot about this subject as my friends and I walk through the process of leaving and cleaving. While it's a spiritually loaded sentiment from the Bible, it's a concept that I think everyone deals with to some degree or another. When you join your life with your partner's life, you become a baby family in your own right. So where does that leave your respective families? Especially if there is friction?
Questions such as these are at the front of my mind:
When is it appropriate to speak out against family? For racism? For homophobic remarks?
When do you cut family out of your life?
What are healthy boundary lines?
Should spouses have to choose between you and parents?
We've all probably heard stories or have our own examples of the racist father(-in-law) spouting jokes over turkey. Or the sister(-in-law)'s biting remarks. Whatever the issue is, it can cause a real wedge in the family. I wonder where the line is between peacekeeping and standing up for what is right. When I married into my husband's family, his grandmother told me: "It's your job to help keep this family together. You have the power to keep it together or break it up." While I agree with her that family should be kept sacred and honored, I only agree to a point. There are circumstances where I would feel warranted in making a break.
I tend to have a very black and white view. If I think you're wrong, I'll let you know know and what's more, I'll tell you what I think is right. As I understand this tendency more, I've been trying to employ more diplomatic means. The idea of speaking the truth in love applies here I think. If you can speak the truth, but do so in a loving way and then the other party still wants to part ways, then perhaps you've done all you can do. As a matter of conscience, I don't know that there are other options.
I probably have more questions than answers regarding these situations (which vary widely from one family to another). However, I don't think we talk about these situations outside of common jokes about the in-laws or putting the fun in dysfunctional. I want to know what wisdom you have to impart. I want to know what you've been trying and what's been working.
Have you had to cut off family? Set a firm boundary? Or maybe just speak out against an injustice within family? How has being married affected your decisions to do this?
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