“Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them.
They move on. They move away.” ~Mitch Albom
Mitch has a point.
Grown-ups leave their parents. They move on.
Especially the married ones.
Because you promised yourself to your spouse.
You promised. And your parents taught you to always keep your promises.
It’s the right thing to do.
Let’s face it: Marriages have enough challenges these days without divided loyalties.
You were a child for a while; you had your time.
But now? Now you have responsibilities, a life to build.
You needn’t be unkind or disrespectful, or distant.
Boundaries, however, are a must.
Not sure if your boundaries are misplaced?
That’s easily remedied. Let’s take a look at what’s going on in your home.
- Does the doorbell ring regularly, without warning, signaling a parental drop-by surprise?
- Is it fairly normal for your arguments to begin, “I can’t believe your mother said…”
- Do you plan your calendar around your parents’ birthdays, their anniversary, their vacations…instead of your own?
If you’re nodding your head, it’s time to finish the business of leaving the parents and start cleaving to each other.
Not sure what that looks like?
Again, no problem. Let’s make a plan:
1. Change your minds. Decide to be there for each other first. Give up parent pleasing as your primary priority. It is exhausting and not the proper focus of any marriage.
You and your spouse needn’t be consumed with thoughts of child-like obedience. Instead, set your minds on being full-time partners, homebuilders, and dream chasers.
“‘Til death do you part.”
2. Speak your minds. “Mom, Dad, we love you. Right now we need to focus on our marriage and we need some space to do that.” Is that so hard? Maybe.
But grown-ups do hard things sometimes.
Especially when in-law problems are one of the top contributors to divorce.
Especially when a happy union is on the line.
Especially when the pillow you rest your head on is not between your mom and dad.
3. Prepare for blowback. Hopefully, your parents understand. Hopefully, they will pat you on the back, respect your wishes, and help you erect the boundaries you seek.
Unfortunately, some parents will be offended, puzzled, or generally pissed.
You may be surprised by that. You may not. You know your parents.
That may even be the reason you have put off boundary-building for so long.
They’re entitled to their response, but not your relationship.
You’re grown-ups. You have each other. You can stand on your own.
Your parents can too.
Let your parents go. Be understanding, but don’t back down.
Let them be responsible for their own feelings. Show them you’re a unit.
Respect them the way you hope they’ll come to respect you.
4. Communicate well. First and foremost, communicate love, loyalty and support to your spouse. In no way allow your spouse to think that choosing him or her over your parents is a chore or burden. Openly share your desire to meet his or her needs and make the necessary compromises.
Remember, you promised to be there for your spouse.
Apologize for taking so long.
Celebrate the opportunity to love like adults do.
5. Move on. Go on, do what Mitch suggests, get on with the business of being grown-ups.
You still love your parents. You’ll visit. You’ll call.
It’s going to be alright, your parents will be okay.
They’ve been adults for awhile now.
It’s a new season for everyone, new loyalties and a new normal.
Married people unite!
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