After you marry, who should you approach first as your confidant, to ask for an opinion or to work through an issue? Your spouse or your parents? Many couples wrestle with this in the early stages of marriage.
One woman shared that she resented her husband of two years going to his mother about everything. He responded that he is closer to his mother and that she knows him better.
“My husband and I dealt with this in the first few years of our marriage,” says marriage educator, wife and mother, Gena Ellis. “When I showed up on my parents’ doorstep, my mother told me to go home. She said I didn’t live there anymore and I needed to go home to my husband. My husband was not being mean or hurting me. I was just spoiled and mad that things weren’t going my way, so I ran home to Mama. I am grateful my mom set these boundaries.”
Even though you love your spouse, learning how to get along together and grow your trust level takes time.
“I think a lot of men don’t realize how their relationship with their mom can lead to their wife's insecurity in the marriage relationship,” says marriage coach Dr. David Banks.
“For example, many well-intentioned men do not realize that confiding in mom after getting married is like being traded from one sports team to another and going back to your former coach for advice. This actually works against building trust in the marriage and figuring out how to rely on each other.”
Both Ellis and Banks agree that parents should receive, raise and ultimately, release their children.
“It is truly in a couple's best interest if parents are a safety net rather than the first line of defense,” Ellis says. “If your adult child is having trouble 'cutting the apron strings,' helping him/her do that provides the best chance of a healthy and successful marriage. It is not helpful to say things like, ‘You will always have a room here.’ Or, ‘If she starts treating you bad, you just come home to Mama.’”
If you are a newlywed, Banks and Ellis offer these tips as you leave your parents and join forces with your spouse.
First, sit down together and talk about what it means to be a team.
Resist the urge to run to your parents at every turn. Set healthy boundaries for you as the couple and for your parents. Constantly turning to your parents creates difficulty in building trust and confidence in each other.
Watch the influences you allow around your marriage. People who have a negative view of marriage don’t typically help you to build a healthy relationship with your spouse. In other words, you may have hung out with people before marriage that you should see less often now.
Consider attending a marriage enrichment class. There are great tools to help you build a strong, lasting marriage.
“Loyalty is foundational to a healthy marriage team,” Banks says. “You may feel like your parents know you better and can offer better advice. But think of your marriage as your new team. Even though your old team knows you better, your job now is to make sure your new team knows you. This isn’t about giving up your relationship with your parents. It is about creating a new system where there is balance and everyone understands their appropriate role.”
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