There is an old saying, When you marry the person you love, you marry their entire family.” Today, large families include extended family members as well as blood relatives. This creates challenges for those entering a large family in terms of relationship building that may not have been apparent during the pre-marriage phase. There are three unique challenges when marrying into a large family. These include:
1. Familial Cultural Differences
The changing world has brought into focus the fact that blended families have cultural differences that affect how well individual members of large families respond to each other.
For example, if one spouse has no siblings and was raised in a small family and their partner is a member of a large family, the basic culture in a small vs. large family can be overwhelming to both spouses. The spouse with siblings is accustomed to a variety of personalities in their familial society. Whereas, the spouse with no siblings is less accustomed to interactions with numerous family personalities.
2. Early Childhood Environment
When marrying into a large family, each spouse brings to the family circle their early childhood environment. Large families tend to be tightly knit under patriarchal and/or matriarchal leadership.
Entering into the large family as a new member requires casting off many of your early childhood perceptions of what family is and means in order to adapt oneself more quickly. Defining what family means based on an early childhood environment may be vastly different for each partner.
If the focus highlights that first family priority begins at marriage and extended family members are an expansion of that “first family unit,” it becomes easier to build relationships with a large family group.
Each marriage partner must be constantly aware of the transition from their new first family unit in order to recognize their partner’s needs to fit into a large family.
3. Individual Perceptions of Inter-relational Family ties
For each individual in a large family, there are unique perceptions of what family ties are. There is always pairing off by siblings in large families. This is a result of two or more siblings with similar likes and dislikes.
For the newly married, sibling pairs can be disconcerting and most apparent at a social event venue. For example, one family may think that the appropriate way to celebrate a wedding union is with a small, quiet, quaint and classy celebration. Their idea of a wedding reception may be a time to sip some bubbly and chat with their peers.
Big families usually have more financial constraints. Their budget for everyone to have expensive items may have never been an option. So, the quantity may have been prioritized rather than quality. This may mean that for them a big party with a barbecue outdoors may be their preferred venue. Talk to your partner about these changes so both families can get along.
Fitting into a large family requires a keen awareness of personality differences in each family member. To avoid discord, it is necessary to gauge personality differences before marriage and develop relationships soonest that are open and favorable to the overall large family-style.
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