You’ve found your soulmate and are looking forward to the big day! You can’t wait to ride off into the sunset together after the reception. But what do you do when your mother-in-law calls you five minutes after you’ve left to make sure you got on the road ok? Or when she calls first thing the next morning to see how your night went? Hopefully, this is an extreme example and something you won’t encounter. But it is important for you and your partner to have open conversations about in-laws and expectations. Because in some ways it’s true – you’re marrying the whole family.
Have you thought about how much time you plan to spend with your family after you’re married? Have you discussed it with your partner? Do you know how much time he or she wants to spend with their own family? Maybe you anticipate seeing your family once a week while your partner would prefer something less frequent. Perhaps you’d like to go as a couple to extended family gatherings, but your partner is more comfortable staying at home while you go alone.
Then there’s the issue of holidays. Will you spend them separate from your families of origin? Will you split the holidays and spend the morning with your family while you spend the afternoon with the in-laws? Or, for example, will you alternate holidays – spending Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas with the other? Will these arrangements change if you have kids?
Then we come back to money (see our previous post). How important is it to you to be financially independent from your parents and your in-laws? Is it just as important to your partner? Your partner may be quick to turn to parents or grandparents for a loan while you may want to avoid it at all costs (or vice versa). Or perhaps you have different views on whether or not you want to loan money to other family members. Maybe for one of you it’s important because it’s a family member, while the other finds it difficult because it’s the third loan and you’ve never received any of the money back.
Also important to discuss is the issue of elder parent care. For some of you, this may be far off and hard to think about. However, for some this may be close at hand or an issue tied with strong emotions. Should either set of parents get to a place where they are no longer able to live independently do you know what living arrangements you or your partner would be comfortable with? If they need full-time care would you be more comfortable with them living with you or in an assisted living facility? Would you pay for the facility?
None of the above questions are designed to scare you. Instead, the hope is that they will act as a springboard for conversation with your partner. Take some time to think about where you stand on some of the issues, share them with your partner, and listen to their views.
Be sure to check back next week as we discuss our next topic: Sex.