Dating, Marriage, Relationships

The Extremes of Family Involvement in Relationships: Up to this Point and no More.

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‘Our Family Wedding’, a 2010 romantic comedy film is a must watch! Apart from the funny scenes and face off between the fathers of the bride and groom, there are many lessons to be learnt about the involvement of parents and family members in the life of the couple. One statement I can’t forget from the movie is, “it’s your marriage but it is their (the families) wedding”.
There are two extremes to how involved the extended family could be in the affairs of a couple, newly wedded or not. They could be over involved and they could be very much uninvolved.

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Pre courtship:

the over-involved family dictates the specifications for the type of person their daughter or son can date and/or marry. Some families even decide who the wife or husband would be without the knowledge or consent of the child. They select the one they think is best and present him/her to their child, expecting their decision to be accepted with open arms or otherwise, forced down the child’s throat.
On the other hand is the family that really does not care. They say and show you that it is your life, do whatever you want. Even when the child needs their input or some encouragement, they get none. And if things do not work out as the child desired, they don’t say, ” I told you so” because they actually never said anything!

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Courtship:

the extremely involved family wants to know the timetable of the courtship or they would gladly draw one for you. They want to know when you and your fiancée/fiance argue and when and how you made up. They want to know how often you go on dates. If you have not gone on a date recently, they start asking questions. They are curious about your sex life, whether you are enjoying it or not and if you are using any form of protection. They can even give you condoms as birthday presents. Seriously!

Meanwhile, the family at the other end of the spectrum do not care if you are making babies under their roof. They do not want to know off your boyfriend is beating you every other day. Other times they are nonchalant to your excitement and they ignore the mention of dates with your sweetheart. They may not even know if you broke up with the last guy. It would still be, “hey Dave” even though Dave was your secondary school crush and you have dated four other guys since then.

The wedding

The wedding day for the extremely involved family belongs to them. They are in charge of what happens and what does not. They dictate the motions of the day. All you have to do is make an appearance with your bride/groom. In fact, they do not appreciate any input from you. They just want you to sit back and enjoy, whether you like their choices or not.
But for the other extreme, you are definitely on your own. You are lucky they even contribute financially to the wedding. They leave you to decide on everything pertaining to the wedding. And unless you insist on them doing certain specific things, you can be sure they won’t lift a finger. This can be really frustrating.

After the wedding:

This is where the extremely involved family can actually get on your nerves… Unless you are a mummy’s boy or daddy’s girl. This is the point where they should acknowledge your independence as a couple, able to make their own decisions. But, no, they still don’t get it. They would tell you where best to get a house to move into. Some families would indicate which room is best for the husband and wife, the type of furniture to buy, the type of interior decoration, etc. They want to know when you are getting pregnant and how you are preparing for the baby. If after a while, you aren’t pregnant, they start asking questions and seeking solutions for you, with or without your answers.

They set up panels to discuss your issues and settle your arguments once they get a whiff of them. One would say, they become a pain in the gluteal region. As for the uninvolved family, at this point, one might actually just appreciate their non-involvement and distance. Although, it might seem your ship has been abandoned but it still feels safe.

The extremely involved family is a common feature in African countries. This is because the extended family is eager to establish their presence. Developed countries often have more of the uninvolved family types. There is an emphasis on the nuclear family more than the extended family. It is more like, “no branching, no rooting”, every couple and family stand on its own.
Of course, there should be a balance. Everybody knows that. The issue is, how many families can find that balance

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Eunice Oladeji

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