Getting married is a huge and exciting life change. You’re embarking on a new life together and taking your first steps towards your future as a married couple. One thing that is sure to change as you enter this new phase of your life is your relationship with your parents.
Seeing their child get married is bittersweet for many parents. After all, you were their whole world for a long time, and they were yours. Now you’re changing allegiances as it were. It’s no wonder that parental relationships can quickly become a source of stress in a marriage.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. Navigating your new relationship with your parents with positivity and respect is possible.
Here are some of the key ways your relationship with your parents will change after marriage and what you can do to keep the relationship healthy.
Your parents are no longer your main emotional support
For many years, your parents were one of your main emotional supports. From kissing skinned knees as a kid and being there through school dramas, to supporting you as you went on to college or a job, your parents have always been there for you.
After you get married, your spouse becomes one of your key sources of support, and the change can be challenging for you and your parents.
For the sake of your marriage, get into the habit of turning to your partner first, and encouraging them to do the same. Your parents don’t have to feel pushed out, though – make regular time to get together for a coffee or a meal and catch them up on what’s going on in your life.
You become more self reliant
Marriage represents leaving the nest and becoming more self reliant. Of course this isn’t the 17th century and the chances are you’re not literally leaving your parental home for the first time, nor are ladies expected to be obedient while men earn all the money!
However, even if you’ve been financially independent and living away from home for years, marriage still represents a psychological shift. Your parents can still love and support you, but it’s time to stop relying on them.
Honor this change by acknowledging that your parents don’t owe you anything, nor do you owe them, so you can meet each other as equals.
Physical boundaries become more important
Your parents are used to having you to themselves from time to time and of course familiarity can breed a certain lack of boundaries. After marriage, you and your spouse’s time belongs to yourselves, each other and your children first of all, and your parents after.
This can be a difficult adjustment for parents. If you find your then popping in unannounced, coming for an afternoon but overstaying their welcome, or assuming you will put them up for a week’s vacation, some things need to change.
Setting clear boundaries around your time and space will help you manage expectations and keep a healthy relationship with your parents. Be upfront about when and how often you can see them, and stick to that.
Your priorities change
Your parents are used to you being their top priority – and they’re used to being one of yours. Realizing that your spouse is now your main priority can be difficult for even the most loving parents.
This can lead to resentment, interference, or bad feeling between your parents and your spouse.
Clear communication can go a long way here. Sit down and have a good heart to heart with your parents. Let them know that you need to put your spouse first, but that you still love them dearly and want them in your life.
Many issues boil down to insecurity on your parents’ part as they adjust to your new dynamic, so do your best to work on that insecurity together. Be firm but loving as you set boundaries, and offer plenty of reassurance that they’re not losing you.
Financial issues become a no-go zone
The chances are your parents are used to being involved in your financial decisions to at least some degree. Maybe they’ve lent you money before, or perhaps they’ve offered advice on jobs or finances, or even offered you a place to rent or a share in the family business.
After you’re married, this involvement can quickly cause tension. Finances are a matter for you and your spouse to tackle together without any outside interference.
This means cutting the apron springs on both sides. You need to set good boundaries with your parents around financial issues. No ifs or buts – financial issues are a no go zone. By the same token, you need turn to your spouse with financial issues, not your parents. It’s best not to accept loans or favors unless you really must, as even the most well-intentioned gestures can quickly become points of contention.
A changing relationship with your parents is inevitable when you get married, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With good boundaries and a loving attitude you can build a strong relationship with your parents that’s healthy for you, them, and your new spouse.