Is Your Family Causing Strife in Your Marriage?

Is Your Family Causing Strife in Your Marriage? Marriage is tough, as anyone who has ever entered into the contract will tell you. There’s a reason that people celebrate reaching milestone anniversaries – it is not easy! Building a healthy marriage and maintaining it through the ups and downs of life is challenging, and even when both spouses are fully committed and work hard at it, not every marriage survives.

While it is true that a marriage is between two spouses, it is also true that the relationship does not exist in a vacuum. Friends, work colleagues, and others outside the marriage with whom the couple may interact either separately or together, may influence the relationship. At times this can lead to conflict, but spouses who are able to discuss any potential issues are in a much better position to resolve problems before they become serious.

Unless that outside influence is related to you or your spouse. Friends and colleagues are one thing, but the situation can become much more intense when the other parties involved are family members. And of course, in most situations, both spouses have parents, siblings, etc., with whom they interact. These relationships can and often do affect the marriage, especially if there is any animosity between a spouse and their in-laws.

The old joke about in-laws isn’t always funny

Consider the long-running television show “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which took a lighthearted approach to the at times difficult relationship between a wife and her spouse’s parents. While the show piled on the pressure by having the husband’s parents live directly across the street from the couple, thereby presenting plenty of opportunities for conflict, cohabitating with one’s in-laws – even for a relatively short time such as during visits or vacations – is not entirely unrealistic. The added pressure of having one’s mother- and/or father-in-law living under the same roof and offering their input on every little thing can put a strain on a marriage.

Most people feel a certain level of protectiveness toward their parents, even if they are not particularly close with them emotionally. So, when a disagreement or other negative situation occurs between a spouse and their in-laws, the other spouse may understandably feel pressure to take sides and feel torn between loyalties.

Family issues can be especially hard on newlyweds

Couples who have weathered the storm, so to speak, may develop coping mechanisms or some other plan of action to avoid tangling with the in-laws. For newlyweds, however – especially those who live far away from their parents, or haven’t interacted with their in-laws-to-be all that often – this can be a real challenge. Take, for instance a recent story out of China, where a husband kicked his wife of two days out of their home after the wife had an argument with the husband’s mother. While the disagreement was over air conditioning, of all things, which may seem like a minor issue, it is more likely that the real issue involved each woman finding and asserting her place in the new dynamics of the home and relationships. The husband seems to have considered it a matter of respect, and clearly took the side of his mother over that of his new wife.

You don’t have to cross the ocean to see examples of this. Social media and online magazines are FILLED with examples of spouses siding with their own parents over their husbands or wives. Sometimes it’s cultural; sometimes it’s a maturity issue; sometimes people don’t even realize they’re doing it.


So, what can you do if your family (or theirs) is causing a rift?

Communication, communication, communication. Couples who are able to maintain healthy communication often have a better chance at staying together – happily – for the long run. The American Psychological Association considers communication to be one of the most important factors in a healthy marriage.

For couples who fail to find ways to communicate the outcome can be very different. In fact, according to an article in Women’s Health Magazine™, communication problems are the most common reason couples seek a divorce. Additionally, communication issues are a common thread among the many other reasons why couples divorce. This includes issues and differences involving intimacy, commitment, finances, child-rearing, religion, the division of household responsibilities, and even the partnership in general.

If you’re struggling to communicate with your spouse about your feelings or needs, there are some things you can do:

  1. Process your feelings in a journal or diary first, so you can determine what is truly bothering you (and what may just be icing on the cake).
  2. Create a plan with your spouse for how to discuss concerns, like setting aside time for a weekly “house meeting” or developing a code word to indicate there’s a problem.
  3. Seek professional marriage counseling, which can help facilitate communication in a safe, secure, and neutral environment.

Every couple does not agree on every single issue – in fact, there are few who do – but the ability to find common ground through healthy discussion and compromise can help ensure the marriage is successful.

Is divorce the answer when communication falls apart?
When a breakdown of communication occurs in any relationship it can be incredibly painful for one or both spouses. This is especially true in a marriage, where the health of the relationship and the happiness of those involved relies heavily on the ability to talk with one another. Couples who are unable to simply talk with one another, even with the help of a neutral outside party such as a therapist or marriage counselor, may turn to divorce as a solution.

Ultimately, no one can make the decision to end your marriage except for you and your spouse. If you are truly unhappy and decide that the time has come to move on, it is best to consult with an experienced Rockville divorce or family law attorney. They can help you think through important aspects of the divorce using a process called divorce planning. This ensures that you know what you want from the divorce – perhaps you want to retain the family home, for instance – and have everything in order and a strategy in place before you file for divorce.

If you do decide that divorce is the best course of action for you and your family, there are ways to handle it so that help preserve family bonds – particularly when there are minor children involved. The compassionate Rockville divorce and family law attorneys at McCabe Russell, PA understand that simply because you are ready to end your marriage, it does not mean that you want to take a “scorched earth” approach. As skilled negotiators and litigators, we know that divorce is life changing. So, we strive to resolve your divorce or other family law matter in a manner that causes the least amount of disruption to your life as possible, while protecting your interests and securing the best possible outcome for you.

At McCabe Russell, PA, we serve clients in Rockville, Bethesda, Columbia, and Fulton, Maryland, as well as in the surrounding areas. Give us a call today at 443-917-3347 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.