This Journey Called Marriage – Day 5
The Way We Do the Things We Do
So how do two separate people become one? <=Click to Tweet
Well of course there is the obvious that happens through intimacy in the one flesh relationship. And there is also the reality of developing a new family. And that means embracing traditions, celebrations, habits, communication styles we agree on.
We can get into a whole lot of trouble when we assume that the way we WILL live out our lives in this new family is going to be the same way we did through our families of origin.
We may not even realize that we are expecting life to be much the same as life in our “old” family. Yet, we may find ourselves arguing with our spouse about some things over and over again. Whether we’re newly married or we’ve been married for several years, these assumptions and expectations can wreak havoc until we identify them. Then, once identified, we can either take steps to blend our family of origin’s way of doing life or choose entirely new ways to move ahead on this journey called marriage.
Here is one example of how Chris and I, (two separate individuals with different family histories and traditions,) worked on becoming united as one.
Many of us come to our marriage with established ways of vacationing – renting a home in the same place and at the same time every year, cruising, international travel, a family reunion every year, or no vacation at all because the idea is frivolous or too costly.
I had gone to Cape Cod with my family of origin pretty much every year all my life when I met Chris. In fact, Labor Day weekend on the Cape is a pretty sacred tradition among my sisters and another family we’ve all known since we were five and under. So I assumed we would continue this tradition forever…duh! Well, Chris wanted options. He didn’t value this trip the way I did…and these friends weren’t really his friends at the time (though they have since become very good friends!). To me, however, these Cape Cod friends were and are extended family.
After a few years of heading up to the Cape together, Chris began to resent this trip and feel a little trapped. When he suggested we change things up, I was resistant. I tend to be nostalgic and I had so many happy family memories of this magical place. It was a place where growing up, despite an often-tumultuous family atmosphere, we experienced an unusual level of harmony.
Through a few sometimes stressful conversations, Chris and I came up with a plan to forge our own vacation path. We decided to go to Cape Cod for a week before my family of origin came together for the final weekend of the summer. This way, Chris could get to know Cape Cod with our family and possibly grow to love it too. We had a wonderful week together and by the time the whole gang convened, we were ready for the rest of my family to join us.
The next summer, I was even ready to try a new location for our family vacation. Together Chris and I decided to try Maine. With Acadia National Park’s kid-friendly off-road bike trails and hikeable mountains, it sounded like a beautiful, family-friendly destination. So off we went. And wouldn’t you know it, Southwest Harbor, Maine, became our new family vacation spot for many years to come. We would go there the last week in August and head for the Cape for Labor Day Weekend on our way home. This trip became a very happy vacation arrangement for us all.
One summer, Chris decided he wasn’t coming to the Cape for Labor Day weekend at all. He wanted a true break from the tradition. He headed off instead to Colorado to be with his best friend. I wasn’t thrilled, but I knew he was again feeling like he was obligated to come to Cape Cod every single summer. He needed to feel like he had more of a choice. So this one Labor Day, I went one way with the kids in tow and Chris went the other to Colorado. As a result of this trip, Chris realized that actually he wasn’t trapped at all, that he could decide not to go to Cape Cod anytime. Rather than feel forced, this freedom enabled him to choose Cape Cod, which he did pretty much every summer after that.
Next we'll talk about steps to a productive conversation on how two people can become one in marriage despite differences.