By Grace Kimathi, author, Heart to Heart
Imagine this: when a man and a woman unite together in marriage, there is also an intersection of two very different extended families – with different values, cultures, and traditions. The differences can be as far apart as east is to the west, and unknowingly, this can bring undue pressure to the new family. Further, possessive expectations and demands from in-laws and the extended families can put undue pressure to newlyweds who may already be strained trying establish a new family, plan for children, develop careers, and cope with financial obligations.
How can a couple deal with these potential landmines?
In Part 2, we discussed the need to build hedges around a marriage. Some hedges that could help couples to successfully form a new family while minimising conflict brought about by pressure from the extended family could include:
Values – agree on your own set of values as a couple and be consistent while communicating with the extended family. You must not only read from the same script, but must also be seen to be doing so. Extended family members are usually quick to notice inconsistencies and take advantage of them.
Communicate – discuss expectations regarding how to handle matters relating to the extended family. It is, for example, possible to provide financial help to relatives without letting them run your home. Communication breakdown is a tool Satan uses quite effectively against couples – it is one of the major factors that lead to marriage breakdown.
Flexibility and adaptability – It doesn’t help for one spouse to be stuck in their way of seeing, or doing, things. Negotiation should be a central feature in marriage, couples should be ready to make compromises, and adjust to a different way of conducting family life.
As much as relatives can bring strain to a marriage, we need to however know that God has raised us to the position where we can bless others, especially our relatives, like the way Joseph blessed his relatives: Jacob’s household. We need to have delicate balance between neglect and overindulgence and wisdom to be able to get along with relatives for the good of us all.
Watch Part 3 of Grace Kimathi’s K24 interview