Family qualities. Quirks. Idiosyncracies. They show up in your spouse. Some behaviors, likes/dislikes, mannerisms, etc. you might appreciate and others are so different from your family that you find them difficult to connect with. Not one family on this planet are perfect. Not even yours!
Some of those unique qualities (probably many things) about your spouse appealed to you when you were dating and decided to marry. Remember?
No family on this planet is perfect. (Yeah – not even yours!) Remember that. And then honor your spouse’s qualities that originated in their family.
Acknowledge the good stuff in your spouse’s family of origin.
Your spouse is the product his/her upbringing. Maybe it’s easy to identify all the reasons his/her family contributed to such a great person. Maybe it’s not easy.
Regardless, I’m sure you can find at least one thing about your spouse’s family qualities which you find good…
- are they open, fun and love to joke or studious, academic and serious? There are good things about each end of the spectrum.
- is your spouse’s family careful with money, and good at saving or are they expansive and enjoy sharing what they have? Both are good, depending on how you view it.
- does your spouse’s family like to spend every weekend together, or are they more a once-a-year kind of gatherers?
Usually, with some careful consideration, you can identify something about your spouse that you realize came from the way he/she was raised.
Family qualities can be both a positive and a negative. Focus on the positive and try to mitigate the negative. But in all things, try to honor the positive parts of how your spouse was raised. By doing that, you’re also demonstrating you value your spouse and where she/he came from.
Looking Deeper at Family Qualities
When Rob and I mentor a couple and do the Prepare-Enrich program part of the program includes a powerful matrix which demonstrates where each of the couple’s family appears on a map between closeness and flexibility. Here’s an example (these aren’t real people):
At the beginning of Prepare/Enrich program couples answer questions separately in an online survey. Included in these questions are details to demonstrate how they grew up. Some couples are very similar in the way they were raised and others are quite different. It’s not bad or good. However, this Family matrix/map is so useful. Sometimes just seeing this map provides an answer to the couple’s issues with the other family.
Using this map, and the corresponding exercises we can delve deeper in the family qualities that may hurt or help a couple in their own marriage relationship.
Which family qualities do you value about your spouse?
Rob and I talk often about the qualities in our respective families that have made us part of who we are. As an example, Rob’s family (especially his Dad) had/has fun being silly. My parents were quite serious. I like the parts of Rob that are silly and can directly see how his family had an impact on this part of him. Our adult children see this in Rob and value it also – it speaks to who they are as adults also.
What do you see in your spouse that you value? Maybe it’s time you told her/him?
This article is part of the 10-Point Marriage Tune-up