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You, Me, and We: Navigating Families As A Couple

Updated: Jun 17


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Memorial Day is coming up, and so is the Fourth of July. This is great — it marks the end of a long winter and an entrance into the summer solstice! For some — this time will be one of the first — or few — times per year their family gets to interact with their partner on a regular basis. Meeting the family can be extremely fun — it can open your eyes to new things about your partner you’ve never noticed or discovered before. By engaging with your partners’ relatives, you gain insight into their upbringing and the factors that make them who they are. By introducing your partner to your family, you are communicating that your relationship can go the distance and that your family should bask in the special love you’ve found. To master the “meet the family” barbecue bash session, here are some fun do’s and don’ts from your friends at coBlossom.


Do: Come with an open mind

Your partner’s family may be miles away from your own. They might enjoy country music, while your folks prefer hip-hop or rock. When meeting our significant other’s family members, it is important to be open-minded. They are not our family — and that’s what makes them great! Use this time to learn about their culture, hobbies, and backgrounds. Open yourself up to trying new cultural dishes, enjoying movies or board games you’ve never heard of, and making a genuine effort to connect with your relatives. It isn’t easy for two different worlds to combine — you can ease the stress on your partner by adopting a fun and non-judgmental attitude when you finally meet their people.


Don’t: Put your partner on the spot

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Your partner may have told you some funny stories about their uncle, aunt, siblings, and parents. You’ve probably burst out in laughter over the story involving their brother locking himself out of the house and sleeping in the yard, or any other crazy stuff you’ve heard about. However — the relatives may not think these stories are funny. Definitely look for cues before hopping in with the funny stuff. It takes time to build trust, and there are times when a family may take longer to adjust to seeing their relative in a relationship. Be mindful of that and don’t push the envelope. Keep it cool — and keep those funny stories to yourself!


Do: Bring a housewarming gift

With respect to all my frugal folks out there, a housewarming gift (even if it’s a very inexpensive one) can go a long way. It shows your thoughtfulness and consideration around meeting your partner’s family. You can get creative with this as well! You can start by asking your partner what their family would like, or even go shopping for the gift with them. The gift can take many forms, from pottery to flowers, to art, and even to food. The way through someone’s heart is through their stomach, indeed. If you love to throw down in the kitchen, try to whip something up and take it to your partner’s family event. Better yet — try to cook one of their favorite foods. They’ll love you for it.


Don’t: Isolate yourself

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We get it. Family cookouts can be scary — especially when you are the new significant other. You might feel a desire to stick to yourself all night, playing on your phone or texting friends in the corner. This is a bad move — at a family event, you want to have fun! Try to find one relative that you’re comfortable speaking to, and take it from there. Join them on the dance floor for the cha-cha-slide, and play some beach volleyball with the siblings. Make sure to have fun and truly be in the moment. After all, they might become your family one day.


Do: Try to reciprocate the invite

If your partner invites you to meet their family, try to reciprocate the invite and bring them to meet yours! Meeting the family provides your relationship with a sense of closeness and intimacy that doesn’t presently exist. If you’re comfortable and hit it off with their folks, you can even invite your significant other’s family as well. You want to share as much of yourself as you can with your partner, and family is not an exception. If they are kind enough to invite you into their world, you should do the same and reciprocate as soon as you get the chance.


Don’t: Forget the importance of family in cultivating a strong relationship

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Last but not least, don’t forget the role of the family in cultivating a stronger relationship. Our families — good and bad — are the reasons why we are who we are. In any serious relationship, relatives will merge and networks will collide. Family is the most important factor in all our lives. As you begin to cultivate your own kind of family through your love, do not neglect the role that family plays in maintaining a healthy and sustainable relationship.


 

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