Ask AAL No. 3 — Family Edition
Posted on November 28th, 2012
Can a romantic relationship survive and flourish when one person comes from a completely cruel and crazy family and the other from a (gag-inducing) loving, functional, healthy family?
I think so. In fact, I think that’s the best person for the person from the dysfunctional family to settle down with!
That said? Therapy. For the person from the dysfunctional family (for all the usual reasons) and also for both to go through couples’ counseling so the person from the happy family knows what his or her partner has gone through.
Your question reminds me that for years I didn’t believe there was such a thing as a loving, functional, healthy family. I assumed they were all faking or covering up hideously deep, dark secrets. One day I asked my therapist. She said, “Oh, yes, they do exist.” After getting over my shock, I asked, “Well..what’s the difference?” And she said, among other things, “Children of those families don’t need to read parenting books.” (I am a great consumer of books about how to raise children because, as my husband is fond of saying, wolves would have done a better job than my parents did.)
In our case, my husband had a great relationship with his mother, who died before I met him. She was a strong and quirky and independent woman (I can get this from the textual record alone). I’m pretty damned pleased she contributed to my daughter’s genetic makeup, and I’m very grateful she set the tone for M wanting and expecting a relationship with a strong woman and, in turn, wanting to have strong daughters. (When we found out Pea was a girl in the ultrasound room, he stood up and yelled, “Yes!”)
If my husband’s mother were alive, I don’t know how it would be. I’d like to think I would be grateful that Pea had at least one grandparent who wasn’t screwed up. That said, I would probably struggle with envy (I do when I see how other people have parents who help and nurture them). And I’d be talking about it in therapy.