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The Struggle with In-Laws is REAL

As individuals grow and form their own romantic relationships, the ties to their family of origin may still feel more powerful, which can cause tensions in their relationships.

These Show Notes are a ChatGPT summary of the episode transcript (with brief additional editing)

In this podcast, Kim and Rog, delve into the topic of dealing with extended families and the struggles with managing relationships with their in-laws.

Common issues couples face in dealing with extended families include partners sharing more information with their extended families first, cultural differences in the level of family involvement, partners spending more time with their extended family, and different ideas around boundaries. They also mention the impact of expectations, both spoken and unspoken, which the extended family might impose on the couple, and the possibility of the family of origin becoming the primary emotional support for one or both partners.

Kim and Rog explain these dynamics often stem from childhood relationships with the family of origin, which typically provide emotional security and are a source of guidance and support. As individuals grow and form their own romantic relationships, the ties to their family of origin may still feel more powerful, which can cause tensions in their relationships. They argue that while parents and siblings can offer wisdom, it might be out of context for the specific circumstances of the couple.

To counter these challenges, the hosts propose treating the relationship as its own entity, having its own identity, using a company and the corporate veil as an example. They emphasize the need for the couple to prioritize the relationship, find unity, and make decisions together, rather than allowing outside opinions to dominate.

They continue to look further into the concept, using the analogy of a team in sports. Rog explains that even though there is competition within the team, the idea of a relationship entity reduces adversarial interactions, shifting focus from “me” to “we.” They argue that successful partnerships operate as a team and require a commitment to put the team first.

The hosts explore the psychological safety within relationships and how it allows individuals to grow and feel supported. They state that building a safe environment comes from the knowledge that your partner will always have your back.

Kim emphasizes the necessity of putting the relationship first, treating it as a priority, and creating an environment of trust around it. They advocate for prioritizing your partner’s advice and time over that of your family members and argue that boundaries must be set to ensure the relationship entity remains the focus.

The hosts acknowledge that setting new boundaries with extended family members can lead to pushback and discomfort, but they encourage listeners to persevere. They argue that it’s each partner’s responsibility to manage their own family’s expectations and take responsibility for shifting the dynamic if it’s harming the relationship. In doing so, they are building trust and demonstrating commitment to the relationship.

Kim and Rog propose that once couples agree on the concept of the relationship entity, they should establish three simple agreements, or “relationship agreements,” that would guide how the couple interacts with extended family in a way that upholds trust and safety within the entity. They argue that these agreements could potentially alleviate tension and create a stronger sense of unity.

Rog gives an example of a potential agreement, such as avoiding unexpected visits from family members, and the importance of sticking to these agreements as a team, as it helps reinforce boundaries with extended family members and communicates that any issues affecting one partner affect the team as a whole.

Both hosts assert that most extended families, while they may inadvertently cause strain, generally desire the well-being of the couple. Therefore, presenting a united front may earn the couple respect and potentially lead to healthier dynamics with the extended family. Both agree that these strategies can contribute to stronger, healthier relationships, both within the couple and with their extended families.

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To learn more about Kim & Rog's story and what inspired them to start their podcast.