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Family acceptance issues

Community Member
Hi everyone, has anyone else had a difficult time connecting with their spouse's family? Or any advice appreciated.

I have been with my partner for almost 2 years and its great but I don't feel loved by their family. They are never intentionally rude to me nor have they said anything directly to me to upset me, but I get the feeling they just don't care or want to make an effort to get to know me.

Maybe its because my family is super close and caring, his is not and I get that every family is different but it makes me worry for the future and whether they are going to be supportive of us or not.

Because of covid, I have some serious family issues going on at the moment that has disrupted my life for the past 6 months. I am grateful for other close friends and family that have offered their support during this difficult time. However, my partner's family has barely mentioned it or asked if I'm okay. Could be cultural difference but even just a simple asking if I need anything would make a huge difference to me.

They have also never really shown an interest in what I am doing or what goes on in my life. They hardly talk to me when I go over so I don't feel very comfortable or welcomed. Not saying that I'm a princess that deserves the royal treatment at all by the way, but its just easier to avoid them at the moment because our short discussions never seem genuine or positive.

So as I said, it makes me worried for the future if we do decide to get married, are they going to be supportive, do they even want to be involved in our lives, etc.

Or should I just not worry at all and count it as a loss? I also don't want to talk to my partner about it just yet because its not their fault, and they can't change how their family is (they are aware of how dysfunctional they are), it may cause unnecessary stress and I realize this issue isn't that serious on the grand scheme of things but is just something that has been playing on my mind recently.

I have tried doing nice things for them, like bringing little snacks or cooking something for dinner but it is a little upsetting to know we will never be close. I am trying not to take it personally, as I have noticed they're not super social people but it would be nice to feel accepted by them.
4 Replies 4

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi w1nn1e,

Ahhhhh, families.... I have been the dysfunctional family and in the same place as you. And trust me, it's not you.

Example 1:

My ex's family was VERY dysfunctional. Dad was a friendly farmer, Mum resented Dad for staying on the farm so she was angry at the world, one child was harbouring major anger towards his mother, another child didn't work and then there was my ex - who was friendly, caring and loving. I made lots of effort, like yourself, with baking and helping out when we'd go to visit, but was ever met with a "thank you" or even a hug. I even managed to pull some strings once, to get my ex's grandfather an appointment with a specialist that was SO hard to get into (I owed some people A LOT of favours for that) - and I got nothing - no acknowledgement. That's just not who they were. And I had to learn that just because I thought they should be a certain way, didn't mean they were ever going to be. It didn't mean they disliked me, they just were [I can't think of a word so forgive me for this] "beige" toward me. They didn't crack open the champers when they saw me, but they also didn't loathe me - they were just beige. And, yes, there will be some element of them in your lives - but you're not dating/marrying them, you're with your partner - and that just comes with a family that is a bit different to yours. And to be fair, they raised your partner who you love, so they've done something right 🙂

Example 2:

I don't have the best relationship with my father. Neither does my brother. To be fair, neither does my mum (still married, but REALLY should not be). I have a great relationship with my mum and brother. But my dad... I've tried to talk to him about my mental health, but anytime I do, my dad pulls a complete jerk move and makes it all about him. After 3 years together, my partner now sees the impact my dad's negativity and expectations have on me. And when I think about our wedding day... I don't want my dad there. It's not how I wanted my life to be, but my father is never going to be the dad I want or need him to be. And I have to make peace with that.

You just have to remember that you are responsible for you - that means continuing to be your-lovely-self, but also resetting your expectations. You can't change how they are as people, so it's a case of accepting that you're not likely to ever get sunshine and lollipops from them. It's hard, but once you can accept what you will get from them (beige), it will make life easier.


Community Member

What a lovely response thank you for sharing your stories Gabs 🙂

You're exactly right, "beige", is the response I get from them. It has been hard for me not to take it to heart as I have always been taught that family is the most important thing (and to go above and beyond when a loved one is going through a hard time so that's why I have been offended they have not checked up on me but oh well) but I need to accept that not everyone else is like this. I do have to reset my expectations and realize that they are just different and to put my energy and effort towards my partner and my own family.

I'm sorry to hear about your own situation, I'm hoping it won't come to that for us as my partner has a similar situation as you with not getting along with one of their parents but I also completely understand only wanting supportive and loving people on your special day and I hope that happens for you 🙂

Thank you for putting things into perspective for me, I'll always try to be the bigger person and kill them with kindness!

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear W1nn1e~

I too think Gabs_'s story an excellent and most helpful one. There are some people and families who simply do not open up, it's a fact of life, even if unpleasant. As Gabs_ says it is no reflection on you.

I know you have thought it might not be the best idea to discuss this with your partner. Even so if you are as lucky as I've been after such a conversation you will know you are first in their eyes, not their family.

That's more than important, it is a foundation. Plus if I was the partner I'd want to demonstrate that care.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

I'm glad that made sense, w1nn1e 🙂 Especially the "beige" bit.

I think it can be difficult when you are a naturally caring and giving individual, not to take it personally. Because if the shoe was on the other foot, you'd be thankful that your child is with someone loving and giving. I'm 36 and it took me wayyyy too long to figure it out, but it really is about setting boundaries, expectations and investing the love, care and energy into your partner and family.

There are some really good books by Lindsay C Gibson about learning to temper expectations and setting boundaries as an adult when your parents emotionally immature. I'm not saying that's the case for your partner's family, but I really found them helpful in relation to not taking it personally, protecting myself emotionally (the thought "why is nothing I ever do good enough"), and learning how to manage my expectations. I have a male friend who is about to be a father, who has a rocky relationship with his dad, and I lent him the books and he is feeling much more confident about boundary setting as they expect the birth of their child. If you're interested, they are:

  • Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Reclaim Your Emotional Autonomy and Find Personal Happiness
  • Self-Care for Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: Honor Your Emotions, Nurture Your Self, and Live with Confidence

And like you said "kill 'em with kindness". You're not ever going to stop being you, and that's why your partner clearly adores you. Just try to remember not to over-invest in them, and get into a cycle of trying to please them when you'll get nothing in return (or just beige in return). There are people in this life that are worth investing in, and that includes yourself.

Sending you a big hug.

G x