There is this traditional idea of what family looks like that is just not realistic. I often hear clients tell me how they don’t want to have children but they fear that doesn’t make them a “real family.” That is just not true.
Your family can be complete at two.
You don’t have to be married with children to be a family. You just have to be a more than one-person unit. Two people can be a family. All too often I hear of the family struggle because other people in their lives expect them to have children, to “complete” their family. Mom or grandma keep pressuring you to “take that next step.” But, that might not be your path and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Your family CAN be complete at two. If that is what feels right to you and your partner, then that is the path you should be on. Kids are not a necessary part of a family unit.
Many couples these days are becoming “pet parents” rather than child parents. But, even so, you don’t need a pet to be a family. Your family is what YOU make it. It isn’t about anyone but you and your partner.
Family doesn’t have to be blood.
The Census Bureau definition of family is two or more people related by blood, marriage, or adoption living in the same residence but that in and of itself is still a traditional take. More and more research is showing that a family doesn’t have to be the result of blood, marriage, or adoption. It can simply mean two or more people who are a unit.
This is the modern family. The ever-evolving modern family comes in many different combinations, and that is truly a wonderful thing. As human beings, we are not one-size-fits-all. We all have different things that make us unique, so why should there only be one definition of family.
All that really matters is you are happy.
Concerned Client: My husband wants me to fold his clothes but not in my way, he wants me to fold them his way. I am not big on folding clothes in any special way. I do it the way I was taught which he thinks is “too messy,” or “incorrect.” That is what I know. It doesn’t bother me that my clothes are folded this way and my kids could care less. I could learn the way he wants me to fold, but it seems pointless to me. He is losing his patience and I am growing frustrated.
He could just fold his own clothes himself but it takes him a week to get to the basket and by then it is overflowing with clean, unfolded, wrinkled clothes. I at least want to get them into the dresser, out of the way. It makes no sense to me why he is ok staring at a basket of unfolded clothes for a week but not ok with me folding and putting away his clothes. He says he doesn’t care if it doesn’t make sense. He just wants me to fold the clothes his way. He says it is “my job” to take care of the laundry and I should do it “his way.” What the hell? He works full time and expects me to all the stuff around the house, the cooking, the cleaning, and all the laundry to his standards. I am ok doing it my way, but why does it have to be his way?
Mabel: Before I make the assumption that this is a misogynist behavior, I need to get a bigger picture. What is the implicit or explicit agreement that you currently have with your husband in terms of division of labor (i.e. you take care of all the stuff in the home, while he handles the stuff outside of the home)? Do you expect him to adhere to certain standards when it comes to the yard work? Or taking care of vehicles? Why he expects you to fold the clothes his way may be his way of executing what he thought might be an agreement. Have you ever talked about an agreement of who does what and how? Sometimes couples assume an agreement and really they need to discuss it with each other.
It is common for a person who is already being cheated on by their partner to feel like they have a free pass to cheat also. They think it is not really cheating since their partner is already cheating on them. While it might feel like the fair choice, it is still cheating.
Infidelity in any form is a violation of a couple’s relationship agreement. So, yes your partner may have violated that agreement but do you also want to violate this contract? It is about being a bigger person. That (written or unwritten) contract was created because you and your partner had a connection and while that might be on the rocks currently you have to ask yourself which path you want to take. Would you rather contribute to the dysfunction by committing infidelity yourself, or would you rather take the high road and end the relationship with your partner (or take steps to try to fix things) before pursuing other relations?
Infidelity hurts. It creates wounds in relationships that are difficult to heal. But just because someone hurts you does not give you the right to hurt them in return. It might feel good for a minute, like payback or revenge, but in the end, it will only lead to more pain and suffering long term.
Even though your partner did not respect your relationship agreement, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Confront your partner. Have a conversation. Seek counseling to determine next steps. But, don’t stoop to the level that got you into this mess, to begin with. Don’t add insult to injury. Just because you may have been the second one to commit the act, doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.