Do I have to love his family?

on Jul 05, 2012 @ 12:38 am

Do I have to love my boyfriend, or do I have to love his family as well?
I have always tried my absolute best to be accepting and respectful of my boyfriend's family situation. However this is very difficult for me because of all they've put my boyfriend through. We've been together for three years, and as they are always tap dancing on my last good nerve, is this good enough reason to give up the love of my life?

My story is long, so brace yourself.

My boyfriend's parents married at a young age and were soon expecting their first child, my boyfriend's brother. Three years later, my boyfriend came along. When my boyfriend was 5 and his brother was 8, their father began beating their mother, and so naturally, she did what she could to escape the situation. She left, and went to her parents' house, taking her two young children along, right? No. According to my boyfriend, their father wouldn't let them go with their mother. I understand that their mother had take the drastic measures that drastic circumstance calls for, but I am beyond shocked that she would leave to escape domestic abuse, yet leave her two young children behind at the same risk. A mother does anything to protect her young, does she not? This is where all of my bitterness towards her began -- I still fume at the thought of her selfishness.

Roughly a year after his mother left, my boyfriend's father began seeing another woman. Apparently, my boyfriend accompanied his father daily to this woman's house, and I will not go into detail about these visits. However I will say that what went on in the room between this woman and my boyfriend's father with my boyfriend in the room is disgusting and undoubtably sexual assault to a child and by no means ever excusable.

Meanwhile (and a couple years later), my boyfriend's mother began seeing another man, an "immigrant" in the US illegally. After a year of dating, they began "trying" for their first child. Thus, my boyfriend's now 7 year old half sister was born. Less than a year later, they were "trying" and pregnant with their second child. During this pregnancy, my boyfriend's mother caught this man cheating on her, and left him, going back to her still husband,  my boyfriend's father. This man beat her and sexually abused her children to her knowledge, yet she did nothing to even so much as try to help them, and at that went back to him with two babies that were not his. I have to wonder how a mother could be so selfish and unconcerned about her chilldren.

I cannot say anything disrespectful about this woman, because she has never been anything but kind and welcoming to me.
My boyfriend is the most important person in my life, and I cringe at the thought of what she did to not only him but to his brother and to their family as a whole.
Now, years later, my boyfriend is almost 18 and her two other children are 7 and 6. While she works, he stays home and cares for them. She comes home, and he continues to care for them. If however one of her two youngest children requests her, she zaps into mother mode like I've never seen before. If the 7 or 6 year old needs her, she's right there (somewhat), but if my boyfriend or his brother ever needs her, she doesn't care. I'm so angry at her for not being a mother to her first two children. There are so many unfortunate people in the world who are nnot blessed with a mother, yet my boyfriend has one and has still never experienced the love one can offer.

There are so many more stories I could tell and so many more feelings I could express, but this is already too long!

Outside of his immediate family, the rest of my boyfriend's bloodline isn't anything short of disfunctional either. None of his aunts or uncles are married to the mother/father of their children, and one of his uncle has 2 children by 2 different women. Six of his 7 female cousins were sixteen and pregnant, with no father for their child. Children before marriage, etc., has never been an issue to my boyfriend because "a little crazy" is something he was bred into.
My family is VERY, I mean VERY traditional and as far as I have ever known, I have been gifted by the grace of God with a miraculously functional family (well, as functional as possbile.. lol). They believe you must be romantically and financially stable before children are brought into the picture, typical old-style values, etc.

We have never introduced our families for this reason & I have never told my parents any of this for fear that they will not accept each other.

Our children would have far more family on my boyfriend's side than on my side, as he has a brother, a half brother & a half brother, I'm an only child. Family is something that has always been important to me, and I would for no reason ever even consider keeping my children from experiencing the joy (and chaos) that family can bring. However I would not want our children to grow up believing that his family's values are "socially acceptable." I want them to know that it is not okay  to cheat on your spouse, to have children at a young age or before marriage, etc. My boyfriend knows this, although I am not sure if he agrees.

Are these reasons to let go of the love of your life? Or is it worth the life long frustration? (Lol..)

All thoughts/opinions are more than welcome!


2 Replies

love your BF on his own merits on Jul 05, 2012 @ 10:04 am

You have made a really critical point, and one that is often overlooked. When you marry a man, you marry his family too. This is very much true. It doesn't mean you approve of or even accept their behaviour, but you are now linked to them and your business is their business to some degree.

I know some people will disagree with that last statement. However, the point is not whether your business should be their business, but rather that it becomes so intertwined that it's inevitable.

So, having said all of that, you have recognized that your boyfriend comes with a certain amount of baggage and possibly an outlook on life that you don't necessarily agree with. An outlook that eventually could affect the way you raise your children and behave in your marriage, if things get that far.

There are several people in my extended family who have married out of our "mold"; that is, I come from a semi-distinct cultural group with a heritage, traditions, and shared moral/religious beliefs. It was always assumed that you'd marry someone from a similar background first and foremost because it would set your marriage and childrearing on the same page from the beginning. Those of my extended family who have married people who do not come from a similar background have struggled in those relationships. Don't be under any illusions that marrying someone who is drastically different than you can lead to unique challenges.

HOWEVER, you should evaluate your relationship and your boyfriend on HIS merits too. Just because his family is dysfunctional does not mean that he isn't a fantastic guy with a good head on his shoulders. I would not advise you to end the relationship because his family is crazy. You should end the relationship if your relationship is not a good fit. Usually a "good fit" is determined by shared values - don't underestimate that.

Don't stay with him because you want to rescue him or because you worry that leaving him will make his life worse. Decide to stay or go based on how healthy your relationship is and whether the differences in your outlooks are deal breakers or not. You can be in love with a terrific guy whose values are completely opposite of your own - that relationship will probably break down in the long run. You can be in love with an idiot whose values match your own - that relationship is also doomed. But if your guy is a great catch and his fundamental values match your own DESPITE his baggage, then he's worth hanging on to. Everyone has baggage. Not everyone is mature enough to recognize and deal with it.

That's my 2 cents anyway :)

No on Jul 05, 2012 @ 11:56 am

I don't think you need to end the relationship based on your boyfriend's family dysfunctionality. If that was a reason to dump someone, I'd never have stuck out dating my husband! Haha! However, I think if somewhere down the road your relationship becomes negatively affected, unhappy, resentful, or full of conflict then it may be time to reevaluate things. Not liking his family is not a reason to break it off, even though the things that have happened are horrible. He doesn't beat you so that's a good start in determining if he is like his family at all. Like mamaluv said, he can still be a fantastic guy and I'm sure he is.
It's hard but stick it out and try to keep his family at a distance if possible if it has the potential to negatively effect your relationship. Good luck!

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