Navigating relationships with one’s family can become quite dicey after marriage. There’s a lot more to consider now; your partner’s feelings, your family’s wishes and a lot of other factors. I spoke to three married men about how their relationship with their families changed after they married.
My family is a very big one and I’m close to almost everyone. I wouldn’t really say the relationship changed after my marriage, I just became a bit more withdrawn from my family. This meant that I’d rather stay home and hang out with my wife rather than go out for a family event if it wasn’t necessary. It’s a choice I made because if I don’t set these lines in place, I’ll always have issues with boundaries.
At first, family members tried reporting me to my dad but I’m a stubborn man. He’d call and ask why I wasn’t at a family event and I’d reply, “Because I didn’t feel like.” After a while, he stopped asking me and told people to come to ask me themselves. I still contribute financially but there’s a lot less of my physical presence.
My wife used to feel bad whenever it was brought up but it’s really my decision. When my mother tried to blame her as a bad influence, I told my mother it was my decision and asked her not to interfere in my home. People tend to respect stuff like that. I guess patriarchy has its benefits.
I lost my Dad when I was 8 years old, so my family has always been my mom and my two brothers. My mom was very attached to me because I was obedient, and this remained true till I graduated from university. I realised that I needed to distance myself a bit because I was quite the mommy’s boy, so three years before I married, I moved out of the house.
I knew my mother was the controlling type so I made sure to set boundaries. Between the time of my introduction and my marriage, I made sure they only met about four or five times. I also made sure I let my mother know that she should respect my wife’s decisions. To date, there are times where she still wants to interfere in my family matters but I try to gently turn her down and make her understand I’m my own man. There are still clashes but there’s an understanding of each person’s boundaries.
When my wife gave birth and my mother was living with us, my mother tried to impose her views about taking care of the baby until my wife got upset and snapped at her. I’ve told my mom to respect our choices. Many times, my mother and wife communicate through me because I know that things can get really tense between them.
Sometimes my wife brings up that my mother’s monthly allowance is too much, after all, I’m not the only child but I tell her that it’s unnegotiable. I placated her by placing her mother on an allowance too, although not as much.
I lost both my parents within the space of six months in 2012 and I’m the first of four children. While I was dating my wife, I took her to meet my aunt who was the head of the family. The meeting went well but there was some grumbling about the fact that my wife isn’t Yoruba. The family knew they didn’t have the right to say anything because while I was hustling for school fees in the university, they were all unlooking.
Now, everyone in the family just minds the business that pays them. To me, my family consists of my wife, my daughter and me. I’m pretty close to my youngest brother too. He’s a great guy. My two other brothers are always billing me to ask for money they think I have and think I’m stingy when I tell them I don’t have it [laughs].
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