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How important is family to you

(24 Posts)
zoomzoomzoomhey Sun 17-Jan-21 07:02:20

I come from a family who always emphasised how much of a chore it was to go and see family members. I recall actually going to see them about once a year (if that), and most of them lived within a 5 mile radius. We were also told the family members were a nuisance if they wanted to come over and visit, and they would tell me and my brother to go upstairs while they came over etc. I can count on 2 hands the amount of times we actually had family to visit.

I then met my partners family who are the exact opposite of that. They keep in touch daily, they see each other as often as possible, they phone each other, they video call, his Mum would turn up daily if we allowed. They are a huge family and they use the phrase that their family is everything to them. They would literally die for one another.

I find it soooo incredibly difficult to get used to now being part of a really close family. I find it really suffocating at times and find it hard everyone knowing my business and as if everyone can have an opinion on everything in your life because they are so close.

I know my family are weird the way they brought us up, and the way they think about family. But what are other people's experiences? Are you all incredibly close, not close at all, or some sort of happy medium?

OP’s posts: |
GoLightlyontheEarth Sun 17-Jan-21 07:08:45

Unfortunately not at all close. My parents were very antisocial. We didn’t have extended family living nearby and my father didn’t get on with his family. My mother’s family lived abroad and we didn’t know them. My siblings and I hardly ever see each other and are not close. I have a very poor relationship with my mother who I also see very rarely. It makes me very sad. I would be really glad your partners family are so close. Try to see the positives and get involved. The alternative is far worse.

housemdwaswrong Sun 17-Jan-21 07:19:00

We're middle ground. Chat a few times a week, always meet for occasions, see my sister maybe once a fortnight, my brother pops in when he's passing for work so maybe once a week, less if busy. One sister I don't talk to.

My brother's partner though sounds like your dp. Meet every Saturday for coffee no matter what, phone daily, visit loads. That sounds a bit much for me. She's also commented that she doesn't get it when we argue/ disagree because they never do. I think that's very odd and most adults with different lives and experiences will disagree at some point, so they must just agree blindly with family without ever thinking. We don't argue loads at all, but certainly voice different opinions.

BaggoMcoys Sun 17-Jan-21 07:19:15

As a child I rarely saw extended family because we didn't live near any of them. As an adult, I am not in contact with my dad out of choice, and have very little contact with one sibling, also by choice. I see my mum regularly, and my other sibling - a brother - fairly often, as does my dd who is 6.

Her father/my ex has a bigger family. He has more siblings, both parents, and they have cousins and aunts and uncles who are geographically closer than any of mine were. I think the other members of his family are more in touch with the cousins etc than my ex is. He speaks to his parents and most of his siblings every week on the phone, and visits approx every few months. They rarely return the visits. Our dd visits with him so she gets to see her cousins.

There are no cousins from my side of the family yet, but if any do come in future I imagine she will be close to them if they're my brothers. I am not sure what will happen if my other sibling has children, I don't want dd around the sibling but I would want to see my niece/nephew and I'd want her to have a relationship with them if possible. (Though I think it's in the world's best interests if my sibling remains childless blush).

Although I am close to my mum and brother, it's a very different atmosphere with them compared to ex and his family. Partly because of there are so much more of his, but they're also a lot louder and gossipy (and fairly racist and very sexist) and I did find them quite suffocating to be around. Even when I was still in the relationship, I tried to avoid visiting them when I could - and as I said, they rarely visit him/visited us.

SnuggyBuggy Sun 17-Jan-21 07:26:06

I think most people's ideal is a healthy medium. My parents were also very antisocial though made an exception for extended family when we were younger. We never lived near family and growing up I never expected to live near family as an adult.

I'm not sure how well I'd cope in a relationship with someone with a big, involved and local family. It would be a huge adjustment at best and possibly a deal breaker for some.

Aria2015 Sun 17-Jan-21 07:29:33

I think I'm quite lucky. I'm emotionally close to my family and know I could rely on them for support day or night, but we're not in each other's pockets. I can go weeks or even months between seeing / speaking to my siblings but we're still close. I speak to my mother the most - currently most days, but but out of lockdown / when I'm not in maternity leave, it's probably more like a couple of times a week.

My dh has a family a bit like your dh's though and I also find it suffocating sometimes but I've learnt to live with it. His family are good people and I know they care about me. Dh is often on the phone a few times a day to his parents, I don't get involved, just let them get on with it. We used to be tied up in this weird commitment to see them every weekend but I told dh it was too much for me and over time that's reduced a lot which they've accepted. On the up side, when dc came along, they couldn't do enough and have been amazing with childcare as they always want to see their grandchildren. So they're happy to babysit any time and help out. My youngest is a baby but my eldest has a lovely relationship with them.

The other positive is that my dh values family in general and so treats my family really well too as he applies the same 'they're family' mentality to them which is nice.

My advice is to try and see the positives but also set boundaries where needed (like I did with the weekly visits!). I make sure I'm sensitive in my approach to dh though as he can get very defensive about his family and so with the weekend visits, I made sure he knew how much I liked his family but just explained that after working all week, It just wasn't allowing me the time I needed to relax and was just too much and could we compromise.

perfectdoesntexist Sun 17-Jan-21 07:37:40

I have a small family (immediate) some wider family but by no means in close contact/know all of them.

My DH is the opposite, when we got together I was amazed at the huge (to me) family he had and how close they all were.

Safe to say over the course of the years together, it has become apparent that in fact most of said huge family don't like each other and members have started to go there own way...and it's more strained relationships than good.

Personally, I initially was in awe of the large close family and wondered why I didn't have the same, and hoped my children could have what I didn't- large family gatherings, cousins bursting at the seems, what appeared to be dedicated and supportive wider family.

Now I have my own family unit I remain grateful for my small close knit family and we remain as close as ever. OH large family which once was appealing is now the opposite and avoided!

perfectdoesntexist Sun 17-Jan-21 07:44:09

Realising I didn't actually answer your post...

When I describe my close knit family- what this means for me is that, we talk everyday on the phone/text and see each other regularly there are 4 of us in total (excluding partners). I would not describe it as being in each other's pockets and is manageable with no feelings of 'having to' or guilt if daily life gets in the way.

By contrast I feel there are expectations by OH family and when these haven't been met it means those members are frowned upon and gossiped about, completely diverting from the meaning of family for me. I don't like the pressure of making sure I'm making everyone happy all the time which previously it has felt as though we have to do. We are removed from it since starting our own family and having our own commitments. Luckily my OH has been on board, I think he started to see the cracks albeit a bit later than me as a somewhat outsider!

gannett Sun 17-Jan-21 07:44:14

My family was dysfunctional and not close to each other. I'm even less close having gone NC with most of them.

DP is not especially close with his parents or extended family, but is with his sister and her family - in normal times we'd see them every few weeks.

I find the idea of a large, close-knit family constantly in each other's houses and insistent that Family Comes First completely suffocating.

I believe firmly in a chosen family - the friends I've gravitated to, particularly in queer social circles, as an adult. I'm closer to them than any family - not that that was a high bar - but they've taught me more about being myself, and about unconditional love, than I ever experienced in the nuclear family environment.

Nicolastuffedone Sun 17-Jan-21 07:44:33

We are a very small family, so we are close. My DH’s family are from another’s culture and, thankfully, live abroad, I would find them very interfering and suffocating if I had to see them. If someone sneezes, it goes global!! I am nc for that and for other reasons.....

Superstardjs Sun 17-Jan-21 07:52:30

As a pp said, a happy medium is preferable. I don't see my family as either chore nor nuisance but nor do I feel the need to have one hand on them at all times. I don't consider my extended family to be proper family though - blood is not thicker than water for me.

DDIJ Sun 17-Jan-21 08:07:58

My mother is obsessed with extended family and would much rather tell her grandchildren what their distant cousins they have never met are doing than listen to her grandchildren tell her what they are doing.

We are not family orientated. I don't know if I would want to socialise with somebody else's family constantly, although occasionally would be ok. I could not cope with the situation the op describes.

perfectdoesntexist Sun 17-Jan-21 08:08:45


My mother is obsessed with extended family and would much rather tell her grandchildren what their distant cousins they have never met are doing than listen to her grandchildren tell her what they are doing.

We are not family orientated. I don't know if I would want to socialise with somebody else's family constantly, although occasionally would be ok. I could not cope with the situation the op describes.

With you on this!!!

HNY2021 Sun 17-Jan-21 08:09:39

The lockdowns have highlighted to me how few people I am close to. Family members I’d see every couple of weeks I’ve hardly heard from.

My ex’s family was suffocating so glad my DP hardly sees his.

HappyFlamingo Sun 17-Jan-21 08:17:46

My parents live an hour away and my PILs live nearly two hours away. In non covid times we typically see my parents once a month for a day and my PILs once every two months for a weekend (as they live further away). I talk on the phone to my parents frequently (several times a week) while DH talks to his once a week or fortnight. We're not very close to our siblings and rarely see them (no big falling out or anything - just not very close) but keep in touch by text.

This is perfect IMO - not too much and not too little - but it helps that DH and I have similar expectations about this. This issue with you and your partner is the discrepancy in your expectations of what is right.

DH and I went on a marriage course a few years ago and I remember they said that this was one of the biggest area of conflict for many couples.

I'd suggest a calm discussion with your partner about how to handle this so it works for both of you. Maybe your partner should sometimes meet or phone his family without you being involved?

ThisTooShallBe Sun 17-Jan-21 08:33:28

I essentially grew up in a family commune with grandparents, uncles, aunts, my cousin and various hangers on around, as well as my DPs and two DBs. I had a ball! It all imploded with illness, deaths and losing the big house when I was 19 and I’ve never lived with or near my birth family since. I adore my DF now (didn’t really know him as a child, DM died six years ago) and get on extremely well with him but see him rarely. I basically despise my DBs and my nieces, but have a gently benevolent feeling towards my remaining uncle and my solitary cousin.

My family focus is my three DDs. We all get on very well communicating on a shared WhatsApp and talking on the phone 2-3 times a week. It’s a happy medium I feel.

I suspect the adages Family First and Blood Is Thicker Than Water are patriarchal, controlling claptrap. Those bonds have to be earned and constantly renewed. The day I told my DB to get to fuck - and exactly why he should do so - was so freeing!

Veryverycalmnow Sun 17-Jan-21 08:35:23

Same as you OP. Times like Christmas were really suffocating at first.

Ace1185 Sun 17-Jan-21 08:40:02

Not close at all. Grandparents are no longer here on both sides. If it wasn't for Facebook I wouldn't know if my cousins were alive or dead same with Aunties and Uncles. If I didn't feel I had to I wouldn't see my parents either. I hear from my brother most days but he lives in another country so it has been a couple of years since I seen him. I msg my sister a couple of times a week and go for a coffee a couple of times a week. My husband and my son are my world that I would do anything for

OneKeyAtATime Sun 17-Jan-21 08:44:02

Close knit families are not for me either. One of my criteria for my future husband was that he didn't come from one of those as i couldn't face a lifetime of family gatherings and what i would feel are intrusions on a daily basis.

SnuggyBuggy Sun 17-Jan-21 08:52:46

DH and I went on a marriage course a few years ago and I remember they said that this was one of the biggest area of conflict for many couples.

That doesn't surprise me.

corythatwas Sun 17-Jan-21 10:38:15

I'm lucky in that I come from a family that could be described as cheerfully close and dh does the same, so we have very similar expectations. By cheerfully close, I mean we check in on each other regularly and enjoy meeting up (though as I live abroad it's not happening now), lots of fun memories together, but not to the point where it's all stifling. Dh doesn't have much family left now, but I was very, very fond of his parents. Also very, very fond of my own family. They don't pry or gossip, but they're there. Particularly enjoy the happy relationship dc have with their cousins.

GoLightlyontheEarth Sun 17-Jan-21 19:12:06


My mother is obsessed with extended family and would much rather tell her grandchildren what their distant cousins they have never met are doing than listen to her grandchildren tell her what they are doing.

We are not family orientated. I don't know if I would want to socialise with somebody else's family constantly, although occasionally would be ok. I could not cope with the situation the op describes.

It’s kind of a relief to know this happens in other families. My mother is like this. Obsessed with relatives she never sees and prefers to talk about them than engage with her grandchildren. It’s just so, so odd.

Crappysex Sun 17-Jan-21 19:42:55

See parents once or twice weekly as they so childcare. Speak to sibling weekly maybe. My mums family are fairly close to each other. Dads arent. It's fine by me.
My exs parent used to call in unannounced almost daily when I was on mat leave. I found it annoying as I dont do unannounced visitor

Fran856 Sun 17-Jan-21 21:07:03

I’m the opposite

I come from a very close family , both sets of grandparents have now passed away so it’s mainly me , my mum , dad , sister and her partner and son that are very close , but yes I would die for any of them , they are so important to me we tell each other everything and if one of us is hurting we all hurt and meet up to talk it out , don’t get me wrong we annoy each other sometimes and sometimes bicker but yes very close and I cannot imagine being part of anything any different so yes for me family life , that family unit is everything.

My partners family are kind of what you describe your family to be and I think he struggles with the closeness and there opinions at times , or them just dropping in but he accepts it and deals well with it , my dad treats him like a son, they golf together etc , I find it very difficult that his family are like this and sometimes we clash over family values , my ex had a family like mine and I loved it , I adored his family just not him 😂

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