Thu | Aug 6, 2020

Cut the Parents Cord : Relationship Edition

Published:Monday | January 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence

A healthy relationship can sail into love and be the most beautiful thing, but the more persons you invite on this voyage is sometimes the likelihood of having it capsize.

There is a thin line between keeping your family a part of your life and having them involved or intertwined in your relationship. It is natural for parents to yearn after their children when they have moved on to start their own lives.

"It takes a while for a parent to adjust and realise that they have not lost a child, but gained an in-law child. Some parents are emotionally dependent on their children and the separation caused by the marriage makes them feel lonely, sad or jealous, especially if the parent is a single parent or has chronic spousal problems," says relationship specialist and sexologist Dr Sidney McGill.

He went on to mention that one should not shut their parent(s) out in order to strike the balance. One should make time for their parents through phone calls, email and the occasional visit so that they do not feel neglected or forgotten. One should also make an effort to remember important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries, and do their best to be in attendance for family reunions, thus keeping them in the loop while not having them involved in your spousal relationship.

While you do the above, you need to establish boundaries. In Asia, according to McGill, parents are mentors for their children's youthful marriages for the first few years. While many Jamaicans follow the 'leave and cleave' Judeo-Christian mantra, to us being married or living together is a sign of one's independence. We also have to take into consideration that when one allows their parent(s) to get involved, they tend to generally be biased towards their child.

McGill advises that couples should find a mutually respected individual to help the partners during the relationship. There are a few exceptions when the in-law happens to be this person, but it is very unlikely.

"Leaving and cleaving implies that you work out the nicks in the relationship together with your spouse. Going to seek advice from your parent should be the last resort when your own attempts have failed," he admitted.

He does mention that most parents want a genuinely healthy relationship or marriage for their child. Thus, one should not be too hard on themself or their parents.

In essence, one should still maintain a close relationship with your parents, but leave the intimate details out of the dialogue. As a general rule, keep the relationship exclusive.