Crazy Families

My brother recently got married. During the reception, they played the game where the bride and groom sit in chairs back to back. They each hold one of their own shoes and one of their spouse’s shoes in each hand. The DJ then reads off a series of questions, such as, “Who is the better driver?” or “Who is a night owl?”, and the newlyweds raise the shoe of whomever they think the answer is. It’s entertaining to see how similarly (or not) the couple responds!

One of the questions for my brother and his new wife was, “Who has the crazier family?”

My new sister-in-law didn’t even hesitate to raise her own shoe high into the air. My brother, being the nice guy he is, definitely hesitated, until his wife turned around and emphatically raised his hand containing her shoe. It was a pretty funny moment. I don’t know her family well, but I know she has six siblings, whereas it’s just my brother and me. By sheer numbers alone, there are probably more opportunities for family drama and “craziness.”

My own spouse also has a bigger family, with a lot more drama and issues, at least on the surface.

But the reality is, every family has its issues, my own small family included. The way they manifest may be different, but “stuff,” big and small, is there. Instead of loud blowout arguments, there might be quiet resentment. Instead of hurling insults over a holiday dinner, there might be passive aggressive side comments. Instead of codependence, there might be emotional disconnection.

There are no perfect families, just as there are no perfect couples. And once you’re married, it can get even more complicated, You might find yourself wishing, “Man, I wish my family was more fun like my husband’s,” or “I wish my family was more laidback like my wife’s.”  Perhaps you’re in a situation where you don’t get along with your in-laws, which can put a strain on your marriage. Or maybe you’re both disconnected from your families or certain family members. None of this is uncommon.

The upcoming holiday season, along with the crazy circumstances of this whole year, might have you feeling the weight and strain of family issues more acutely. It can be uncomfortable and stressful, and it can stir up things within yourself that don’t feel great either. This is normal, and it’s okay.

Relationships, whether with your spouse or your family, are ever-evolving. Events will happen that throw things out of balance. For better or for worse, things will settle down. Let’s give ourselves, our families, and our imperfect relationships some grace.

3 thoughts to “Crazy Families”

  1. A good way to look at it. Usually its mum who tries to get everything running smoothly and gets upset if things go pear shaped. Best to do all you can to prepare well and after that be philosophical about it all. Let the family get on with it and try not to stress as we know, worse things can happen !

  2. Let’s be careful labeling a person or family as “crazy” as that label implies irrational, disoriented, not grounded in reality, and it tends to encourage distance and judgement. Families are the one arena where individuals seek validation, support, recognition, and acceptance from each other. Some family members are more adapt and efficient and have better skills at making these type of connections than do others. Just like family traditions are strong, so are some patterns of behavior that create various degrees of function and dysfunction within families. While no guarantee that things will settle down if left to run their own course, the application of grace through compassionate and empathic understanding of what motivates the behavior (for validation, support, recognition, and acceptance) can be powerful in minimizing conflict, facilitating change, and strengthening positive bonds..

  3. Well said, Les. Labeling is so easy. Unhooking labels is very much like interacting with high quality velcro….

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