I left my hometown after highschool to attend college in another city, and shortly after finishing my sophmore year I met A.J., who later became my fiance.Â He grew up near campus as his father is a professor at our school. A.J. is very close to his family and although he no longer lives with his parents, he goes home to have friday night dinner with them every shabbat. They are not an extremely observant family, but they consider shabbat dinner with their family to be sacred. When I first met A.J. I thought it was so endearing that he spent every friday night with his parents but now that we’re engaged and planning our own life, I would like to spend friday nights just the two of us sometimes. A.J. tells me his parents will be devastated if we don’t continue to go there every week. How do I convince him that a few times a month is ok but that we need alone time too?!
Signed,Â “Too much family time”
Dear “Too much family time,”
Honoring one’s parents is a very important value. Â As a couple you must find a way to remain close to both your families while embarking on a journey just the two of you – building your own form of an immediate family. A.J. is obviously scared of hurting his family, but he needs to learn to put you and him first. Suggest to him that one friday night a month will just be the two of you. Maybe sometimes invite his family to your place for dinner to reinforce that there is a new dynamic at play. It might not be possible logistically to celebrate every shabbat and holiday with his family in the future, and if all parties involved get used to this transition now things will go smoother later. And if they resent you for this minor change to schedule, then their true colors are showing through. Unfortunately, the stereotype of controlling in-laws can be true. I have a hunch though that they will be more understanding then you or A.J. think…
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