While dating or engaged, it is exciting to look ahead to your future family. It is also important, however, to look at your families of origin, or the family you grew up in. Our experiences from our childhood, our relationships with parents and siblings, our cultural heritage and traditions, and our family practices all greatly influence our expectations and attitudes toward our future family. There are going to be aspects of our family of origin that we would like to replicate in our future family, and other aspect which we would like to change. That is perfectly normal and expected.
It is important to remember that you and your significant other might have had very different experiences with your family while growing up, and even now, and you may have different expectations for your future family together. This is not only an opportunity to make decisions in regards to your future family, but also a great time to learn more about your significant other!
Questions for Discussion:
- What aspects of your parents’ relationship do you admire? What aspects do you hope not to imitate? Note: For couples with experience of divorce in one or both families of origin, you may want to read the Must Have Conversations: Commitment page to explore potential effects of your parents’ divorce on your future marriage.
- How did your family communicate? How did you resolve conflicts? How did you make decisions? Are there communication patterns that you hope either to follow or to change in your own family?
- What was your family of origin’s approach to money and finances?
- What are some family traditions that you value and hope to bring into your future family? Have you discussed initial ideas about how, and with whom, you will celebrate holiday times such as Thanksgiving and Christmas?
- Did your family spend time together? What pastimes or recreational activities did they enjoy? Are these experiences you hope to have in your family one day?
- What role did faith play in your family life?
- What role did technology and media play in your family?
- Do you have any concerns about becoming a member of your significant other’s family when you marry? Have you discussed appropriate boundaries to have with your future in-laws, for example communication pathways, what to do if a conflict arises, and how to decide when and how often to visit each other’s family?
Further Reading from For Your Marriage: