When His Family Is Too Tight-Knit

September 20, 2018  |  
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Whether you come from a well-adjusted family or a toxic one, nobody is quite ready for the experience of marrying into a very tight-knit family. If you’re not used to having family members in all of your business, it can be rather jarring. Marrying into a family that is very close has its perks too, of course—like, they’ll always have your back and you’ll never feel alone again. But, I repeat: you will never feel alone again. One of my best friends is in a situation like this and, I can’t help but find her stories so entertaining. Of course, to her, it’s not just a funny story—it’s her reality. I’m from one of those families who respectfully keep their distance. They’re there if you ask them to be, but not if you don’t. If that’s what you’re used to, and you’re marrying someone with a very close family, get ready: here is what it’s like when his family is very tight-knit.


You must use their pediatrician

If you have children, you must use the family pediatrician. If you don’t then, well, clearly you just want your children to suffer—that’s what will come through in the not-so-subtle hints from his family. If your child ever gets the cold, just once, it’s because you didn’t use their pediatrician.


You must use their electrician/contractor/plumber

You really just have to use their…everything. If you need a toilet, a roof, a pet, a sink, a car, or a person fixed, you’ll face a lot of judgment if you don’t use the family’s go-to professional. If you don’t use their plumber, they’ll always make little comments about how your toilet doesn’t work quite right.


No holiday is your own

If you should be so bold as to suggest that perhaps you and your partner go on a cruise during Thanksgiving, you’re accused of hating the family, of hating tradition, and of essentially insulting everyone.


No birthday is your own

Think you’ll get a peaceful dinner with you and your partner for your birthday? Think again. The family is planning a bash for you that you didn’t ask for, and you better not decide to go to the spa on your own that day—cancel that massage, or you’ll destroy the family relationship.


Unsolicited relationship advice

Whatever is going on in your marriage, his whole family knows about it. At best, they will attempt to be subtle in giving you advice (they won’t succeed at being subtle) and at worst they’ll make an appointment for you, at a couples counselor.


Unsolicited financial advice

You may even receive phone calls from their financial advisor—phone calls you didn’t ask for nor did you know were coming—because the family wants input on how you handle your money.


Inappropriate career asks

In tight-knit families, family loyalty comes before career. That means, you’ll be expected to help this or that relative get a job that he is not suited for, or introduce one person to a professional contact they have no business meeting.


A second social life

The women of the family will invite you to have lunch, go to the movies, go shopping, go to the beach, go get pedicures, or go to the dog park…a lot. Even when you say no two-thirds of the time, you’ll still be seeing them more than you see your own friends.


If he’s sick, your home is taken over

You will not be alone in taking care of your sick partner—for better or for worse. His mom or sibling may move into your guest room, uninvited, and bring a whole basket of old family holistic medicines and cures.


So many phone calls

Tight-knit families talk on the phone every day. If your partner has even two siblings then, between the parents and them, that’s four at least twenty-minute phone calls a day. That’s eighty minutes of phone calls. He barely has eighty minutes to have a leisurely dinner with you.


Your home, the hotel

You will often be told—not asked, but told—that this or that relative will be staying with you. For, like, a while. That’s what they do in that family. They take each other in. You never had the option to say no so, there really was no point in anyone asking you.


You’ll do hotel pickups & house painting

You’ll be looped into all sorts of chores like taking someone to the airport, helping someone paint a nursery, and walking someone’s dog. Something like this will be on your calendar a few times a week.


They send you articles (homework)

You’ll often open your email to find articles his family has sent you—articles on parenting, on some rare virus you have a 0.003 percent chance of catching, on the housing market, on how to succeed in your industry…The family is always thinking of you. Always.


The ongoing email thread

Speaking of email, there is an ongoing thread between all of the family. You will eventually give up on keeping up with it because, someone emails it every twenty minutes. Before seeing the family, you just ask your partner for the recent highlights of the thread.


The ongoing text thread

They’ll find their way into your phone, too. It will always be dinging with all sorts of things from funny memes to photos of babies to questions about who is taking this person to his doctor’s appointment.

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