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Too close?
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rohvannyn posted:
I need some opinions here.

My parents and I have always been close. I am an only child and was home schooled. I left home at the usual time (18) and went off to college, didn't come back and live with my parents again or anything like that. I got jobs and though they sometimes helped me financially I was never dependent on them. I currently call them every few weeks, and they like to fly me up to see them once a year. I am 34. We are friends still, because my dad is an author, my mom a poet, and we all share common interests. They are still married. I email them a few times a week if interesting things come up. I used to call them once a week like clockwork but don't anymore.

My spouse has expressed that this is not normal, that I am too emotionally dependent on them. She is used to people only seeing their parents every five to ten years, and maybe calling every few months, if at all. She says she doesn't mind me being friends with them but that I need to put her first in all things. I agree with that part, I chose to be with her, after all.

Currently I only have three "real world" friends that I can count on to call and talk to any time. My spouse, my mom, and my dad. I've had other friends of course but they are more like aquaintances, whom I only contact when there's a need to do so. I'm wondering... is it really so abnormal what I am doing? Is it really that rare to be friends with your parents? They don't try to run my life or tell me what to do, and I don't try to run theirs. I'm not isolated because of my spouse, it's just that I don't have a lot of time for hanging out between work and other responsibilities. Of the people I would hang out with, two are out of state, two have kids, two turned out to be clinically insane, and one turned out to be a dysfunctional alcoholic so I broke things off there.
Roh

'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
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fcl responded:
OK, I come from the other end of the range My parents worked hard to give me my independence. We were never particularly close. They had issues of their own and didn't need/want mine on top of that - it made for an uncomfortable adolescence ... nobody wanted to know if anything was wrong but, hey, that's the way there were!

I worked away from home at 18 and never went back (other than the occasional vacation when I was a student). I now live at the other end of the continent. In the early days of moving away I wrote to them (calling was WAY too expensive then) at least once a week. When the cost of phone calls came down, I started calling them every other week. Since my father died I have called my mother once or twice a week - like you, when something interesting comes up. For me this is just standard keeping in touch with my family. I don't think there's anything abnormal about it. Family will always be there for you.

I actually find your spouse's way of never seeing parents and only calling if you have to to be a little strange. Why would you want to ignore the people who gave birth to you, who brought you up, who love you? I really wouldn't worry about it. To me, you're absolutely normal! It's not because they're your parents that you should treat them as if they had the plague!

Carry on the way you are doing because it clearly suits you.
There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
 
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sluggo45692 responded:
Keeping in touch with your family is a good thing. I join the Navy when I graduated High School. Even overseas I wrote or called at least weekly. My mom raised us and dad never really kept a phone (alcoholic). My brothers and I actually encircled the world at one point (Italy, South America Cruise, & Korea) and we all kept in touch with mom. 1985 she had a $300.00 phone bill. She didn't even tell us.
Remember though, everybodies different. Just because it's not normal for you, doesn't mean it's not normal for someone else. The best we can ever do in some cases is to agree to disagree. Unless it's causing a hardship, keep in touch with the folks. They'll love you either way and let your spouse know you love and depend on her too. Good Luck
 
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dfromspencer responded:
Hiya Roh,

No, I don't see your relationship with your parents as anything but HEALTHY!!! I think your spouse may not have been as lucky as you, to have such great parents? If she honestly feels as she does, then her family was not a very close knit unit? Once every 5 to 10 years??? Who does that to their parents? No one!! You should love your family with all your heart, the same as you would your spouse! There is no competition here from your parents, so your spouse should not begrudge you the closeness you have with yours. Her being this way is calling attention to her family situation. It could be she is jealous of your closeness?

It really is a shame you have not more friends than you do, but I don't either, so I won't go there. Does she not have friends? It seems to me she does not? I'm thinking her family history is clouding her thinking on friendships, and how they should be conducted? In your case, the closeness you share with your family. Your spouse is a huge part of your life, and I am sure you try to involve her in everything you do with your family? She see's how close you guys are, and inside, I think she is just a little jelous of you?

Try to ease her inner beliefs. Maybe you could try and get her more involved in her own relationship with her family? Say like, getting her to e-mail them once a month to start? Only, tell her that you are the one that wants to, and see how she reacts? With any luck, she will be as close to her parents as you are? All in good time, baby steps, cool?

Hope that helps, at least a little? Good luck!!!

Dennis
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
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Namian3 responded:
I think your relationship is perfectly normal. It is very similar to my own relationship. I don't know if you and your wife plan to have children, but if you do I'm sure their grandparents would like to see them more often than once every 5-10 years. Plus, once your parents are elderly if you don't see them more frequently you'll have no way to assess how they are doing and when you may need to intervene in their lives for their own health and safety.

Reassure her that your relationship with your parents will in no way interfere with your relationship with her and only shows how dedicated and caring you are.
 
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An_253478 responded:
I think your relationship with your parents sounds entirely healthy. Having said that, I might add that I think it would be good for you to make some friends in the city where you live, so that you would have people with whom you could talk things over. I do not mean you should ignore your wife's opinions, it is good you are 'friends' with her as well as spouses. But I honestly think having friends is important to one's mental health. There might be activities you would like to take part in that your wife has no interest in attending. There is nothing wrong with that. Married couples do not have to be joined at the hip to be in a good, strong, loving relationship. Yes, you keep up with news to your parents, but having someone at work, in a gaming group, a book discussion group, that you come to care about does not have to detract from your marriage, it can strengthen it by letting you see how compatible the two of you are when you are together. Doesn't she have any friends with whom she spends some time without you?
 
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Skibunny42 responded:
Hi Roh, Agree with Dennis 100%. Family closeness and unity is one of the most precious things in life. Sad your spouse has not got this love to share with her own family. Hopefully, one day she might realise just what she is missing. BUT DO NOT stop your communications with your family, keep up regular communications and remember spouses and friends can come into and out of our lives whereas family are there and will love us for the rest of our lives. All the best
 
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Chiquis responded:
You're an adult and seem to be relating to your parents as an adult and not a child. Having said that, they are your parents and perhaps you need to develop other peer relationships and rely less on your parents as friends. It's your choice, however, and only you can decide what's right for you. If your wife feels threatened by this, maybe she needs to stop controlling you. Seeing her parents as infrequently as she does may not be taking into account her family's desire to be closer to her. We can all continue to grow as long as we're willing to accept other points of view and change our own when they don't work.
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD responded:
I think that you've raised this issue before and that you got supportive responses. Is that right? If I am right, I'm wondering whether you just need more support (which is perfectly ok) or if there is something else you would like from us that might help.

In any case, as others have said, your description of your relationship with your parents sounds healthy. I wonder what problems your spouse believes that your relationship with your parents is causing. How is it harming you? How is it interfering with your marriage? Also, is she aware of ways in which her response is more about pushing her buttons than about there being a problem between you and your parents? If you can understand her perspective, then maybe the two of you can address the problem in a way that strengthens your marriage.

That said, it is helpful to have a strong support system. I tend to think of a support system as being a bit like a spider web. If you have many threads holding you up, any one thread can get cut and you'll still be supported. When you have very few, then each thread that's cut can be terrifying or devastating. I wish no harm on your parents, but if one or the other goes through a difficult time, they might both suffer a lot. I assume you'd want to be supportive, but that would only leave your wife to support you. This could put too much pressure on your marriage. Similarly, there might be some marital problems that you wouldn't want to share with your parents. By having a number of different relationships meeting different needs (all at differing levels of emotional closeness; some mostly fun; some sharing interests), you are likely to remain happy and feel supported through all kinds of struggles (making you more emotionally resilient).

In reviewing all the feeback on this thread, you might want to share how they affect you to think about. Perhaps an ongoing discussion can help you work through your struggle.
 
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mapex responded:
Naturally, every familial situation is different and I respect that. But if I may be so bold, I think your wife's approach is really quite cold and uncaring. She sees her parents once every five to ten years? My parents get nervous if they don't hear from me for more than two weeks. Granted, I find this more annoying than mutually beneficial, but it's the way they are. I am 54, but unfortunately live only 18 miles from them, so they also have a tendency to pop in unannounced. It's also always been understood that I can do the same at their house. My brother, 58, lives in the same community and physically sees them nearly every day.

When I lived further away, as in a thousand or so miles, if I didn't call them twice a week they went ballistic, thinking that something awful had to have happened. If my brother, who is bi-polar, falls into a low and starts to binge drink and urgently needs not to be bothered, our parents will leave messages on his machine, probably up to five in a day.

I've been in therapy because of my parents. They completely neglected me when I was growing up. My brother had nearly their full attention, when they took the time to give either of us any attention, because he forced it with his behaviors. I was the 'normal' one, the one with all the friends, the jock, etc. I also started getting drunk nearly every day by the time I was 16, and lived in an apartment that my father had built for me over the carriage barn on our property. At the time I thought this was the ultimate: money, privacy, booze, a great stereo - every material and creature comfort a teenager could ask for. It wasn't until much later that I was diagnosed with PTSD due to neglect. That still seems odd to me, but I seem odd to me, also.

Now that my parents are 82 and 83 (which they don't let me forget) and afraid for their mortality, they just won't leave me be. It is their need, but I'm just weak at setting boundaries with them, and am paying the price.

The underlying point of this diatribe, Rohvannyn, is that while I consider your wife's relationship to be bizarre, I find your relationship with your parents to be almost utopian; a great friendship where you don't judge each other, and time spent is valued through both that and a 'normal' (or it seems to me) amount of contact. A mutually beneficial relationship. Nice.
 
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rohvannyn replied to mapex's response:
Mapax, I agree with you... I think my level of contact with my parents is quite nice. I just wish it didn't cause trouble at home. Upon further examination, and after an informal poll with others, I really think my spouse is off base with what she expects. Then again, I am far too sensitive to what she says so I need to work on that too. I doubt I'll go back to visit them next year, but I probably will the year after that. I got a nasty cold which messed up the remainder of my vacation so that is affecting my judgement at the moment.
Roh

'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
 
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rohvannyn replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
I appreciate what everyone has said. It has given me some much needed perspective.

It has also made me realize how disabled my spouse actually is, and how deep her problems really are. Her family history is complicated, she has no contact with them because her father was horribly abusive and her mother neglectful and delusional. So she was basing her idea of normalcy on what her friends did with their less abusive parents.

I'm no prize myself, as I have massive problems with intimacy, and all kinds of other things, but at least I can satisfy myself that I'm not being too close to my parents, or too distant.
Roh

'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ


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