This is the summer of family reunions, according to this StudyFinds article. About one in three people haven’t seen their extended family in 4 years! A global pandemic may have something to do with that, but even without worldwide travel restrictions the numbers are almost the same. More than half of the people in this poll said they were heading out to attend a family or friend reunion this summer. What about you?
This summer alone my wife and I have been to family gatherings of many different shapes and sizes. Dinner with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Reunions with great-this-that-and-the-other. And most recently, a 40th wedding anniversary weekend with a house full of my wife’s clan.
If you are one of the many attending (or planning*) a family reunion this summer, here are some things to think about before you and your partner go.
Family gatherings are a great way to learn more about your partner. Think about it — who else besides your in-laws are going to tell you the most embarrassing stories about your partner? Seeing your partner surrounded by their own family can even be helpful in understanding how they communicate and deal with conflict.
Family gatherings also are a great way to show support for your partner. Whether you are the outsider or the one whose family you’re around, here are some key ways you can uplift your partner:
If it’s your family that you are spending time with try these:
Connect your partner with family members who have similar interests
Share stories that make you feel proud of your partner and show off the way that they love you.
Let them have space when they need to, and protect that for them. Remember that while they are a part of your family now, it may not be as energising for them as it is for you.
Give your partner opportunities to shine. Let them cook for the family if they love to cook. Encourage them to share games that they loved playing as a kid with everyone, etc.
If you are the outsider coming into your partner’s family try these things:
Be aware if being around family is difficult for your partner. Support, defend, and encourage them as needed.
Take time to get to know each of your new family members. Who knows who you might hit it off with! That random second cousin could love the same book series as you do.
Share stories that make you feel proud of your partner. Their family may not know all of the wonderful things they’ve done to make you feel special.
Put in the effort to spend time with the group. It’s absolutely worth creating good memories even if it’s hard.
Time spent with extended family can be tricky in a relationship. They aren’t your every day, but they are an important part of your life. We’ve all heard it said that when you marry someone, you marry their entire family — but even if you are in a committed relationship and not married, it can feel the same way.
Having an extended family is something to feel grateful for, and we hope that you get to see them all very soon! Remember that everybody’s family is unique, but they are a part of what has made your partner so great.
Toucan Together is a free app for couples. The Communication Module will help you talk more openly about your feelings with your partner, the good, the bad and the ugly! There are also great bonus videos for new parents to give you support and encouragement. GET STARTED | LOG IN