As a Relationship Coach, I’ve encountered numerous cases where two individuals marry based solely on mutual attraction, neglecting their families’ backgrounds and cultures. Whether in the East or West, this scenario is common. These individuals fail to recognize that marriage is not just a union of two people, but also of two families. It’s crucial for them to understand each other’s value systems and establish a strong understanding between themselves.

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Most individuals at this important juncture in life, ready for marriage, need to grasp the gospel truth: marrying a person means marrying into their family. Not knowing what to expect can unsettle you. This chapter will raise awareness of potential points of conflict. Discussing these with your partner can foster unity. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, as experiences vary, and navigating these issues requires personal discourse.

Common Issues that may Crop Up:

1. Family Traditions:

Regardless of the commonalities you share with your partner’s family, there is always scope for conflict because traditions are unique to each family. Your opinion on these traditions and how they should be addressed is, therefore, an important conversation to have. Cultural and family traditions should be discussed beforehand, and a compromise should be reached if feasible.

For example, if the family you are marrying into has a tradition of taking a summer trip every year with the entire family, you must air your concerns, if any, with your partner beforehand. Individuals are encouraged to discuss such matters, however trivial they may seem, with their partners to gauge their reactions and understand their level of involvement.


Every family has its way of doing things, and individuals entering the family are automatically expected to comply. While this may not be inherently negative, unawareness of such expectations can catch you off guard.

For example, if the ladies of the house are expected to eat after the men in the family, your partner should inform you upfront. This allows you to decide whether you find such expectations unfair or acceptable. If you believe it’s unfair, discuss it with your partner, who can then convey your thoughts to their family. Finding yourself uncomfortable at the dinner table due to such expectations, of which you were unaware, can be embarrassing and frustrating.

Always encourage your partner to disclose such expectations to you. When they do, see it as an opportunity to reach a compromise, rather than sparking a dispute.

2. Religious Practices and Beliefs:

Religious practices and beliefs are ways to stay connected with your faith. How you view these practices and beliefs is your prerogative. You should never feel coerced to do something you don’t believe in. However, if it’s a simple matter of maintaining your in-laws’ pride, you should have no problem complying.

For example, in Hindu tradition, wearing a ‘mangal sutra’ is considered sacred. If you don’t particularly feel a certain way about it but your husband’s family does, you can incorporate wearing it.

Ways to Reach a Common Ground:

As mentioned earlier, conflicts with extended family are common and bound to happen, but how well you are prepared to resolve these conflicts will help alleviate the stress and arrive at a compromise.

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1. Keep an open mind:

 In marriages, couples often enter with preconceived notions about family members: mothers-in-law are unreasonable and authoritative, sisters-in-law are jealous and conniving, etc. These stereotypes shouldn’t cloud your judgment. Your impressions are unique to your experiences. Walking into a relationship assuming stereotypes hinders independent thinking.

Keep an open mind and extend the same courtesy to your partner’s family members as you would expect from them.

2. Listen actively:

Switch from selective listening to active listening. Remember, the goal is not to judge but to understand. In conflicts, pay attention to the source of frustration. Is it a personal belief or a long family tradition? Understanding the conflict’s source provides clarity for your course of action and helps you avoid words spoken in the heat of the moment.

Understanding how they show and receive love is crucial, not everyone expresses love the same way. Speaking to them in their love language can resolve many conflicts before they escalate.

3. Give and take:

Relationships crumble when they’re one-sided. Respect is maintained when given and taken equally. To ensure this, use the above two tips to create an atmosphere where you listen and are listened to fairly. You can always set expectations and boundaries by respectfully vocalizing them. Never lose sight of the fact that you have to work together to maintain harmony in the relationships resulting from your marriage.

Preeti Khare is an executive leadership and relationship coach, keynote speaker, mentor, and corporate trainer.

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