My Husband Puts His Family Before Me. What Do I Do?

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Feeling second best in a relationship can be difficult to cope with, so what is the best thing to do if you feel your husband puts his family before you?

Your Family is My Family – Or Is It?

When it comes to marriage, there are many aspects where compromise is required to sustain a long and loving relationship. However, being married is not just a relationship between two people, but a meeting of two families.

For this reason, the dynamics within families go through a shift when a marriage takes place. Such a shift may effect the the couple collectively; the parents of either husband or wife and/or any other combination among the various relationships.

Marrying into a family ultimately requires negotiation of the relationship with the in-laws and your spouse’s brothers or sisters. This is obvious, however often we overlook the fact that such negotiation also takes place between parents and their offspring.

Possible reasons why he puts his family before you

Of course, each case will have its own ins and outs, but generally there may be reasons for why your husband is overcompensating in relation to his family.

Often, such feelings result from the natural shift in family dynamics that takes place around any marriage.

These may include:

1.) He feels guilty for not spending time with his family

Not spending as much time with his family may induce feelings of guilt in your husband. This may prompt him to pay extra attention to his family and could be misunderstood as putting them first.

2.) He feels disconnected from his family

If your husband enjoys a close relationship with his family he may feel a bit separated from his family, now that he has his ‘own’.

This may lead him to feel the need to exaggerate how important they are to him in order to maintain closeness.

3.) He feels a need to show his family that they are still important to him

This may be an odd one to consider, but your husband could be thinking that you know he loves you and cares for you and that’s why you are married.

To him, it may seem obvious that he needs to show extra attention to his family, letting them know that they are still important to him, even though you are now his ‘most important person’.

4.) He falls back into old thinking patterns when he is with his family

All families have certain patterns in behaviour and to some extent roles assigned to each member.

It may be that when your husband is around his family, he slots into these natural patterns, which may leave no obvious space for you.

He may be joking with them, backing them up or supporting them more than you. This does not necessarily mean that they come first, but may be a show of loyalty.

5.) He wants to keep the peace

You may notice that your husband agrees with you on most issues, only to back out when they are spoken about with his family and you. This is especially common if you and him share different political, social or religious views to his family.

In such a scenario, your husband may revert to his family views in order to keep the peace, which may leave you feeling singled out.

What can you do to tackle this issue?

If you feel your husband is putting his family before you, the first thing to do is to speak to him honestly about your feelings. Try to remain calm and approachable and be understanding of his feelings too; he may be finding it difficult to show his loyalty to his family and you.

The worst thing you could do is make him feel as if you are against his family which would only make matters worse. Remember that they are your family too, you may need to negotiate your relationship with them more and this may take some time.

Be amicable in your tone; saying that you understand he loves his family and that you know he loves you too is a good start. Suggest ways in which he could help you feel more appreciated and be clear as to what he can do to show you that you are just as important to him. Leave blame out of it and concentrate on how best to deal with the issue together.

It can be difficult to balance our loyalty to all those we love, so consider how you would feel in his position.

Finally, if your husband is adamant that his family does come first, you may need to have a talk about why he differentiates the meaning of family when it comes to you two, and his parents. This is a complex issue that requires tact and understanding, but non the less, one that you should be able to deal with together.