- FAMILY OF ORIGIN
When one marries, he/she is marrying into the other person's family system. The task of each person upon entering marriage is to separate from one's own family of origin, while still remaining connected. Family of origin is an important starting point for each couple. To not separate is to make it impossible to create the marital union. To cut off from one's family of origin is to threaten the marital relationship with too much pressure and intensity.
Family of origin is the family into which one is born. Sometimes a person does not live in this family or lives in an adoptive family. Nevertheless, we inherit many things from our family of origin, besides the obvious ones such as racial, cultural, and even physical similarities and possibly propensities toward certain illness, etc. We now know that we "inherit" a multi-generational, emotional family process, such as whether we are very anxious, or how we handle stress. We are each shaped, in many ways, by the family we got to grow up in. No one gets perfect parents. We get the ones we get. It is our task to love them for who they were and who they were not. From our family of origin we may have received either too much or too little regarding limits, supports, stories, protection and nurturance. The resulting combination of what we did or did not receive in these areas play out in our unique development. In marriage we have the opportunity to heal those childhood hurts or areas of unfinished business. In order for this kind of healing and growth to occur there is a need for a mature level of understanding and ability so that the couple can form a safe and nonjudgmental communication system within the marriage relationship. The family of origin section is the start of addressing the various differences within each person's background.
It is important for both parties to go into marriage with an understanding of their own family background, as well as insight regarding their perspective marriage partner's family of origin.
Additional Questions to assist the conversation:
- How does my family feel about you? How does your family feel about me? How do our families feel about the marriage?
- Where are the areas within my family of origin or yours that we must address?
- How will we handle family gatherings and family holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter?
- How will we handle tensions that come up in each of our families?
- What have we tried that worked? Didnít work?
- How can we possibly be pro-active regarding identified family of origin hot spots?
- Do we have a strategy for dealing with interference from family around our child rearing?