Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finding Middle Ground

You would think that two people raised in the same country, similar family set-ups, the same values and religion, would not have to adjust or compromise too much when they got married. You're both on pretty much the same page and just need to make sure to turn the pages at the same time, right?

Um, wrong.

I was surprised at all the things I thought "all families did this way" which, apparently, they don't. So after 13 years of adjusting and compromising, my husband and I have created a functioning (most of the time) family that is neither a recreation of his family or mine, but a freakish, mutation of the two with a thing or two that is all our own. Here is a list of the issues we came to the marriage differing on and what we've morphed them into.

His Family:
My husband's family is big with believing in Santa. His parents played it up alot and all his siblings believed for a long time. They have a specific traditional Christmas Eve dinner by candlelight then open all their gifts before they go to sleep. Christmas morning is dedicated to reading the Christmas story from the Bible in unison.

Her Family:
Neither me nor my siblings ever remembers a time when we believed in Santa. Our tradition was that we chose names and in secret, filled each others stockings. We opened all our gifts Christmas morning and the Bible story, got stuck in there somewhere along the way.

Our Family:
I just can't do Santa with my kids. My husband thinks I'm a huge party pooper, but I can't bring myself to lie to my children. I seriously can't. We open our gifts Christmas morning (unless we're with his family) and focus on the Bible story Christmas Eve.

His Family:
My husband's family is quiet, polite, and helpful. They all work hard, only say nice things to each other, and only fart in private. His parents were pretty strict growing up and didn't hesitate to "cut a switch off the ol' willow tree".

Her Family:
An aunt described us as "wild and undisciplined" and a good family friend predicted that many of us would end up in jail. We were loud, mean, and farted at will. Although chaos seemed to reign in the house, my parents were always calm, never raised their voices, and I can only think of two incidents when someone got spanked (not me).

Our Family:
If I had a willow tree, it would be bare by now. While our children tend to be wild, we try (mostly unsuccessfully) to keep a lid on it. My mother was always cool as a cucumber. I regularly freak out.

His Family:
My husband's family is not just an on-time family, they are early. They plan things in advance and execute in an organized, orderly manner.

Her Family:
We were always late - to school, church, the airport, whatever. Our attempts at planning, coordinating, and orderly execution would typically end in joyful chaos.

Our Family:
My children have been tardy to school exactly 2 times in the 5 five years I've had school kids. We get to church early and have never even come close to missing a plane. Still, we generate a lot of chaos in everything we do.

His Family:
My husband and his siblings all went to good ol' US public schools. They rode the bus and bought school lunch.

Her Family:
All my sibs and I spent at least a few years of private school and/or were driven out of district to school. My mom always made our lunches and I only rode a bus for two of my thriteen years in school.

side note: All of my sibs and my husband's sibs graduated from the same university.

Our Family:
Our kids currently attend private school and before that went to charter schools. They've never ridden a bus to school and only occasionally buy school lunch.

His Family:
Only cars made in the US of A

Her Family:
Only cars made outside the US of A

Our Family:
We have a Camry and an Odyssey. Nuff said.


Mama Mia said...

You guys are doing a great job of combining these two lifestyles...what a task! At least you have the same religon right? :)

Tim said...

I had a good laugh Ray. Most of your descriptions of our family growing up were accurate. I remember the only time we were early for church was when we forgot to set our clocks back at daylight savings. And we were only 30 minutes early.

Seriously, are we the only family that considers farting part of family entertainment? Joleene's family doesn't fart either.

One huge difference in the way Jo and I were raised which still is a big sore spot -- gifting. Joleene's family thinks gifting is the 11th commandment and the more expensive the gift, the more holy the giver. For us growing up, we didn't expect much. We'd bend paper clips into animal shapes and wrap them up. Unfortunately, Jo's traditions are winning in our household, which drives me nuts....

The Duckworth Family said...

Ditto about Santa. The only reason I even let my kids on about Santa is so that they don't depress the next kid sitting next to them in Primary or School by announcing that there is no such thing. Santa and the Easter Bunny, stories that i have left up to their imagination and everybody elses, but I will not go out of my way to tell my kids a lie. So for now, Santa and the Easter Bunny are exciting times, not necessarily people and they don't quite comprehend what they are for....and I really don't care!

Just don't tell my Mother in Law I said that!