In marriage, there should be no doubt about family loyalty.
Because when you get married, primary loyalty shifts from family of origin to the new family unit.
Your spouse becomes your immediate family, and your first loyalty.
And while your spouse will not be your only friend in life, they really should be your best friend, and your closest companion.
Loyalty is one of the things that makes marriages last.
And lack of loyalty, or divided loyalty, is something that gets a lot of couples in trouble.
Consider these ways to cultivate loyalty in your marriage.
1. Speak positively about your spouse to parents, siblings, and friends.
When complaints about your mate are routinely shared with family and friends, they may hold on to bad feelings toward your spouse for a long time. This does not cultivate oneness or promote loyalty, but rather creates divisions as people take sides.
2. Decide together about holiday plans well in advance.
Decide how much time will be spent with extended family during holiday seasons. Be willing to compromise, but when you have made a decision, own it jointly. Then lovingly communicate that plan to those involved to avoid misunderstandings or unmet expectations.
3. Avoid making social commitments without consulting your spouse first. This includes time spent with extended family.
Sometimes emergencies come up, and you have to respond to family before you have a chance to talk with your spouse. But as a general rule it is not wise to commit to dinner together with relatives or friends, or other social engagements, unless you both agree.
4. Be open to discuss and change the amount of time spent with each other’s families.
Families change and needs change. Just because one set of parents lives close by doesn’t mean you have to have dinner together every week unless you both want to. And just because other family members live far away doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to see them. Talk about it. Plan for it. Work it out together.
5. Avoid making financial commitments without first consulting your spouse.
One spouse will often take the lead in paying bills and keeping track of the budget, but decisions about family finances should include both spouses. Communicating truthfully and completely about money builds trust and loyalty in marriage.
6. Take care of each other.
This should really go without saying. But if one spouse is sick, the other should go the distance to care for them. And when one spouse is—literally or figuratively—stranded by the side of the road, the other should assist or at least offer encouragement. That could mean providing a shoulder and a safe place to decompress after the crisis has passed.
Yes there will be extenuating circumstances. But as a general rule, in marriage your spouse should be the first call when something great happens, or when you are in a jam. Even if they are not the person most available to help, they should at least know what is going on.
(Okay so maybe your first call is for roadside assistance, but you get the idea.)
Loyalty means having each other’s backs. Couples must work together to protect their family unit. That may require careful navigation of extended family issues that could drive a wedge in the marriage relationship.
Husbands and wives need to know that in good times and bad, their mate will come through for them, speak well of them, and stand beside them.
Loyalty is what those wedding vows are all about.
Marriage Dynamics institute offers courses that help couples enrich and strengthen their marriage in all ages and stages of life.