Maneuvering the Intricacies of Family Dynamics

Nov 11 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew

I could not help but marvel at how swiftly the week had slipped by. The rapid passage of time struck as I leisurely savoured my macchiato in a cosy café last week.

My reverie was abruptly interrupted when I spotted a familiar face. Indeed, it was my dear friend whose paths had diverged for years strolling past. Without giving it much thought, I blurted out her name and she entered the café settling into the seat beside me in a blink of an eye.

While we were catching up on lost time, I noticed a wedding ring adorning her finger, and could not resist expressing my heartfelt congratulations which was acknowledged with a radiant smile on her face.

It took us no time to delve into a lively conversation, eagerly exchanging updates about our lives. She inquired about my family and I reciprocated by asking about hers.

This was the moment of truth. A sigh escaped her lips as she confessed her growing disillusionment with her marriage, citing the strained dynamics with her husband's family as the primary cause. The issue was compounded by interference of the inlaws extending to the entire family.

With a hint of exasperation, she revealed her husband's tendency to share private conversations and confidences with his family members, who would promptly inform her of these disclosures during their visits. She confided in me a personal revelation that further highlighted the delicate boundaries that should exist between spouses and their in-laws.

Apparently, a deeply personal memory from her childhood she shared with her husband was casually brought up when his brother visited a week later. She was vulnerable, and completely entrusted her sole confidant with the intimate detail, believing it to be a sacred safekeeping within their marriage.

To her utter dismay, he was directly inquiring about the very incident without a hint of compassion. His brother, unaware of the emotional significance of the revelation, continued to elaborate on his own experiences. This insensitive comparison only compounded her hurt, and she found herself retreating to the solitude of her bedroom, tears streaming down her face.

It was heartbreaking to hear. While marrying someone inevitably means embracing their family, it does not imply that every aspect of marriage should be public knowledge.

A spouse must serve as an impenetrable shield, deflecting any attempts to undermine the self-esteem or sense of worth of the other. Even during disagreements, the first rule should be open communication between the couple and constructive suggestions to address the issue.

To make matters worse, my friend's emotions and concerns about privacy were dismissed in what she described as a half-hearted apology. Meanwhile, she was regarded as being "overly sensitive", a phrase used when a mature conversation is not on the table.

The blatant disregard for their privacy left her speechless at the time. But a wave of betrayal washed over her while he seemingly oblivious to her distress, brushed it off with a response that indicated that he kept nothing from his brother. Sadly, this was only one of a series of incidents where the husband had chosen his family over her despite repeated disrespect and altercations.

No one should endure such emotional turmoil in the name of marriage.

Marriage is a sacred covenant, a union of two individuals who pledge to unconditionally love, honour, and cherish one another. This commitment extends beyond the couple to their families.

In my opinion, a spouse has a fundamental obligation to safeguard the emotional and psychological well-being of the other. This includes shielding from hurtful comments, demeaning remarks and any form of disrespect or criticism from family members.

Marriage comes first where unwavering support and respect are pledged. A firm boundary needs to be established where it is abundantly clear that a spouse's happiness and well-being are paramount and any attempts to jeopardise them will not be tolerated.

Proactively addressing any brewing tensions between a spouse and own family does not suggest resentment or hostility. On the contrary, it acts as a bridge to prevent disagreements from escalating.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 11,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1228]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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