Marrying into an Enmeshed Family and How to Deal With It?

Marriage is more than just the champagne and wedding bells, marriage is a step forward in your life where you have to commit to the constant effort.

No matter the degree of affection you might share with your significant other before marriage, it never gets easier to have someone involved in every minor to major detail of your life.

Someone said it right you know, Marriage is like co making harmonies, you might both be playing different instruments, but if it’s from the same song, you will sync.

But what if there are more than just a few instruments playing in the background? or worse more than one song to play from. You guessed it right! we’re hinting at the daunting idea of marrying into an enmeshed family.

They say good fences make good neighbors and perhaps good boundaries make for good families.

Respecting boundaries is a must for any kind of relationship, and marrying into an enmeshed family is definitely a tough task to pull off.

But sometimes, you just got to look at things with a different perspective, maybe he enmeshed family is a complete set-off but when you actually need someone to be there for you to let’s say babysit your kids while you’re off working you won’t have to look for a nanny.

Or maybe the enmeshed family will serve well to resolve a serious issue between you and your significant other (take a look at our advice for healing a broken relationship).

Families are never easy to deal with, but with all good things there comes a catch!

And if you’re having a hard time looking at the positive aspects of marrying into an enmeshed family and dealing with it, we got you.

Let’s run by a few basics first.

What does an Enmeshed Family look like?

Dealing with an enmeshed family

There must be chances that you are living in a family, having problems but you are unable to identify or categorize them.

Without knowing what exact problem is going on here, how would you propose some solutions?

So before moving ahead, let us know whether your problems fall under the problems arisen from enmeshed families’ patterns or not?

For that purpose, you will have to get an understanding of what does an enmeshed family looks like?

What are the characteristic factors that make a family enmeshed?

So let us have a look at some of the salient features.

  • A family’s collective value is more important than individual values or interests.
  • No personal space or boundaries exist between members of the family.
  • You don’t make your own decisions, what is best for you, what would you choose as a career, what kind of friends you would make and the rest of the things are decided by the elders of your family.
  • While making decisions for you, your interests are not taken into consideration. Instead, what would make the parents happy takes priority.
  • You are forced to be a part of family events, visits, or traditions whether you like them or not.
  • If something bad happens in someone’s life, you are considered an equal part of that suffering. No matter if it was related to you or not.
  • If you do not want to attend most of the events or gatherings, you are made to feel as if you are criminal or guilty of making your parents feel bad or ashamed.
  • Even if you insist on pursuing your own interests instead of your parents, you are made to feel guilty.
  • Your parents think of you as their property instead of just a child.
  • Parents make you feel that you owe them a lot and whatever you do, that will not be fulfilled.
  • Everyone in the family has a much-interconnected life with a lot of sharing.
  • Everyone thinks that the other person owes him their time and they should listen to the emotional stories or whatever he/she is passing through.
  • Family members have a lot of expectations from one another. Especially the expectations of parents; they think even if you stake your lifelong plans or interests just for the sake of their happiness, that would be justified.
  • You are not encouraged to live independently.
  • You do not learn to be assertive in case you want to take your back off from the family’s set standards.
  • You are labeled as disloyal if you choose your path different from your family members.

This long list of enmeshment is much important as it can be eye-opening for most of the people. There are certainly a lot of people out there who are facing some problems with their families. But at the same time, they see no problems in the ways their families are running. So if you are the same kind of person, you need to give it a second thought. It might change your life for real.

How does a family become enmeshed?

Enmeshment of a family is a resultant of a series of unnoticed or un-checked behavioral patterns among members of the family, eventually, it becomes part of a family custom as family members get more and more involved with each other.

Without knowing the root cause, you can never reach there.

And without reaching there, you cannot resolve this.

So here are some causes discussed.

Collectivist culture:

Most of the Asian families are a part of the culture that believes in interconnectivity. Thus this idea is translated into the family patterns and affects them to a great deal. Collective values and traditions become very important and they take a toll over individual values or interests. In such families, once a child is born his life goals, career, hobbies, and everything are almost decided during childhood. You can say that parents don’t want a daughter, they wish for a doctor’s daughter. Thus parents think it quite justified that their children are born to satisfy their self-esteem and validate their position in society.

Thus, such families become enmeshed as a result of the culture. And if you are really suffering from it, know that your culture can have some problems.

Role of elders:

Elders in such families take very specific roles and consider it their duty to keep families under the same roof, connected deeply to each other. They are mostly very authoritarian kinds of parents or grandparents who want their kids to be together and want them to follow the traditional family set up. If not authoritarian, they are very emotional. And if their family members do not do what they want, they blackmail them emotionally (often without knowing that this is blackmailing) and get the purpose done.

Result of some Trauma:

Often parents become overprotective towards their children after following some serious problems. These problems can be some accidents that happened to them or their children, children passing through some serious mental trauma or some severe health issue.

Afraid of the consequences of any such incident, they want to protect their children for the whole of their lives.

They do what they think is best for their children, thus giving less importance to the child’s own choices. Moreover, they want their child to discuss all the details of their routines or lives with them without considering the need for privacy.

The viable solutions are those which act according to the respective problems.

Closely Knitted Vs. Enmeshed Family

It is true that very closely knitted families are enmeshed, families. But there is a very fine line between a close healthy relationship and unhealthy enmeshed relationships.

That difference must be maintained so that you may not confuse your enmeshed family as just another close family or may not destroy a healthy family considering it an enmeshed family.

Close family relationships have proven to be very important in the overall mental health of members. Researchers have proven that close healthy relationships contribute towards a longer life span of the family members.

Moreover, those who are prone to get some mental health problems are very likely to benefit from such families. There comes a time in one’s life when they need some shoulder to rest their head upon, to feel that someone is there for them, that they matter for someone.

Being human, these emotions are everyone’s experiences in their lives. In such situations, a feeling of belongingness matters a great deal to them.

This is what a closely knitted family provides. Such a family knows when to give someone personal space or when to leave someone alone. In addition, they give personal choices due importance.

On the other hand, a toxic family gives no individual freedom and considers it a due responsibility of everyone to do what is expected of them. When there’s a time to give a person some time for themselves, they keep on interfering with their matters.

There is an easy test. If your family gives you all the financial and emotional support when and where you need, it is a plus point. But, if your family demands to surrender your own pursuits as an exchange for the support that they provide, here’s where the problem lies.

Let us take an example; your parents must be financing you for your studies and after your basic education when the time comes to select a field as your career, you want to go for fine arts. On the contrary, your parents want you to study medicine. This is what you will very likely be hearing, “we have brought you up, spent in your studies so that one day you become a doctor and this is what it has resulted in! Such a disappointment you are.”

This is the signature point when you know what family you are living in.

How can enmeshment affect you?

Marrying into an enmeshed family can be hard to deal with. There is always some heavy price that you pay for it. That price can be your whole life.

This means that you may end up spending your life that you never actually dreamed of.

That regret is great and you should know to prevent it beforehand.

There are some ways an enmeshed family may affect your life.

YOU…

  • Are not allowed to make any decisions for yourself.
  • You do not develop a sense of independence.
  • Do not learn how to live a happy life if you do not have someone to support or live with you.
  • Do not have all the rights in your life. Instead, other people have more rights in your life.
  • Do not get a proper social validation if you start living according to your own set standards.
  • Morality is drawn by the submission that you give to your parents. If you do not do so, you are not considered a morally good person.
  • Are loved only conditionally. That means your parents show love for you, praise you and accept you only if you are taking good grades or fulfilling the long list of expectations for you.
  • Are not made competent to deal with society’s challenges alone.

and

  •         Your identity is just preserved in case you conform to your family, otherwise, you are not considered valuable enough to have an identity.

What kind of Personality do you develop into as a Result of Enmeshment?

Do you think it is safe to have all the above effects on your family? Do you think those are timely effects? Well, if you consider that the answers are ‘yes’, then you are seriously mistaken.

As an adult, what marks does such kind of environment leave on you?

That is what you get to know most importantly.

Reading the following, you will know how does it affect your personality?

YOU…

  • Feel overburdened with the emotions as you consider yourself responsible to treat everyone around you.
  • Feel vulnerable when there’s no one around you.
  • Feel inadequate to deal with your problems and need someone every moment.
  • Do not develop an individual sense of identity.
  • Lack a lot of space while dealing with the problems of your life.
  • Develop into a low confident person who lacks self-esteem.
  • May not be efficient enough to get to some successful positions in your life.
  • May facade inadequacies that lead to some psychological problems like anxiety, depression, etc.
  • Feel guilty of not fulfilling some undue expectations and that may lead to serious feelings of guilt and undue burdens.
  • Do not get a clear sense of self even in your adulthood as you have never found time to discover yourself.

These problems occur when you are born into an enmeshed family. Your primary brought up defines the way your personality patterns are going to work.

It is a blessing that your family is not following the same lead. But still, what if you get into any such relationship? And above all, what if you are married into such a family? Worries not! Let us look into this issue first.

What does marrying into an enmeshed family look like?

The problems that are the consequence of an enmeshed family are grave.

They are graver when you are not habitual of dealing with such a family but you still get married to it.

It is important that at such a stage that you, instead of becoming a victim of such a family, deal with it and get over it.

Because it is a mess and from attending unwanted family events to getting approval of each event that you want to attend, you will have to face it all.

How to deal with an Enmeshed Family?

There are multiple ways that you come to know yourself and ways to live according to yourself.

Some are discussed here.

Know Yourself

Before realizing others what way you want to lead your life, it is necessary that you know yourself first. Realize what type of personality you have and what interests you really want to pursue in your life. For that purpose

  • Give time to think about yourself
  • Do introspection
  • Take personality tests (available on Google)
  • Try different things
  • If you feel that you are not made for a particular thing, try something different
  • Explore different hobbies and careers and read about them
  • Shortlist your areas of interest and then keep on further shortlisting

Doing the above steps, you will learn which direction you want yourself to travel and what will be your final destination after doing that. Most of the people do not realize their passions even at an adult age. But that is a lacking point. Thus take necessary steps at whatever stage you are.

Be assertive and Set your Boundaries

If you want to lead a life that does not have a share of everyone in it, you need to set some boundaries.

This means that you must know where your personal life starts. And others should not be allowed to enter that personal space of yours. For example, you must make it clear that you will not lead your life on the basis of some standards set by others.

Assertiveness is important if you want to implement those boundaries in real life. You must learn to reject some apparently kind advice and sugar-coated expectations.

That sense of saying no is important. So that when someone makes advances to interfere in your life, you make them clear that they are not welcome.

Tell parents about what kind of life you want

Parents who have long expectations from you and want you to be just the way they want are not easy to deal with.

You must have strong and solid arguments to tell them and realize them that you can be successful in the kind of life that you want to choose for yourself.

For that purpose, talk to some person who has a more important standing in your family. Seek their help if it is possible.

Otherwise, try to convince their family members to value their choices. You must be prepared with strong persuasive points to talk to them.

Seek professional help

It is quite possible that you are not able to achieve the goal by working just by yourself.

You should go for some professional help for that purpose. Professional help can be gotten from some counselors which you can search for.

For getting counseling, search some online counselors and reach the one who’s most feasible for you.

No wonder that this way; you will come to know certain ways of getting over your problem that you didn’t know before.

 Value yourself

Learn to give yourself some value if you want others to value your individuality even if you are married into an enmeshed family and deal with the conjoined and restrictive environment.

Your life is precious and the time you spend is not going to come back ever again.

So definitely you cannot and must not spend it just to make someone else happy.

Get your own ways and set your own patterns to live a happy life.

Recognize the relationships which are healthy and those which are not healthy, make them better.

Keep trying for the sake of yourself, for the sake of the only life that you are gifted with.

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