Boundaries…A journey to your happily ever after

I visited home 4 months after my wedding and made it a point to visit the people I did life with, including some of the mamas from my previous home cell. I remember one of them asked how my father in law was, and I responded “He is fine. I haven’t seen him for like 2 months but he is well.” Confused, she responded “You need to spend time with him. That’s one of your roles as a married woman, to add value into his family. Buy groceries for them every month, do stuff your husband never did so they see they have gained a gem.” I dismissively agreed.

So here is my view, each couple has their way of doing things that works for them, however, we seem to think there is a pattern couples must follow, a prototype we have hidden under the word “culture.”

Two weeks ago, this came up in a different scenario. One guy said that he prefers his wife to spend more time with his family than her spending time with her maiden family. After all, she is married, “I paid lobola and therefore, she has moved over.” He added.

As mentioned earlier, every couple is different and people do what works for them. For me, it becomes an issue when we say, culturally it is mandatory to do so. A woman married to the Zulu tribe is expected to this or that. That’s when I challenge the status quo.

B and I are blessed that we are both from families who are laid-back. My family doesn’t have expectations of what B should do for them. In the same way, my in laws don’t have expectations of what I should do for them. With that mentioned, we have boundaries that benefit us and here are some of them:

· We both chose to leave and cleave.

The bible is clear who must leave and cleave. However, it is weird how you find most guys still hanging on to their families. When Abram was called, he was called alone, not with his family. He learned the hard way when he took his nephew, Lot with him.

“A thriving marriage only works when both husband and wife leave home in numerous ways. Both adults must be prepared to leave home physically; relationally; emotionally; financially; spiritually and sometimes geographically.” Focus On The Family

B and I spoke a lot about marriage before we got married. We both chose to leave our families and start our own family. I didn’t leave to join his family and he didn’t leave to join my family. We both left to build a family that is an extension of our families. This does not mean we have nothing to do with the nuclear units we come from. What this meant for us was, we are aware of where we are from and the families we were raised in, however we have decided to build our own legacy.

This also meant discussing the families we are both from. We discussed our family patterns and took the time to look at how we were raised. All of this was for us to decide what lessons and legacy builders we are embracing from our families and what we choose to leave behind. We were clear on which legacy we are building, and it is the Zondi-Pitjeng legacy.

I married an amazing guy who knows I belonged somewhere. I didn’t get married to build other family legacies and totally forget about mine all for the name of culture.

· What we do this side, we do the same on the other side.

What we do for the Zondi family is what we do for the Pitjeng-Lebese family. Both families are treated the same. We don’t invest in one family and neglect the other. This has worked well for us. We are available when both families need us without any expectations.

I must mention that this boundary doesn’t quite work for every couple. I have a friend who adapted this boundary in her marriage and it became frustrating as her husband was a bread winner at home before they married, meaning he couldn’t just abandon the role. On the other side, she was from a family where they were well of, meaning her money was hers and there were no expectation from her family members to take care of them.

It is important to know what your in-laws expect from your spouse and decide which financial boundary to put in place that will work for the both of you.

· No in-law expectations.

None! My family has gained a son as much as B’s family has gained a daughter but no one is allowed to have expectations. When B and I were dating, there was an existing whatsapp group that B and his siblings had. We have been married almost four year and still not part of it. It has never been an issue as I didn’t expect to be part of the group after the wedding.

A funny moment though, I remember the many times B would leave me and his sister to chat, intentionally trying to get us build an unbreakable bond. That was special but I wasn’t in favour of that set up. I preferred me and his siblings to build our own special bond, in a way that will best work for us, not try have what he and his siblings have.

I have observed people who made it their mission to fix problems and build relationships in the family they married into. I think that’s too much of a burden to carry. The best that one can do is build their own relationships despite the family politics.

No expectations at family gatherings as well. If we are available, lovely. If we can’t make it, we can’t. If one of us has other commitments, the other will attend. I am not expected to cook when I visit his family home and B is not expected to bring groceries whenever we visit my maiden home. We do this out of love and the willingness to, not because we are expected to. When it comes to holidays, we alternate. However, if one year we decide to spend Christmas with a group of friends, that is also accepted.

The legacy we have chosen to build
These are some of the boundaries we live by and they work for us. It doesn’t mean because it works for us, it would work for our children. They are free to do whatever works for them in their adulthood.

Every couple should be free to do what works for them. Not what works for husband or the wife, but what works for both individuals. Once the couple has decided, it is important to be forthcoming to family and those who will judge your way of doing things.

The legacy we have chosen to build is the Zondi Pitjeng legacy. Two people’ purpose and visions coming together as one. We have chosen to build the family that began on our wedding day when we said I do to each other. We have chosen to spend time together. To have our own terms on house chores; time frames in extending the family and our own principles. Find out what boundaries work for you. It will be hard at first to live them but with time, you will get used to your journey of happily ever after.

“It is important to know what your in-laws expect from your spouse and decide which financial boundary to put in place that will work for the both of you.”

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