Sunday, February 06, 2011
Build A Strong Foundation for Marriage Network
By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
Dear Readers: As thoughts turn to romance this month, I'd like to address engaged couples, newlyweds and those who love them. What a transition in life all of you are facing as you step into marriage, the marriage of your children, or even the remarriage of a parent.
A friend tells the story of being a young bride leaving the reception hall with her new husband. As they drove away they both unexpectedly began to cry. The emotion of the day was deeply felt, leaving life as they knew it with their families and starting something that was all their own. It was happy and sad, new and real, important and authentic.
Honor that authentic emotion in yourself and in your spouse by keeping respect, kindness and courtesy at the forefront. The etiquette of what I call the "marriage network" should do the same. When you marry, your relationship expands to a network of people who have the potential to connect or to divide. An extended family that works from all sides to provide emotional support, avoid critical judgment, and connect on a heartfelt level is such an asset to all involved.
An important piece of the network is a group of in-laws who can recognize and accept the creation of a new family unit connected to, but not under the control of, their own. Developing the in-law relationship takes time, energy and planning. It is an adjustment for parents, who may feel the hurt when Christmas can't be celebrated the way it has for years on end. And it's an adjustment for the newly married, who must juggle their own desires, the desires of a new spouse and those of parents or children. When all involved can recognize that change is part of the creation of this new family and prepare to work together, the network will thrive.
With effort the marriage network can become a lifetime network and a complete familial connection. I felt the beauty of such a network when 25 nieces, nephews and their children showed up to honor a beloved aunt. The network stretched across generations and family units. Throughout a lifetime, that network capitalized on broadened traditions and inclusivity and created a strong web of support.
I'll admit that maintaining such a network is not without work and challenge. A simple birthday party may become a full-blown event-planning experience, but the rewards of those true connections are vast. Friction may raise its head at times, but with a commitment to a lifetime network built on heartfelt connections, difficulties are faced and overcome.
As you step out into a new adventure, do your part to make your network a strong one.
Dear Thelma: My daughter is about to become engaged to be married, and I have my grandmother's engagement ring that I would like to give the couple. I thought they could use the old diamonds out of it to make a ring, but I am now worried that this would be inappropriate or might encroach on the groom's role in some way. Please tell me if there is any appropriate way to volunteer this, or if we should wait for a different opportunity.
A: I would suggest that you let your daughter know about the jewelry and its availability. Then let her decide whether she is interested in it. She then has the option to present it and her wishes that it be used to her future groom. She will know best if the groom wants to surprise her with his own selection or would appreciate the sentimentality of the family connection.
Building the network and good manners never go out of style.
Have a question about etiquette? You can ask it at www.askthelma.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.