How Much Should My Family Be Involved in My Love Life?

There was a dating emergency the summer of 2011. Both my younger brother and sister were in very serious relationships; two more bridesmaid dresses were in my near future. Since my older sister and other younger brother were already married, that left one Wilson kid single: me.

My family is very pro-marriage—as in, let’s find that soul mate and get to the altar so we can add some babies pro-marriage. Miraculously, all my siblings had managed to find a mate who fit in well with our rather intense group. And, since I love our intense group very much, I wanted to bring home someone they were crazy about. My family’s opinion about my mate mattered.

I was sure everyone was wondering when I’d bring home the guy to complete the family picture. And it seemed the longer it took, the more wonderful he would have to be. I imagined him charming my mom with sparkling conversation, sharing jokes by the grill with my dad, chiming in with intelligent remarks when politics came up amongst my siblings. I would be supremely happy and proud on my wedding day, because I’d be marrying an American prince.

What I didn’t suspect was that I had already dated the guy I was going to marry.

Back up a couple years to the first time I started dating a certain adorable, unassuming young man named Kyle. I was anxious to figure out whether he had potential to be my future husband, but I just couldn’t tell. So, I looked to my family for guidance.

The first few times I brought Kyle to family events, I wanted approval. No, I wanted awe and delight. I needed to know: Were they crazy about him? Well, Kyle is cautious and considerate in new social situations, and in this case, he was a little nervous around my dad. He was definitely pleasant company, but I couldn’t tell whether he’d impressed them. I waited for their reactions. Crickets. No one offered anything more helpful than that he seemed like a nice, fun guy, which I already knew. They seemed to be giving me space.

Then, when Kyle and I ran into some early relationship problems (having to do with his busy school and work schedule and my anxiety about finding the one ASAP!), I started asking different family members if they thought I should break up with him. (Yep, I really did that.) Annoyingly, no one seemed to know. They left it up to me. Eventually, we did break up—his choice.

Then in the fall of 2011, when I was ready to accept my role as the wonderful, ever-single aunt, Kyle contacted me out of the blue. We set up a date to catch up. There was only one scenario I could play out in my head, and it was romantic.

Before we met again for the first time in two years, I was in the car with my little sister and said, “Guess who wants to go out for a drink … Kyle.”

“Kyle!” she groaned.

“No, I’m actually excited about it,” I clarified.

“Oh, cool,” she said, immediately changing her tone to giddy, supportive girlfriend.

A few weeks later, Kyle and I met up with my parents and a few siblings for pizza. I was so happy to be there with him, I forgot to worry what anyone else thought. On the way out of Davanni’s, my dad told my mom, “Well, now we just have to wait for the wedding.”

All along, my family really only cared about one thing: that I be happy in love and marriage. If a man loved me well, they would love him. That was the opinion that mattered. The cherry on top is that they actually are crazy about Kyle.

As I write this, I’m holding our sleeping six-month-old son and listening to the sounds of our little girl waking up from her nap in the next room. This is my new little family, the family that came out of my love for Kyle and his for me. I want my children to be this happy in love someday, too, perhaps with families of their own. I bet my mom used to think about that very same thing when holding me and dreaming for me.


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