*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Having a good relationship with all your relatives after you get married can get challenging when they have different opinions about you and your spouse having a family.
How would you react if you'd already told them you didn't want to talk about that, but they keep bringing it up each time they see you?
And if they tried to be in a relationship, left, and kept trying to convince you to have kids so they could babysit, would you get upset or just avoid them permanently?
My friend Denise, who lives in Dallas, Texas, has been married to her husband, Nigel, for three years. They met while they were still in college, had a one-year engagement, and enjoyed their wedding and the party after with their friends and family.
Denise's mom and dad advised the couple to wait until they had better jobs before they considered starting a family. Neither Denise nor her husband were in a hurry to become parents, and they decided to save more to get a house, and only after that think about the right time to have kids.
"What mom and dad told us made sense. I mean, why would we have a family before we could be sure we'd have enough money for monthly bills and house payments? I didn't want our family to live in a rented place, and Nigel felt the same way," Denise said.
They focused on getting promoted but also found time to think about their relationship, and they planned dates and short trips. And they also liked to buy little gifts just to remind each other of how much they cared.
"It worked out great for us. Even if we put a lot of effort into our jobs, our relationship always comes first. And six months ago, we were finally able to get our own place. I felt so relieved. It was like a lot of stress and pressure was finally going away, and me and Nigel could just be happy while we kept on doing all we could for our projects," Denise said.
As soon as they got their home, the couple relaxed and planned a vacation. Unfortunately, as soon as they got back in town, a different kind of talk began whenever they visited Nigel's parents. Denise's in-laws liked her, and they had a positive relationship. But Nigel's sister, Liana, who had recently ended her relationship, had moved in with them.
And each time she saw Denise, she made sure to remind her she wasn't getting any younger and that she had to have kids very soon. Denise tried to ignore her, but Liana insisted on the issue and spoke loudly, so everyone turned to listen to her.
"It was awkward and embarrassing. I didn't know if she was doing it to offend me, but we did end up arguing a few times. And I was sad about it because I really wanted to get along with everyone in the family. But Liana needed to tell everyone what she thought about our decisions and our relationship," Denise said.
She and Liana couldn't agree on the issue, and her sister-in-law pushed the matter by saying she wanted to babysit kids. Even if Nigels's parents advised Liana to avoid pressuring the couple, she wouldn't listen and kept doing it on every family occasion.
"She pushes us to have kids; she tried to get married, and it didn't work. I know she wants to be an aunt, and I appreciate that she's willing to help me when I'm a mom, but only Nigel and I decide when that happens. And the more she brings it up, the less I feel like seeing her. And since she lives with her parents, we end up avoiding them, too, even if they respect our boundaries. It's just so tiresome. I just wish she realized it's none of her concern," Denise said.
She talked about it with Nigel, and he agreed that they needed to find a solution to avoid disagreements. The couple would like to wait at least two more years before becoming parents, and they're not willing to spend that time arguing with Liana.
For now, Nigel thinks they should have parties or barbecues at their place and only invite his mom and dad. If that doesn't work, they will consider avoiding any visits for a few months until Liana understands she went too far.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Liana to constantly tell her sister-in-law she should have kids regardless of what she and her brother decided for their marriage? Should Liana respect Nigel and Denise's relationship and avoid interfering like this so they can still enjoy family visits and meals together?