In Season 2 Episode 1 of This is Us the triplets are celebrating their 37th birthday. Since Sophie isn’t able to come in to town to spend time with Kevin, Kevin ends up hanging out with Kate and Toby. Instead of Kevin feeling like the third wheel, Toby is the one who feels out of place. The two get into a long conversation about their role in Kate’s life. This is an interesting dynamic since Kevin is Kate’s brother and not her father, but the same concept still remains. As Kate is getting closer and closer to Toby with thoughts of marriage in the background, she must make the decision to cut some of the ties she has with Kevin and connect more with Toby.
It is very common for people to avoid this change. Marriage rocks the boat in families in all sorts of ways and in attempts to avoid excessive rocking it can be tempting to keep things the same and continue to to go to our family of origin for support, advice, and connection instead of our significant other or spouse. In order to have a healthy relationship this switch must occur. Now, there is no reason to cut your family out of your life completely, but the person of priority needs to change. The first person you call when you get really good or really bad news shouldn’t be your mom anymore, but your spouse. The person whose advice you follow more than anyone else’s shouldn’t be your dad, but your spouse. While in the past your parents may have held some responsibility in helping you make financial decisions, job changes, living arrangements etc, this is no longer their responsibility. This is a difficult change to make (if it has been your normal) because you’re working against a dynamic that has been there for your entire life, but is well worth the hassle.
Your parents’ feelings will be hurt. Don’t let this stop you. You are not responsible for their emotions. As long as you are making this switch as respectfully as possible, you are doing your part. It will take both of you time to get used to the change. Your relationship with your spouse and parents will be healthier if you’re willing to put in the work.
When Kate is able to make a decision about her audition based on what she thinks is best, not what her brother OR her boyfriend thinks she should do, she is functioning at her healthiest. As Toby and Kevin continue to talk through their different roles in Kate’s life they will feel more confident that each of them has Kate’s best interest in mind and will trust the other to make good decisions when it comes to her.
Some things to consider:
1. Have you made the jump to be more connected to your spouse than you are your parents?
2. How might you create some patterns or traditions that encourage a commitment to your spouse instead of going to your parents first?