Early this week I went over to a friends house for a social engagement. The people there were lively and we got to talking. I’d only known these people for about two months, so our familiarity wasn’t great and it showed in the conversation. Then, in a casual tone, one of the men referred to us as his family. My jaw dropped. In a light hearted manner I said, “We’re not your family”. Then everyone in the room wanted me to define what a family was, so I essentially described the nuclear family. They all thought I was too narrow minded. It ate at my mind, not being viewed as narrow minded, but the comparison of friends to family. It was wrong, I just didn’t know how to express it at the time.
Blood is thicker than water.
What an insult… What an in insult it is to your mother and father, your brothers and sisters, the man or woman you’ve decided to bear children for/with, to be compared to people you’ve only known for two months — that’s what I should have said! That comparison completely negates (for better or worse) the sacrifices your parents have made, what your siblings have put up with, and the hardships your spouse goes through. There is a history, an intimacy, with your family that you don’t normally get from for friends.
Yes, I know there are exceptions to this, such as terrible family members, but the comparison is still a huge insult to your spouse/future spouse given that they are the family you choose.
Friends aren’t the family you choose.
Your friends aren’t the family you choose, because they wouldn’t fulfill the family’s role in society. You don’t make life long commitments to your friends. You don’t raise children with your friends. Friendships lacks the obligation of familial bonds, mainly that between a husband and wife. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, your spouse is the family you choose.
You can love your friends as you would love your brother or sister and there are levels to familial love that overlap that of friendship, but in essence the two are different. Those differences should be respected. If you don’t respect the essence of a thing then you can no longer understand it. It doesn’t change, but your ability to learn from it does — you become blind to the progress of it and subsequently don’t progress with it.
Open your eyes to what is.
With great shame I have experienced this stagnation in my life, where progress leaves me because of my inability to recognize what something was — it is marked in the conscience by the piecing pain of failure. For the longest time I didn’t know what failure, but while writing this it’s occurred to me. In my youth I failed to recognize that was when I should assert myself as an individual. In college I failed to recognize the importance of community. And as a young adult I struggle with recognizing opportunity.
The family you choose… your spouse.
Now that I know the essence of these shortcomings, I can respect them, learning from them to progress with them. Assert my individuality. Build community. Explore opportunities. Respecting what something is doesn’t only allow things to progress how they should, but it also repairs what was. I have found that when most people attempt to replace their family with friends, it’s because they are trying to repair broken relationship in their family — something I’m guilty of. There is a reason a son should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife, so he can then consciously avoiding the mistakes that caused the broken relationships when forming his own family — allowing progress in his community, and for the world at large.
The young man making the comparison at the gathering, from what little I know, has some broken relationships in his family — therefor, I shouldn’t be too had on him. The longer I think about it, the better it is that I kept my explanation somewhat short. Going on a rant would have done more harm than good — something I hope all of you will keep in mind next time someone says something you don’t quite agree with. Ranting isn’t always the answer.