My therapist is Hungarian so she doesn't always have the exact word or phrase that she is looking for; as a result we work well together because it keeps me from feeling inadequate about my ability to get across what I am trying to say. As a result of trying to explain my husbands family to her this past week, she referred to them as a "large bowl of mashed potatoes;" that works for me.
Although my husband has a great family, they are extremely dependent on one another. For example, there is (and has been) overwhelming pressure and an unrealistic expectations to be present at most events that go on for each other and our children, regardless of cost or inconvenience (we live in MI, PA, and FL). My husband has told me time and time again that people at work joke with him about being crazy for the amount parties and traveling that goes on, for something as small as a childs birthday party. If someone is not in attendance or does not plan on being in attendance, it becomes the family topic before, during, and after the function itself...in a caring way, of course (more Kool Aid please).
From my own couch, I think my husband suffers from Dysthymia, a mild chronic form of depression that people often times don't realize they are suffering from. About a year ago I convinced him to ask his doctor for something for anxiety (I knew he would bring up depression) and he came home with Wellbutrin. He said it was to stop smoking. I did notice a change in him for the better, not seeming as stressed, but he stopped the medication after about 3 weeks.
Honestly I didn't really notice a change after he quit so maybe what I thought I noticed was nothing at all. Maybe it was just me being hopeful or him putting forth more effort. I'm not sure if he was aggrevated with just me or his family; I am hoping it was his family because that would mean he is getting tired of all of the expectations and might start taking a stand, and learn to say, "no." He is very weak in that area with them. Being the oldest child, one would think he would hold more of a power position but sadly, he has forgone the thrown and left it to his Sister's.
Having gone through two terrible break-ups with his prior fiance's, I think that maybe my husband found so much solace in being with his family, that it overtook his ability to think rationally for himself and any ability to say no (to his parent's or siblings). Needless to say, the trickle-down effect although a little better, remains in place today.
Starting to realize that I've done more damage to myself, than good for my marriage over the years, (always going with the flow and trying to keep the peace) I find myself feeling a bit like the lump in the potato that just won't blend in. I keep putting in butter and cream and turning the beaters on high speed, but I fear all I will have left in the end will be something gooey and sticky that I can't wait to shower off. I guess time will tell.