I was sharing with a friend last week about the different, and at times, dysfunctional, families my spouse and I came from and how much we learned from each other and found our own "normal", with its' own measure of dysfunction. It is the most important job we have as parents. To take what we have learned in our brief experience with our own parents, keep the best parts, file away the not so good parts and find the best way for our newly formed "family" to flow. The ultimate goal, to bring the best from both worlds and with each generation the dysfunction is less. Theoretically. We would like to believe that we have eradicated some of the "not so good" behaviors and broken those patterns of behavior. Although I had been in the Marines for several months, when I was away from the base, I still had some of the habits and behaviors from home.
I came into our relationship with an expectation that the dining table must always be covered with elaborate, delicious food, set with matching everything, no jars, no bottles, no little tub of butter. The right forks, the tea glass and the water glass. Dessert spoon, soup spoon. My young fiance' had not experienced these "dining" rules. He was accustomed to simple meals, simple dishes, one glass and the utensils needed for the meal. Condiments on the table, in their original container, were welcome.
I tell you that to tell you this, we have pushed and pulled and figured it out over the past 34 years and when you have been to our house to eat, most likely you ate from a nice, heavy duty paper plate, but may have used linen napkins. He learned to use the silverware and appreciate fine dining experiences. I sought counseling & chilled out. I may or may not put pickles straight on the table or put them in a dish...if we are cleaning out the jars! I CAN make it really spiffy or serve you on a wicker paper plate holder and a paper towel. The point is we have used the dysfunction to find OUR way. What is real for us.