Family Matters
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Age difference between family members

My husband and I just got married 1 month ago.  I am 4 years older than his brother and his brothers girlfriend and 6-8 years older than his cousins on his mom's side.  I have been trying to get to know these people better since essentially we are all "the cousins".  I am finding that I am not able to relate to them and quite possibly they are not able to relate to me.  They seem as if they want minimal to no relationship with me even though I try to have conversations with them.  All of those conversations really are just small talk and I feel they always make some kind of excuse to go away from the conversation and talk to someone else.  However, I am able to talk freely with his aunts and uncles and other older members of my husbands family.  I am wondering if anyone else has had this experience and if it is just an age difference thing that will get better in time.  I really just want to be accepted into his family and feel like i'm such an outsider.

Re: Age difference between family members

  • I've been married for 21 years and when we first got married, I was all trying to befriend his cousins and sister also.  I'd watched one too many t.v. shows and thought we were all supposed to become close friends.  Once we had a kid, it became easier to converse with the other cousins who had children too.  I guess the point is that until we had something in common other than just that piece of paper that connected me to their family we actually had something to talk about and conversations became less stilted.

    Another thing I ran into is the sheer difference in "social graces" between the generations.  The aunts, uncles, and older relatives pre-date facebook, chatrooms, message boards, texting, and all this other stuff.  In my case, the older relative predated CABLE television. Older people are just easier to talk to because they actually learned the art of conversation with strangers.  They didn't have anything else to do!  That's probably why you are having less trouble talking to them.  They are just inherently nicer because being nice and conversational face to face is just something they were taught and something they've been doing all their lives.

    Another wrinkle in my case was that my husband really only had superficial relationship with his siblings and his cousins and the only time they ever talked was 3 to 4 times a year at whatever family gathering was going on.  Hard to form closer relationships with your husband's relative than he has with them himself.

    So, have a kid for the conversation material (LOL!), or just enjoy yourself with the old folks and not worry about it!  Good Luck!

    bananasplit472001VOR
  • short+sassyshort+sassy member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited July 2015
    KyraNerys said:

    I've been married for 21 years and when we first got married, I was all trying to befriend his cousins and sister also.  I'd watched one too many t.v. shows and thought we were all supposed to become close friends.  Once we had a kid, it became easier to converse with the other cousins who had children too.  I guess the point is that until we had something in common other than just that piece of paper that connected me to their family we actually had something to talk about and conversations became less stilted.

    Another thing I ran into is the sheer difference in "social graces" between the generations.  The aunts, uncles, and older relatives pre-date facebook, chatrooms, message boards, texting, and all this other stuff.  In my case, the older relative predated CABLE television. Older people are just easier to talk to because they actually learned the art of conversation with strangers.  They didn't have anything else to do!  That's probably why you are having less trouble talking to them.  They are just inherently nicer because being nice and conversational face to face is just something they were taught and something they've been doing all their lives.

    Another wrinkle in my case was that my husband really only had superficial relationship with his siblings and his cousins and the only time they ever talked was 3 to 4 times a year at whatever family gathering was going on.  Hard to form closer relationships with your husband's relative than he has with them himself.

    So, have a kid for the conversation material (LOL!), or just enjoy yourself with the old folks and not worry about it!  Good Luck!

    This is something I have never thought of.  Great insight!

    The thing about age differences is they matter less and less as people get older.  For example, if the younger cousins you are talking about are in their late teens to early/mid 20s.  I could see where the age difference might come into play.  But if the younger cousins are in their early/mid 30s (or older), I wouldn't see a 7-8 year age difference as being a big deal.

    It might be they feel like they don't really know you yet.  Either way, I think this issue will resolve itself over time.  In the meantime, try to look for common ground to chit chat about.  Ask them about themselves/hobbies to keep the lines of communication open and friendly.

    It takes longer for some people to warm up to new people.  They might be those kind of people.

    Relationships don't happen overnight, but it sounds like you are doing the right things to allow those relationships to hopefully grow closer over time. 

    bananasplit472001
  • LD1970LD1970 member
    Fifth Anniversary 25 Love Its 10 Comments
    edited July 2015
    I think it's more a personality thing than an age thing, unless you're conveying some sort of "I'm older than you, be uncomfortable with me" vibe to them.  My husband is 8 years younger than I am, and his siblings are all younger than he is, as are several of his friends, and we've gotten along great from the beginning.  His youngest brothers are still late teens.  I'll be 45 this month and find myself with friends in their 20s and 30s, and it doesn't make a difference.

    I also tend to be very social and make friends very easily, and so does my husband, his family members, and the majority of his friends, so that makes a huge difference.  It's very possible that there's some non-age-related awkwardness happening with you that may dissipate over time, or it may just be that some of you don't click.  Just be yourself and don't worry about it.  If you worry too much, it'll just get more awkward and uncomfortable and be harder to get to know each other and become friends.
    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. ~Mae West
    image
    short+sassybananasplit472001
  • As long as you all are polite and civil with each other, that is all that matters.

    Besides this might be more of a stage of life sort of thing.  I am 37 but I have little kids since I started later.  So at this point I have more in common with people 15 years my junior than those I graduated high school with who now have teenagers.  
    bananasplit472001
  • I thought it may be a stage of life thing as we are in our mid-20's and they are in their late teens early 20's.  Honestly I wouldn't have thought age would have been an issue but I am worried that it is.  I like all of the insight and maybe I am thinking too much about it.
  • My money would be on it being personality, not age, related. H is 6 years older than me, some of our friends are younger than me, and we all get along fine. Sometimes we're at different lifestyle stages, but it doesn't change our ability to all get along. I'd say there is nothing wrong with hanging out with the "older generation" at gatherings if that's where you fit in best. They're family too, and you should be able to enjoy yourself.
    bananasplit472001
  • Eh I don't see why you have to be close to them.  It's not a requirement.  

    My husband is 6 years old than me.  His sister is a year older than him and she married a guy 10 years older than her, so he is 17 years older than I am.  I have a very difficult time talking to him, but it's just because he's an ego-maniac not because he's older.  He loves to put everyone down, especially me.  So yeah, that's why we aren't close, not because of his age.  And I'm fine with us not being best buddies. 
    KyraNerys
  • VORVOR member
    Eighth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    Eh I don't see why you have to be close to them.  It's not a requirement.  


    Good advice all around, but this was my initial thought as I started to read your post.  You married your DH.  You didn't marry his cousins.  You don't HAVE to be close to them.  They are like anyone else out there - some people you'll get along with, some people you won't.  Being "family" isn't going to magically make you all get along.
    KyraNerysBlueBirdMB
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