Is It A Family or Is It Just Marriage?

Recently I had a nice little discussion with a buddy of mine about family. It was a very friendly discussion and no hard feelings were had and we agreed to disagree. My friend did say he was going to blog about this subject and it has been almost a week since our discussion and yet no blog. I will beat him to the punch, like in most things, and share my thoughts about family or marriage.

Here’s a little background into our discussion. My friend was trying to convince me that he and his wife are a family just like my wife and I who also have three children. My friend did not have any other supporting evidence for his argument. I simply wasn’t buying it and kept going back to family involved having children. I explained that I would be happy to call him and his wife a family when a little one was on the way. For me without children it is simply just called a marriage. Unfortunately for my friend, also agrees with me. Family is defined, “a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children.” And just so people don’t think I am skipping out on other definitions just to try and prove my argument (I have been accused of that before) all the definitions, five of them, all do mention or refer to children or blood relation.

I am certain my buddy is not blood related to his wife (c’mon you know I had to throw that in there) and therefore as I argue, him and his wife are simply just married and not quite yet a family. My wife and I with our three children are indeed a family and therefore I am here to conclude that I am officially the winner of the discussion/argument. Thank you very much and have a wonderful day.

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Eddie Bashaw

Living in Duluth, Minnesota and I love writing about it.

5 thoughts on “Is It A Family or Is It Just Marriage?”

  1. Counter Argument Number 1: While your buddy and I are recently married, what would you call couples who have been together 30 or 40 years, who have lived the ups and downs of life together, who have no surviving relations left, and have decided, whether intentionally or through circumstance, not to have children. Would you say then that neither person in this couple has surviving family members?

    I would argue that this unit, due to their commitment and support for one another, would constitute a family. In their minds, I believe that they would see themselves as a family. It’s not the size of the family, but the love and support between the couple, that solidifies them as a family. Furthermore, if they believe themselves to be a family, then they are one. Your buddy and I view ourselves as a family and there is a legal bind connecting us. We are a family.

    Counter Argument Number 2: Your argument states that there must be children to bind a family as a family, but that brings up a sticky situation with my step-grandma. She married my Grandpa after the passing of his loved wife many years later when even the grandchildren were almost full-grown. They have no children, and my mom and her sisters are too old for her to take custody over. As my grandpa’s wife she is a part of the family, and my grandpa and her have formed their own family through their marriage. Would you argue then that my step-grandma and grandpa are not a family because they have no children? Did my grandpa’s ability to have a wife as a part of his family die with my grandma? Or would you argue that she is a part of the larger family unit? If that’s the case, it’s not the direct child relation to the husband and wife that makes up a family. It’s something more than that. It’s the mentality of the group involved that makes up the family unit. We accepted her as a part of the family. Your friend and I see each other as a part of our own family, and the beginning of our own.

    Whether we decide to have children or not, the two of us will always be a family. We love and rely on each other. We are legally bonded under the law and under God. But, most of all, we define ourselves as a family. And so we are.

    1. Jenna I love your counter arguments and so happy for your comments! You are more right than your significant other. I don’t think I could ever say he’s right. 🙂

  2. Eddie, I still tend to disagree, and your sources are weak. C’mon! The United States Census Bureau defines a family as follows, per the 2011 guidelines.

    “A family consists of two or more people (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption residing in the same housing unit. A household consists of all people who occupy a housing unit regardless of relationship. A household may consist of a person living alone or multiple unrelated individuals or families living together.”

    Now beyond what I would consider hollow and callused words, definitions, regulations, and guidelines, lets talk about family. A family is something that in my opinion can never be quantified and boiled down to “yes, this is a family” and “no, this is not a family” It’s too subjective, and there is nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. Take a look around you in your own life. I bet you have friends who are more like “family” than your own genealogical family. I know I do. I’ve made choices in my life and developed deeper relationships with people around me in my peer circles, which are more fulfilling, rewarding, and strong than any blood lines. Yes, I love my relatives, but that does not make them part of my “family”. I think we look at things through different lenses at times (Probably quite often actually) and this is one of those areas where we are going to have to respectfully agree to disagree. I firmly believe that two people, or a group of people, can choose to identify as they will, who and what their family is and looks like. Not everyone is fortunate at times (as we know all to well) to have individuals in their blood lines to consider “family” and who’s to say they can’t to the best with what they have and choose what that circle will look like.

    Pertaining to my own circumstances and our conversations around this topic in the last few weeks. I still consider my relationship to my wife to be a family. You were a part of a ceremony and gathering with us. Every single one of those people there were hand selected, and they are all family to us. We (Jenna and I) are a part of that, a cell of our own in a body of fantastic individuals who are our family. I do not feel that we need to have children to bare that label. In my opinion our branch on that family tree starts HERE. With or without children.

    Perhaps we can exchange more friendly banter over a bike ride sometime?

    With much love and respect



  3. I feel this can go either way. I’ve never been married and have a daughter. But I personally don’t think my boyfriend and I are a ‘family’ I feel if we we’re married I’d feel better about the subject to me ‘family’ is commitment. Though you don’t get to choose your family members you still have them involved with your life. So marriage to me is family, since you are commuting yourself to another human and everything they hold.

    Plus if he has pets thous count as ‘children’ so to me they qualify as a ‘family’

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