Carl and Sarah couldn't wait to get married. They started dating their junior year of college after meeting at a school function. They exchanged numbers, made it past the initial awkward first contacts, and went on a date. The first date went so well that they agreed to meet the next morning for breakfast and spend the day together. And that was it for both of them. They had never connected like that before with a member of the opposite sex, and for the rest of their college term, they were rarely apart.
Carl popped the question at their favorite picnic spot one warm spring afternoon of their senior year, and Sarah enthusiastically said, "Yes!" They had the support and blessing of their respective friends and families. Carl, however, was the first child from his family to get married, so neither Carl nor his parents ever had to navigate a leaving like this one. The leaving home for college marked a transition in life. The leaving home for marriage, however, marked an ending.
Sarah, by contrast, was the youngest child in her family, so her parents had been through this marriage business before. They chose to see marriage not as an ending but as an addition. Many parents romanticize the marriage of their children in this way by seeing marriage as adding to an already existing family structure. This perspective, while seemingly kind and accommodating, actually sets the new couple up to put off the necessary work of recognizing, naming, and leaving behind limiting and unhealthy family of origin patterns.1