Engagement and wedding planning is supposed to be full of excitement and celebration. Parties! Showers! Gifts! But what if your parents disapprove of your relationship? What if they’re not as excited as you are about your upcoming marriage?
If that’s you, know that first, you’re not alone. Countless others have gone through this before. And as hard as it feels right now, there is a path forward. And second, there are some things you can do to ease the tension. What are they? Liz Colizza, head therapist at Lasting, shares her insights on this tough situation.
7 things to do if your parents disapprove of your partner
- Hear them out
Talk openly to your parents about their opinion on your partner and your relationship. Be calm and respectful as you hear their side of things. Allow them the opportunity to fully express their concerns, opinions, and feelings on the matter. Do not argue or defend your partner or relationship. Focus on listening and understanding what their position is.
If there are any unresolved conflicts between your parents and your partner, work toward constructive resolution in those areas.
- Speak so that they’ll listen.
After listening, share your feelings and thoughts. If your parents resorted to criticism in their speech, avoid criticism in return. Instead, share your own feelings and thoughts on your partner and your relationship. Express to your parents how you feel about your partner, what’s important to you, and what your relationship adds to your life.
- Give them time to get to know your partner
Sometimes it feels easier to withdraw from your parents when you know they disapprove of your partner. Fight against this urge, and spend intentional time with your parents and your partner. Allow your parents plenty of time to get to know your partner so that any stereotypes or first impressions will be worked through.
- Take their opinion seriously
Once you understand your parents’ disapproval, allow yourself to honestly consider their side. Are there good reasons for their disapproval? What are they concerned about? Are their concerns valid? Are their concerns based in reality? Do you share their concerns? If you need help weighing your parents’ concerns, don’t ask your partner to help you with it—ask a trusted friend. It’s costly to stay with a partner that your parents disapprove of, so make sure it’s worth it. Remember, never use a romantic partner to make a point to your parents. That’s not worth it.
- Get other people’s opinions
If your parents disapprove of your partner, you need to get other opinions. Introduce your partner to lots of people in your life and give them opportunities to get to know your partner well. Ask people you trust to give you feedback on your partner and your relationship with them.
- Go to counseling
Counseling can be helpful if you’re unsure about whether you want to move forward with your partner. It can also be helpful if you’re trying to weigh your parents’ disapproval and struggle to see it clearly. Lasting is great for this. The nation’s leading relationship counseling app can help you improve your communication, plan for the future, and work through areas of conflict.
Additionally, if you know you want to be with your partner, completing premarital counseling together might be an olive branch to your parents.
- Decide what you can live with
You’re not the first nor will you be the last to go against your parents’ opinion on marriage. This has been happening since the beginning of time. You need to decide if you can live with their disapproval. Ask yourself to honestly consider if you can face their disapproval toward your partner for the rest of your life? It’s nice to think that time will ease or heal their opinions, but it might not happen. Be realistic with yourself. Going against your parents’ opinions is no easy task—it will be a bumpy ride. You’ll have to navigate how this affects your relationships with your parents, extended family, children, and with your partner.
Working through your parents’ disapproval is hard, and there’s no right or wrong way to feel about it, but hopefully with these tips, you can navigate wedding planning well, ease some of the tension between you, and build toward a healthy future.
Check out the FREE relationship health quiz hosted by Lasting here.