How do I reconcile my parents and my fiance? Should I even try?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm late twenties, female. My fiance is in his early thirties, and we have been together for six years. My parents didn't know about our relationship until a couple of years ago. They are religious, conservative members of an immigrant community who made it clear to me that if I ever dated anyone of a different race or religion, they would disown me. In most other respects they have been loving and supportive parents, and my childhood was mostly happy.
I was so terrified of losing them that it took me a long time to screw up my courage and tell them about my then-boyfriend, now-fiance. My dad was true to his word. I have only seen and spoken to him once since then - at his sister's funeral. My mom tried everything she could to convince me to drop my boyfriend, from guilt trips to threats. Through emails and phone calls with her, I learned my dad was softening a bit. He was now ready to accept my boyfriend as long as he converted to my parents' religion. Neither I nor my boyfriend believe, so we refused. My mom desperately suggested we play pretend at being religious for the sake of my dad and the extended family, and we refused that too. I know that both my parents feel as if they are asking for something relatively trivial - a little matter of pretending to be religious - in order to achieve harmony in the family.
Since the beginning, my boyfriend has been understanding and supportive. But after I told my parents about us, there has been a change in him. He held me and let me cry on his shoulder, let me vent about my mother's guilt-tripping and spinelessness, my dad's hypocrisy (my dad had a pretty wild youth, cheated on my mom, and has not strictly observed the rules of his religion for most of his life. He even had a relationship with a woman of another religion, but he gave her up to marry a good religious woman, my mum). In the process, my boyfriend has become very angry and resentful. I understand and feel for him - it must totally suck to be rejected by the family of the woman you love for no good reason. At first he was willing to try and find a way to reconcile with them eventually, but the other day he told me he doesn't think he wants to even meet my dad in person right now. If I mention some news about my family after a phone call with my mom, his voice changes, his expression twists, he makes some fierce or sarcastic or bitter comment - almost every time.
My mom has been begging me to come and visit my parents, but I have told her I refuse to do so until my fiance is permitted to come with me. I miss them terribly, though. I have seen my mom here and there, but my dad only once about 6 months ago. I broke my rule of not visiting without my boyfriend because of the sudden death of my aunt. I wanted to be at her funeral, but I did not feel that was the appropriate place and time to make a stand about my boyfriend. My boyfriend agreed with me. That one encounter with my dad gave me hope, though. I had a moment alone with him after the funeral, and I just hugged him and told him how sorry I was that she had died. He hugged me back and broke down in tears. He told me he wasn't angry with me anymore. I didn't even have a chance to respond before someone came in the room, and then I had to leave shortly after.
Since then I haven't heard a peep from my dad, and I haven't gotten in touch with him either. Oh, how I have wanted to! I'm so curious... what does it mean, that he's not angry with me anymore? What are the implications of that? I'm so happy but also so afraid. I know I need to do something about this.
But what do I do? My boyfriend has made it clear that if he was in the same room as my dad (which he doesn't want anyway), he would be unable to resist giving him hell over what has happened. I know my dad, and something like this may tip his anger so he really never speaks to me again. It would undermine my agreement with my boyfriend and the stand that I have taken to now go and visit my dad without him - plus my boyfriend has basically said he won't allow me to do this, because he fears for my personal safety (my extended family are even bigger conservative nut-jobs than my parents). My dad and I have never really communicated by email or phone, and I can't imagine getting him to open up if it's not face to face.
My boyfriend thinks that the ball is in my dad's court, I have made my position clear, and I shouldn't need to do anything more at this point. Well, I guess I don't need to but I feel like I WANT to reach out to my dad, even though I'm not sure what I would say to him. My position hasn't changed - I will not convert to his religion, or ask my boyfriend to do so. But I so badly want to feel close to him again, and follow up on that glimmer of hope. Plus, my boyfriend and I have plans to move to the exact opposite side of the world at the end of this year. I want some time to hash things out with my parents before I go ahead with that.
Is there a way I can reach out to my dad without undermining my relationship with my boyfriend? How do I even express how I feel? Is there anything I can do to make relations easier between my boyfriend and my dad? Thanks so much for any thoughts you may have.