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Which way past this impasse?
January 11, 2013 2:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I reconcile my parents and my fiance? Should I even try?

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.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
It sounds like, at this point, your issue is more with your fiance than it is with your parents. It sounds like they are softening, and like probably if you could get everyone in the same room and let them see that this guy isn't a monster, you could probably start them on the path to acceptance.

On the other hand, your fiance is now being a butt about the whole thing, lessening the likelihood that he would be willing to meet with them or that he would behave himself if he did.

I mean, it sounds like your fiance is probably easier for you to reason with about this. Why not just tell him, "I think this can work, but you have to be willing to work with me on this"?

I will not convert to his religion, or ask my boyfriend to do so.

I'm also a little confused on the religion thing. This is a religion you were raised in, no? So it's not a matter of you converting, but a matter of your fiance converting. Obviously if he's not comfortable doing that, you can't make him. But surely he can convert without the two of you "becoming religious". Right? Without knowing what religion you're talking about, it's hard to give advice. There are plenty of people out there who are nominally members of a religion but don't practice regularly, don't consider themselves religious people, aren't hard-line extremists, etc.

I'm not suggesting that your parents are right and he should convert, but it sounds to me like, on the religion front, you're conflating a lot of different ideas and catastrophizing to an extent. You need to clarify for yourselves what your parents are actually asking for, what it would truly require, and what you're comfortable with. Maybe the answer is "we are staunch atheists forever", but nailing down what conversion would actually mean is at least a start.
posted by Sara C. at 2:42 PM on January 11, 2013


I hear of these kinds of situations in Southern California all the time among the various immigrant communities, especially the more conservative and traditional ones. You are not alone! I generally hear of two ways to resolve this: either go to your dad and tell him that if he loves you he needs to trust your judgment and give your fiance a chance and you could have a conversation about why your fiance is so deserving of your love (this approach combines showing him respect and appealing to a reasonable side of him), or you can just show him you are not going to bend by telling him you are moving ahead with your life and he has to decide if he wants to continue to be a part of your life or not. I've seen both soft and hard approaches and I think they are both very challenging because males in particular from conservative cultures tend to be extremely inflexible. I think what approach you take depends on the personality and intellectual inclinations of your father.
posted by Dansaman at 2:53 PM on January 11, 2013


my boyfriend has basically said he won't allow me to do this

I think your boyfriend / fiance is being controlling. I get why he is angry and upset, but he is going too far. It seems that he's decided that he will never have a relationship with your parents and that you are not allowed to either. That's a step too far. You are in a really tough situation and he should understand that you need some flexibility.
posted by Area Man at 2:57 PM on January 11, 2013 [19 favorites]


I kind of disagree. When you become engaged to someone your primary family unit is now you and that person (and any kids you have or have in the future). That means in a conflict between your SO and your parents you have to have your SOs back so long as they aren't being really unreasonable. And it is your parents being crazy problems here, not your SO.

It's up to your parents to bend on this and allow you to visit with your SO. Until that happens you shouldn't be visiting them either, save in cases like family funerals and so on such as your aunts. That sucks, but they're the ones who made it suck, not you and your SO.
posted by Justinian at 3:02 PM on January 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


Is there a way I can reach out to my dad without undermining my relationship with my boyfriend?

I don't see one at the moment.

It's natural to want a relationship with your parents, since you previously had such a loving and positive relationship with them. However, I suggest you really consider this from your fiance's perspective. He's spent six years in a loving, committed relationship with you, supporting you during difficult times with your parents, sticking with you despite being totally rejected by your family. He's heard a lot of horrible things about (and from) your parents. He knows that your extended family is even more conservative than your dad--to the extent that he would fear for your safety if you went for a visit without him. It must be frustrating to be loving and supportive for years while your parents guilt-trip, threaten, and shun you, and then have you say that you still want to connect with them!

I'm not saying you're wrong for wanting the relationship with your parents, but I can see how it would seem unreasonable to your fiance.

I suggest that you and your fiance meet with a therapist--ideally one who has experience working with inter-racial/inter-cultural relationships--for some premarital counseling with a specific goal of hashing out a better strategy for talking about (and possibly communicating with) your family. I don't think either of you is wrong, necessarily, but given the nature of this impasse, I think it'd be a good idea to get a neutral, compassionate third-party opinion on how to resolve it.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:27 PM on January 11, 2013 [17 favorites]


I think you should support your fiance on this. Your parents have been horrible to him so I can imagine that he does not think of them as family at all and when you pass on "news" from them he might just not care and maybe even wonders why you care about people who don't seem to care about your life or needs. Marry your fiance, invite your family and hope for the best but it sounds like its your parents who need to come around and then I would bet that your fiance would be on the same page too. Its been years of your family treating your relationship like dirt. There's no reason for your fiance to bend until your father does.
posted by saradarlin at 3:31 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I just want to say good on you for doing all the right things. I'm really impressed that you have managed to stand by your principles, both on getting acceptance of your boyfriend before you visit them, and on the religion issue. You are doing the best you can with an extremely difficult situation.

Stand your ground. The only thing I can see doing is perhaps firing an opening salvo warning your parents that you are planning to move halfway around the world, but not saying more than that. Yes, your fiance is right, the ball is really in their court, but they may be just sticking their heads in the sand until something forces them to change their stance, because they are too insecure to face the extended family if they stop rejecting you. So I think that it's fair to alert them that if they want to make amends... which hopefully they do, I really think there is hope in what you say of their recent behavior... that they need to seize the moment, so to speak.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 3:40 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


. He held me and let me cry on his shoulder, let me vent...

Return the favor.
posted by jon1270 at 3:55 PM on January 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


Visit your dad and give him another chance to get over this ridiculous position he has taken. I think it would be fair, if he can take that step, for your SO to leave the past in the past and (as hard as it is) he should try to get over the shoddy treatment he's experienced.

If your father persists in choosing a religion he doesn't even really believe in over you, then let him do that, and good riddance. (You said he had a wild youth and didn't really adhere to the religion which makes this all the more inexplicable). There are few things more monstrous than choosing religion over your own child. When you become a parent, you have an obligation to love your child unconditionally, and religious differences aren't even remotely something that could overcome that obligation. IMHO, your dad is acting like a selfish, hypocritical, pathetic jerk who really doesn't deserve your company. Obviously reconciliation would be best but your dad has to change for that to happen. It's not up to you, it's up to him.
posted by Mallenroh at 4:01 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't actually read this as your fiance being controlling. I also don't think this is really about his rejection (though I'm sure that is hard for him). I get the sense that your fiance is becoming increasingly upset with your parents as a reaction to witnessing what you're going through. Seeing you in pain is probably causing his resentment to build. It's natural to be protective of someone when you love them and he may just think the only way to prevent you from experiencing more pain at the hand of your parents is for you to keep your distance...which might not be completely off the mark.

Is there another person in your life you can go to when you need to break down? I'm not suggesting that you hide your feelings from him and don't let him support you, but if you can find a way to cope with your emotions separately from him, he might back down. At this point it sounds like the situation is driving a wedge between you so focusing on having quality time with him and maintaining the health of the relationship right now might be a good idea.

It's really hard to know what approach would work best with your parents, but my first instinct is to try to convey that you want to reconcile with them and have a relationship, but they must accept your fiance. Not all people can change and make peace with a situation like this, but it does happen. I agree with those above that recommend sticking by your fiance - ultimately he is your life partner and you need to be a team. In the event your parents do come around, this won't be the first time they want to tell you how to run your life and marriage. Set a boundary now.
posted by amycup at 4:21 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Your parents have been bullying, threatening, guilt-tripping and, yes, attempting to blackmail you for years; all the while your fiance has stood by you and supported you. The thing is, he may not have expressed it well but your fiance is worried about your safety if you were to go to your parents' home; you yourself are already aware of this (your "extended family are even bigger conservative nut-jobs" than your parents). Be honest: where in all this is an indication of your father softening his position? The only 'evidence' is secondhand reports from your mother, and she's not exactly unbiased --- that's because there IS no first-hand evidence of him changing his stance.

And frankly, that demand for a religious conversion is pretty rude, but even worse is the suggestion to make a pro-forma or "pretend" conversion: no matter what your parents or your fiance's religious beliefs are, that's both insulting to your fiance and a mockery of your parents' religion.

Stay home, stay with the dude who has spent years loving you, and tell your parents they're welcome to come to you to visit.
posted by easily confused at 4:29 PM on January 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


I don't know what religion you are, or where your family is, but if I'm reading correctly your family isn't in their country of origin, as you said "immigrant community." I don't think your fiance is being controlling, rather protective, although if my assumption is correct, I'm not sure exactly what he is afraid of. Would it be possible to meet with your dad on more neutral ground? Perhaps getting your parents to meet you halfway (physically) will help all parties meet halfway (emotionally). Although I must say, I have my doubts.

Truthfully, I think it would be a long hard haul before things were "easier" between your father and your fiance. The fact that your fiance would not be able to resist giving your father a piece of his mind (although understandable) suggests that he would not be able to maintain the facade of civility and respectability that your parents/family seek -- he wouldn't even try. Even if your parents softened and accepted (or pretended to accept) your relationship on your terms, it sounds like your fiance is beyond the point of reconciliation, and I can see why. The issue is that you are not.

I think you need to be really honest with yourself about whether there's a real chance of breaking the impasse. To your parents' mind, they've offered you a compromise (converting in name only) which you've rejected. Regardless of who is right/wrong/backwards/progressive/reasonable/crazypants, unless you can offer them a compromise that appeases their sensibilities, I am doubtful that you will be able to have both a close relationship with your family and a happy relationship with your fiance, and needless to say there would likely be negative or no relationship between your family/father and your fiance.
posted by sm1tten at 4:48 PM on January 11, 2013


When you become a parent, you have an obligation to love your child unconditionally

This is not true for some cultures I've visited in my travels across the world. I suspect the religion ranks higher in this family's warped interpretation, IMHO.

Therefore, the standard advice doesn't apply. You see, your parents are succeeding. They are making this a choice for you, through 2 big strategies:

1. Let time force the natural desire you, the child, have to be connected with one's parents. Prior to fiance, you had good ties with your family, and they are aware of this.

2. Force a separation and unacceptance between them and your fiance, so that he resents them, and this causes a division between the 2 of you. They know if he hates your father, it will hurt you because your heart wants happiness from both.

As you now see, both are coming true.

What you need to decide is how much you can tolerate the pull from both directions. For your mental and future marital life, I would not advise getting married until you have decided this part. Best wishes.
posted by Kruger5 at 5:20 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It looks like your boyfriend has less tolerance for your parents' bullying and manipulation than you do, understandably.

Hopefully you guys can find a way to respect and support one another here despite your differences. Maybe could learn that it hurts you when he scowls, and that ultimately, it's your job to keep yourself safe from your extended family. Maybe you could learn that in his eyes, your parents are hurtful and domineering (or whatever) and so he can't celebrate minor family news with you.
posted by salvia at 5:40 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't blame your boyfriend for being burnt out and angry with your dad's behavior. It would be really hard to fake friendliness like everything's okay after six years of the shit he's had to put up with. Especially when you tell him that's what he'd HAVE to do. He'd have to be a helluva actor.

Unfortunately in this kind of thing, you really do have to pick one side and stick with it unless both sides are willing to compromise. If you want your relationship to last, you have to pick your fiance, period. You can't pick your parents no matter how much you miss them unless you want the relationship to end.

Your dad may be heading towards compromise on his own, but like you said, it's up to him to contact you. Not the other way around. Don't cave in now just because someone died and you saw him in person and you got your hopes up and you have a time limit. Your dad is coming to this point because he misses you. Let him miss you longer. If really really super missing you is what finally gets him over this boyfriend hurdle, if that's what works--then great! But don't mess it up on the way there. If you cave in now, your dad will think that he can get you back without having to take the fiance along with you. If you want them to ever have to deal with each other in a friendly manner, you need to keep doing what you're doing. Don't cave in yet!

I really don't know what to tell you about your boyfriend's anger, though, but as yet, you don't have to deal with solving that right now. Worry about that later.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:08 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, you should not reach out to your father.

I'm on your boyfriend's side.

I think you are NUTZ to risk your safety!

Your parents do not love you unconditionally, nor are they healthy, functional people who make things good for themselves or others. Like you. Or your fiancé.

Your priorities are fucked up because sentimentality and your (understandable) "hope against hope" feeling are getting in your way.

Stop speaking to your mother and your father IMMEDIATELY.

Stay with me!

As long as your dad gets news of you through your mom, he has no need to make a decision. If I understand you correctly, the danger here is that your extended family could kidnap you and take you back to the old country and marry you off, or, what? They could kill you??

Honey. That's not normal or OK. Your parents are aligned with, and currently have more allegiance to, a way of thinking that would see you subjugated or dead.

You need to get congruent with this reality. This is the heart of the situation.

The reality is that your parents aren't what you hope or needs them to be. Therefore, your allegiance must be to your own safety and well-being, this includes your future husband.

Cut your patents off and move on with your life. If they come around - GREAT. Stop letting your mom be the go-between, that can and will go on indefinitely if you let it. Your relationship will suffer as a result.

Additionally, if you want to put yourself and your relationship with your fiancé at immediate and considerable risk, then by all means, go see your father.

My father is a teeny bit like your father. My awesome husband who totally supports me and truly loves is worth a hundred times more than my father to me.

You're lucky. You have true love in your life. You obviously did not having that growing up. Hold on to this great thing you've achieved despite your upbringing. Don't blow it.
posted by jbenben at 6:24 PM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ever have a friend with a bad boyfriend or girlfriend? They come to you for weeks (years) for your support in their drama-fueled, abusive, one-sided relationship and then when the bad SO decides to try to get them back, your friend wants you to pretend like it's okay, that SO is such a great guy! Let's all be friends! And you're like: uh, what?

Yeah, I think that's where your boyfriend is coming from. However, y'all need to talk this out and decide what your relationship with your parents is going to be. I think pre-marriage counseling should be mandatory for all couples planning to marry. And especially so where complicated inlaw relationships are on the table.

Re-read Meg Murray's advice above. It's solid.
posted by amanda at 6:34 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Meg_Murray is on the mark.

Are you the first in your parents' circle /community to have a relationship with someone outside of the community? Being (one of) the first comes with a lot of bullshit to put up with and it is absolutely heartbreaking at times. You want to have relationships with seemingly mutually exclusive camps. Your loving partner sees you suffering and resents the source (your parents) of it. I can see what he wants to give them a piece of his mind. But, it's only been a couple of years since you broke the news. Usually, conservative, traditional immigrants have had their way of thinking reinforced (by family, friends, their greater immigrant community) all their lives. When they immigrate, they tend to get a stranglehold on those values to try to preserve some sense of what they left behind. To them, there is a specific way to do things, and your news of your then-boyfriend shocked their world. I hope he knows that your parents' rejection of him isn't personal. (It's not an excuse for their behaviour but it's worth noting if he thinks otherwise.) Their rejection is ingrained in them. It was an expected, automatic response. No critical thinking involved there. While you and your fiance have more liberal values and are more comfortable with change, your parents are the opposite---things have been a certain way for generations and without warning, a couple years ago, things stopped lining up. How do they deal? (Is there anyone in their community who can lead by example?) It will take time for them to warm up to the idea of you and him, and your values. Possibly even a few more years, although your move might accelerate things.

Also, how soon are you getting married? In some conservative immigrant communities, "sealing the deal" by way of marriage makes the outsider immediately part of the family. (This tends to be especially true if divorce taboo in your parents' community. They'll know he isn't going anywhere. While as a fiance, he's still impermanent.) Would that hold true for your family?

In any case, your father appears to be inching in the right direction. But that might been the grief talking or maybe he's reverted since then. You don't know. Don't get in touch. If he reaches a level of acceptance that actually motivates him to get in touch with you, take that as a sign of real progress. In the meantime, let them adjust at their own pace. You can't force it, and battles aren't worth fighting if the other side is unwilling to consider any position but their own. There's no guarantee that they'll change, but after your move, they might realize themselves that some battles (e.g. needing you to conform to their values) aren't worth it.

There's nothing you can do to improve things right now. Leave this behind, and go live your life with your loving partner.

Feel free to memail me if you need a sounding board.
posted by mayurasana at 8:08 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is there a way I can reach out to my dad without undermining my relationship with my boyfriend?

No. You cannot change your parents. You can tell them that your heart will always be open to them treating you with love and respect, but you cannot, through words or deeds, force them to do this.

I am also someone from an immigrant community who married outside my race and religion. This was my second such relationship; in the first, I did as you did. I hid it as long as I could, then tried to negotiate/cajole/plead. It did not work. The intense pressure eventually broke us up. My father called me a slut when it was all over.

The second time around, I behaved as the adult I wanted them to treat me as. I simply told them that I'd met a wonderful man, and we were dating and hoped to marry one day. That he was kind and loving and treated me well, and that I would like them to meet him, but if they didn't, then that was their problem but this was my life and my decision. It went much smoother, and now he is fully accepted, liked, and respected by my family.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:21 PM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Write your father a letter. Tell him honestly how you feel about your fiancé and your future together. Tell him that your fiancé is an honest man and won't convert to a faith he doesn't believe in, that going around saying he's [religion] for the sake of appearances would be dishonest and a disrespect to your parents (presumably) sincere faith.

Tell him you hope he can find a way to connect with your fiancé and embrace your marriage because you plan to have children one day and want them to know their grandfather. Don't lie, so don't say that if it isn't true. But lay all that out for him and tell him the door is open and will always be open because you love him. Tell him you're sorry that your family is not welcome in his home but that he is always welcome in yours.

You don't have to stop talking to your mother, but you can tell her that some topics are off limits. You don't want to hear about your father or strategize to reconcile, that the ball is in his court and it has to come from him. Tell her that she can visit you without him if she wants to see you so badly, but you can't come home without your fiancé and can't bring him home unless you know he'll be welcome. Don't argue with her about it, tell her. You might have to do a few rounds of "I'm not discussing this, shall I hang up or can you move on?"

This all sounds incredibly painful and I don't envy you one bit.
posted by amandabee at 8:30 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The situation is bad because your parents have made it bad, you and your boyfriend are both suffering from it, and he can't control any aspect of the suffering for you or for himself, without leaving you or living a lie (meaning: staying with you as you reconnect with people who well and truly will never accept him for who he is.)


You're in a bad position, but you're also in the position to choose between your fiance and your family -- again, a choice your family is putting you in, not your fiance -- and he is not, so of course he's bent out of shape. That, plus your family has treated you badly, he's treated you really well, he considers you a life partner (you know, that whole marriage thing), and yet you still judge them equally enough that you can't make up your mind.

So as much as you're suffering, realize that he's suffering too, because he knows he's on the verge of having a life with you where he has to pretend to like people who hate him for the rest of their lives, or he's going to lose you. As long as you're trying to fit your family with your fiance, those are the choices on the table...at least until you follow Meg Murry's excellent advice, so please do that, instead of what appears to be you projecting your family's unreasonableness onto your fiance.
posted by davejay at 8:59 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


his voice changes, his expression twists, he makes some fierce or sarcastic or bitter comment - almost every time

Your parents have not been respectful to your or your fiancé. Watching you tolerate their disrespect seems to be causing your fiancé to lose respect for you. He is probably looking ahead and wondering if you will ever take responsibility for the situation. Yes, it is a difficult and sucky situation your parents put you in; tolerating it, even encouraging it by discusing it with your mother, puts the responsibility for the poor relationship on you. As an adult you inform other adults how you are living your life and don't entertain their opinions about your choices (or have conversations where you try to justify them!) as through other adult's opinions were valid or their approval was necessary.

This isn't a special situation because you are different religions. This is a super common problem: child grows up and makes decisions/choices the parents would not (have a same-sex marriage, not be an accountant, be child-free); how the adult child handles the situation is how the situation shakes out - the parents have no power (if they withdraw completely they have conceded they have no ability to have a relationship where they don't have 100% percent control of the participants). You have two choices - live your life as a child, exclusively according to your parent's dictates (usually followed by being incapable of doing anything when they die) or be an adult. Too bad for your parents they have made the choices they have. As long as you drag out this situation they have no motivation to change.

Lots of people mourn the parents they wish they had. You should probably talk to a therapist/good friend to vent about your feelings. It is unfair to keep putting your fiancé in the middle ("I hate my parents for hating you but don't take it personally and don't you dare express your own feelings about my fucked up parents"). You have a lot of unpacking to do and taking a long look at your own priorities. You are putting yourself first (because you just want everyone to just swallow their feelings and get along so you feel good), your parents second and your fiancé last. Is that really your priority?

I hope the fact you aren't yet married isn't because you keep hoping your family will come 'round or your fiancé will give in. As long as you are not married your family probably still considers themselves the "winners": they know from your phone calls you are obsessing on their approval and probably assuming you will do what your dad did and marry a "suitable" partner; you are also avoiding making a public statement to the entire extended family about how much you love your fiancé - to them it probably looks like you don't quite love him enough to follow through on your "threat" to marry him.
posted by saucysault at 9:38 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Your parents are driving a wedge between you and your SO. Make a choice.

When all is said and done, either you have your SO's back, or you don't. He's been insulted. He's been tolerant. Your SO may have come to the end of his abililty to straddle the fence--tolerating your parents' behavior. He deserves to know that you a stand with him on this. Or not. If I were in his shoes I would be very uncomfortable about you having to make a choice between him and your parents. However, you chose him. Your parents also made their choice. Adopting the family religion has nothing to do with this.

He's right. Enough is finally enough, and the ball's in their court. Drop a note to your parents and tell them they've gotten their point across. You remain their loving daughter, and if they choose to see you that way, then they can begin to act like it.

You are in a bad place. I wish you good things, but nothing about this will happen without pain.
posted by mule98J at 8:54 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Imagine you had a friend who didn't like your fiancee, let's call her Sally. Imagine that every time you saw Sally she told you that she thought you should break up with your fiancee, and kept telling you that she would stop being your friend unless you did. Imagine that she made good on this threat and stopped talking to you for a while, and imagine that your fiancee knew all of this stuff.

Ok, now how would you expect him to react if you got off the phone and were all, "hey, guess what, Sally's got a new job!" He'd probably be pissed that you thought he'd give a shit at all what was happening to Sally, because she's been attacking him (through you) for the entire duration of your relationship. All this is to say of course he doesn't want to hear news about your family. Of course he doesn't care that your father has finally gotten over his anger at your fiancee's very existence enough that he's willing to make vague overtures toward reconciliation.

I recognize that you're in a tough situation here. Metafilter standard advice is to always take your SO's side over your parents', but we don't usually acknowledge how hard that can be to do. But here is the bluntest possible summary of this situation: your parents have been acting like unmitigated assholes toward your fiancee since the day they found out about him. At this point, expecting him to want to have any kind of relationship with them is probably too much to ask. If such a relationship were to develop, it would likely have to begin with a really, really strong gesture on their part that admits that they've been way out of line. Absent that, I really don't blame him for not wanting anything to do with them, and I don't see any way to change his mind.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:25 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Your boyfriend might resent your parents for all the hurt that they have caused you. He's seen it, held you, dried your tears, listened to your venting... You can't blame him for being upset that they hurt you. Show him how important they and their love are to you, and that YOU are willing to forgive.
posted by Neekee at 10:33 AM on January 14, 2013


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