Should I move forward with getting engaged?
November 11, 2019 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I'll make this intro short. I've been dating my girlfriend for the past 2.5 years, and she talked with me yesterday about how she wanted to get engaged. I want to as well. The problem is that I don't feel financially secure enough in my career growth. The reason this is an issue is because gf's parents are strict Indian people who have told me that they want me to be in a certain place before accepting me and moving forward.
posted by ggp88 to Human Relations (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is tricky because of the cultural expectations. But I'll share my story - we'd been together for 3 years and had that convo. My now-husband said he was ready, but didn't feel right because he was looking for a "career" job after going back to school and getting his degree. I knew him, and I knew his potential. For me, marriage is about growing together and supporting each other -- so his financial/career situation at that moment didn't worry me because he was working hard and I knew he would get where he wanted to be. We also talked about having a long engagement. He proposed a few months later, and we had a 15 month engagement. So if her parents aren't accepting of you getting married and that's very important to you, but you ARE ready to commit to your girlfriend, and especially if you're younger, perhaps you could have a long engagement and take that time to work on your career. If you/her don't care as much about her parents support, do what you want.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:21 AM on November 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

Okay, so let me elaborate a little now that I have the space.

I'm 31, my girlfriend is 28. She has a job as a school psychologist. I've been starting a business with my dad - a painting and roofing business focused on residential and commercial services. I'm more of the tech guy getting the website and logo and brand set up, and also the secretary organizing all the bids and invoices and whatnot. I am making enough money right now to live, but not enough to save up for, say, a house. I plan to save up for an engagement ring though - I read that the average engagement ring is about $6,000.

Anyway, once the business takes off, I should start making a lot more money. And that shouldn't be too long from now - the business should be live by the end of the year, but the actual money rolling in may take longer. I'm aiming to be making about $60 to 70k a year. And probably more as the business grows. My girlfriend makes about $50k per year.

Her mom has point blank told me more than once that she expects me to make $100k before I can even think about moving forward in the relationship. And so I was honoring that. Her dad, while not really in her life in a big way and living in Washington, is reportedly even stricter.

But yesterday, my girlfriend told me that she doesn't care what her mom thinks in this situation. She said that she is in charge of her life and that she wants to move forward. And I do as well... I have been wanting to for a while now.

We have been living together for the past two months, and we already know that we have something truly special. I believe that love has 4 aspects to it: spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial. We are at an 11 out of 10 on spiritual, emotional, and physical, and have been for a long while. We know for a fact that we are each other's life partners.

Anyway, yesterday, we had a long conversation that kind of went in circles. After I kept on bringing up over and over her mom's expectations and that I'm not there yet, and that I said I would be before moving forward, my girlfriend looked me in they eyes, took my hands, and said, "Look. I'm basically proposing to you. Will you marry me?" And of course I responded with an emphatic yes and then a big ol' kiss.

Unlike her previous boyfriend who tried to steal her away from her mom and have her move across the state (from Austin to Dallas), I understand, respect, and want her mom to be in our lives. Not in an overbearing way, but just to be there. For her daughter. My girlfriend is very close to her mom. And I want her to be there for our eventual kids, to be their grandmother. We are staying in Austin, where her mom is, and I don't ever want to break such a special mother-daughter bond.

But I'm afraid that if I move forward with getting engaged (once I save up enough for the ring), and I'm not at the place I said I'd be to her mom, her mom's wrath will come down upon me like an angry mother bear messing with her cubs. I don't want this mother-in-law relationship to start with hatred and anger.
posted by ggp88 at 6:26 AM on November 11, 2019

I have been wanting to for a while now.

"Look. I'm basically proposing to you. Will you marry me?" And of course I responded with an emphatic yes and then a big ol' kiss.

Y'all are engaged! Congratulations! :)

My husband and I got engaged when he had just come out of vows including poverty and had about $25 to his name, plus rent and food money. I had two minimum-wage jobs and he was working on a degree. By the time we got married, 10 months later, he was in a full-time job. My engagement ring, still on my hand, was purchased from a small gift from his mother, and at the time cost under $1k.

He proposed on a futon and I accepted, kinda like it sounds like you just did.

You have a couple of options for the official engagement:

1. Do what you and your girlfriend want. It is truly your life and you both sound like responsible adults. Just don't go into debt for either a ring or a wedding; have what you can afford. You can always upgrade a ring at a later date. It sounds like your girlfriend is fine with this. This can come with a discussion with your mother in law that you know her concern is from a place of caring and that you are taking your (mutual) responsibilities seriously.

2. Get engaged between the two of you and announce it later. My husband and I did this for about a month and we're both kind of private people about these things so it worked for us.

What I would not advise is waiting until you are making a certain amount of money to please others. You are creating a new family with new traditions; be generous with your in-laws but that's all.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:33 AM on November 11, 2019 [22 favorites]

I know this isn't super helpful but I made a "pffft" sound, out loud, when I read 100k.

Your fiancee wants to be with you and you want to be with her. Her mother will come around or she will not, and you have very little control over that. Who's to say that even if you made it to that goalpost that it wouldn't find a way to move?

Also you don't have to buy a wildly expensive engagement ring because you think that's what you're supposed to do. You're the co-captains of this ship, have the journey you want to have together.
posted by sibboleth at 6:34 AM on November 11, 2019 [56 favorites]

my girlfriend looked me in they eyes, took my hands, and said, "Look. I'm basically proposing to you. Will you marry me?" And of course I responded with an emphatic yes and then a big ol' kiss.

But I'm afraid that if I move forward with getting engaged

There is no possible way to move forward with getting engaged. your original headline is a massive misrepresentation. you can't get engaged. She proposed and you said yes. you're engaged. you are engaged!

you are asking whether you should break the engagement, which in a lot of relationships means breaking up altogether. and if you care more about pleasing your fiancee's mother than about her, then yes, you should. She very clearly wants someone who isn't afraid of her parents, and if you aren't that person, then you aren't.

(Moving forward with the engagement you are already in, that you can slow a bit, because moving forward with an engagement means setting a date and getting married. you can put that off for a year or two if you have elaborate enough plans.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:34 AM on November 11, 2019 [41 favorites]

So. Her mother sounds... mildly to majorly toxic. Just because it's a cultural expectation doesn't mean it's not abusive. The previous boyfriend might not have been trying to "steal her" he may have been trying to save her but couldn't. As your girlfriend says- its her life. Frankly, I see a lot of heartache in your future if you marry this women, not because she wont be great, but because neither of you seem to be able to draw a boundary. Demanding a certain salary of a future son in law is... really odd, especially when your child is gainfully employed and relatively well-off. I suspect if you were better off yourself, the mom would have demanded you get an even higher salary. She sounds like either out of fear for her daughter's future or control issues she doesn't want her daughter to marry ever. If you love her and want to marry her- do it. Get a cheap ring you both like- go ahead with whatever wedding you two are comfortable with. Mom-in-law will either come around or not. But you have to be able to draw a boundary, and if you can't, she's only going to get worse.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:37 AM on November 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

Coincidentally, I just read a (not very good) book called "Wooing Cadie McCaffrey" that had your exact same problem but with Christians. Moral of the story: if your girlfriend wants to get married, GET MARRIED, even if het parents don't approve for your lack of money. It REALLY HURT the relationship to stall out and not progress for years and she broke up with him because of no proposal. It's her opinion that matters here, not her parents's. They will just have to deal with it!
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:38 AM on November 11, 2019

So you're already engaged, and the question now is communicating that to the family? Congratulations!

But more generally, this is a conversation you need to have with her, not us. For whatever my opinion's worth I think that healthy relationships are quite a bit of work, not something that just happens, and that honest conversations about how to make the hard parts of the relationship, and everything around the relationship - money, family, work, kids, pets, whatever - work are a critically important part of the whole "I want to be in a long-term-relationship with you" exercise.

If you want to do this whole "life" thing together, then my advice is to talk through these things carefully, and strategically, together, form a plan with your relationship at the center of it, and stick to that plan.

On preview: Yeah, don't ever wager your relationship on hypothetical future money, that is not a happy place to be. Also, $6k is an absolutely bonkers amount of money to spend on an engagement ring, particularly now that chemically perfect synthetic gemstones are everywhere and sapphires the size of your big toe cost fifty bucks.
posted by mhoye at 6:39 AM on November 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

Your girlfriend says she doesn't care what her mom thinks here and that she is in charge of her own life, so it seems fine. I think going ahead with getting engaged could be useful in setting the tone here - that you two get to choose how to live your lives and won't be kowtowing to your MIL at every step.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:40 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Two thoughts, albeit from a white lady without the specific cultural context you need for this question:

Respect your girlfriend's family, but also respect her desire to manage her own relationship with them. Let her own that relationship and support her in her choices. Listen to her. She sounds pretty clear about her wishes.

Second, $6000 for a ring?! Wow, no, that's almost how much we spent on our entire wedding. Unless for some reason you're both suuuuper invested in big diamonds, a ring that expensive for a normal human engagement is a scam. You don't have to get a diamond ring. What does your girlfriend like? Talk to her; she sounds like she knows her mind. You may find out that her dream ring is an amethyst or something. If you're already feeling stressed about finances, don't drop six grand on a ring! You'll have your whole life together to buy her wonderful jewelry, if you want.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 6:41 AM on November 11, 2019 [32 favorites]

Your gf knows her mother much better than you do, right? And you've said she values that relationship, which presumably is the main reason that you value it. So follow her lead on this. If you're that worried, talk together about how you two, together, are going to handle the relationship with her mother. But to break off an engagement out of some kind of "it's for your own good" thinking is somewhat disrespectful, I think.

Btw, talk with your gf about that 6,000 figure, too. She might well prefer to see that money going towards something else.
posted by trig at 6:42 AM on November 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

I plan to save up for an engagement ring though - I read that the average engagement ring is about $6,000.


My girlfriend showed me her ideal ring last week and it was $400. It's freakin' beautiful. You're reminding me of The Office scene where Michael spends like all his money on an engagement ring. Anyway, I don't really have advice on navigating parents but that is not how much you have to spend on a ring.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:44 AM on November 11, 2019 [20 favorites]

I plan to save up for an engagement ring though - I read that the average engagement ring is about $6,000.

It's sweet and progressive of you to want to help pay for your own ring, but there's no need to hold out for something that expensive. Some people like to go shopping together but I think it's romantic to tell her your ring size and preferred styles and just trust her to pick out something you'll be proud to wear.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:46 AM on November 11, 2019 [28 favorites]

You are engaged. You should let her choose how to manage her mother's expectations, and then just go along with whatever she decides. That might mean pulling away more than her mother would want, and that's okay, if it's your GF's decision. It might mean holding a firm line on what you as a couple will and won't adhere to, it might mean being engaged but not planning a wedding for a while, it might mean keeping your engagement private for a while, and it might mean eloping.

If you felt strongly against one of those things, I would say something different--don't do something that YOU don't want to do. But as it stands, if your question is simply how to treat her mother's declarations, your fiancee should decide what you as a couple are going to do with her mother's expectations, and you should take that as your plan.

And congratulations.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:02 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Your gf needs to explain to her mom that this is America, not India, that, as that she believes (as you wrote) that "she is in charge of her life and that she wants to move forward."

Don't do this.
posted by mhoye at 7:10 AM on November 11, 2019 [26 favorites]

It is not clear to me, based on what you wrote, that the previous conversations with her mother are even relevant at this point. Your GF was able to move in with you without apparent family drama. And presumably she knows her mother better than you so if she’s happy to get engaged now what are you worrying about? It speaks for you that you want to be respectful but your GF is financially independent and does not appear to care what her mother has told you previously. Let her handle her family and enjoy your engagement.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:12 AM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

Her mom isn't a bad person. Especially not a toxic person. She is a bit controlling, and comes from a culture (she was born in India, as was her ex-husband, my girlfriend's dad) where marriage is more of a financial situation. She got divorced not too long within her arranged marriage, mostly because her mother-in-law decided to move in with her and her new husband. From what I understand, there was very little love in that marriage and her mother-in-law was horrendous and had a vicegrip over her son and his beliefs and actions.

So, as my girlfriend puts it, she never really knew what real love was. So because of that and her culture, she has a fierce entrepreneurial spirit and believes that the husband needs to be the bread winner and able to take care of all aspects of the family, even if the wife is unable to work and/or sick.

My belief system says that the husband and wife should split things 50/50. That has to do with bills as well as things like, say, if my girlfriend is working harder and longer than I am, I can cook, clean, and even be the stay-at-home dad. As long as it all balances out in the end. Gender rolls don't really matter. My girlfriend believes the same.

I am however, scared of her mom. She has a crazy strong fiery dominating presence, and has a bit of an anger issue. But she is a good person, and it's really jumping the gun to call her a toxic person. She has had a tough life, with her older daughter taking the side of her dad and cutting her mom out out of her life, and her Autistic son cutting his dad out of his life. Her relationship with my girlfriend is the only normal caring relationship she has. I'm not saying that her relationship with her son isn't good because of his condition, but that it's doesn't itch that same itch that my girlfriend can give.

So in summery, she's had a tough life, she comes from a different background, and she's fiercely protective of her children. She's not a toxic person, but she is a very intimidating woman.
posted by ggp88 at 7:19 AM on November 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

It is your girlfriend’s choice to decide how to honor and manage her parents’ expectations, but that’s not to say you have no role in it. Given that these will be your in-laws and (more importantly) you want your future wife to be happy and supported, I think it’s normal for you to think about this and keep her mother’s words to you in mind.

But it sounds to me like you’re being exactly as thoughtful here as you need to be You’re aware of her mother’s concerns and conscious of honoring them. You talked about it with your girlfriend and she has clearly thought about it. It’s also ok for you to say something like “I know how important your family is to you and I want to make sure I build a good relationship with your mom from the get-go, what would you suggest? I want us to be a family, not for me to be the person who comes between the family.” In other words, how can you help support your girlfriend and show respect to her mother while you all move ahead with the engagement? Let your girlfriend lead on this one—in other words, keep doing what you’re doing.
posted by sallybrown at 7:23 AM on November 11, 2019 [19 favorites]

Potentially taking the future mother-in-law's perspective: the OP is 31 years old, has no savings, and is very peripherally involved (logo, website, office assistant) with starting a small business with an older family member , a business that will not see profit for at least a year. It does sound like an extremely tenuous financial situation. I think $100K is quite far in the other direction, but I understand this person's concern.
posted by xo at 7:28 AM on November 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

Her mom can believe whatever she wants. It's up to her daughter to decide how much of her mother's opinion she wants to dictate her future, and that's what you and your FIANCEE (congratulations) need to talk about. Does the woman you plan to marry actually expect you to make that much? Does the woman you plan to marry actually want a $6000 ring? (I didn't, I was proposed to with my dream ring that I picked out and it only cost $300)
The general rule (which of course can be different, but talk about it) with marriage is each spouse is sort of the buffer between their family and their spouse. Your fiancee is who you should be talking to about this, you should know what she wants, and how she sees the relationship with her mother in practice when you're married. How close does she want you to be to her mom? Does she expect a certain involvement of her mother in your lives? Do you agree with that level, what it will actually look like? I appreciate your empathy towards her mother, it says a lot of nice things about you, but focus on your girlfriend. She may not want what her mom wants, or she does and you should be figuring out realistic plans together, to make a future you BOTH want a reality.
posted by wellifyouinsist at 7:34 AM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you marry into this family and don't learn to develop *strong*boundaries (along with your wife who will need to lead the way here), the goalposts will keep moving, and the parents will demand more and more. It won't end at the salary expectation. So do keep that in mind, and don't expect the stress will dissipate if/when you hit six figures.
posted by shaademaan at 7:45 AM on November 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

Don't do this.

OK, not in so many words, but Mom needs to change her thinking if this marriage is going to happen. So that conversation, or a series of conversations, needs to take place. And what I was trying to say is that your gf needs to take the lead on that.
posted by beagle at 7:46 AM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

First, mazel tov, because you are already engaged. When one person (yes, even if that person is a woman) proposes and the other person says "yes" -- that's engaged. Even if nobody else knows yet. Even if the family doesn't approve.

The problem I see isn't that her mother is intimidating or doesn't have the same values as your fiancée (that's what you should call her now, by the way), but that you probably need to gain some life kills:

1) Learn how you can respect someone without adhering to their unreasonable requirements for your life. Perhaps some counseling will help you gain life skills for respectfully standing up to what you see as your future mother-in-law's intimidating personality. She's likely going to be in your life (and the life of any kids you may have) for a long time. You need to learn how to deal with her respectfully without capitulating to her.

2) Learning that your fiancée's opinion is more important than her mother's.

But yesterday, my girlfriend told me that she doesn't care what her mom thinks in this situation. She said that she is in charge of her life and that she wants to move forward.

Yes, you should be respectful of her mother, and yes, she should tell her mother, "Yeah, that $100K thing? I love you, but I'm not waiting for that to happen." She told you that she doesn't care what her mother thinks; if she were an irresponsible teenager, I'd have concerns, but she's a grownup and a school psychologist.

That said, you've had a few posts about how incredibly unhappy your fiancée is in her career (or at least where she's working), and perhaps it would help the two of you to go to couple's therapy to make sure you're both on the same page about a) why she wants to get engaged now and b) how you can both deal with her mom.

3) You should get some financial counseling, on your own and then as a couple. Spending $6000 for a ring if you don't have an emergency fund and a dependable income seems pretty unreasonable to me. I'd rather see you have (at least) a $5000 emergency fund and a $1000 ring. More importantly, I think you should ask your fiancée how SHE feels about the ring.

Money is important, but it's not everything. You not having money doesn't sound like something that could break the two of you up, but you and she not having a united front when dealing with her parents is a huge red flag. Be engaged (which you are) but get some help handling these issues and you'll separately and together be in a stronger position when you do get married.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 7:53 AM on November 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

My engagement ring cost $250, but that's because we bought it at a pawn shop and the diamond quality is questionable (and I didn't care). But even online rings that I really, really liked cost under $2500. There's absolutely no need to spend $6000. If she wants an amazing ring later in life you guys can totally upgrade.
posted by slidell at 7:57 AM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have found that, in general, there is a fair amount of wiggle room when it comes to what parents demand for their children's spouses-to-be. "Make at least $100K", "Be a member of our religion", "Want to have kids right away", etc. I think it is - consciously or not - more a way of signalling what is important to the family you are joining. So, for a parent that says a fiance must be of the same religion, maybe if the person is willing to convert, or even just commit to raising any children in the parent's faith would be OK. It is clear that your fiance's mom wants to know that you are stable financially, but I suspect that she is not going to need to see pay stubs and bank statements before she can feel that her concerns have been met. If you can talk to her about how you are working to grow your business and your role in it, I bet that will be good enough.

Folks, maybe chill about making all sorts of judgements about the situation just because the cultural assumptions are different from your own. This is something we can all work on.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:57 AM on November 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

Married 19 years. I spent $8 on an engagement ring, which we upped to $45 each for silver wedding bands with each others’ names engraved on them.

My point is not that you should spend that little, but that you should find out your fiancé’s expectations for a ring. I very much doubt it’s $6000. I strongly suspect you want to bury the issue vis a vis her mother by spending an unimpeachably high amount of money.
posted by argybarg at 8:14 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

But yesterday, my girlfriend told me that she doesn't care what her mom thinks in this situation. She said that she is in charge of her life and that she wants to move forward.

This was the key sentence in your question for me: you should leave the negotiating with her family to your girlfriend. Let her take the lead on this.

She knows her family's culture, and she knows her own mind. If I were you, I would tell her that I love her and want her to have a good relationship with her family - and then let her define what that relationship is and how it will move forward.

I've never thought that marriage is just between two people - it always involves the complications of uniting two families by creating a new tie. But the two people at the centre of that tie are the principals and the family secondary, unless you are planning to live in a multi-generational household (as I do - it's complicated). If your girlfriend wishes to get married sooner rather than later, you'll likely find that her preference is more important than her mother's.

another thought: while her mother's concerns may be understandable, having a high income now is no guarantee for the future. You could be making $100,000 and be laid off next year - or in a terrible accident that leaves you unable to work for years. None of us have any assurance for the future, and if life if delayed until everything is perfect, maybe life is never lived.
posted by jb at 9:04 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don't have the cultural background to navigate the expectations here, but your girlfriend does, and it sounds like has a clear vision of what she wants for her life, and is taking the lead in making it happen. I think you can also follow her lead on her vision of the relationship she wants to have with her mother, and how you two will navigate it as the engaged couple you already are, because she asked and you said yes.

Talk with her about what she wants as far as a ring (maybe she wants a $6,000 ring and maybe not), when/how to tell others, etc. Find out what she wants and think about what you want and start by negotiating whatever the difference is there, rather than negotiating the difference between yourself and what you read that an average person wants, or what you think her parents want. If you two get on the same page first, it's going to make the rest of this easier and then you can figure out together the best way to tell her mother what you've already decided as a couple.

You're a team, and it sounds like you're a good one. This is not the first, or the hardest, thing you'll ever tackle in what will hopefully be a long happy life as a team.
posted by Stacey at 9:12 AM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

You need to learn to trust your fiancee on this. The only red flags I'm seeing here have nothing to do with her mom. The fact that she already proposed to you and you think it's still on you to "move forward" with getting engaged? That's a red flag, not a "danger, this is doomed" sense but in a "slow down and think about the assumptions you're making here" sense. A yellow flag, I guess? Your idea (based on god knows what!) that the average engagement ring is $6000 which sounds like you have no idea what kind of ring SHE wants: also a yellow flag. And the fact that she has told you explicitly that her mother's expectations are not important to her desires for your relationship and won't change her plans, and you've decided to ignore that and proceed as if they are and will—that especially gives me pause, and it should give you pause too.

None of this is to say that you shouldn't get married, or even that your relationship isn't as good as you think! But you're showing a pattern of considering other factors—her mother's demands, the cultural expectation that the man has to propose for it to count, whatever the internet says about engagement rings—to be BIGGER authorities on what your fiancee wants than she is herself. It sounds like she's great and you know she's great. Trust her and listen to her.
posted by babelfish at 9:25 AM on November 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

I have friends from this type of culture but I am white so insert disclaimers here.

I think discussing with your fiance's mother the balance of wanting to honor her wishes while also honoring her daughter's wishes might yield good results. Make sure she understands how you want to respect her desires, but believe that you have a good plan regardless.

Ask your fiance how she thinks you should approach the conversation to be respectful of traditions and cultural norms while also honoring the more egalitarian focus that your own generation is taking.

Overbearing Indian mothers historically are known to continue to behave that way after marriage, so you can't necessarily escape her disapproval. But it is important that you learn to "cleave" to your fiance and stick with her despite what her mother says. Sometimes you prove your worth to the overbearing parent by standing up to them while still being respectful. Because then they see you're likely to provide that same energy for their child.

Indian culture with arranged marriage and strict expectations is going to be outside the understanding of many people in this web space. I would suggest trying to find a more culturally aware website to ask your question also.
posted by crunchy potato at 9:39 AM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was thinking about it, and I think the core of the reason I'm terrified of 'The Final Showdown (before marriage)' with her mom is because...

Well, first, as my FIANCEE (that's so new to me!) would say (since she's big into astrology), her mom is a LEO and if I've ever met someone who reminds me of a Lion, in both how they can roar and instill immediate intimidation, but also be fiercely protective of their pride.

But the CORE reason is because I grew up in a family where my parents' marriage seem to be often strained. It is to this day - my Dad is 61 and my Mom just turned 60. They are still married and will never divorce.

When I listen to my Mom's side or the story (which is very biased towards her end, but I can see the roots of where she might be coming from), she says that the cause of the resentment is because my Dad more often than not put his parent's wishes before his wife's. I don't honestly believe that, but to a small degree, it's true. And my Mom would (will) always complain about how my Dad's parents don't like here too much.

Anyway, always hearing these stories growing up, it should be understandable why I want to have my fiancee's parents like me. It should be understandable where that all comes from. From there has also come a fierce belief that decisions between the husband and wife should be between them only... and they can ask for some advice from loved ones, but that advice shouldn't be held above the spouse's advice.

But you know, also fear of the parents in law not liking me.
posted by ggp88 at 9:58 AM on November 11, 2019

Also, I should add that all of my friends and family on my side, especially my parents, would be cheering about this news because they absolutely love my girlfriend and how she hasn’t been such a great person in my life. And our mutual friends (most of which are her friends) would be in full autos this as well. It’s weird, but everywhere we go, via family, friends, or public, people treat us as “the perfect couple. And sometimes they ask” why aren’t they married yet?”
posted by ggp88 at 10:56 AM on November 11, 2019

it should be understandable why I want to have my fiancee's parents like me

It may also be a cultural thing—but her mom critiquing you or even saying you’re not ready for marriage doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you or want you in her family. It’s also not a final verdict on you. Metafilter doesn’t think highly of the family dynamic of hyper-critical parents (and there are some good reasons behind that) but it’s common in a lot of cultures to parent in a critical, disapproving style. So I would not take “you guys aren’t ready to be engaged” as “I don’t want him in my family,” more like “I worry about you guys as self-sufficient adults and I want you to live comfortably.” And it doesn’t mean you’re cutting off your relationship with the in-laws forever to do something they disagree with. Hang in there.
posted by sallybrown at 11:59 AM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I just wanted to add that it sounds as though you place a lot of importance on external authority (her mom, how much rings should cost etc) and I would encourage you to revisit that style of decision making as you progress in your future marriage and in your life. Congrats on the engagement.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:26 PM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

You have a big problem. The problem is that your fiancée and her mother have very different ideas about how much autonomy your fiancée should have. Your fiancée wants independence to make big decisions like who she should marry. Her mother wants to place criteria on that decision.

This issue will not end if you put your tax documents in front of your mother in law showing high income. She will want input on where you live, your wedding, and most importantly, children. Your 50/50 less gendered relationship style will face criticism on issues like parental leave and child care.

You need to establish boundaries with your potential mother in law before you get married. I wonder if her previous boyfriend wasn’t trying to steal her away to Dallas, but instead trying to use physical distance to get them the autonomy they needed to live a reasonable life. Good luck.
posted by thenormshow at 2:03 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh gosh, there are a lot of people here who are not answering from the right cultural context and it is really affecting answers. I'm just a white person too, so I can't tell you exactly what the right answer is here, but your fiance seems to be in a good position to. She wants to get married, she doesn't want to follow her mom's edicts but she also wants to maintain a good relationship. Has she brought up this issue with her mom? How did it go? What would her mom think about a long engagement--maybe until your business is up and running? I think it's great you're being sensitive to the trickiness here and want to find that balance of respecting her mom while not letting that dictate your whole life.
posted by schroedinger at 4:58 PM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

A) Congratulations!

B) Please, get out of your own head. Your parents' marriage, her parents' marriage, John Q. Rando's seven marriages -- none of them are your marriage, and your most recent girlfriend realizes that. You led with how her parents are strict, and want you "to be in a certain place" financially before accepting you, yet you're only guessing at what her father thinks. You are laser-focused on the behavior of your wife-to-be's mother, and the unhelpful things she's said to you? Well, the love of your life noticed, and rather than risk the love of her life moving on, she up and moved in with the guy. Then she proposed! She's not stuck on tradition. She is choosing you, and your future together.

C) Don't drag your heels and lose this glorious momentum. She has to take the lead with her mom; if you've been told point-blank several times your salary must be X and it makes you uncomfortable, your fiancée can take steps to cut that noise. (You'll generally be the point person with your folks. Soulmates are teammates, and have one another's backs.) You're sweating over the ring because you've been brainwa socialized to think overly-expensive ring = deep-pocketed provider, and you feel like you have something to prove to her mom. But your girlfriend proposed to you; she clearly has different priorities. Please talk to her about what she wants, how she wants to announce your engagement, if she would still like a "formal' proposal from you, this ring business, her ideal time frame for the engagement, and so on.

You've been engaged a whole day and you are lavishing your attention on the wrong woman. You know MIL is going to be difficult, because that is her m.o. You're going to work on this with your fiancée, as a team, but please -- go ahead and enjoy being betrothed to the woman you adore already. Celebrate.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:27 PM on November 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

You sound like a good, empathetic dude and I think that’s why your fiancée wants to be engaged, irrespective of whatever the American and South Asian cultural norms are. I’m a South Asian dude born and raised in the U.S. and I can understand the cultural pressure at play here. I think it’s good you’re asking questions. Making assumptions is the wrong way to approach cross cultural situations.

My suggestion is to get a less expensive ring but do a creative proposal. I understand you’re already engaged but do a romantic proposal that will be a memory of a lifetime. For example, you could propose on a hike and have a friend take picture of the actual proposal. Or if you’re musically inclined sing a song and then propose. Or is she’s a huge ______ fan, do something related to ______. Congrats!
posted by mundo at 8:22 PM on November 11, 2019

Sounds like you already are engaged, congrats!

$100k annual salary before you can get engaged to someone is insane to me. Where I live, professionals in technical fields with advanced degrees and licensures can work for decades before they get to that level.

Also $6k for an engagement ring is nuts. If my husband had proposed to me with a $6k ring, I would have been furious at the waste of money and it would have raised concerns with me about his common sense, maturity, and financial responsibility. Make 100 percent sure you are on the same page about that before you drop that kind of money!
posted by beandip at 9:27 AM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

I absolutely understand wanting your in-laws to like you so you don't spend your entire marriage fighting about or with them. But that may just not be possible with some people. God knows some families (mine included) just don't want to welcome newcomers in, complain that you're stealing their baby, etc. I have low standards for this sort of thing: in the highly unlikely event that I ever got married, I would consider myself very fortunate if I had in-laws who hated me, but weren't actively trying to destroy me. That's all I ask.

Odds are at least fairly high this lady is always going to be difficult with you on some level, which may or may not get better or worse with time. Right now she's trying to raise your entry bar, possibly to keep you out of the family (don't know), but even if you made a bajillion dollars, she might find some other reason not to like you. Don't let her stop you from proceeding to get married, but realize that she may just be a difficult person forever and everyone will have to cope with that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:37 AM on November 12, 2019

It sounds to me like you are making the same mistake as your dad, but in a different direction - you're not putting *your* parents' feelings before your wife's, you're putting *her* parents' feelings before hers. You're telling her you won't marry her because her mother doesn't approve. Shouldn't her mother be the one to tell her she doesn't approve, if true? Why would that message need to come through you?

The question you have here also rephrases into, "should I tell my girlfriend I don't want to get married because I [will] have a bad relationship with her mom?" Like, say if her mom hated you. Then you would have a hard time in a marriage and it would be reasonable to say you don't want to be with your partner because of her family. But I don't think you have any evidence of that yet.
posted by Lady Li at 10:16 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Hi. I am in a mixed race marriage (white and Indian/Punjabi Hindu) and just want to put out the offer to please Memail me should you ever want to chat. Both my husband and I have a lot of thoughts on what it's like to navigate this together, and we'd both be happy to share our experiences.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:19 PM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

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