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What to do when parents disapprove of your partner

Family disagreements are bound to happen from time to time. How you deal with them will lay the ground for future relationships with your respective parents.

What if you really love your partner and are sure you want to get married to them, but your parents just don’t agree with your decision? It could be because your partner belongs to another race, religion, or tribe. It could also be, for example, because they don’t approve of your lover’s profession or financial status, or how they behave, or what their family represents.

You don’t want to let your parents down and hurt their feelings. At the same time, you want to live your life with someone you love. Here are some tips to help you get through this difficult phase:

  • Be honest with your parents. Let your parents know why you think you’ve made the right choice.
  • Have your families meet each other, if possible. Dining together is a good idea.
  • Listen to what your parents’ objections and worries are. Know that they love you and want to see you happy. Value their experience about life and relationships. Talk openly what they like and do not like about your relationship.
  • Clear your parents’ doubts. Once you know why they think your partner isn’t fit for you, answer their questions. Convince them of your decision, using examples and anecdotes.
  • Don’t threaten or blackmail your parents. This could only complicate the situation. They won’t feel free to express themselves freely, and they might respond with anger or lecturing. If your parents emotionally blackmail you, let them know that it isn’t constructive. Tell them you’re open to dialogue.
  • Be patient. Prejudices that have piled up over years won’t disappear in a week or two. Give your parents time. Be ready to engage and discuss the issue, for as long as they are asking.
  • Find other family members who might support your decision. Differing opinions from within the family could make your parents think deeper about their views.
  • Try family counselling. Expert help from a counsellor can help resolve even the most complicated of issues.
  • Keep your partner in the loop throughout the process. Find ways to stay together and spend time that isn’t just stressful. Listen to your parents’ advice, and observe how they behave during such a difficult time in your life.

Get help

Of course, this approach won’t always work. We think it’s always best to talk, but sometimes it’s not possible to negotiate with your family, especially in conservative settings. If you need help and advice, don’t shy away from contacting these services:

One2One Hotline: 1190 (free from any Safaricom line)

Kenya Marriage Counselling: 0721743977

Rescue Counsellors: 0726293913*

*We currently list Kenyan help only. This will change in the future.

Did you learn something new?

Comments
Anonymous
Sat, 11/11/2017 - 08:16 pm
Am passing through the same...am a Kikuyu with a luo man and rearly wants to marry.I tried talking to my mum but she said it can't happen I love the man so much and I don't knw wat to do
Sorry about this, does your mom abject the tribe or the person? Take time to listen to what exactly the objection is this you maybe able to address her concerns. Sometimes if possible, meeting your partner may help. Talk to your partner, let him know what is going on and lastly be patient with your mom. We wish you well.
Hide identity
Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:46 am
I have been having issues with my husband because of ladies that cal him and he claims that he has nothing to do with them n that he lives me but sometimes he comes home drunk and he blames me for his drinking I sometimes don't understand him he gets violent sometimes but I forgive him the question is is there really life in this marriage
Hey, the important question is whether you feel your relationship has a chance. It is important you find a good time and talk with your partner about the issues that are affecting your relationship so that you can together agree on how to proceed. Violence is not acceptable in a relationship, do talk about this also so you can address the underlying issues that are causing this. Check out this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/happy-relationships/tips-for-talking-to-your-partner
Hi,We tried come we stay marriage because my man didn't have financial support. I was the only one working. There was so much family interference from his family especially when we quarrel. We have one son but currently separated. He says he cant hurt his family because of me. Recently we quarreled then he reported me to his family who advised home to marry another woman.No one bothered to hear me out. The family doesn't want him even to contact me. So I moved out with our son.Does this mean families are ever right?
Hi Mary, So sorry about this. All relationships will have problems from time to time. How the partners in the relationship choose to resolve the issues is what make the greatest difference as to whether they will keep the relationship or not. It is important for partners to shield their relationship from outside interference even from family. One can carefully seek advice from people or even relatives who will true and objective in their advice, but they have to make the final decision themselves. Your partner seems to listen more to everyone else and not to you or even to himself. Families are not always right especially when they are only listening to one side of the story. It is a good thing you choose to move out especially because of the violence. We do wish you.

Hey Isha, religion differences in a relationship is a major issue in any relationship. it is important for you and your partner to think about these differences and how they may affect your relationship moving forward including what your parents think and how their opinion affects your relationship. Should you choose to move forward, take time to think and talk about what this will mean to your relationship, and then choose how to proceed. Check out the following articles;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/marriage/thinking-about-marriage/the-big-decision-how-do-i-know

https://lovemattersafrica.com/marriage/thinking-about-marriage/family-disagreements

Hey Grace, I can imagine how difficult this is for you and your partner. Religious differences can present challenges particularly for families involved. You need to think about the consequences of the options you have, breaking up or eloping. Take sometime and think about what kind of relationship you want in the future and then make a decision on how to proceed. Check out the following article for additional information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/marriage/thinking-about-marriage/the-big-decision-how-do-i-know

Anonymous
Fri, 06/29/2018 - 01:38 pm
This is very difficult for me, I am dating a person from a different race and my parents do g this can work. They have been against the relationship from day one. I have done everything to make them be accepting of this guy that I love but they won't hear any it. It is sad that they are objecting someone they have not even met. I am at a point where I will hose to elope I can't figure out life with him.

Hi, so sorry about this. At times parents will make decision believing they are protecting their children or at times it may just be decisions in their best interest. It is however important that you try and figure out exactly why they are opposed to your relationship. What exactly about the race are they opposed to. This maybe able to help you address their concerns and have them accept your partner. Also, you may consider having a close family friend or relative to talk to your parents on your behalf. Lastly, you can also explore whether they would be willing to meet your partner before they pass judgement and the plan to make this happen. Be honest with your partner through this. We wish you well. 

Is there a way we cab come out and speak about this issue of our parents proudly and out. I am as well in the same situation but on religion aspects. The lady I love is muslim. I am a christian .while her parents have accepted a and loved me as I am. My parents have been nothing but objectionable. Emotionally blackmailing and demanding of me to end it as I am the only son in a lot of 2 children. I told my parents I was done to get them off my back but secretly planning to elope e after a few months with her and disappear

Hi Kelvin, thank you so much for reaching out to us and opening up about what you are going through.First and foremost, telling them that you are done and eloping may remidy the situation in the short term but eventually the truth will come out and in the long run, your parents may feel betrayed by your decision and you may risk burning important bridges with them, especially when you and your partner become parents and cannot take your children to their grand parents. Going back to the first point in our article, it is important to be honest with your parents. Let your parents know why you think you’ve made the right choice. Secondly, to answer your question, yes! And you can be a big part of it. By sharing this article and its points, this is one way of creating awareness of the varios approaches that young couples such as youselves can take towards building long lasting family relationships!.

Hi Eli, religious values are some of the deep seated values that people hold. It is important that partners with differing religious beliefs and values have an honest conversation about how these beliefs will be affected should they choose to get married, what it means to them and what it will mean to their families, if they plan to have children how they will raise them among other issues that are different and are likely to affect the relationship. A relationship may or may not work, at times both partners can choose to abandon their beliefs or one of them will choose to abandon their beliefs in favor of their partner's. It is important that both partners talk about these differences honestly, a conversation that will inform whether they should proceed or not. Have a look at the following article for additional tips;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/marriage/thinking-about-marriage/the-big-decision-how-do-i-know

Hi Tessy, do you know what their reason for not being accepting of your fiance? This is a good place to begin, perhaps if you know what their reasons are you may be able to talk about it and resolve the issues. Find a good to talk with your family to get to know what their reasons are and then try and address the issues. 

Joshua Adiang'
Thu, 08/15/2019 - 04:47 pm
I have been married for three years we have one child together. I had not informed my parents about my marriage but I am planning to go home to introduce my wife to my family but my mother has said she doesn't recognize her as my wife bcoz she is from a different ethic group. I am confused we already have a child together and we love each other dearly. I feel i should just cut ties with my family and focus on my family, what do you think?

Hi Joshua, so sorry about this, but have consider both the negative and positive consequences of such a decision? Your mother has made clear what her reservations are about your marriage, with this information you can try and address her concerns. Get to know what exactly she is opposed to about your wife's ethnicity. You can also consider asking a close family member and friend to help you talk to your mother and perhaps address her concerns. If she still chooses to note recognize your wife, you will have to make a decision on how to proceed. We wish you well.  

John ezekiel
Mon, 11/04/2019 - 02:30 pm
Well to me parents interference is to know certain things they could hold as the bases of their children relationship before giving their consent for marriage knowing that they also has role responsibility toward their children marriage to work in mutual manner, so it maybe race, religious or his or her financial status there is only two this things that they want to be sure off as parents that is religion and love toward their child. In my opinion I wouldn't allowed someone to marry my child without knowing your religious which is very portent so boths can rule their marriage confidential for me as a christian.

We appreciate your contribution John. There is no harm in knowing and giving advice, parents however, should need to raise their children and then allow them to make their own life choices. 

After visiting her parents, her dad later summoned my fiancé that he wasn't supporting her marriage because I'm a kamba n she's kikuyu. Reason being, he has witnessed similar marriages end up separating. We love each other. I'm afraid he'll approve n bless our marriage.

Hello Nic, thank you for reaching out to us. We are so sorry to hear you are going through such a hard time. As you have stated, you love each other and at the end of the day your love and dedication to each other will help you work out this period. Unfortunately, culturally he may have to give his approval. Try and discuss this issue with your partner how this may be a problem in the future and maybe have her intercede on your behalf.

Hello Sam, thank you for reaching out and we are sorry you are going through a hard time. What about her mum is causing conflict within your marriage and what does her mother have to do with any of your business as a couple?

Cynthia
Tue, 11/24/2020 - 06:19 pm
I just got intoa relationship myparents dontwant me tomarry awho is not mylanguag oreven bein anearlyrelationsip what should i do?
Love Matters
Tue, 12/01/2020 - 07:20 pm

Hi Cynthia, thank you for reaching out to us and we are so sorry you are going through a hard time. Please read our article above to find out more about how to help your current situation and let us know what you think!

Salamight
Fri, 01/15/2021 - 01:00 am
I av seen someone to marry coz i love her whole heartedly and i can go many miles for her and she care for me but d problem is for now we are just friend and i dont know how to tell her my feelings for her and i dont want to destroyed our relationrship

Hi Salamight, thank you for reaching out to us. You are indeed in a conundrum and you may be forced to make a decision. Either you tell her or you so not. Both decisions have consequences that you will have to live with. Ask yourself what the worst and the best scenario is in both cases and make the decision you feel best serves you. All the best!

I went out to live with my bf with our kid . But my mom disapproves of it as he is a we are of different tribes and mine requires the man's family to visit our home first. And his tribe have a way of following their traditions. Am tired of being pulled two ways and my mom keeps blackmailing me with my kid and education wise which am through with.She wants me to stay with her until I get a job but I want to fend for my own family which I have done for 2years but still cannot accept it. I paid for my own everything together with my boyfriend but she doesn't want to think I can because of tribes traditions. I don't want to disrespect her at the same time I want to take care and fend for my own. What do I do?
I am in a situation where my mom doesn't want me living with my boyfriend until I get a job and claims until his family comes to my home if he really wants me. I have our kid and was still in campus when I had her. my mom helped a little but later on I didn't want to stress her so I and my boyfriend struggled on our own. We've been together for 3years now and we are doing better in our finances and I don't want to depend on my mom but to struggle for myself and my family. She doesn't want me to because of tribes traditions where he's of a different tribes from mine. I don't know what to do because I don't want to disrespect her nor stay under her umbrella forever. She doesn't want me taking my kid along to my house and she'll be mistreated and I don't know my boyfriend family theyay turn on me or may not be good people. I love both families but it's draining me and stresing me out. Sometimes I can't sleep for days trying to make everyone happy. Am tired. Please help
Freddie
Tue, 03/16/2021 - 02:16 pm

Hello Mesha and Shar. Thank you for reaching out to us and we are so sorry you are going through a hard time. It is understandable that both your mums would have these sentiments about your relationship at the moment. I'm sure that both of your mothers didn't expect you to have a child while you were still studying and this may have triggered them to feel the way they do. From what you have both said, it does not seem like they are going against your relationships, they are frowning on the relationship because they probably wanted you both to go through the proper cultural procedures required for you to start a family which, as you both have mentioned, is not how things may have went.

Furthermore, if you both have not completed school, your mothers may be apprehensive about your relationships and the both of you depending on someone because it seems like all they want is for you to be independent, even if the men you are with are capable of supporting you.

People from different cultures and tribes start families all the time, despite their varying socio-cultural attributes. This is why both your mums are is insisting on meeting the fathers of your children and establishing a relationship in which both cultures can be considered and the families can have an opportunity to get to know one another and help the both of you build your lives.

Considering that we are currently in a global pandemic and getting a job immediately may be tough, have you both considered simply guiding your boyfriends on the proper and necessary customs associated with your family's and how to approach them so that your family's can become more comfortable knowing your significant other?

Go through this article with your partners and brainstorm on how you can both bring your families together and let us know how it goes.

We've completed studies and my mom just insulted me some days ago about my religion again saying that I was stupid being baptised in catholic where else I could be baptised in her church . I'm confused what does she want????.But then she doesn't want the person I chose to be my partner,however I learnt that she was colluding with aunt on looking for a husband for me. I don't get it.... Am Soo angry I don't know what to do
Freddie
Mon, 03/29/2021 - 04:46 pm

Hello Mesha, thank you for getting in touch with us and we are so sorry you are going through a tough time. Your mother probably did not expect your faith to take a slightly different direction than she expected. As a Catholic, your mother is probably a lot more conservative than you, is this a correct assumption? If this is the case, she may feel that she is being punished by God for her transgressions in not being successful in keeping you, her child, in the same faith as her. Do not be quick to emotion, she is from a different generation and she may be lashing out to you because she only wants the best for you and does not know how to do that if you are of a slightly different faith than her. Explain to her that this difference does not have to push you away from her, or vice versa, you are both Christian after all, right? 

Furthermore, communication is an important part of any relationship, even with your mother. Have an open and honest conversation with her. Explain how her actions are affecting you and your relationship with her and your current/ potential future partners. Try not to be confrontational because that would put them on the defensive and the resulting conversation would not be productive.  Be ready to listen to her fears and feelings and respond to them as well.
This article has some pointers that could help you learn how to better communicate.
https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/happy-relationships/better-communication-better-relationships

Anjali
Fri, 04/16/2021 - 10:15 am
Me and my boyfriend are in 3 year relationship but now we get marry but his perents not accept me because iam 6 year older from my boyfriend .Now his perents not agree and he leave me for this reason he says his perents not give approval any time. What should we do now. We want together our life.plz any suggestions

Hi Anjali, 

I am so sorry about what you are going through. The age difference is healthy and it is sad that the parents used it to say that you are not a great fit for their son. They may be very conservative and believe that a wife should not be older than her husband. However, I believe that your boyfriend should have stood by your side even if the parents did not accept you. I suggest that you try counselling with your boyfriend first and then try to involve the parents. Counselling can be done by church leaders, village elders, or professional counsellors. If this does not work, I suggest that move on with your life because your boyfriend has decided to agree with what his parents have said. It could be that he is afraid to disrespect his parents or he is using this situation to breakup with you. I know this is hard to hear especially because you seem to love him but this is not a healthy situation for you. I believe that if he wanted to fight for your love, he could have done so. At this point, it seems that you are the only one worried about your relationship. Sending you well wishes in whatever you decide. 

dorcas
Fri, 06/25/2021 - 12:50 am
hi,i am luo and i have a child,my boyfriend is kikuyu,i gave birth and my baby has nevee been in the picture ,he only send money.my child has known my boyfriend as his father as he has always been there,but recently we have been trying to break up,since his parents wants him to find a kikuyu and if not then i am supossed to take my child to his dad,he said that his parents would never accept me and he even asked me if i was willing to stay with knowing that i am not fully accepted.he does not want me lose the child and so the only way out is for us to break up.but we love each other but we just seem to have unresolved issues throughout,and we are not figuring things out,and his parents are clear

Hello Dorcas, 

I am so sorry for what you are going through. Huh, this is a tough one: two people from different tribes in love and the parents from either, or both, sides are not happy with it. It's a very sad thing to hear in this day and age! 

First, both of you are adults and can choose what you want with your lives. If your boyfriend truly wants to be with you, he will try his best to talk through the issues with the parents and if that fails, the decision to stay with you or break up is also up to him. Either way, there will be consequences. 

Above all, think about what you want and how much you can tolerate. If you decide to break up with your boyfriend, it will be painful for sure but this pain will not last forever. If you decide to stay with him, be prepared for ups and downs because he is also torn between your relationship and what the parents are advising. Think carefully about what situation is best for you and your child. 

Wishing you all the best in whatever choice you make. 

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