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.
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.