Relationship Under Fire

12 May

Dear LetterBalm: I’m in my late-20s. The first two years of my relationship with my girlfriend, my parents kept up a relentless round of criticism about her. Things like “you’re making the biggest mistake of your life” and “how can you waste your life and money on her?” They didn’t like her because she came from a poor family, and I argued with them almost every day. I’m ashamed to say they wore me down and I let them convince me to break up with her. The year we were apart was torture because we really loved each other and wanted to build a life together. I finally grew a pair and got back together with my girlfriend. She was the bigger person for taking me back after I hurt her so. This time, I decided to keep our relationship a secret from my parents until we were established as a couple (her family and some of my friends know about us). My girlfriend and I are living together, we’re engaged and have set a wedding date. I’ll tell my parents now, but I need the words to shut down any continuing objections. This time, I’m prepared to cut them out of my life.

–Strong Fiancé

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. You and your fiancée have certainly been through the crucible of commitment, and it’s clear you’ve both gained maturity from your travails. Ms. L.B. is sorry your parents have been so badly behaved that you’ve had to keep something so important from them. But you two hold all the high cards now. Have a private talk with them and don’t be reluctant to tell them you’ll cut off all ties if they revert to old patterns:

Mom and Dad, I have something to say and I want you to listen and not interrupt. You’ve said quite enough about Savannah over the years, and it’s my turn. She and I got back together last year. I decided to keep our relationship from you because I knew you wouldn’t take it well, and that’s not fair to her or to me. It’s sad that I had to do this to my own parents, but it was necessary. Well, we’re living together, we’re engaged and the wedding date is set. I’m moving on with my life, and Savannah is the person I want to spend it with. I don’t expect you to accept this totally, but I insist on your being polite and kind to her. I believe that if you really make an effort to get to know Savannah, you’ll see what a wonderful person she is. I must tell you one more thing: If you don’t respect us, I’m prepared to break off contact with you. That would be tragic – and Savannah doesn’t want this, either – but I have to live my life as I choose. To get us off on the right foot, we’d like to invite you to dinner this Saturday and we hope you can come.


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