Failing to get our parents’ approval of the person we love and plan to marry is one of the most painful circumstances couples face. Parents sometimes disapprove of engagement for a number of reasons, and each situation is entirely unique to the couple and their family dynamics. Regardless of the circumstances or the parents’ reasoning, this scenario is always difficult to navigate.
If you’re an engaged couple facing criticism or disapproval from either or both sets of parents, there are a few things you can do to gain clarity during this season. Let’s take a look.
1. Give them time.
Time is one of the most healing gifts engaged couples can give their parents. It can give cautious, protective parents a chance to get to know their future daughter- or son-in-law. Time can give both parents and couples clarity, and it can shed light on potential problems that may be mitigated before a wedding occurs.
Consider whether your parents might need time to get to know your fiance better, or if it might take them a little while to warm up to the person you want to marry. It can take six months or more of engagement for a parent to adjust to the idea of their child getting married, and subsequently to accept your fiance. Rushing into marriage is not an advisable decision, and time is more likely to clarify and soothe your transition into married life.
2. Consider your fiance’s character.
Do you know your fiance as well as you think? Is there something about him or her that your parents can see, but you cannot? If they’ve objected to potential character flaws in your fiance, it’s time to pause and consider their perspective.
It’s a popular saying that love is blind. When we think we’ve found “the one”, it can be too easy to overlook real problems. Consider the fact that your parents may have perceived something in your fiance that you are excusing or ignoring, and remember that they have enough life experience to warn you when they see something alarming. Be mindful of your fiance, taking their behavior patterns and actions into account as you evaluate whether your parents’ allegations should hold any weight.
3. Take a close look at the timing of your plans.
When it comes to your engagement and your wedding plans, what does your timing look like? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Have you dated for a long time, or agreed to marry after a short courtship?
- Did you move from one relationship into another, only to get engaged quickly?
- Are you making wedding plans that clash with family traditions or unspoken family rules?
- Are you including enough lead time for your parents to be involved in the planning if they want to be?
The answers to these questions may provide some insight into your parents’ disapproval, though the list isn’t exhaustive. Either way, their feelings about your relationship may be hinged on timing rather than protectiveness or the presence of character flaws.
Engagement is a challenging period for both couples and parents.
Regardless of the reasons why your parents might disapprove of your engagement, remember that this season is challenging for couples and parents alike–for different reasons. Sometimes, parents have their children’s best interests at heart, and those interests may drive a disapproval that may be painful now, but could help you avoid future pain. In other cases, parental disapproval or an engagement may be motivated by their own deep issues or character flaws.
It’s up to you and your fiance to take a step back and evaluate how much weight you should place on your parents’ opinions of your relationship. You can do so in a way that honors them, by listening respectfully and taking their feelings into consideration. However, you’ll have to lean on your own discernment as you move forward. Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate to either put your wedding plans on hold, or move forward with your plans knowing that you’ve done everything possible to secure your parents’ blessing.
If you want to read more about navigating parental disapproval during engagement, take a look at chapter 7 of our book, Getting Ready for the Wedding: All You Need to Know Before You Say I Do. The chapter was written by John Trent and takes a closer look at the complicated dynamics adult children sometimes face when considering marriage. You can get your copy here.
Have you faced a situation where your parents (or your fiance’s parents) disapproved of your engagement? How did you navigate it? Let us know in the comments.