Help! Our Parents Don’t Approve of Our Engagement

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.


  • Mike F. says:

    I was 20 years old and casually asked my girlfriend of two years to marry me, before talking to my dad about it. She said “yes”.
    I’ll never forget the “conversation” with my dad a few days later: “Dad, could you picture Gail as your daughter in-law?” His one-word answer: “NO!”
    I broke off the engagement the next time I saw her and we parted ways a few months later. I’m now 60 and I’ve have never regretted it.
    With separation came clarity, and honesty: Several friends told me after we broke up that they never thought she was right for me. I think a true friend would have said something sooner.
    I made a commitment then to always be honest with my friends about my perceptions about their girlfriends, and asked them to be honest with me.

    Incidentally, my mother married against her parent’s wishes…and she ended up divorced 3 years later.
    Bottom line: Take your friends and family seriously when they express concern about a relationship you’re in. They really have your best interest in mind.

    • Val says:

      Thank you for sharing all of what you did!! We lack such honesty, reality & truth in our society. In my opinion, it’s one of the main reasons there are so many failed marriages.
      May the Lord help our children and next generation of marriages.

  • Kait says:

    As a personal recipient of a lack of approval from my husband’s parents during our engagement, I can with confidence and compassion remind us to PRAY long and hard regarding people’s engagements. It was a confusing and hurtful experience which gave us a lot to work through in the first year of marriage. My husband and I are both passionate believers, and my mother in law struggles greatly with anxiety. Looking back, it hurt me deeply to want to be accepted by the mother of a man I so deeply respect, but instead to only receive judgment and suspicion. Two truths to remember: 1) God works all things together for good. So EVEN if the engagement isn’t what one wants for their child, trust that God will bring good out of it in the end- whatever the outcome. 2) Joseph is a perfect example of resting under God’s providence. “What you intended for evil, God meant for good.” When we flex our prayer muscles, not only is it good for our individual faith, it is also a mercy to those around us…letting God work out the details of their lives. By all means, if the Lord leads us to speak something to another, let’s do it drenched in gentleness and love. But our FIRST and most intense pursuit should be prayer.

  • Lulu says:

    I am struggling with our engagement. I was best friends with my fiancé’s sister for 25+years and when we got together his sister didn’t approve and gave me an ultimatum. I chose him! Due to her causing trouble for us she convinced her father who adored me since I was 13 I was a not so good person and has him believing I will leave. I tried to write him a letter and he refused to read it and said he wants nothing from me as for the sister she is angry I recorded our conversation and proved her true colors to her brother of how she talks bad behind his back and this is why she now won’t talk to me and has their father against me as well.

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