What Should You Do If Your Parents Aren't Excited About Your Engagement?

Cue the drama

Updated 10/02/19

Universal Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Getting engaged is a major milestone and a life-altering decision—not to mention an incredibly exciting time in your life. But what if not everyone is as gung-ho about your upcoming nuptials as you and your partner? Suddenly, your "perfect day" starts to turn into a family feud. Our experts weigh in on what to do when your parents don't approve of your marriage.

Don't Jump to Conclusions

It can be a serious blow when the people you're closest to aren't as thrilled about your engagement, even more so if they don't approve of it at all. And while your first instinct might be to say you don't care and just run off together in newlywed bliss, there might be more to their disapproval than meets the eye. Don't forget to practice empathy. Try putting yourself in their shoes before acting out of haste. You may even want to consider calling a meeting with your partner and folks to clear the air.

If your parents aren't supportive, begin by exploring why they don't support your decision to get married. "Most parents want the best for their child and I promise you, their attitude is related to a fear. Perhaps they are worried about your future because they think you are marrying too young, without resources, or are in a relationship that they fear might turn abusive," says Dr. Wendy Walsh, a relationship expert. "Talking about their fears honestly and reassuring your parents—or even considering the validity of their fears—can bring you all to a greater understanding of each other."

Talk With Your Partner

It may be hard to admit that some of their concerns are valid, but don't forget that marriage is a lifelong commitment (one that shouldn't be taken lightly, at that). It's best to be as open-minded and realistic as possible before making a decision blinded by passion. How well do you and your partner really know each other? Have you met with a therapist for premarital counseling?

Give Them an Ultimatum

But if you discover that their reluctance is aimed at preventing you from acting independently or is a bid to control you, then it's time to set firm boundaries. Dr. Walsh says, "Tell them clearly that you love them and want their support in your decision. If they can't be supportive, you must plan without them." While moving forward without your parents' blessing isn't ideal (even unthinkable if you come from a close-knit family), the show must go on. Either they find a way to respect your decision to wed, or they risk missing out on your big day.

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