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

Cue the drama

Universal Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Getting engaged is a major milestone and a big life step—not to mention an incredibly exciting time in your life. But what if not everyone is as thrilled 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 are not supportive of your decision to get married.

Don't Jump to Conclusions

It can be a serious blow when the people you're closest to aren't super excited about your engagement, even more so if they don't approve of your relationship 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 you realize. Try putting yourself in their shoes before acting out of haste. You may even want to consider sitting down with your parents alone or with your partner to help clear the air.

If your parents aren't supportive, begin by exploring why they don't approve of your marriage. "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? Many couples go for premarital counseling, whether it's for Pre-Cana or just to talk things out before saying "I do." It can bring up a lot of issues (in a good way) that you and your partner may not have thought about or discussed.

Give Your Parents an Ultimatum

After taking your parents' words into consideration, 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. 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 commitment between you two should be what matters. Focus on each other and celebrating this time in your lives. Either your parents will find a way to respect your decision to wed, or they risk missing out on your big day.

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