It can be very disheartening to plan a wedding — and a life together — when your parents don’t like your fiancé. You might wonder how you can interact without all the negativity or confrontation. But there are ways to cope when your parents don’t like your fiancé. Start by addressing your parents’ concerns and working with your future spouse. Then you should try to reconcile the situation, or, if that’s impossible, figure out the best ways to keep the peace.
EditAddressing Your Parents’ Concerns
- Ask your parents what their concerns are. If you don’t already know why your parents dislike your fiancé, you should ask them. Once you know exactly what their concerns are, you can take steps to address them and hopefully improve the relationship.
- You might say, for example, “Mom, Dad, I know that you don’t care for my fiancé very much. But I’m not sure why. Could we talk about it?”
- Or, you might directly say to them, “Could you tell me why you don’t like my fiancé?”
- Talk to your parents alone. It may be easier for you to begin the process of overcoming your parents’ dislike for your fiancé without your future spouse’s presence. You’re likely to have a greater comfort level this way, and your parents may be more willing to speak freely.
- You don’t have to hide this from your fiancé, though; say something like “I’m going to talk to my parents about why they seem to dislike you. I think it will be best if we bring you into the discussion a little later.”
- Listen carefully and calmly to what your parents have to say. Find out if the problem is finances, prospects, attitude, background, beliefs, or some other factors.
- Talk about the situation as a group. After you’ve spoken to your parents alone, or, right from the start if you prefer, sit down with them and your fiancé and talk about the situation. Having open and honest communication about what is going on and how your parents feel may bring a peaceful and happy resolution to the situation.
- Try to talk at a neutral place like a restaurant or a park. You all may be less likely to get upset in a public place like this.
- You might tell your parents and your fiancé, “We’re all going to sit down and talk about this situation so that we can work it out.” Be calm but firm in your insistence that your marriage plans will not be derailed and that an accommodation must be reached.
- Reassure your parents. Sometimes parents have concerns about their future in-laws because of worries they have for their child’s happiness. Talk to your parents about your decision and let them know that they have nothing to worry about. This can help alleviate some of their worries and help them like your fiancé a bit better.
- For example, you could say, “You guys raised me well and I hope you can trust that I’ve thought this decision through. I know that I’m making the right choice and that I’m planning for a successful future with my fiancé.”
- Or, you might say, “I know that you want the best for me. If you give my fiancé a chance, I’m sure that your feelings will change.”
EditTrying to Reconcile the Situation
- Remain neutral. Avoid taking sides in any confrontations between your parents and your fiancé. This not only will make one side feel betrayed, but may make the situation even worse. The best thing you can do to diffuse the situation is to remain neutral and let both sides know that you care about them and respect their feelings.
- You might say something like, “I know that there are difficult feelings on both sides. Let’s just all calm down and take a step back.”
- Don’t let yourself get dragged into an “It’s them or me” ultimatum; keep saying “I love each of you deeply and I know we can work this out, or at least learn to tolerate one another.”
- Be honest with everyone. You may be tempted to give your fiancé the impression that your parents really like them. You might not want to let your parents even know that you’re engaged. The best thing to do when your parents dislike your fiancé is to be honest with everyone about what’s going on.
- For example, you might have to tell your fiancé, “I know you really like my parents, but they don’t care for you very much. I hope that will change some as they get to know you.”
- Or, you might need to tell your parents, “I know you don’t like my fiancé, but we are in love and are planning to get married. I don’t want this to come between us.”
- The truth will come out eventually, so it’s best to stay ahead of things and address problems before they fester.
- Try to compromise. Your parents and your fiancé may never see completely eye-to-eye. However, they can reach a compromise that all of you can cope with. Sit down with your parents and your fiancé and try to work out a plan for how you all can interact and be a family together without any negativity.
- For example, you might tell your parents, “I know you may never fully embrace Jamie. But we’re going to all be a family soon no matter what, so we need to sit down and work out a way to manage our problems together.”
- In some cases, letting your parents get to know your fiancé better might help; in others, it may be best to limit contact to necessary, defined situations.
EditDealing with an Incurable Dislike
- State your position clearly. If you’ve tried communicating and compromising and there’s simply no way that your parents will ever be able to embrace your fiancé, you need to stand firm. Be clear that their disapproval will not change how you feel about your partner or your plans for a life together.
- Say something like, “Mom, Dad, this is my decision to make and your disapproval will not change it. I’m sorry you can’t accept the person I love, but I love you too and always will.”
- Adjust your wedding plans as needed. When you dreamed of your wedding day, it probably didn’t include your parents sitting there stone-faced in disapproval — or worse, not there at all. Don’t ignore reality and expect everyone to embrace happily on the big day. Instead, make adjustments to your wedding plans to limit unnecessary interactions or even to account for your parents’ absence.
- If, for instance, you’re having a civil ceremony because your fiancé doesn’t share your religious background, and this upsets your traditionalist parents, don’t try to force them to come. Tell them something like, “Remember, the ceremony is at 2 o’clock at the courthouse. I’ll make sure there are seats for both of you if you decide to come. And I really hope you do.”
- Create a plan for managing family interactions. Once you’re married, you’ll have to continue to navigate the difficult relationship between your spouse and your parents. As before, honesty, open communication, and practical adjustments are key. Clear the air when necessary, seek out compromises, and be reasonable about limiting interactions when needed.
- For instance, go to family gatherings alone sometimes, or be clear beforehand that the two of you can only stay a set amount of time. You should also plan an exit strategy ahead of time in case things go sour quickly.
EditCoping Along with Your Fiancé
- Talk to each other. Don’t try to ignore or deny the problems caused by your parents’ dislike for your fiancé. If anything, use it as added motivation to strengthen the relationship you have with your partner. Communicate openly and often about your feelings and concerns, listen attentively, and seek support and solutions from each other.
- For instance: “You’ve probably noticed I’ve been feeling down about my parents’ refusal to accept you. Can we talk a bit about it and see if we can come up with any ideas?”
- Empathize with your fiancé. Your parents’ negative attitude will weigh on you, but it will also impact your partner. They will likely feel some amount of guilt for causing this rupture between you and your parents. Be clear with your fiancé that you don’t blame them and that you support and love them just the way they are.
- Watch signs that your partner is stressed, sad, or feels guilty about the issue, and also be mindful of the signals you are putting out. Are you acting like your fiancé’s partly to blame even if you keep saying “It’s not your fault”? Talk and listen openly and honestly.
- Consider couples’ counseling. Family disapproval can destroy romantic relationships by sowing seeds of doubt or distrust. If you truly want your forthcoming marriage to succeed, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help in working through the problems caused by your parents’ dislike for your fiancé. Being determined to make a relationship work is a sign of strength, not weakness.
- Talking with a therapist can help reduce the stress created by the unpleasant reality of your parents’ disapproval. You can also engage in stress-reduction strategies with your fiancé by doing things together like exercising, meditating, trying yoga or deep breathing, or taking up relaxing hobbies.
- The therapist will use their judgment on whether to include your parents in a session or two. Sometimes an outsider can connect with parents better in this kind of situation.