Engagement woes

Dear Counsellor,

I got engaged to a wonderful woman after a year of courtship. We met as students at university. We have great chemistry.  However, I was never fully accepted by her parents. At best, I was tolerated, but I was civil towards them. Things got bad when I proposed to her and she said yes. I gave her the ring and she was happy.  Some days later, I saw her and noticed that she had a different ring. Her parents did not like the ring I gave her, and so they bought her a better one.

I took offence obviously, but she said that it was no big deal. Her parents want, and are planning, a grand wedding. I told her that they should have consulted me first. Her father claims I never really asked for her hand before proposing. And so I am in no position to complain. Is this how it is going to be? I called off the engagement and my girlfriend thinks I am making a mountain out of a molehill. What do you think?



Dear Arthur,

Many fathers are very protective of their daughters and they don’t trust their relationship choices. Some see their daughters as perfect and innocent, and perceive anyone who wants to date them as a corrupting influence. In such cases, the girl is tasked with the responsibility of striking equilibrium between her relationship and parental acceptance. This needs patience and careful handling because, while the two of you intend to settle down as a loving couple set goals for your future, you still need parental blessing and support to achieve those goals. Your target at this time should be to gain parental endorsement in your marriage and ultimately, obtain that overall independence to get you to the next level of your relationship successfully.

You should realise that it takes two people to build a healthy and happy relationship. If you feel that your girlfriend’s parents are involved too much and taking over your role in the wedding, it’s not a matter of what you’ll do to change things, but what your girlfriend will do to get her parents to accept and respect you as a son-in-law. Sit down and discuss this issue, and collectively come up with a solution. You should arrange visits to her family for acquaintance and closeness and respectfully discuss issues regarding their daughter’s safety with you in marriage. This will greatly increase the chances that your girlfriend’s dad will warm up to you and help you avoid hassles and conflicts as your relationship develops.    

Your girlfriend knows her family’s values and interests, so find out what you have in common — political or religious beliefs or something as simple as sport, hobbies, or TV shows could get you closer to them.

Here, you’ll be well prepared for interactions and know what to avoid. While holding conversations with her parents, try to be confident, polite and respectful because many people see good manners as a sign of good character. Once you close in on this, you’ll find it easy to discuss your wedding and what you expect from them as parents. You can’t just give up and call off your engagement, especially if she is your dream woman just because her parents are controlling the arrangements. Love conquers all.

Your feedback

Ask her to talk to her parents

Have a chat with your fiancée and ask that she talks to her parents. I believe if she really loves you and wants to spend the rest of her life with you, she will tell her parents to accept you as her future husband.

Jacky Mutoni, Kigali resident

Your marriage will end in disaster

When you marry someone, you marry into the family; if her parents don’t like you, I suggest you find someone else because marrying her will bring more problems on your side.

Elias Ndayisaba, Motorist

You can’t compete with her family

It’s obvious that your fiancée is on her parent’s side, as she shouldn’t have accepted another ring in the first place. You should stand your ground and call off the wedding for your own good.

Sharon Mbabazi, Mother of one

Ask your parents to intervene

If you really love her, ask your parents to talk to hers. They should find out why they don’t like you, or if there is anything that can be fixed between the two families.

Rachel Isimbi, Tailor

Settle this with both families

You don’t have to be in a relationship that you are not comfortable with, considering everything that is going on. If you find it tricky, I suggest you call it off. Have a meeting with both families and get to the root of the problem.

Dennis Ndahiro, Shop attendant