My family won’t approve of my marriage

Dear Counsellor,

My family has a history of failed marriages and now it’s catching up with my cousins. I, on the other hand, am engaged to the man of my dreams and we have been dating for three years. I introduced my fiancé three weeks ago, and as per our tradition, he was asked to pay bride price worth RWF 5 million. My fiancé cannot afford this amount and so negotiations are ongoing. What bothers me, however, is how my family is discouraging me from continuing my marriage plans, on account that he is broke and will not be able to take care of me. Most of the failed marriages in our family have been as a result of financial disagreements and some of them have even vowed not to attend my wedding. Everything else has been going on well but I cannot seem to find peace from the people who are supposed to support me. How can I convince my family to accept the man that I love?

 

Clarisse

 

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Dear Clarisse,

Your family’s disapproval of your future partner puts you in a sticky situation where you don’t want to adamantly ignore the opinions of the people you value most, yet everything you need in a man is found in the very person they reject. It feels like you need to choose between your family and your partner, which isn’t a fair position for you.  This needs patience and careful handling because, while the two of you intend to settle down as a loving couple and begin to set goals for your future, you still need parental blessing and support to achieve those goals. Your main focus now should be to gain parental endorsement but you have to keep open to the possibility that your parents may have a point, and then try to evaluate how much weight you place on your parents’ opinion. Sometimes parents see red flags that you can’t, especially at such initial stages of a relationship where your love obsession can be blinding. They may not be wrong but also, their resistance puts their judgment into question when they evaluate your future spouse.

First of all, it’s important to discern whether your parents are expressing reasonable concern or judgment based on their own biases. Reasonable parental concern would be around issues that would pose danger to your marriage. For example, if he’s a drug addict, alcoholic, abusive, womaniser, emotionally unstable, liar, moocher, or has a criminal record. But I notice your parents’ disapproval is based on your boyfriend’s financial inabilities other than character flaws. You need to strike consensus with your parents through peaceful parent-daughter dialogue.

 

Consider saying something like, “Mom and Dad, I understand how you feel about my boyfriend’s financial inability to raise a 5million bride price, but I don’t want this to drive a wedge between us. If you love me and you want me to be happy, it would really mean a lot if we focus on the person who’ll bring me happiness rather than focus on the financial gains.” Alternatively, find a respected family member or relative whom they trust to intercede on your behalf. Your parents’ opinion may or may not change, and if it doesn’t, then you’ll have to face that reality to establish proper boundaries to protect your marriage from the influence of your parental relationship, or even being disowned by them. Only you know if the relationship is truly serving you so don’t stay in it to prove them wrong and don’t jump too soon to gain their approval. You can’t live your life consistently seeking your parents’ approval if you ever want to truly grow up. How you choose to live your adult life should be your individual decision rather than a parental obligation. If your parents’ influence drives your opinions into the marriage, then your marriage will be spearheaded by four people instead of two.  You can’t afford to just give up on your dream man if he has all the qualities you’re looking for.  It should absolutely depend on your peak of inclination and motivation to enter into a marriage with a person you love. Remember, love conquers all.

 

 

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