“Since my parents were tough, it took me quite some time to gather the courage to introduce my boyfriend to them. I suspect they were shocked to even find out I had a boyfriend! Jeff was great, and he found it weird when months after introducing me to his folks, I hadn’t done the same. I just didn’t know how to. My parents were nothing like his. I knew it had to be done eventually so I gathered all my energy and told them I was bringing him home. Over the phone, my mum mumbled what sounded like a prayer.”
“I couldn’t tell if she was thanking God for giving me a man or if she was praying that the guy would be decent. When we got there, it almost felt like we were facing a firing squad. They asked all sorts of embarrassing questions and made poor Jeff shift uncomfortably in his seat. When my mum found out he was a teacher, she took an instant dislike. Sure, he didn’t make a lot of money but he was responsible. They gave me hell the whole time we dated and the day I told them we were getting married, my mum sulked and threatened not to come to the wedding. My dad eventually talked her out of it but she has still never warmed up to him. We have been happily married for three years now and have a beautiful daughter,”
This is the narration of Tona (not real name) who faced head on, what most couples dread – friction from the in laws.
No matter how much most of us grow and become independent, there are certain decisions that we can’t make without involving our families, specifically our parents. At times, it is out of respect and other times it’s for reasons that we cannot explain but we feel it is the right thing to do. The most common decision where we seek our families’ approval is the suitability of our dates and potentially soon-to-be marriage partners.
We always seek their approval before we go ahead and tie the knot. It is not always guaranteed that they will approve of the people we intend to be with; at times it is for reasons as small as their hair style or accents and other times it is because of their family back ground.
This is probably the greatest test any relationship will undergo.
“Defying your family and going ahead to marry an ‘unwanted’ person comes with consequences most of which are long term. You can barely ask for help when things get thick ahead. If you have financial setbacks and ask for help, you may notice hesitance amongst your family members,” Jean Baptiste Gashongore, a 49-year-old resident of Nyamirambo says.
According to the father of four, (three daughters and one son), parents are supposed to have a say in their children’s life partners selection. “You bring up a child wanting the best for them. You give them the best you can in terms of education and basic needs; it is only fair that you see to it that they don’t spend the rest of their lives with people who will make them miserable. It is not usually meddling in their affairs. I see it as wanting the best for them.”
But Gashongore says even though a parent may have objections to their child’s choice of partner, the love birds might have it their way. “You obviously cannot hold a gun to their heads and ask them not to get married. I have seen some who elope or just move in with their partners and after a while the pressure dies down.”
“What most young people don’t realise is that parents are not objecting to make their life miserable, they only want the best for you. They have seen a lot over the years and have probably made mistakes they would want you to avoid. At times they can see from the character of a person and at times it is just an instinct, some sort of sixth sense,” Gasongore says.
What Gashongore calls concern and expression of love, Theonestine Rwigamba interprets as meddling into other peoples lives.
The 22-year-old awaiting to join campus next year regards a person ready to get married as a grownup that can make their own decisions without requiring their parent’s approval.
“By the time one decides to get married, they are mature enough to know what is right for them and what is not. Most parents and older relatives hardly know where the two of you met but are quick to disprove of the relationship.”
Rwigamba thinks the hesitance could be because of the parents’ expectations of their sons and daughters. “At times a parent would expect their child to marry from a certain society class or a person with certain characteristics. When this does not happen they will be hesitant to approve of the union.”
“Other parents will not approve of the union for reasons like how the potential partner presents himself/herself during introduction. If for example a man has too many piercings or visible tattoos, the majority of parents will not even take them seriously. At times, the best way to go about it is to ignore their objections and go ahead and get married. At some point they may realise they were wrong,” says Marcel Umuhoza, a 26-year-old getting married next year.
You would think that in an argument on if family should have a say in one’s choice of marriage partner, parents and their children would be on opposing sides, but some young people are okay with their parents having a say in their choice of partners.
“Marriage is a lifelong commitment and it would be good to listen to the counsel of parents and older relatives, they have seen a lot in their life time and we should look at it as advice for our benefit and not as meddling,” says Abdul Mutangana, a
26-year-old who insists that when it is time to get married, his parent’s opinion on his fiancé will matter.
“Most people will think of it as being backward or lacking a stand but the truth is that it comes with blessings and in the long run you will see that they were right,” Mutangana says.
Umuhoza laughs at Mutangana’s point of view not out of disrespect but because he thinks that opinions of people of a different generation should be taken with a pinch of salt.
“No offence but at times parents and older relatives can have their perceptions of people that are not necessarily true. At times they may object to a man marrying a lady who earns more than he does which should not be a problem but they may think it will cause problems. Such perceptions of certain people are a major cause of disapproval and at times as an educated person who knows better, you go ahead and ignore what they have to say,” Umuhoza says.
What to do after the parents and relatives disapprove of the union is entirely up to the couple; some choose to look at it as a test in the course of the journey to be together and others see at it as the end to their union.
Julliette Ruboneka, a mother in her 50’s advises young people to be patient with their parents when they seem hesitant to approve of their selected partner. “I think it is possible for both to be satisfied though it may take them a bit of time. It would be good to be patient with the parents for them to find out the truth about the partner in question. After some time they (parents) come around and see who the partner really is. Rushing only causes the parents to think poorly of the partner. Time makes everything clear.”
5 things to do if your parent’s don’t approve of your relationship
If your parents don’t approve of a relationship that you’re in, it can make things really difficult between you and your other half! One of the first things that most people seek whenever they are in a relationship is their parent’s approval. That might not always happen, but if you are finding yourself in a situation where your parents don’t approve of a relationship, don’t worry. There are tons of ways to handle and things that you can do if your parents don’t approve of a relationship and we are going to go over them below!
Understand your parent’s role
One of the first things that you’ll need to do is make sure that you understand your parent’s role. They are there to protect you. If your parents don’t approve of a relationship, there probably has to be a reason why. In fact, it might even be a good reason. Just remember to take a look at your relationship from their point of view!
Respect your parents
Your parents have been around for years and they have more experience in the relationship department. One tip that I have found that works when you’re dealing with parents that don’t approve of a relationship that works is actually to respect them. They are still your parents and they will always be your parents.
Weigh the pros and cons
As said before, your parents are there to protect you and they honestly don’t want to cause you any pain at all. With that in mind, how is your relationship? Do you think that it is worth all of the drama with your parents? Do you think that your parents not approving of your relationship is a sign? Maybe weighing the pros and cons of your relationship and really seeing if you are happy with the person is a good option!
Talk to your parents
Your parents want to help you through anything, but you’ve got to talk to them. If your parents don’t approve of a relationship that you are in, you might just want to talk to them about it.
Talk to the other’s parents
If you don’t have a whole lot of luck with your parents, why not have a conversation with your boo’s parents? To be honest, adults typically have a better time talking their problems out and who knows, maybe the other parents will talk to yours and put them at ease about your relationship.
If your parents don’t approve of a relationship that you’re in, there has to be a reason for it. This is something that you should definitely think about, that way you can make sure that you are covering every basis when you actually talk to your parents.
Should family have a say in the choice of one’s partner?
Letting your family choose who you marry is the first step to having a very sad marriage. They will try to look for perfection which doesn’t exist and you will end up with the wrong person thanks to your family.
Denis Muganza, Artist
He would be getting married to me not to my family. Why should they have a say? That’s being judgmental and I know him best so it would be wise to make my own choice.
Aline Birungi, Sales person
Yes, they should. I wouldn’t want my sons to marry a girl that would give them trouble. People pretend a lot before marriage and change later. I have to meet their girlfriends first before any serious commitments are made.
Susan Muhire, Mother of four
Well, sometimes we make decisions that aren’t right. Our parents are very experienced and are more knowledgeable than us. We need to take the wheel and also ask God for guidance because commitment for the rest of one’s life isn’t an easy thing.
Ntege Chris, Student