When Family Disapproves
Q: I recently accepted a proposal of marriage from my sweetie of a year and a half. He is seven years yrs younger than I am. His parents came to visit for a week right after we became engaged, and it became readily apparent that they came to break us up. Their plan was to grab my fiancé and take him away to another city for the week (I was not invited). He spent the whole time fighting with them. During this visit he actually asked me to put the engagement on hold until his father "approved of us marrying." I was devastated that he would even suggest this to me, and saw it as their ploy to break us up, not as guidance, or an opening to genuinely get to know me.
My sweetie apologized profusely after they left and has not spoken to them in almost two months. We were to have married in half a year, but now I would like to elope. He's not willing to move the date up. He moved in last weekend, and we're trying to get settled. Now he says he'd like to get married "sometime in the future." Am I losing my mind? But what exactly does this ring mean anyway? I love him, but am feeling anxious (at best), about what is going on.--Laurie, 35
Dr. Susan: Apparently your sweetie is in no hurry to go against his family's wishes and marry you. Now that you're living together, it's possible that a wedding no longer seems so necessary to him. The ring is a commitment, sure, but wedding vows are more binding. Anyway, are you rushing him because you need to be sure he's still as determined to be with you after that awful parental visit? Insisting that it takes a year to plan a wedding is an excuse. If his parents won't be involved, he probably wants a very simple wedding. And yet he said no to eloping. It's impossible to know what's going on in his mind and how disturbed he is by his family's objections. I suggest you two take some time to discuss all this, putting the focus on the two of you, not on the details of a wedding. (Talk, too, about how many years he plans to wait before making a baby. With your age difference, that too could become a big issue.)
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.