What to do when your parent tells you your relationship won’t last

Awerpia asks:

I’m very disturbed and confused. I don’t know what my mother wants from me. Today she smiles and asks about my girlfriend and the next day she’s saying all sorts of things. Mother has only seen pictures of my girlfriend. And from her attitude she seems willing to accept her as my girlfriend but never as my wife. I love my girlfriend so much and I love my mum even more. The way I love both ladies is so deep that I don’t want to have to choose between them. I’m on my way to school. I’m finally moving to the next chapter of my life where I will now be at the clinical level in my studies. And just a day before I departed, after spending almost a year at home due to Covid, my mother just decided to tell me “you won’t marry that girl, I’m telling you” in a very authoritative manner in the middle of a conversation.  I really don’t know why my mother wants to put me in such a situation. One day she wakes up and says give this to your girlfriend, I can’t fit into it, and the next day she just tells me to find an excuse and break up with her. Shirelle I’m confused!!!  My girlfriend and I love each other so much. She is 3 years older and working. She keeps on turning men down because of what we share. Only for me to graduate from school and tell her I’m sorry my mother says go away.  My mother has really spoilt my mood and I don’t know how to even cope with studies. I wanted to say I’m so sad but that’s an understatement of how I actually feel.  dsafAnd what makes it worse are her reasons for disapproval—that girl is too short, you will give birth to dwarfs, she’s not from a rich family… her reasons just don’t make sense to me… maybe because I’m deep in love. What do I do Shirelle? I can’t think straight.  I can’t wake up and plan a wedding without my mother’s approval. Especially from my part of the world where we value the blessings of our parents and assume that without it our marriage will be doomed. I feel doomed already. I never knew I would face this. I feel like just getting lost from the surface of the earth.  And my mother is a type who is very good at stereotyping and playing blame games. If I continue against her weird wishes and I face any problems in future (like short kids), she will keep referencing me till she dies. I’m so frustrated. I don’t know what to tell my girlfriend and I’m not ready to let her go.  It’s like my mother just wants me to have sex with her and dump her in the end for someone she thinks is perfect for me. I’m sure her idea of perfect is a rich tall light skinned figure girl.  I’m confused. Can I even focus on my practice? I have always done what mummy says, right from what I eat to what I wear. But this is just too much for me to bear.

Hi Awerpia –

I’m going to give you two answers, based on different readings of what your mother said.

You see, I’m not totally sure you’re interpreting her correctly.

It sounds to me like she’s actually saying, as parents do so frequently, “You don’t know today what you’ll want later.  And while that girl is everything you love today, she’s not what you’ll want long-term.  She’s not the girl you’ll marry.” 

Now that might irritate you, and make you feel like she’s still treating you as a child who doesn’t know what he wants.  But it’s a far cry from ordering you what to do.

And what I find with parents who make predictions like that, with an “I know you better than you know yourself” attitude, that they’re right way more than one might guess – oh, let’s say 50% of the time!  Yes, they do know you well, and as people grow to be more like their parents over time, they know a lot about who you’ll become.  But that means they’re also wrong 50% of the time.  You’re your own person, and have your own opinions and values – based on the way they raised you of course, but still your own version based on your own experiences and personality.

So if I’m right, you have literally nothing to worry about.  Either she’s right or she’s wrong.  Go on with your life as if she’d never said anything and all will be fine.

But if I’m wrong… this does get tougher.  It sounds like you’re in an in-between culture, where you’re not looking at a fully arranged marriage, but you are depending on your parents’ blessings.  So I will need to ask you a question then: when would you marry this girl if your parents were okay with it?  Would you wait to finish your years of study, or would you want to join yourselves in the next year or so?

If you were planning on waiting, then I’ll go back to what I’ve said before, that with time I imagine your mother will move past her prejudices about your beloved’s height and other “faults,” and learn to like her and accept her.  She might always say “I was hoping you’d choose someone else,” but still be able to live with your choice.  I just think it will take more time, for her to realize all the qualities you love so about your girlfriend, and to see that you – her son, whom she probably cares more about than anyone else on the planet – really want this woman.  And between those two changes, she will almost certainly become more accepting.

But if your plan is to marry sooner, then I’m not sure what to suggest.  You’re going to be far too busy to spend a lot of time campaigning for this, and might even find it hard to give as much time to your family or relationship as you had before, much less more.  So perhaps that is one dream to put off a bit.

But otherwise, truly, I think you two can end up like Handsome and me.  So many people disliked me when I was a puppy – a very obnoxious, hyperactive, troublemaking puppy! – but learned to love me over time.  This can happen with her as well.  You see, people just began to see me through Handsome’s eyes.  His excitement about me, his love for me, his work to get me to behave better… all became part of their lives as well.

So my advice is to just buckle down and be a great student, and trust that the best will happen.  And by the way, I need to add… CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU for doing what you’re doing!  I’ll never like shots or having things sprayed up my nose, but this past year has made me SOOOOOOOO appreciate doctors of all sorts!  What a mind you must have!  I will be so excited to hear what wonderful miracles you achieve!!

And if I were your mother, I’d be so proud of you my chest would just burst open!!

All my very very best,


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