By TOYIN IDOWU
It is not uncommon for parents to go against the choice of their children’s marriage partner for one reason or the other. Most of the time, this conflict could happen as a result of tribal difference, social status, natural preference or for no obvious reasons which the parents cannot even explain themselves. Whichever way it happens, the fact remains that your parents don’t approve of your marital choice and this could generate a lot of tension between you, your parents and extend to your fiancée or fiancé as the case may be. When this sort of ugly incidence rears its head, can it be handled? Can it be resolved? Yes, absolutely but depending on your approach, composure and understanding.
The first natural reaction from anyone in this situation is to get angry towards your parents for their inability to acceptance your choice. You can even decide in extreme case to ignore and shut them out of your affairs entirely but let me say this to you that, in as much as it is understandable for you to be angry (though your anger should also be coded and decisive too), don’t ever ignore your parents or what they are saying whether it makes sense to you or not, at least, at the initial stage. I have discovered from folks over the years that shutting out your parents worsn the situation for you in the sense that they won’t understand why you have got to cherish and value a stranger (yes, a stranger and that is who he or she is to them for now) more than those who raised you up. This is one reason why some parents remain adarmant for a long time. Some of us go as far as disrespecting our parents, for all it’s worth, even if they don’t approve your choice now, you still need to respect and listen to them first to get their reasons in order to know the angle where they are coming from because it can be helpful to think through the situation further. Remember, they will always be your parents and they could be right!
Truth be told, I am not sure any parent will just want to make life difficult for their children especially when it comes to marriage. They are not always right though, but even in the midst of their error, I want to believe parents are doing what they know best according to the level of understanding they have in order to safe guard your happiness. Though there are times they come up with unrealistic reasonings like tribal sentiments that even tend to go over board, but if we are to critically look into it, there still lies an underlining sheet of love to protect you from falling into wrong hands.
What is the starting point here? I will not advice anybody of marriageable age to date or court secretly as some of us are in the habit of shutting people out of our relationships. As soon as you are sure of your choice, even if marriage is not in view yet, let your parents know before you go far. This is very important so that in case they have any reservation about your choice, they would have let it out on time for possible resolution as soon as possible. And in a situation where it cannot be resolved, it will be obvious that the two of you need to part ways on time so that nobody’s time is wasted. It’s actually risky to court someone for two years without allowing your parents to know what you are up to. Then out of the blues, you just show up with your partner when you plan to get married in less than six months to come. That could spell doom for the two of you should any of the parents disagree.
However, when push comes to shove, you need to settle down and think through their reasons to see if your relationship is worth the trouble. Weigh both the advantages and the disadvantages as a means to evaluating your relationship with all sincerity. Have you been having issues in the relationship that got you confused whether to go ahead or not? Your parents insistence could be another sign that you need to relax and ask some deep questions.
Okay, should there be no doubt in your heart about your choice, calmly schedule a meeting to talk to them about your spouse to be. I know you have done that severally but can you do it this time putting your parents in the position of honour they occupy? Dont forget, this is about your happiness and one thing with parents is that their fear of your happiness beclouds them so much that they seem not to be reasonable at times. This is how you should see it. Assuring them of your happiness should they give you their blessing to go ahead in the marriage will go a long way to melt any fear from their hearts. Don’t forget to also talk to your parents about what you love in your partner because there is every possibility that they can’t even see what you are seeing. This is very important to do because it has the potential of putting things in the right perspective for you.
If this doesn’t work, try talk to a close family friend that they respect a lot or a close and understanding family member that you are sure is on your side. Most times, a close family member or close family friend that knows your partner works better because he or she would be able to say somethings about your partner based on his or her relationship or experience with him or her.
If every effort before now fails, you might need to involve your partner’s parents to have a meeting with your own parents and that is if they have accepted you in the first place because there are situations where parents from both sides decline giving approval. Allowing your parents to meet their prospective in-law ahead of time could send a very good signal to your own parents on your behalf that the future is promising as far as the success of the marriage is concerned. Please don’t underestimate it.
Coming to you and your partner in particular, is there anything that your parents find disgusting in your partner? That could be an opportunity for you to talk to each other about it for possible amendments and when your partner is working towards amendment or has amended, let your parents know about it. But then, we need to know that some complaints are too sensitive to work with, needless to say that caution need to be applied. For example, if your parents get pissed-off at your partner ‘s mode of dressing or manner of speech, these may not really be big deals but should your parents complain about the fact that they can’t ascertain his or her commitment to you or they smell inconsistency, then I think you need to relax a bit more and establish some things.
Another thing that can help is for you to keep talking about him or her and the achievements to your parents at regular intervals. When he or she passes an examination, gets promoted at work, helps you or a family member secure a contract or helps your sibling get an admission or a job. It will be a great opportunity for your partner to help your parents secure their pension payment if he or she is in the position to do that, helps get a rebate on return ticket when they want to travel and many more like that. No matter how, things like these have a way of melting their hearts to change their position.
While doing all these, there could be some sort of delay in your programme, never mind, you will both be fine.