Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Parents flip over her older, divorced boyfriend

 

Dear Carolyn: I’ve been dating an amazing man for about 10 months. He’s 15 years older, has been married before and has kids. I’m in my mid-20s and this is my first serious relationship, so we waited to see whether it could be serious before mentioning anything to my parents, whose permission we’d eventually like to go forward.

Problem: When I brought this up with my parents about six months in, they exploded. They hate this/him. There have been tears, yelling, guilt-trips and all kinds of meanness directed at me, and my guy is losing heart.

Do I keep trying to build our relationship? Or is breaking up the more humane thing to do until (if?) my parents get on board? We believe that marriage is between two families, so we wouldn’t want to go forward if they still behave this way anyway.

Selfish to NOT Break Up?

No wonder you’re attracted to an older man; your parents are acting like children. They’ve also trained you to look to Daddy for answers, in service of their beliefs, vs. looking within for answers that honor your own.

So I’m staying out of it except to help you find your way to yourself, with these thought-starters:

(1) How much do you owe people who have resorted to “tears, yelling, guilt-trips and all kinds of meanness directed at me”?

(2) The idea that “marriage is between two families” is lovely and, to a degree, true – but how much of your day-to-day life involves your parents?

(3) Your six-month silence says you knew your parents would flip – yet you got involved with this man anyway. Why didn’t you just say “no” upfront?

Because your parents’ behavior has apparently been so bad, and because your tie to them is, at least in part, one of obedience in the face of their control, and because you’re so torn, I don’t think the answer to your question is about staying with or breaking up with your boyfriend at all. It’s about your own emotional health.

If you have access to good counseling, please consider it. Mutual respect is what makes a good family go, and I see none in your parents’ actions toward you.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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