Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Don't let parents steer your relationship

or personal baggage — steer your relationship

Q: My boyfriend really wants to meet my parents. He was divorced a few years ago, and his ex-mother-in-law apparently did a lot to make his marriage difficult.

He says he can't be serious with me unless he meets my parents. I bring a boyfriend home only if I am serious about him.

He basically admitted that if he didn't like my parents, he would probably leave me.

My parents are lovely people but a bit elitist, and my boyfriend would not measure up to their standards, which are different from my own. It would be a tough, judgmental meeting. I feel like we're not strong enough to take this step right now. Is there a compromise?

Anonymous

A: Your parents are either going to be an obstacle to your relationship or not. Even choreographing things just so would only delay the inevitable.

I'm also not thrilled with his either-I-like-your-parents-or-I'm-gone attitude. It's just a manifestation of judging all based on X because one person did X to you. Life is not that simple, and anyone who sees it as such is suspect.

Even if we came up with the perfect compromise here, it would still fail on the most important measure: It's not emerging from your and his desire to work with each other to ensure you both get what you need. That's what gets couples through everything — including nasty or elitist in-laws — but right now, each of you is focused instead on your own interests at the exclusion of the other's.

What strained his ex-marriage, after all? It wasn't his mother-in-law; it was his and his ex's inability or unwillingness to work together to neutralize said mother-in-law. Besides — by operating as if other women are as controlled by their parents as his ex was, hasn't he unwittingly revealed that his baggage is controlling him?

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