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Work with parents to move beyond their marriage disapproval

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Home for the holidays — but missing Mom and Dad

No Wedding = No Christmas?: My parents boycotted my wedding this year. Do I need to apologize for not being with them for Christmas? I want to be with my spouse on Christmas and they aren't welcoming to her, therefore we are going to her family's house, not mine. Also, for all my principled talk, I am actually really sad that I won't get to be with my family. How to deal?

Carolyn: Have you talked about this with your parents? What was their objection, how did you respond, how did you leave things?

No Wedding = No Christmas?: No, we haven't really hashed it out. Talked to them some when we got engaged, invited them to be involved in the wedding (no response), sent them an invitation (which they declined via e-mail). Their objection was/is that we are a mixed-race, same-sex couple. Things were certainly not resolved, other than that I understand they object and they understand that I got married anyway.

FWIW, I've been out to them for over 15 years.

Carolyn: Got it, thanks. Is it possible, logistically at least, for you to visit your parents solo to talk to them? Sort of a "Where do we go from here?" summit. You don't have to concede anything — if they won't accept your spouse, then you won't be spending much time with them anymore. But letting that be the outcome by default would be really unfortunate, given that you see the estrangement as such a loss. While your statement of principle may speak for itself, the rest of the truth — missing them, for example — is worth spelling out for them.

Va: For No Wedding = No Christmas: One option: If your wife agrees, invite your parents to visit YOU for some other part of the holidays. This way they know you're not blocking them out of your life, just standing with your new wife (and also making other family plans for Christmas day, which is perfectly reasonable even without your folks' drama). You don't have to apologize or explain. See how it goes.

Carolyn: Bold take on it, thanks.

Anonymous: What?!?! Invite THEM to your home after they boycotted the wedding because they do not approve of who you are?? You have GOT to be kidding me.

What they did was NOT OKAY. It was toxic. It was hurtful. It was mean. It was judgmental. It was selfish.

Why on earth would you let someone like that in your life? Because they raised you? That doesn't give them license to HURT you. But accepting their treatment does give them the license.

Carolyn: I agree with you up to the point where you equate inviting them over with "accepting their treatment." Making an overture of peace is an act of love and strength. If the parents choose to stick to their rejection of her and her marriage, then so be it; they won't be seeing much of their daughter anymore. But letting them know they can make a different choice, that you're not going to hold them to their original "toxic, hurtful, mean, judgmental, selfish" choice forever, lays the foundation for reconciliation.

Work with parents to move beyond their marriage disapproval 12/12/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 11:50am]
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