Dear Caitlin: My parents are dead set against my relationship!

Dear Caitlin: My parents are dead set against my relationship!

Potato Cantor

Potato Cantor

Dear Caitlin:

I am a twenty-eight year old professional, never married. Now, I have fallen in love with a man who is also in love with me, and is almost 20 years older than I am. He is divorced with two teenage children. I am an only child, and my parents are dead set against this relationship, pointing out all of the problems that go with the age difference and a second marriage where there are children from a prior relationship.

I have dated many eligible men in the past, but I never felt this way about any of them.  My parents are giving me a really hard time.  I don’t want to lose them, but I also want to marry this man and have children of my own.

What do you think?

~Nervous

Hi Nerv,

The cliché that says we don’t choose who we fall in love with takes on real meaning when you find yourself in love with someone who doesn’t match up with who you imagined you’d be with. Obviously you and your parents didn’t imagine this scenario when you thought about who you would end up with. But this is who does it for you! Good for you for being open to love and not pushing it away, even during this scary time. Some people have a harder time finding the person they love and connect with than others. If you’ve found love and a connection, it’s worth fighting for, even if it doesn’t come in a neat, perfect package. Keep in mind, the real thing rarely does.

A few things come to mind:

1.   Your parents’ initial reaction will not be their final reaction. Right now they are hoping that they can talk you out of this. Once they see you have made up your mind, they will begin grieving the loss of the idea/fantasy they had about who you would marry. Then, they will be more likely to accept what you’ve chosen and make the most of it. They may even come to like him. Regardless of what happens, keep in mind that their position will change from what it is now.

2.   If this is the first time you’re openly going against your parents’ wishes, it will be very scary for both you and them. You have no historical evidence to give you hope that they won’t abandon you. That is why this feels like such a big risk. In fact, it IS a big risk, but a necessary one in order to make your life your own.

3.   Deciding for yourself whether or not it is ok to marry this man is an act of independence. Your parents will fight you. They may feel abandoned because you’ve done what you want, not what they want. You may feel that you are abandoning them too. Leaving them may be even scarier than your fear of losing them. It is difficult for both children and parents to become separate people, and to learn how to remain close and connected. However, the healthiest relationships are among people who can be securely connected, but remain separate and independent. It’s a tricky balance!

This is about more than just doing what you want, despite what your parents have to say about it. It’s about being who you are, as opposed to who your parents want you to be. Of course, there will be some overlap with that.

Make sure that you seek support while your parents are going through their process! That’s the one thing that every single

person I know who has had to go through something like this says they wish they had done.

My best,

Caitlin

Send your questions to therapy@caitlincantor.com! If you have them, others do too! 

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

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