Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My parents won't give us their blessing

Dear ESB,

Never thought I would do this...but I need some help.

Very long story short:
My boyfriend and I have dated for 5 years. My parents have never really 100% approved. About a year ago Boy asked Parents to give their blessing. They refused. Meanwhile they told me I should break up with him. (I didn't know about the asking for blessing.) I refused and we sort of limped along trying to figure out how to make it better and make my parents feel good about the whole thing.

He asked me to marry him and I agreed- but we decided to keep things on the down low until we could figure out the parental situation. We live together and have done for 2 years.

Fast forward to recently, when Boy asked again for blessing and, again, was refused. Now he is angry and I am confused. I don't want to get married without my parents support- we are close as a family- I am the only child and have no cousins, aunts or uncles. It has also placed confusion in my head about what I want and if my choices are right.

Added to this is the financial situation, which is one of the the main reasons my parents object. (He has no money at all- in debt- and I am currently reliant on my parents as I started a business.)

I know my parents are tough people- but I can't imagine having a wedding where they were truly unhappy with my choice- and it is even harder to imagine a life built around that.

So... advice?


When you say "he has no money" do you mean he doesn't "come from" money, or do you mean he doesn't have a job?


I mean he doesn't come from money-- but in addition he is also very much in debt and literally has no money.


Does he have a job?


yes-- he owns a restaurant/food truck (more drama as his business partner has just left & he is now deeper in debt).


Okay... If you were prepared to throw the wedding yourself, and forge ahead as a couple without financial help from your parents, I'd say DO IT.

But you're not.

What's the rush? Get your business off the ground. Let your guy get his business out of the hole. Once you prove that you are able to make a life together (and that this is the man you really want to be with), your parents will come around.

(Image via That Obscure Object)


  1. agreed. your reality is that marriage right now would be financially disastrous; if your parents withdrew their support (which sounds probable), you'd BOTH have less than no money, and no one should have to begin married life that way if it can be avoided.

  2. Perhaps it would help if you sat your parents down and said, "The fact you object really upsets me. I want to understand why so that I can help you get more comfortable with this situation." But before you do that make sure YOU feel confident about getting married, because parents will sniff out your diffidence and use it against you as proof. And maybe it *is* proof - maybe you need time to really get behind this. Maybe you both need to be financially independent (and I would urge you to cut the financial ties with your parents as soon as you possibly can, because it means they have more say in your future than they should and that is never a good thing) so that you can make adult decisions together, regardless of parental opinion.

    But if you are really, really behind it, I say make the gesture to your parents, show them how confident you are that this can work, and then go to City Hall and get hitched. Have a party later when you have some cash. Getting married doesn't have to mean a massive expense.

    P.S. Props to your boy for asking not once but twice for your parents' blessing. He's a brave dude and can probably sense you are faltering. Be honest with him about how confused you are and make him a part of your process. It's not going to be nice for him to hear that, but at least he'll know where he stands.

    Best of luck to you. Let us know how it works out.

  3. Why are my comments always fifty pages long? Sorry. I was on a roll. xoxo

  4. Is the only reason your parents object so strongly, because he is in debt and not financially comfortable?

    It seems strange to me that they would be so against a relationship that has been going on for years if it was just a matter of money. Or maybe not... Just curious.

    Either way, it's an unfortunate situation and I wish you the best!

  5. It's hard to say without knowing more, but it seems to me your parents are looking at your guy and seeing a financial black hole into which both you and they could easily be sucked. After all once you're married his debt is your debt too, and they feel responsable for you, so...

    Pre-nup and city hall? Might reassure parents he's not after their money? But honestly like esb says the best course of action is probably to work your asses off to get your businesses going well and then tackle the issue again.

  6. I think this might be the best advice you've ever given. Seriously.

    Look, in my family the deal is, once you're married you're on your own financially. Yes, if totally calamity befalls you, family will help, but other than that? You're a grown up. You have formed your own family. If you're poor, you're poor, but you do it on your own. My husband has always thought this was harsh, and I never did. I just thought, "Well, you have to grow up sometime, and marriage as the no-turning-back point makes sense to me."

    Anyway, now that I am married, I REALLY thing my parents were spot on. They don't help us out financially at all (it's the other way around if anything), and as a result they really respect our family as our family.

    So, in sum, ESB is right. If you're willing to stop accepting financial support from them and go for it, then you're fine. If not, you need to wait till you can.

    And? Lots of debt? Business partner drama? Think a lot about this. His will be your debts. His troubled business will be your troubled business. It's not that it can't work out, but you're taking on a HUGE burden. Personally, I'd make him pay off the bulk of his (non-student-loan) debt before I signed a marriage license. But that's just me.

  7. Marriage is for adults. Your parents probably aren't looking at you two as adults, which is fair enough given that they're currently supporting you.

    Sit down and tackle your finances, make a plan, face up to how deep in debt he is and how you can resolve it. Then act on it. Get yourself free of your parents' help, at the very least.

    THEN get married.

  8. I agree completely with most everyone here, so I am adding my voice to the "wait a while on the wedding, get finanically independent first if possible" vote. Sometimes what is best for us is NOT what we want, and I am sorry about that. =\

  9. definitely agree with ESB on this one -- great advice. meg makes a great point, too. i thought the same thing -- his debts will become your debts ... and that seems like a scary prospect for a woman who just started her own business.

  10. ESB you are kickass, just so you know. I couldn't agree more. Your parents' opinion doesn't mean everything, but you seem like it's REALLY important to you (as in, you're considering not going against their wishes to marry the love of your life). I have never seen a marriage that happened against parental wishes that didn't come around eventually...that being said...I watch a lot of movies.

    Also, what's the rush?! If you guys are (the dreadful phrase) "meant to be" then you have forever together...what's 2, 3, 5, 10 more years?

  11. "sometimes what is best for us is NOT what we want" = YES.

    Also, think how much confidence it will give you in your marriage if you get married AFTER you've helped each other get off the ground with the financial stuff and get into a good position together. If tackling shared goals as a team is what it's all about (and I think it is), then you will have MONDO (and useful) experience to take into marriage if you do that first.

    Plus, there's nothing like being able to say to your parents "see, I TOLD YOU he was awesome" after you succeed.

    (Though, side note - what are the other reasons they said no? Will those still be a problem if you fix the financials??)

  12. I agree that it sounds as if your parents are not treating you as an adult because it sounds as if you are still dependent on them. I am not sure if i am fully on the wait till you get out of debt bandwagon. If you want to get married i feel like debt is not necessary the best reason to say no.
    However, It sounds as if you need to sit down and take a really hard look at the viability of both of you own businesses at this point in your lives. Neither one of you are making money. Based on the limited information here it sounds as if your boyfriends business is turning into a money pit. Most people stay in failing business WAY to long. i Know its hard to "give up an a dream" or admit defeat I would strongly encourage you to sit down together and come up with a plan. I had to have a similar conversion with my now husband. Less about debt more of a "what the hell are you going to do with your life and if you stay in your current very low paying industry what will your future look like and in 10 years." Together we made some really tough decisions.

  13. i think ESB's advice is as real as it's gonna get.

    but there's got to be a reason your parent's object. whatever that is, it should be addressed, like soon.

    if you want to commit to this person for the rest of your life and want your family to feel okay with that choice, some conversations need to take place. it won't be easy or fun, but it may be very worth it.

  14. I totally agree with what everyone has said so far! I just want to add that, since you obviously deeply care about your parents think, you & your man can sit down with them & give them an X Year Plan to get ou of debt, become financially independent, & kick some ass. This will show responsibility on both your parts & give him a chance to address their issues.

  15. This is seriously great advice from ESB. My fiance and I dated for 9 years before getting engaged and decided years ago that we would only talk about marriage AFTER we were both settled into careers and happy about our living/financial situation. I used to feel self-conscious about how long we dated without getting married, but now I have no idea why. We're starting our marriage totally stable and able to plan for the future. It feels awesome.

  16. the fact that they're objecting shouldn't be the reason you're putting off your nuptuals (the fact that you have no duckets and will start off your marriage in a not so great financial place and may not be able to throw a kickass wedding should be the reason). i KNOW they're family and all and it IS tough, but part of getting married is starting your own family & should be enough to justify independent thinking- i.e. growing a pair enough to tell them they're REALLY fucked up for trying to jinx your FUTURE

  17. I totally agree with ESB, and with Meg about the paying down the student loan debts. It sounds avaricious to talk about student loan/savings/etc. But, you both have businesses. And it seems like his is faltering. If, worst case scenario, he has to declare bankruptcy, those student loan debts still aren't going to be wiped out. And if you're married, his student loan debt becomes your student loan debt. I was in this situation and came to the hard realization that my boyfriend's crippling student loan debt, combined with his minimum wage job, meant that the burden of saving for retirement/a house one day/paying rent/doing anything fun/etc./fell on me. And I couldn't live with that for the long term.

  18. thank you all for the advice- hugely welcome and helpful. thank you.- original poster