6 Ways to Deal If Your Parents Don't Love Your Partner

Are your parents less than thrilled with your spouse-to-be? Read these tips on how to clear the air before you say "I do."
by The Knot
engagement photo
photo by iStock

Once you're happily engaged, it seems like nothing could take away your feelings of love and joy—except if your parents disapprove of your future spouse. Sure, some couples aren't as close to their parents, making it easier to go their own way if their folks aren't fully on board. But if you're close to your family and value their opinion highly, their less-than-fuzzy feelings toward your partner can put a serious damper on this happy time. Sound a bit like what you're going through? Our best advice is not to get defensive, then try these six ideas to help bring all your favorite people together—before the wedding.

1. Have an Honest Conversation

You may have gotten to the point where you need to outright ask your family members why they disapprove. An open discussion—free of finger-pointing, defensive language and judgement—can defuse a tense situation. Their reasoning may actually surprise you: They may have misunderstood something your partner said (like a harmless joke that missed the mark and left a bad impression) or misinterpreted their genuine shyness for standoffishness. Let them know how much you love your partner and ask your family to try harder to accept them—as a favor to you, if not to anyone else.

2. Practice Empathy

Remember, while your feelings about your partner are the most important in this scenario, it's crucial you try to understand where your parents (or siblings) are coming from. They want the best for you, so their point of view might have more validity to it than you might choose to believe. In the same vein, be open to the fact that people in love tend to ignore their partner's faults—we're not saying this is definitely what's happening in your case, but it's important to be as aware of and accountable for misunderstandings as your parents should be. Have an open mind and be certain your feelings ring true.

3. Shower Them With Love

Sometimes our loved ones need to be reminded how loved they truly are (who doesn't?). They might feel anxiety over being left behind once you're married or jealousy over the attention you're giving your partner—they're only human after all. Knowing they'll see less of you and that you'll have new priorities can be a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you're the first in the family to tie the knot. Make sure your parents and siblings still feel cherished and valued in your life. Then, once it's clear you're not replacing them, they'll learn to love and accept your spouse.

4. Roll With the Punches

It's easier said than done, we know, but try not to take everything your relatives say at face value. Avoid harping on petty insults or comments made in the heat of the moment, however much they sting. In other words, pick your battles. Hopefully they'll realize their words were hurtful, apologize and think before they speak next time. When you feel like something runs deeper than an off-color comment or baseless gripes, then it's probably time to confront them.

5. Don't Put It Off

It's not the most enjoyable topic to open up (probably up there with bringing up your wedding budget), but please don't wait too long to address the issue. If it takes years to broach the subject, it may be too late. Once a behavior pattern or opinion has been established, it can be difficult to change. Speak up when issues arise, otherwise your own, your spouse's or your family's resentment could build to something unfixable.

6. Stand By Your Partner

Whatever happens, stay committed to your partner—they're your true parnter in life now, as you know. Ultimately it's the two of you who will spend your lives together. Present a united, yet friendly front, and you'll find the road a lot less bumpy.

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