What if my Family Doesn’t Approve of the Person I Want to Marry?

Here is a recent comment (slightly edited) that a reader named Alyssa left in response to the article, “What if My Partner and I Have Different Religious Beliefs? Can Interfaith Marriage Work?”:

True love

(stock photo)

I really enjoyed reading your article. I am a Christian and was raised in a strong Christian/conservative family. My boyfriend of three years is spiritual but does not identify as a Christian. My family does not accept him at all. I have felt many times like I must choose between him and my family. Moreover, I am (was) very close to my family. My grandmother told me that she would not come to our wedding if we got married. As engagement gets closer (I think he is going to propose soon) I am becoming increasingly worried about the rift with my family only getting bigger. My grandmother is the most important person to me and it is going to break my heart if she does not come to the wedding. Additionally, my mom has only talked to my boyfriend a few times in the three years we have been dating and has not allowed him to come over or accepted his invitations to get to know him better. Is this going to ruin our marriage? It has already taken a toll on our relationship at times. However, we have talked in detail about where our religions align and where they differ. We have talked about raising children, and come to a common consensus every time. But I am worried that this issue with my family is going to tear us apart. Thoughts?

Here is my response, again slightly edited, and with headings added:


Hi Alyssa,

Thanks for stopping by and telling your story. Unfortunately, this situation is quite common, and there isn’t an easy answer. It looks likely that you will indeed have to choose between your boyfriend and your family—at least, as far as where your primary relationship and loyalty will lie.

Here are two principles I would suggest in navigating this very difficult issue and decision:

  1. If your family objects to your marrying someone, it is a good idea to listen to them and consider whether they have valid concerns.
  2. Once you make up your mind to marry someone, that relationship must replace your relationship with your family as your primary relationship.

For more on family vs. marriage, please click here to read on.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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