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Forbidden Love: When Family Objects

Keen Category: Love Advice

Disapproving parents with arms crossed with young, kissing couple in background

When you fall deeply in love with someone you want to share the joy, love and excitement you feel with those closest to you – your family. Naturally, you will want your parents to embrace your love interest whole-heartedly and to see them through the lens of their hearts, holding him or her in as high of esteem as you do. But, what if your prince or princess looks like a toad to them and they can't seem to warm up to the idea of the two of you together? Instead of celebrating your love, they air their disapproval and the love between you becomes a forbidden love.

Centuries ago a man or a woman rarely married outside of their culture, race, religious persuasion or class. The choice of a life mate was dictated more by family values and station in life then by the passionate connection felt in the hearts of two people who deemed themselves meant for each other. Even today parents can object for the same old reasons, especially when their son or daughter brings someone through the door who doesn't fit the ideal they would have chosen for them.

The 2005 movie, Prime, starring Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman poignantly describes the dilemma when Meryl's 23-year-old artist son falls in love with 37-year-old woman who just happens to be Meryl's therapy client. What is a good Jewish mother to do when her son wants to set up house with non-Jewish divorcee? Streep discourages him in everyway she can think of, making as good of a case as she can for the probability the relationship will fail. Even when she concedes, her discomfort with the whole situation turns the dinner table interaction into a series of awkward moments and towards small talk.

If you have found yourself confronting your own family's opposition to your choice in a mate, you know how tense interacting with them can be. Your question is: "How to get them to give the two of us a chance?" Your strategy will depend on what approach they use with you.

The Expert Advice Approach

Parental authority can sound diplomatic, practical, and sensible and parents who rely on a Dr. Phil-like approach do consider themselves the voice of reason. Their platform is that they are saving you from a big mistake. In their eyes you are still a child and they the voice of maturity. They will throw 101 reasons at you as to why this relationship doesn't stand a chance and you may decide to arm yourself and battle each argument one by one with determination. But you can't win against this approach by defending and arguing. It's best not to try. A wiser approach is to penetrate their hearts and give them an opportunity to warm up to the two of you as a couple. Invite your love match home to dinner twice a week and on frequent family play dates for the next month and see if the objections start to fall apart.

The "My Greek Wedding" Barrage

Some families respond with hysteria (streams of tears and grumblings) when family traditions are threatened. Loyalty is expected to the traditional formula for a happy marriage and that usually means if you are Greek you marry a Greek, if Jewish you marry in your faith and never ever mix races. You may wonder how to bring your parents into the 21st century so that they can accept someone who isn't exactly like them. It would be nice if a squirt of Windex would do the trick, but the remedy may not be so simple. You may have to coach your love interest a bit about your family legacy and the traditional values your family holds so that can appreciate your family's cultural perspective. Your family in turn will warm up to them if they feel honored and respected. Your job is to convince your family that apples and oranges can make a great fruit salad.

The Silent but Deadly Cold Shoulder Approach

If your parents fall silent every time you start to talk about your love interest, you are likely meeting covert opposition. They seem to be counting on you to wake up and break up without them having to say a word. But silence can be more punishing than harsh words at times and if they continue on this way you may have to bring up the issue and air it all out for them. Don't be afraid of confrontations. Tell them their opinions are important to you. Start there and turn their hearts around.

The Ultimate Ultimatum

Some parents have been known to use extreme tactics to force their son or daughter to choose – "it's him/her or us." The harshest of all is threatening to disown you and push you out of their lives forever. If your parents are stubbornly adamant that they will never accept your choice in a mate, you may need to enlist the help of a level headed third party, someone sympathetic to your situation and whom your parents respect. A pastor, your favorite aunt or uncle or a friend of the family may be able to help your parents see the light and grant you the right to your own choice in a mate. Even if your parents aren't exactly ready to embrace the idea, they can still learn tolerance. In the end, if your love interest is your true divine complement, it is his or her love you will naturally covet. The parental bond is established only for this life, but the soulmate bond is forever.

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