Question: We have been together for 5 years and have our own problems which we have been seeing a counselor about. I’m optimistic about the future of our relationship but my family hates my boyfriend. They always come in between us and oppose everything he says and sometimes show open animosity and contempt towards him. Because of the problems we had in the past, they blame him every time something goes “wrong” in the relationship. He has always and really tries to have a relationship with them but nothing he does ever seems good enough for my family. I love my boyfriend very much. He makes me happy and he is the one I want to share my life with, but at the same time I also love my family very and want them to be part of our life. Is there anything more he can do to win over my family?
Yangki’s Answer: I’m glad that you realize that maintaining good relations with your family is not only critical for your own happiness and peace of mind, but for your relationship happiness.
Family and friends are a healthy social support network and an important part of our lives and our love-relationships. Having people who genuinely love and care about us can help in developing more fulfilling relationships and also through the stress of tough times.
But there comes a point when family (and friends) have to step aside and respect your choices and decisions even if they don’t agree. After all, at the end of the day, you are the one dating your boyfriend and not your family.
That said, having the sole responsibility for choosing who you love, date or marry also means taking responsibility for how your family perceives and treats your boyfriend. You should not leave trying to have a relationship with your family to your boyfriend. Your boyfriend can only do so much in how he presents himself and treats your family but you know them better than he does, so it’s really up to you (and your best interest) to bring the two sides together.
If you sincerely believe in your heart that your family means well and is only looking after your best interest (I say this because not all families or individuals in the family are looking after your best interest), sit your family down and have an open heart-to-heart talk. Let them know how much this person means to you, and how important it is to you that they give the two of you a chance to create your own relationship – and life. Make it clear to them that having your boyfriend in your life doesn’t change the fact that you love them just as much before.
And don’t shy away from talking about their participation in your life – especially where your relationship is concerned. Be firm enough to set some boundaries e.g. give their advice only when asked, pass any negative observations by your first, how often to visit etc.
Bottom line, if you and your boyfriend approach this together and present a united front then your family cannot place “blame” on your boyfriend every time something goes “wrong” in the relationship.