women

Will my family ever accept my partner?

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In a quandary? Ask Zest’s self expert, Emma Kenny. As psychologist, counsellor and life coach, no dilemma is beyond her repair.

“Tell your sister you’ll only attend if she invites him. If she says no, don’t go. She’ll get the message.”

 ‘My family exclude my partner and it’s putting a strain on our relationship. We’ve been together for three years and are really happy but my family openly judge us. My sister doesn’t make any effort and never invites him to family occasions, so I’ve stopped asking if he can come. My parents compare him unfavourably to my sister’s husband. I know I shouldn’t care but it’s so hard to ignore their opinions. I wonder if my sister’s jealous – perhaps she misses her single life – and my parents are desperate for me to get married. I don’t want to push them away but I feel like they’re leaving me with no choice. How should I handle this?’ Theresa, 31, Manchester

EMMA SAYS: What do you mean, ‘I’ve stopped asking if he can come’? Your sister is out of order not to recognise an integral part of your life. Worse still, your family is supporting her unfair treatment of the man you love. If you’re going to spend your lives together, your family need to start treating you and your boyfriend with a bit more respect.

The next time your parents unfavourably compare your partner to your sister’s husband, simply ask them in an assertive, no-nonsense manner to stop – tell them it offends and upsets you, that he makes you very happy and, as parents, they should be pleased you’re in a loving partnership. Don’t get involved in a debate – there isn’t one to be had – you know what you want and they need to accept that. As for your sister, when she next invites your to something, thank her but tell her that while you’d like to come, you’ll only attend of your boyfriend is invited, too. If she struggles with this, ask her to consider how she’d feel if her husband was excluded. If she still says no, don’t attend. How else will she get the message?

If there’s a reason why your family dislikes your partner, they need to explain it, so you can comfort it head-on and as a couple. If it’s just an opinion, that isn’t a good enough reason for their behaviour. We don’t always get on with everyone, but if we love our friends and family, we need to appreciate what makes them happy and respect their choices. It may take time, but they should eventually accept your partner.

How to silence realtionship critics

1. Challenge the haters. As long as you’re happy, loved and respected in your relationship, stand up to anyone bad-mouthing it. Demand the respect your partnership deserves.

2. Confront issues. Get to the bottom of exactly what’s causing the resentment towards your partner. Personal opinion isn’t a good enough reason for your loved ones to treat you disrespectfully.

3. Launche a charm offensive. If your family don’t like your partner because they simply haven’t hit it off, encourage them to get to know him better – and see the qualities you see in him.

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