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My Father Dislikes Him

Question:

I am engaged to be married this Aug 30. I love my fianc?e, and am sure he loves me. The problem is complicated. I am a nursing student (my 2nd degree – I am 28 years old) and living at home to save expenses. He is a seasonal worker, also living at home to save money. He is returning to school to pursue a trade. He is 33 years old. The problem? Our parents. My father dislikes him, thinks he is a loser and his family are losers. His mother is on welfare, and dislikes me because I come from a comfortable family who have worked hard to earn what they have. My parents rule me, and treat me like a child. They will not allow us to sleep in the same bed, or live together before marriage. My father has threatened to disown me and cut me off, and as a student, I can’t support myself. My student aid doesn’t even cover my tuition. My fianc?e is trying very hard, he lived with a woman who stole his money and everything he owned while he worked in another province. So, now he has to begin again. I desperately want him to prove my father wrong, and I want my father to approve. I have been seeking approval from my father for most of my life for various reasons. However, he keeps saying my fianc?e is nothing, I will regret marrying him, he is beneath me… and this is tearing me apart. Part of me is frightened he is right. My fianc?e and I had a fight this evening as I wanted him to consider attending a school 500 miles away right after we are married, while I stay in school here. This school would offer him a better program, with better job opportunities and a better future. He got upset, because he feels what’s the point of being married to be apart for two years (we would see each other on break, etc). I think it is a small sacrifice for our future, but part of me wants him to do it because my father would approve. I’m so tired of having to defend him to my father, and my father’s words are starting to take hold. I am worried that nobody will ever be good enough for him, and I’ll end up alone.

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Answer:

You protest too much I think, and I don’t buy into the basis of the statements you’ve made about how you are so dependent on your father. You’ve gone out of your way to show how your father controls your life, “he rules me”, “I can’t support myself”, etc. But I don’t fully buy this line of argument. At age 28, you are not dependent on your father except in your own mind. You might find it painful and inconvenient for you to have to attend college classes while also holding down a job sufficient to meet your expenses, and it might take years longer to complete your degree, but many people out there have completed college degrees under just such circumstances. I have a similar problem of not buying into your line of reasoning when you describe wanting your fianc?e to attend school miles away from you. While it objectively might be better for his career for him to do this, he is quite right, I think, in supposing that this would put unnecessary, potentially even fatal stress on your relationship. Long distance relationships are incredibly hard to maintain. I have to wonder about the wisdom of your beliefs if you actually value the chance to impress your father more than the health of your future marriage! I think what your situation really boils down to is that you don’t want to have to make the hard choice of being disloyal to someone you care about and facing the very real and possibly life-altering inconveniences that may come with that decision. But – ultimately you do have to decide who you will be more loyal to: your father or your fianc?e. Then you have to make a sacrifice, either pissing off your father or your fianc?e. You cannot live your life in the hopes that something you (or your fianc?e) do will get you into the good graces of your father without also giving him the important power over how to run your life. And (to quote a verse from the famous RUSH song ‘free will’:) “if you choose not to decide – you still have made a choice”. I don’t envy you this one. I know this is a hard situation to be in, I can empathize with it, and I wish you good luck in making the choice that is right for you.

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