Choosing a partner for life is a big deal under any circumstances. It’s hard enough to know you are making the right decision and meeting all your needs. So what happens when you come up against a thumbs-down from a parent, sibling, or friend who has been weighing in on your choices all your life? Why is it that the people you love, instead of welcoming somebody who you care about with open arms, instead may take a contrary position and see them as the last person in the world suited for you?
This is a very common experience for many people, and it happens for a lot of reasons. It speaks to declaring your independence, freedom of choice, autonomy, and, most important, to trusting your own judgment to know what is best for you as an adult rather than what other people think is best.
It has been reported that Selena Gomez's mother is not happy about her rekindled relationship with pop star Justin Bieber. Considering how distraught Selena was in the aftermath of their much-publicized breakup, it makes sense that her loved ones would worry about her now that she and Justin are giving it another go. Whatever the reasons, Selena’s mom has assured the public that she just wants her daughter to be safe, healthy, and happy.
While the approval of your parents is always a plus in any relationship, is it crucial to the success of your union? What can you do, then, if you find yourself in a similar situation?
Here are a few steps you can take as you work to stay true to yourself and your commitment without allowing conflict to tear apart your family.
Begin by having an open conversation with the person who is criticizing your future partner. Ask them to spell out their concerns and explain why they feel the person is not right for you. This isn’t always easy to do, since you might be starting from a defensive position, especially if this is a lifelong pattern. But it is worth hearing what’s on their mind since it is possible their thinking is valid and you are missing something. Keep an open mind while you are talking, and consider what they have to say. If, for example, your romantic partner exhibited bad behavior in the past and your parents call that out, think about what has changed and what is different now, allowing you to fully trust that person and move forward with them. Explain the changes and describe why the previous behaviors are no longer something to worry about.
If, on the other hand, your family members or friends raise issues about a difference in race or religion, something that is important to them but not to you, this may be your fork in the road where you choose to go your own way and claim more separation. It becomes a step toward independence, and a move away from the ideals of the family you grew up in. It is a time when you can take responsibility and voice your own values, even though they may differ from your parents, siblings, or friends. It can serve as an emotional emancipation and the start of embracing what is important to you. When this happens, you can acknowledge that they have criticisms while asserting that they are not your personal beliefs.
Whatever the case, if you continue to meet disapproval, tell the naysayers that you would like to accept that you have clear differences of opinion but would like to agree to disagree so that you can stay together as a family. This is also a time to put boundaries in place. Note that you are aware that they don’t like your choice, but from that time forward you do not want to hear anything more about it unless you specifically ask for an opinion. You can even go as far as alerting them that if they do broach the subject you will simply end the conversation. In that way, you can keep some control and prevent being blindsided.
The ultimate goal is to avoid getting into a power struggle in which you feel controlled and judged by a parent or other loved one, which can lead to constant arguing, Try not to become defensive or feel you have to justify your choice. The only thing that matters is that you are happy, excited, and comfortable as you move forward with your partner with your eyes on the future. Hopefully, Selena and Justin will be able to do this and find peace even with the family discord. And, in time, Selena’s mother will also come around and embrace her daughter’s rekindled romance.