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The issue is my parents. They live across the country and are older, traditional, and very religious. You know the type – they would be horrified at the thought of me living with a man before I got married. What would people think? Sex before marriage is wrong! Etc. They adopted me when I was a baby, the three of us have always been very close, and I would hate to disappoint them. They are understandably very protective, and they have usually had a hand in my major life decisions. Furthermore, they are supporting me financially as I finish up this degree. I would have around six more months remaining at school at the time of my lease coming up.
I’ve spoken to my boyfriend about all of this and how much it concerns me. He has a good job and has offered to support me financially if my parents pull the plug on my funding. Honestly, I don’t think that they would stop paying for school but living expenses is a distinct possibility. I could easily get a part time job and take longer finishing school, to make sure ends meet. I’m just trying to figure out how to make this process as minimally destructive to our relationship as possible.
I guess my biggest concern is how to have this conversation with them. I know it’s important to be calm, rational, and respectful. But frankly, I’m terrified. Boyfriend has offered to be part of that conversation and to explain to my parents that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I’m not sure if that will help or hurt. I feel like that, if I’m not mature enough to step up to the plate and tell my parents of my decision, I’m probably not mature enough to be thinking of getting married. I’ve made my decision about moving in with him, and I feel like that decision is based on both logic and love. I just need to work up the guts to do it. The advice of someone more experienced would be greatly appreciated here. — Scared to Talk to Parents
You sound like a very rational, smart woman with a good head on her shoulders, and I bet your parents are so proud of you. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ve never disappointed them or that you won’t ever disappoint them in the future. Whether or not you move in with your boyfriend now or sometime before you actually get engaged or get married, you will probably at some point let your parents down in some way. There will be something they probably will wish you would have done differently or there will be some event or occasion or incident in your life they will wish had a different outcome. These things may even be totally out of your control. But that doesn’t mean your parents will be any less disappointed.
My point is, if you live your life trying to never ever disappoint Mom and Dad, you will fail. I suggest instead living the life that you think will lead you to the most satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness. And it sounds like that’s what you’re doing. You know you want to live with your boyfriend and you’re ready for the potential effects of that decision; you just don’t know how to tell your parents.
Here’s what I suggest: call them up and tell them you have some important news. Tell them how grateful you are for the love and guidance they raised you with and that so much of the woman you are today is because of the kind of parents they were. Remind them of some of the values they instilled and the qualities they helped nurture, including independence and intelligence. And then tell them how lucky you feel that you have met someone who has fallen in love with those qualities and who has qualities you equally value. Tell them you know you want to spend your life with this person and you hope that, when you are both ready to make that commitment, your parents will embrace him and love him they way you hope his parents will embrace and love you. And then tell them that, for you, part of becoming ready for the commitment of marriage is living together and making sure you are compatible as domestic partners and to do that you plan to move in with him in a few months when your lease is up.
They will have a reaction, obviously. And you’ll have to be prepared for whatever immediate reaction they might have. But if they are good, loving parents, your decision will not ruin your relationship. They will eventually come around. Because as much as you don’t want to lose them, I’m sure they don’t want to lose you. But they will have to let go a little to keep you. Every parent does. And this is their time to let go a little more. Just hold your ground if it takes them awhile and remember: you are living YOUR life, and, if they want to be a part of it, they will have no choice but to accept the decisions you make.
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