I am very hurt and upset because I have not gotten any support. It feels like I’m being torn — if I choose him, I lose my family, but if I choose my family, I lose him. This situation has caused me so much physical and emotional stress. I don’t know what to do. — Feeling Torn Between Boyfriend and Family
Ok, well first of all, he’s not your fiancé if you aren’t engaged yet. He’s your boyfriend…who has been planning to propose for a year but hasn’t. And while I don’t agree with the way your mother has expressed her discomfort with your plans — calling you stupid and accusing you of being pregnant — I suspect she must have some reason for not supporting your potential engagement. Have you discussed with her and your family what their reservations are?
It seems, if it’s so important to you to have their support, and it’s also important to continue your relationship with your boyfriend, there is certainly room to compromise. First, why the rush to marry? Why not finish your master’s program and look for work where your boyfriend will be going to school before you marry and move. I agree with your mother that moving without a job lined up is a little short-sighted. I think you could win over some support from your family if you made the responsible decision of holding off on a marriage until you’ve secured a job and moved and settled in and made sure you’re happy living where your boyfriend’s pharmacy program is. And what about post-pharmacy school? Have you two discussed where you’d like to eventually live? Have you discussed these other topics yet? If you have, tell your family how well you’ve thought out this decision, how prepared you are for the compromises and major decisions you’ll have to make as a wife. If they can see that you’ve really thoughtfully considered the issues you’ll have to face as a married person, they will be more likely to give their support.
I suspect, though, based on the tenor of your letter, that you have not thought of all of these issues. I suspect your family is worried that you’re too naive still for marriage and aren’t really aware of what you’d be getting yourself into moving across the country with a new husband and no job or solid plan. I suspect this because you give no reason for wanting to marry other than loving your boyfriend and saying you’re compatible (important for marriage, yes, but definitely not the only criteria!). You give no argument for a decision that your family doesn’t support, no indication that you’ve thought through and discussed — at least with your boyfriend — what marriage would entail. You say your family doesn’t support you, but you don’t say why they should other than implying that being their daughter is reason enough.
I sympathize that this is causing you “physical and emotional stress.” So I suggest putting it on pause and taking some time to think about what such a decision and move means. This isn’t just about choosing your boyfriend over your family (or vice versa); it’s about choosing a lifestyle, a career trajectory, and a life path. I’m not sure from reading your letter that you are quite ready for that. The good news is that you don’t have to rush. And even better, whatever path you choose can be switched if you find you don’t like it. But it’s much, much easier to switch paths without the burden of filing for divorce, moving across the country, or dealing with small children (so whatever you do, whatever you choose, please, please use birth control until you are absolutely sure you are ready for parenthood).
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.