Can I Please My Parents and Still Be Myself?
- Thursday, June 27, 2013
EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to email@example.com (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I'm 26 and for two years I have been dating an older guy, who is 45 now. We love each other very much and would like to get married in the near future. He's divorced with two children. He's a very good father to his kids and I know he'll make a good husband. We are both Christians. I'm Nigerian, but have been living in the states since I was 17. My parents still live in Nigeria. The problem is they want me to end the relationship with him because of our age difference and the fact that he has been divorced and has kids. My dad referred to him as "second hand," and says he will never give me in to marriage to him. My parents say he will divorce me too, and reminded me that the Bible says God hates divorce. They are worried that I'll bring shame to them and people will talk about it.
I have been praying about our relationship because I knew it was going to be challenging. We have both prayed for God's guidance and discernment in helping us make good decisions that will honor God. I have often felt afraid of him passing before me because he's much older. The thought of being without him hurts. But with prayer I've been able to deal with it.
I love my parents and do not want to disappoint them. I've always done what they wanted but I'm at a point where I don't want to end the relationship and I don't think my parents will ever change their minds. I also feel I cannot live my life for them or for the Nigerian culture and what people back home would think or say. I feel torn. What do I do?
As we get older, start formulating our own ideas and making our own decisions, it’s difficult when what we believe and how we want to live conflict with what our parents want for us (or for themselves). Especially since you have lived so far away from “home” and they have not been a part of your daily life for so many years, it is challenging for both of you to fully consider and abide by the other’s desires and wishes.
Despite the distance and the years, your parents may still see (and treat) you as that same young woman of seventeen when you left rather than accepting you as the adult you are today. As a result, they probably feel they have the right and the need to continue to speak into and direct your life.
Every relationship and marriage has its challenges. The blending of two people, two lifestyles, two families, two needs and two wills will always have obstacles to overcome. Nevertheless, it can be done.
We as a society do a great disservice when we “classify” others by things like ethnicity, culture, affiliations, physical attributes or age. God created us all uniquely different, and for us to compartmentalize or label one another based upon a characteristic, many of which are God-given, we are in essence judging God’s own work.
There is an age difference between the two of you; however that difference does not make the two of you incompatible. I have witnessed many couples with even a greater age variance thrive relationally and serve the Lord in incredible ways.
Your boyfriend has been married and divorced (and yes, God does not like broken marital covenants), but that does not guarantee he will divorce you (although “statistically” there is a higher rate of divorce among divorcees). None of us are perfect and we all carry some “blemishes,” but through Christ we are all redeemed.
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