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Parents, Relatives and Friends - Part 1

  • Dr. Neil Clark Warren for the eHarmony Research Library
  • 2003 1 May
Parents, Relatives and Friends - Part 1

It may be that you're reading this article because you're thinking about marriage and the support you have for marriage from relatives and close friends is not nearly as strong as you would like.

Step Number One

Maybe your relatives and close friends are taking a very strong stance against your getting married. The very first thing I want to know is why you have virtually no support for your decision to marry.

If you were sitting in my office right now, I would hope that you would just pour your heart out to me and tell me everything about why it is that your relatives and close friends are taking this stance. I want to know if you know exactly why it is. What is it that you think your dad and mom and your sisters and brothers and your uncles and aunts and friends and whoever they are see about your relationship that makes them so concerned?

If we're going to do anything about this situation, the very first thing we want to do is to objectively get everything down on paper about why it is that these other people take such a strong stance.

Step Number Two

The second thing I want is to get rid of all your emotional claustrophobia. I don't want you to think that you're going to get pinned into a corner and you won't be able to do what you want to do. I want to promise you right now that you don't have to worry about that. The final say about whether you get married or not is yours and your fiancé's.

Whatever your friends and family say, their vote simply doesn't count. So, as much as you can, get rid of all your defensiveness right now. If you decide that you want to get married and if your fiancé says, "Yes, I want to get married too," then the two of you can get married. Emotional claustrophobia has no place in our discussion.

Step Number Three

Fundamentally what you want to do is to listen to all these people. You want to listen to them clear out to their edges. You want to totally understand what they're feeling and thinking about your contemplated wedding. So, how do you do this?

The first thing is you tell them that you'd like to do it. I want to offer some suggestions to you about how you go about doing this. The very first thing I would suggest to you is get the practical situation right. Get the concrete situation right. I want you to meet with them in a place where you don't have to be bothered with phones or possible interruptions of any kind. I want you to get away from routine. I don't want you to have to feel that you're cooking a dinner but you're going to talk to them in between stirring the soup. I don't want you to be worried that you're going to have to run off to your job. Get away from routine.

I want you to be prepared to talk openly with them for as long as it takes. I want you to listen non-defensively to every last thing they have to say. I know I'm asking a lot of you.

So let's review it. You want to get married to somebody. You're so turned on by them and they're turned on to you. This seems like it would be a good relationship. You want to marry them, but your dad and mom or your brothers and sisters or your aunt and uncle or your good friends think there's something wrong with the situation.

Now I'm saying, if ultimately you want to do this, you can, so don't worry about it. But these people care a lot about you, so let's listen to them all the way out.

I'm suggesting that we not try to piecemeal this listening. Get together with your loved ones and, with the best attitude you can muster, tell them you want to hear what they have to say. Get completely away and set the whole thing up so that you really allow them to tell you every last thing that's in their heart. I promise you that if you will do this, these people who care for you so much will end up feeling listened to and heard at a deep level, and that is going to be important, eventually, to their joining the bandwagon, getting on your side, and being on your team.


In our next installment, we will look at three more steps in our process towards finding the truth about your family, friends, and your desire to marry.

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