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Parents, Relatives, and Friends - Part 3

  • Dr. Neil Clark Warren for the eHarmony Research Library
  • 2003 14 May
Parents, Relatives, and Friends - Part 3

When you are ready to marry and you're getting significant resistance from your family and friends it's difficult to know how to proceed. By the time most people have reached the age to marry they've built significant networks of friends and relatives. These are people they love and respect. When they oppose your marriage choices you've been handed a profound and potentially explosive conflict. I believe I have some concrete avenues for wisely resolving that conflict.

In my previous installments we discussed the six steps of resolving this conflict effectively:

Step One - Carefully consider why you don't have their support
Step Two - Control your emotional claustrophobia
Step Three - Fundamentally listen to what they have to say
Step Four - Search for the truth
Step Five - Stay calm
Step Six - Remember how crucial these people are to you

In this final installment I want to explain how you can take steps to make this disagreement you have with your family and friends enhance your decision and eventually be of great benefit to you.

Let me encourage you to understand that if persons have a lot of doubt about your possible marriage you may want to go slow. Especially if several of them from different parts of your life are in agreement that this might be a difficult marital relationship.

Over time I've come to believe in something I call sensual validation. When persons from different sensual perspectives, that is one person from a brain over here and another person from a brain over there agree on something, it's much more likely to be valid. If you have some close friends who agree with your mom or your dad or your brother or your sister, and as a group they tell you that they're really concerned, take that very seriously.

I would encourage you to ask them with great specificity about what it is about your relationship that is of concern to them. And then you can do a couple of things:

One, you can work really hard to see if you can overcome what those particular matters are all about.

Two, you can look with great objectivity and say to yourself "Is this right?"

If it is right does it mean that I shouldn't continue the relationship? Ultimately, you are the person who will profit from this kind of decision. Ultimately, it is your life that we are concerned with and if you make a great decision, you are the one who will profit the most from that.

I have seen some situations in which families have gotten involved and, in my opinion, the families were wrong. I have found families on both sides of the issue. For instance, in my book, Finding the Love of Your Life, I talk about a man who didn't think that any boy or man was good enough for his daughter. She was 29 years old and he just felt that the person she had chosen as her prospective husband wasn't good enough for her. He took a strong position against it.

Eventually he saw that the problem was not his daughter's but was his own. He was having such a great amount of difficulty giving her up. There was no one he felt was good enough for her, because he didn't want the loss that he was going to experience when she moved away from home and married.

I've seen other cases in which persons have made a wrong decision as family members and they've given wrong advice because they simply don't understand the prospective marital partner and they don't even understand their child well enough. Sometimes I've seen them give wrong advice because they want to be in control.

Bottom line: All I'm suggesting is that, if you encounter feelings and thoughts from the people you love the most that are opposed to the feelings and thoughts you have about this weightiest of life decisions, I encourage you to listen very, very closely and take your time getting all the information.

Ultimately you will need to stand in the middle of all your information from within yourself and from without and make a decision about whether you will marry this person or not.

May your decision be absolutely devoted to the truth. If it is, you will be able to make your decision work wonderfully well for you. I want you to know I'm pulling for you to make a great decision-a decision that will keep all your primary relationships intact and that will determine in a very thoughtful way about whether you should pursue the person you're thinking of marrying.

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