When it comes to dating in general, we are all familiar with that dreaded feeling when we present our date to our loved ones — will my family approve of my partner? And even though this typically refers to young pre-married people that are seeking the approval of their parents, when you are a mature person, you know that the opposite applies as well. Perhaps you have already divorced and have grown-up children and they don’t seem that receptive–or the rest of your family and relatives don’t seem to be that encouraging as well. Whatever the case, there are a few tips that will help deal with the matter and make your family more open to accepting your mature relationship.
No 1: Explain to them that you will always care and love them no matter what. Things can get pretty tough, especially when you have children from a failed marriage. Very often, they might fear and get jealous that your new partner will eat up your time and “love” and you won’t pay the attention that you used to. If you lovingly explain them that you will always care and support them no matter what and whoever is with you, this will quench their fears and reassure them that there is no reason to worry. Of course, your words have to be translated into in actions as well–if you don’t really show that you care, their remarks will only get worse.
No 2: Invite everybody over at a place that you all seem to love–but not the same place you used to visit with your former husband/wife or partner. In case your family seems to complain without actually meeting the person you are dating, a great idea would be to organize a meet up at a restaurant, cafe or a place you all seem to enjoy. As long as this place doesn’t remind the family of your former wife or husband that will bring all the family together for meeting up your new partner.
No 3: Don’t engage into details and don’t feed their fears. Sometimes, in our attempt to soften the tension and disapproval of our family and especially our adult children, we tend to be extra talkative about the whole thing. Your family doesn’t have to now every single detail about your new partner e.g. the exact story how and where you met, how much you’ve been dating, how do they look like or their personality traits–sometimes tiny details e.g that your partner tends to sleep all the time, may ignite the disapproval of your children, even if these comments may seem innocent. They will eventually get to know more about your partner, but don’t reveal too much from the start.
No 4: Negotiate with them. Tell your family that you fully understand their concerns and that they don’t need to show up at a certain family meeting or party if they don’t want to, but they need to know that you expect them to eventually meet your partner one day. This will make them both feel valued and understood while getting your expectations clear.
No 5: Don’t Force them to react more positively or throw ultimatums. If you don’t want any disagreements to escalate into a fighting ground, you need to be gentle, firm, and patient when you bring up the conversation. Don’t act like you are dictator and don’t throw ultimatums along the lines of “If you don’t come to see me and Betty this weekend, I won’t show up in your wedding”. They are no longer 5-years olds to fall for that. However, you shouldn’t do the opposite either and wait from them like a saint to magically approve your relationship without saying a word. The key to tackling the matter when the matter arises, is to address their fears and concerns and let them know that it will be for the benefit of all if you accept each other’s choices.
No 6: Show them you are happy with your chosen partner. Some adult children and relatives may not get jealous of your new relationship which is a good thing, but they might have genuine concerns about your happiness and well-being. They may worry about your new relationship because they don’t want to see you suffering from a bad choice.By showing them you are happy with your new partner and not only during the early stages of your relationship, this will ease their worries and reassure them that you’ve made the right choice.
No 7: Discuss and settle all inheritance matters. As much as you hate to admit it, your family may react badly because of inherited property getting in the hands of your partner, especially if your partner is younger. The first step here is to discuss the matter with your children and then consult an lawyer to make your will. This will let them know of all their rights before and after you pass away. It is a cold and tough process for everyone involved, but it’s a must if your children are now adults.
No 8: Tell them to give your new partner a chance and respect your choice. Your children are most probably adults already if you have crossed the age of 50 and they have a life on their own/independent of yours. While they do have a right to express their concerns about your new partner, in the end, the choice is yours and only yours. Tell them to give your new partner a chance before judging and slowly introduce your partner so they get to know him/her better and become more comfortable around their presence.
Now sometimes your family may be extra persistent, each for their own reasons.
If they are still negative, kindly yet firmly tell them that you are happy and that you understand but you are happy with your partner and they need to respect that. After all, they shouldn’t dictate your life as you no longer dictate theirs.