Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: I have been engaged for a few months and my parents disapprove of my fiance. An extended family member is very sick and will probably not live much longer. When I was talking to my parents, my mother explicitly told me that my fiance was not welcome at the funeral, stating it should be "family only." It is worth noting that the visitation and funeral will be published in the local paper and open to anybody.
My fiance is incredibly hurt by this, but he respects my mother's wishes. I will be attending the funeral, but I am unsure how to deal with tensions between my parents and my fiance.
Of course I am deeply upset about this death in the first place, and I feel really overwhelmed with the vehemence of my parents' dislike for my fiance. I am not sure how to navigate this difficult situation.
What do your parents see as the grounds for their dislike? This is so important.
If it's something that calls your fiance's character into question, then that's something you need to face.
If it's not a character issue, then it will be hard for you to avoid taking sides. You can't outsource the decision to your fiance, either. His choice not to go to the funeral is the right one if that's what you asked him to do; if you decide you want his support, then he goes.
You are responsible not just for that decision, but also for standing up for your fiance by saying to your mom: "We're all grieving, and I want to do what I can to help the family, but Fiance is my family now. Shutting him out means shutting me out, too."
Unless your parents have legitimate doubts about your fiance based on his behavior, I don't respect your mom's wishes, and I don't think you should, either.
If you're going to make the decision to follow through with a marriage to someone your family treats as an outcast, then you have to insist on inclusion or, if they refuse, cast yourself out with him. There's no playing this both ways.
Email email@example.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.