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Partner vs. Parents - I can't handle it anymore
Hi all, Newbie here
I am having relationship issues. My partner and I have been togeyher for about 2 and a half years. My parents do not like him, and he does not like my parents. This has been the cause of mant fights between my parents and I, as well as my partner and I. He blames everything wrong with our relationship on this issue. My father has become very distant from me since this all began. I live in a different town to my parents and my partner, so when both parties are angry with me it makes me feel very alone and isolated.
I have tried reasoning with everyone and attempted to have them see my position in this, but they refuse to reconsider their feelings. I don't want to have to choose between them, but it feels like this situation is impacting my own health in an unsustainable way. I love them all dearly.
I would just appreciate some advice from a neutral third party, because I don't know what to do.
Thanks for listening.
That does sound very stressful and overwhelming. I feel it’s painful and distressing to be caught in the middle of a partner and parents who don’t get along. I think you’re in a difficult position because you care about all of them so of course you don’t want to “choose”/take sides.
I was wondering if you might find it helpful to assert calmly to all parties something along the lines of “I love you and I understand you don’t like my parents/partner but I feel we have been through this before, and I don’t feel talking about it again is going to help anyone. So I think if we just accept that you don’t get along, and try to focus on other things instead. It hurts me to see you upset about it but let’s try to focus on our relationship instead of your feelings towards my parents/partner because what’s most important is our relationship and not how you feel about my parents/partner.”
Obviously it doesn’t have to be in those exact words but what I’m trying to get at is trying to get your parents and partner to focus on their relationship with you (rather than their fixation with how much they dislike each other) and refusing to be caught in the middle.
Granted, their initial reaction might be indigation, silent treatment, anger, etc...but hopefully over time, if you continue to refuse to engage in a conversation about how they dislike one another, maybe they’ll let it go. It won’t mean that they will like each other but maybe at least you will have fewer fights with your partner about your parents, and you would be creating a self protective boundary of refusing to be caught in the middle.
Another option is maybe to try calling Relationships Australia as they specialise in family and relationship advice and support. They might have some ideas for you. You should be able to find their helpline number easily online.
I’m not sure if my suggestions were helpful or not but I wanted to share them anyway. There’s no pressure or rush but if you’re feeling up to it, let us know how things go with your partner and family.
Kindness and warmth,
Welcome to the forum. As you can see from Pepper’s very supportive reply that this is a caring, friendly and supportive place.
Pepper has given you helpful suggestions .
I feel for you being torn between the love for your partner and your parents.
I think talking to your parents alone and reassuring how much you love them and maybe have time with them without your partner.
What do you think you could say to your partner so he understands how isolated you feel when he argues with your parents ?
How do you think you can protect yourself so you are not caught up in the arguments.?
These are just a few ideas but hey may not suit you.
May I ask what the reasons are behind the mutual dislike? I ask because I think there are things people can agree to disagree on, and things that maybe can't be resolved simply. Is it differences in political ideology, personality types? Is it about a specific thing your partner/parents have done that has caused a rift? Many parents hold an attitude of 'nobody's good enough for my child', which can lead them to reject any partner that child chooses, until they have to learn to accept the relationship because they realise it is forever. Is that it?
Your words indicate you don't live with your partner, but as you want a solution to this problem I assume you see that possibly happening one day. do your parents know this? Is this the man you are hoping to spend your life with? If so, they need to know how serious the relationship is and how much he means to you. They might be thinking you'll break up so liking him isn't that important? Your partner also needs to respect your need to maintain a relationship with your parents if he envisages a future with you, that's his responsibility to you. I don't like my MIL much at all but I have to curb my tongue sometimes for my husband's sake. So yes there needs to be some compromise between them or you will always be caught in the middle, which isn't fair to you.
I know there are more questions here than answers. I have some familiarity with this sort of thing as my sister's boyfriend has never been fully accepted by my family. There is fault on both sides--my mother is judgemental, my sister's bf lacks social skills so tends to come across badly. Most of the time my sister chooses to visit my parents alone & when the bf does visit they all know to avoid certain sensitive topics. Unfortunately it's never completely comfortable but they do manage not to argue now, and that only happened when my sister's bf pulled back on the attitude & my parents accepted that he was my sister's choice, whether they liked it or not.
I don't know if this has been helpful! Family relationships can be so complicated, so I have a lot of sympathy for your plight. I hope you post again and let us know what you're thinking.