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Our families disapprove of our relationship

Our agony aunt, Mary Fenwick, offers a new perspective on your challenges and problems

by Psychologies

young couple sad

My boyfriend and I have been going out for four years; we are very much in love, and have been talking about getting married. However, we have different faiths and my family has made it perfectly clear that they will never accept our relationship. My boyfriend told me that his family has given us their blessing, but he has now decided that he is not in favour of a civil ceremony, mainly because he thinks it likely that my family will harm his family if he marries me in a ceremony that is not religious.

I have a feeling that his family are talking him out of it because they fear for their safety. Are we getting in too deep? I’m not sure what to do any more. Name supplied

You cannot think straight about your relationship with your boyfriend with these fears in the background, and I urge you to talk this situation through with someone you can really trust.

I have alarm bells sounding in my head about your use of the word ‘harm’ here, which would take us into a zone beyond my opinion and into a matter of law. In the UK, the threat of violence is a crime, whether or not it is carried out. In your case, it sounds to me as if the situation could be called ‘honour-based’, although I’m always reluctant to use that phrase because it implies that I agree with this definition of honour.

You are not alone, although I would guess that you are feeling very isolated right now. The most immediate way to talk to someone is probably through the Karma Nirvana helpline (see ‘More Inspiration’, below). This is a charity set up by and for women who seek to take charge of their own choice about marriage. They promise not to talk to your family, and could talk through your options for support.

I am sorry that you face this painful time, and grateful that you have taken the first step of writing to me. Please put your own oxygen mask on first, before you worry about your boyfriend’s family.

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email mary@psychologies.co.uk, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line

More inspiration

Get support from charity Karma Nirvana at karmanirvana.org.uk

Photograph: iStock

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