Have you ever been in a relationship with someone whom your family absolutely hates? I don’t mean someone they tolerate, or someone they don’t know or have nothing in common with, but someone whom they actually and actively can’t stand.
There’s your mum, thinking about the recipes and food she’s going to prepare for Christmas lunch, when she suddenly starts calculating portions and distrustfully asks you, “Dak l-ħagu li taħli l-ħin miegħu ġej?” (“Is that creature you waste your time with coming?”). You look at her mutely, then disgustedly half-shriek, “Are you joking? I’ve been seeing him for almost a year now, isn’t it kind of obvious?!”
Then there’s your dad, who after grilling him with unanswerable questions every time he meets him – like whether he’s a virgin or how much money he saves for the future per month – has finally quit it and contents himself with looking at him as though he’d like to riddle him with bullets and use his head for a football instead. Your older brother ignores him as though he doesn’t exist, while your younger one teases him mercilessly, dropping chewing gum in his hair ‘by accident’ and ‘borrowing’ his jackets without ever returning them. Small wonder your de facto boyfriend has now started to leave all his stuff in the car before even crossing the threshold of your house.
Perhaps there doesn’t even need to be a valid reason for their hate. In fact, that’s not really the point. He may be tal-pepe, he may vote for another political party, hold different views, or simply chew with his mouth open. Maybe they’re overprotective of you or maybe they liked your ex better and still hold faint hopes that you might go back to him one day. What’s sure is that if the people who are closest to you don’t care for your better half and aren’t afraid of showing it, things can get pretty stressful, both for you and your partner as individuals, and the relationship itself.
If your family members can’t offer any specific reason why they don’t approve of your partner, the situation can get pretty sticky, although you’ll probably end up with the same result if they do in fact provide one. How you handle this of course depends both on the relationship you have with your family, as well as the one you have with your partner. If for example, you still live at your parent’s house, inviting someone they don’t like to enter their home – their personal safe space – would be very uncomfortable. In this case, it might be a good idea to be honest with your partner – who’ll surely have already realised that there’s something going on at this point – and ask him to start hanging out together somewhere else.
On the other hand, if the relationship with your parents has always been a good one, it would be more mature to discuss with them and ask for their tolerance, at least until you continue living under their roof; after all, this would actually be your safe space too… or at least it should be. And they should therefore respect your choice of partner and your decisions, not to mention consider your happiness.
The important thing is to know what your priorities are and what you’re willing to compromise and actually do in order to put them first. Such issues might be pivotal in showing you that perhaps it’s time for you to move on, become more independent, and start living on your own. On the other hand, you might also want to take a step back and view things objectively. Remember that sometimes, being in the middle of a situation may result in your not seeing it clearly and missing what, to others, might be obvious. After all, perhaps your family may be aware of something you’re not.
Whichever way it goes, being an adult means that you’re responsible for your own life and choices. Yes, your family’s suggestions are worth taking into account, as are your partner’s opinions. However, when all’s said and done, it’s your life and you have to be the one to decide how to live it. Take stock of both your feelings and your needs. Use your heart and your head, and you’ll surely realise which direction is best for you.