Background info

I'm a 20 y/o guy living with my parents in the Netherlands. When I was 16, I unintentionally met an American girl online whom I fell in love with and we have had a great relationship for 3 years now. We've seen each other a lot of times (usually 3 times per year for around 3 weeks per visit, during summer usually longer). She has been at our house for a long period once and I have been at their house many times. Her family loves me very much, has given us financial support so that we can be together more often and all the signs say that I want to be with her forever. I love the U.S.A. and I would love to live and work there after we graduate.


Her family loves me, but my parents don't really seem to like her. Due to the language barrier and her having some social awkwardness issues, she isn't very close with my family. She has been at our house for 4 weeks when the two of us really enjoyed our time together. When she went back home and I asked my mother afterward how they experienced those 4 weeks, the reaction I got back from her made me feel depressed for about two weeks, not exaggerating (it wasn't anything positive at all). It basically came down to the fact that they had a terrible time because she was here, I still don't really understand why... I never asked my dad what he thought because I'm afraid to get burned to the ground again. My parents tell me that she is still welcome over here, but that they hope things will be different next time. But my girlfriend doesn't feel welcome anymore (which I understand) and I'm afraid to get her at our house again.

During Christmas, I was over there and I really enjoyed my time there and so did her family. They always tell me how welcome and loved I am in their family and that they will do anything for the both of us. I want to propose to my girlfriend and she wants to be engaged, too, thus I asked for her father's blessing behind her back which was a big "yes absolutely" and it made him very happy.

On the other hand, I'm afraid to tell my parents I want to marry her. I don't feel like they are supporting us in our relationship at all. I don't have a great relationship with my parents (and never had), have small fights with them every now and then, they seem to care barely about me and I don't really feel like they see me, especially since my sister got married and moved out and now I'm the only child in the house.

How do I tell my parents that I want to marry her and move over there in a few years? I'm afraid they will start yelling at me, disallow me to do that, or that it will make the relationship with my parents even worse than it already is. I don't know what to do or how to tell them that I even asked for her dad's blessing. I'm afraid I will mess up things and make things only worse when I tell them. Do I even need to tell them my plan of proposing at all? I don't know what to do in this situation and it's really stressing me out. Any help is appreciated.

  • 14
    Maybe your sister can provide an unbiased point of view about the reaction of your parents?
    – Paolo
    Jan 8, 2017 at 19:12
  • 89
    You're twenty - your life is yours and not theirs to determine. Jan 8, 2017 at 19:27
  • 9
    Would it be an alternative to just move together for maybe a year and then talk about marriage again? Organizing a weeding can be very stressing especially if the family lives on different countries.
    – Chris
    Jan 8, 2017 at 19:54
  • 30
    Are you currently living at home? A guest that stays for a month can be stressful on the hosts even if they like them.
    – enderland
    Jan 8, 2017 at 20:01
  • 39
    @TobiasKienzler: I don't see why it's necessary to take such a truculent stance with the parents. The OP lives with them, is financially dependent on them, and would not have been able to have GF visit and stay if not for them facilitating it. They're entitled to an opinion, and maybe (or maybe not) they saw something in her which he missed. At minimum, he should talk to them and hear their opinion, before making big decisions.
    – smci
    Jan 8, 2017 at 21:53

14 Answers 14


First up; your parents can protest and disallow it all they want, you're an adult and there is nothing they can really do to stop you from marrying whomever you want and living wherever you want. So if you're afraid your parents will say "no," remember that their opinion of your marriage is, in the end, not an actual barrier.

For the same reason, you don't need to tell them about your plans at all. The idea of asking for permission to marry someone in the Netherlands is pretty old-fashioned, and most people don't do it anymore. It seems you´re pretty set on this marriage, so at this point I would not bring it up as a "I'm thinking about marrying this girl", but as an "I'm going to marry this girl".

That said, you should probably put some effort into trying to patch up the relationship between your parents and your partner. Try to find out what caused the initial social problems, and try to make both sides make an effort to get along better next time.

(And seriously; don't have someone over for a month and only ask how it was experienced at the end of it. You could've probably prevented all of this if you had talked to your parents about how they liked your partner a few days after she arrived, so you could've fixed the problem then.)

Alternatively, if your partner really does not feel welcome, try to get your parents to travel with you. This has the nice added advantage that your in-laws can meet your family, which I feel is generally a good idea anyway. And try to address any language-issues where possible; you might need to translate between people from time to time. That's part of having a partner from a different country. It also has the advantage that people tend to be a little happier in general while on holiday, and less likely to cause issues in another's home.

In the end, it's your life. Dutch society is generally pretty strong on "it's your life, do with it what you want", and most likely your parents will come around, even if it sours the mood at first. There's also a good chance that it is most important for them that you are happy, even if that means leaving for the USA.

There's also, of course, some chance that it really does ruin the relationship with your parents. At some point, you have to decide who is more important to you; that's a question nobody else can answer. But I've found that usually, parents get over the initial shock of their kids not doing what they expected of them and realize that they're still their kids and they still love them regardless.

  • 9
    +1. OP might want to arrange the next meeting to be shorter than a month in case it will be uncomfortable again.
    – svavil
    Jan 8, 2017 at 20:01
  • 8
    [your parents'] opinion of your marriage is ultimately meaningless I'm sure there were other ways to put this. The parents' opinion is all except meaningless, as long as they care about their son's happiness and not about their own interest (like f.ex. not being thrilled that their son moves to another continent) or about their own personal tastes. They have a bit more experience and might be able to see potential issues well in advance. Their opinion is not binding, not necessarily right etc. but also not meaningless, at all. Jan 10, 2017 at 10:49
  • 4
    I disagree, it's meaningful regardless of whether it's legally binding or not. I recommend the OP to ponder why his parents don't think it's a good idea (or better find out what their motives are, since he doesn't seem to know that). But this is just a matter of choice of words, and while I think "meaningless" ("ultimately" or not) is not a good choice I think I understand what you want to convey and I agree with that. Jan 10, 2017 at 11:51
  • 3
    @SantiBailors I think one of us is confused about what "ultimately meaningless" means. Given that "ultimately" means "only at the very end", I don't think it suggests that the parent's opinion is meaningless at all.
    – Erik
    Jan 10, 2017 at 12:07
  • 1
    @Erik, the other definition of "ultimately" is "at the most basic level," which certainly doesn't apply to this scenario. It's not clear in the context which meaning you are using. I'm proposing a slight rewording that I hope you will agree with.
    – Wildcard
    Jan 11, 2017 at 23:58

I really like everything about Erik's answer.

The only things I would add is that you have time. If the relationship is right, time will not harm it. Take your time, finish your education and let her finish hers. Next time she is visiting you in your home, start by asking your parents what you can do to make the visit better. Perhaps she felt awkward helping around the house. Perhaps she did not contribute the way a long-term guest ought to.

Honestly, you are an adult. You have to act like one. Face problems head on. I think you want your partner and your parents to be happy with each other. Trust me, you will have plenty of troubles in your love relationship. Passion does that. Loving a person passionately will also mean you will occasionally fight passionately. You want your mum and dad to be understanding of those times. You want them to help you repair your love relationship -- not use those times as an excuse to tear you apart. I think it is always best for parents to be happy with your choice, but it doesn't always happen.

You are likely still young enough that you haven't forgiven them for being your parents. When you have, you will have matured enough to be a spouse and a parent. To elaborate on this -- if you still feel angry when they want to protect you and to have good marks and to be responsible and to look after your health -- then you are still immature. You'll get there. Adulthood doesn't happen overnight.

You have decades to be married. My marriage started off as a long-distance one. We talked everyday over Skype and that made us so strong. We talked about everything from whether we wanted kids, religion, politics, belief systems, to how we would pay for things. I have a daughter and we had to discuss her needs and how he would step-parent. Think of being apart as a golden opportunity to really know everything and really understand what you both need and what you are needing to bring to the relationship.

We look on our years of long-distance as a truly wonderful time. He read to me every night and we still do that everyday. It's loving and intimate and a shared experience, a book club for two. You can find things to do together that will make your bonds strong. Those bonds will get you through the difficult times that all marriages have.

Best of luck.

  • 6
    Unfortunately only +1 allowed: the part about parents to be forgiven to be parents deserve much more!!
    – Paolo
    Jan 8, 2017 at 19:52
  • 1
    I'm nearly 40, and I'd be angry if my parents tried to forbid me from marrying, regardless of how much they wanted to protect me. So maybe I'm not so mature ;-) There's protection and there's control, and parents need to mature beyond the controlling stage just as much as children need to mature beyond the anger stage. Living as an adult in your parents' house is difficult (although I was lucky only to do it myself for short periods during university vacations). Both emotionally difficult to get your head around, and practically difficult given ingrained patterns that must change. Jan 11, 2017 at 1:09
  • @Steve Jessop if it were still an issue at 40, I would guess you were not mature, but I understand what you are trying to say. You did not need to ask though, did you? ! :wink:
    – WRX
    Jan 11, 2017 at 1:16
  • Well no indeed, my point is that what the questioner fears his parents will do, goes beyond merely "want to protect you and to have good marks and to be responsible and to look after your health", and crosses a line of what I think is typical for the degree of authority of parents over an adult in the Netherlands. Whether they'll actually do what he fears is another matter completely. Jan 11, 2017 at 2:27

You're twenty and you're trying to cement rocky relations between your parents and your long-distance girlfriend. Admittedly it's not an easy task, even at my stage of life.

First of all, there are some realities you must attend to,young friend. (I have a Grand-daughter your age, so I get to say "young" :)

You are living with your parents, yes ? They have the right to say who comes to stay in their home. A month-long visit is a very long time for a new person being introduced to them the first time. I'm guessing they felt a sense of intrusion and possibly resentment as a result of feeling so intruded upon in their own home. I'm explaining this to you to help you grasp some of why your parents may not have approved of her; they may've expected her to realize it was an intrusion & inconvenient as a matter of just having good manners. They may also wonder what kind of parents would allow her to travel to another country to stay with people her parents don't know. Again, saying this not to discourage you but to underline reasons they might not have felt so keen on her being there. If you want any chance to resolve this situation you must grasp both sides of the issue. Do acknowledge that they did allow her to come stay, even if they didn't care for her.

Setting aside issues of your parents for a moment, I agree with other posters here who say you have plenty of time; she isn't going to evaporate, right ? :) Take your time--I promise you, later you'll be so grateful you did. Think about living together in the U.S for at least a year, assuming you can get proper visit/work visas etc. This may well be another reason your parents don't care for her, because they realize she may likely take you away from them; very far away. I don't think there's much you can do about that except reassure them you love them, but respectfully assert your right to live your own life.

It IS your life. You have no control over their feelings. You already know they don't care for her, so take their responses with a grain of salt. Be ready for them to be very upset if you move to the U.S.; I highly doubt they'd be happy about that.

About you & your young woman---I hope you're listening with both ears. I'm not going to talk down to you because you're young; you're an adult & deserve more consideration than that. I will say,however, you're going rather fast. You haven't been with her day in, day out over a long period, only short visits wherein one can certainly maintain their best face at all times. See what she is like, what life with her is like over a much longer day-to-day haul. That time will further inform your decisions about a future with her. There is NO need for you to rush this; in fact, you already have a couple strikes against you re: family issues, so it's smart for you to go slow, take your time, see how things develop over the long stretch. If you're truly interested in having your parents eventually accept her,taking your time will help the most. If she loves you now, she'll still love you a year from now if it's genuine & solid and based on reality & healthy relationship interactions. On the other hand, if over the duration of that year you start seeing issues, then you have time to course-correct. I would actually suggest you try living together longer than a year but I get the sense that you feel you may lose something if you don't marry her right away---that alone is not a promising outlook to have.

Are you fearful of losing her ? If so, why? Are you deep-down fearful you may not love her as much as you think you do ? Sometimes we dig our heels in & do things in spite of our families, to illustrate that our lives belong only to us; if that's anywhere in your equation it isn't the best influence on a developing long-distance relationship. That may not be your case at all; I say it only to ask you to think hard on it, be honest with yourself and examine your motives. Only you know the answer to these questions and it's critical that you spend some quality time with them.

This next thing I say may shock you, may shock many who read this but it's a hard truth I've learned over my 66 years: Love does not solve all problems. Movies & tv shows and some books may try to sell you that belief, but it rarely ever works that way. Real life comes with real problems. Over time you learn how the person you love handles stress, unexpected crisis,sickness,disagreements,employment responsibilities,lots of life issues.

The shiny, sparkly passionate aspect evolves over time into a strong, solid I-have-your-back-no-matter-what way of caring for and about each other, if it's genuine and healthy. If it's not genuine & healthy it won't last. Period. This I've also learned: you absolutely must love yourself, respect yourself and your life and have a consolidated sense of who you are & what you want BEFORE you decide to legally join your life to another persons'.

It's wonderful her parents are so open and welcoming, but know that often is not the case in situations like yours. I think the way your parents have responded is more typical of parental concerns for a long-distance relationship.

So there you have it. Slow down; take your time, invest at least a year into life with her day-to-day before you make such a huge leap. Try to appease your parents if possible but grasp that at the end of the day it's your life, your decision. They may never accept it. That's a real risk you incur. You say you're not close with them and don't care what they think but you posted a question on the internet about them, so clearly: you DO care. Weigh it out carefully. They may only need to see you are serious and that she is,too; over time they will relent in all likelihood. Can your sister offer any support and how does she feel about your relationship with your GF ?

Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best in your decisions and your future. Be true to yourself & honor your life. It's a most precious gift and deserves the time required to make big decisions. I hope you will someday remember my advice to you & say "that old lady was right !" :)

  • 5
    Welcome to Parenting SE! Great answer!
    – WRX
    Jan 9, 2017 at 1:15
  • 5
    This. (considering you said it three times, +1): "I would actually suggest you try living together longer than a year but I get the sense that you feel you may lose something if you don't marry her right away---that alone is not a promising outlook to have." Which means OP should say, "After I graduate in ~4y, I plan to move to the US and spend at least another year planning the wedding and making sure 'this' will work."
    – Mazura
    Jan 9, 2017 at 1:44
  • 4
    +1 for -- This I've also learned: you absolutely must love yourself, respect yourself and your life and have a consolidated sense of who you are & what you want BEFORE you decide to legally join your life to another persons'. --- Why didn't you tell me that before! Jan 9, 2017 at 3:10
  • 1
    I joined this community to up-vote your answer. It's by far the best answer here. I can't emphasize enough the need to live together for at least a year before you decide to wed.
    – Vitani
    Jan 9, 2017 at 16:01
  • 4
    Unfortunately taking his time and living together for a long period before marriage may not be an option. It may be that the only feasible way for him to get into the USA on a long-term basis is to marry either before he moves or soon afterwards. Jan 10, 2017 at 2:46

A short blunt (I hope i googled the right adjective) view from a father with a son nearly as old as you are:

  1. Parents have a dream daughter in law - not than they can describe her exactly but these are definitely not the attributes which are your dreams. The dream-daughter should smoothen the dents in the son which where caused by parenting. E.g. if he can't cook - she should lead a four star restaurant.

  2. Your parents will be around my age (around 50). That's the time you are very comfortable with current situation. You know what to expect when you are coming home. A girlfriend is something new and you can not integrate (or better assimilate ;-)) her if there are language problems. So after a short time she is the reason that you can't walk around in your briefs. Well I'd be a bit grumpy too.

  3. If you tell them that you'll marry her following questions will pop up:
    a) Can you afford this?
    b) Aren't you too young?
    c) Is she pregnant?
    Excuse them - you will pose the same questions to your offspring and it shows that they care about you. After you have answered all the questions (a frown is OK too). Tell them that you and your girlfriend are happy that your parents care so much and tell them the date.

  4. After you're married the status changes and when you visit your parents your wife will be drawn in the kitchen for the exchange of the recipes you love the most and your father will pour you a drink and tell you how to be a good husband, father, hero like he is.

  5. Have some patience with us old parents. Parents love everything you love - except of this extremely loud music - it just takes a while

  6. All my best wishes to you

  • 1
    I agree with you. All the "It's my own life" thing is very disrespectful to parents, considering they are more knowledgeable and experienced with life. Parents know their kid so well, so there must be a reason if they are not happy. And yes I agree, 20 is a bit too young. Considering they are still in school, if the parents aren't happy and pull out financial support, the girl's parents may not be as happy as they are right now.
    – Alic
    Jan 9, 2017 at 14:34

Lots of good answers here - but I want to add one more.

Marriage is not easy. You need a support network to make it work. Parents can and should be an important part of that network. Assuming you move far away, and get married, and have children... your parents will feel like you "stole their grandchildren" from them - and you may feel like you deprived your children of the chance to have grandparents.

Don't underestimate the importance of that. I married the girl of my dreams, and we lived far from my home country for our entire married life. My parents resented it, and my mother felt "that girl stole our son". When I was young, I thought that was silly; as I grew older, I understand better how she felt.

Now my parents are both gone; my children are grown up, and they hardly knew their paternal grandparents. I'm not saying for a moment that I regret marrying my wife - but I wanted to give you this perspective: decisions come with consequences, and costs. "Telling your parents" is by no means the hard part; living with the consequences of your choice and their reaction - that will be hard. If you think they will come around after a good shouting match, well and good. If this might cause a permanent rift - that's your choice. But it doesn't just affect you. It affects your parents, your children, and your sister.

Just something to consider.


If you aren't "old enough" to tell your parents you are getting married, you are not old enough to get married. The reason I say this, is you will inevitably need to establish your own independent household and identity in order to have a successful marriage, regardless of your relationship with your parents.

I have a great relationship with my parents, and they adore my wife, but it's still a constant struggle to help them understand where the boundaries are. And that's after over a decade of marriage.

Most parents want their children to become independent adults with their own lives, they just want them to not make too many mistakes. If they ask you to wait until you graduate, and to spend some extended face-to-face time with your girlfriend (i.e. more than a few weeks each year) before the marriage, I think those are fair and reasonable requests.


Your decision

Speaking as a parent myself: You are an adult. You are not only allowed, but supposed to live your own life now. The clock is ticking on you living with your parents; when there is a good occasion to leave your home, then you can and should do so.

That has nothing to do with whether you have a good relationship with your parents or not, or with your potential wife.

So, by all means, leave your home and do what your heart tells you to. It is your decision, not your parents'; and the question whether your future wife is the correct one will not be resolved by your parents anyways.

Parents can't stand your wife

As tough as it sounds, that is their problem, not yours. It will only become your problem if their dislike transfers over to you, and they do not want to see you anymore, as well, if you marry your wife.

But: frankly, if your parents are so petty that they want to "divorce" you from the family because you love someone else, then you should probably think long and hard what is more important to you - your future or your past. Yes, it may be hard on them, and reciprocally on you, but nothing will change that anyways. The damage is already done by your mother pulling the rug out from under you. If you leave your future wife now, you won't exactly have a very fun future with your mother, anyways, will you?

If they keep the door open for you, but do are not friendly to your wife afterwards, then you will likely need to resign yourself to visiting your parents without your wife, in the future; or you might find a way to visit your home country together with your wife, stay with friends, and visit your parents for a day or two on your own. But that is nothing special, and many families have the same issue of people not liking each other that much (without going to outright warfare). You will survive, it will not be that much of a problem.

Of course, you will want to not be dependent from your parents after moving out. I.e., make it a clean separation. You are now living on your own, together with your wife, period. You will not be asking them to send a monthly cheque or something like that.

How to go about it

You should be very aware that your parents don't have any legal or moral say in this (neither your choice of a partner, nor when you leave their home, or where you go to live), in our western culture. This means: you do the decision making, and you stand by it. You do not fight with your parents about it. You tell them how it is, and they accept it, or not, but you do not burden them with asking them what to do, or even putting up a facade where it seems like they have a say in the matter. It is not an issue where you need to achieve consensus.

You will still stay open to them, even if they (try to) make it hard for you. If they start fighting, that means that it is hard for them; they "lose" their child, their live will get a lot quieter, they have to give up someone who they cared for their whole live. You can help them get over it by making every humanly possible attempt to stay friendly and open with them, but you still have to do your choice and tell them in very clear terms.

Specific answers

How do I tell my parents that I want to marry her and move over there in a few years?

I understand that as "I want to marry her in a few years and then move over there". Then there is no reason whatsoever to tell them now, since things could change between you and your prospective wife in the next years, anyways. That would, after your history, just be an empty threat right now, as petty as your mother making their dislike of your wife so clear.

I'm afraid they will start yelling at me,

Work on yourself; this should not be a threat to you. You are an adult, you will survive shouting. Take it as a learning possibility; try to react without shouting back, staying calm and composed. And, as said, if you already know that a topic will make them start to shout, then don't bring it up, it's not their business.

disallow me to do that

They cannot. They can withdraw things like their "love" (which there seems to be not much around of, anyways), their heritage, if there is any, but any of this is survivable for you, and unless we're talking billions of € here you should probably make your own living before this is an issue, anyways. ;)

or that it will make the relationship with my parents even worse than it already is.

That could well happen, but that is the way things go. If I read between your lines correctly, this would happen with any other life-changing event in your family as well. You will have to move on. I do not see anyway to make your mother like your wife with these kinds of regular visits. Maybe they will grow closer after you get children, maybe not, but that's after the fact.

I don't know what to do or how to tell them that I even asked for her dad's blessing.

It is not their business, you do not need, and probably should not tell them.

I'm afraid I will mess up things and make things only worse when I tell them.

Likely, yes.

Do I even need to tell them my plan of proposing at all?

Not at all.

I don't know what to do in this situation and it's really stressing me out. Any help is appreciated.

Get your thought processes in order: your parents were very important to you for your first 18 years. At 20, you are in a transition phase. Somewhere in your 20's you will leave your parents. Start now by separating their lives and concerns from yours. You are allowed to have private matters that you don't share with them. Their emotions are not yours. Yours are not theirs. Their problems are not necessarily yours, and so on.

It is not quite easy to wrap your mind around this mindset, but it is possible. It is time to increase your separation with your parents; this will make it easier and/or (if it takes a few years until you marry, anyway) a non-issue.

If you are able to live somewhere else (still in your country, before moving to the U.S.), it might just be a good way to practice that before you do the big move. Then you will also have a natural separation, and things will cool down.

  • 1
    So, what's the reason for the downvote?
    – AnoE
    Jan 9, 2017 at 21:38
  • 1
    I can't speak for the downvoter but people downvote when they disagree, or think you downvoted them. I will tell you why I did not upvote. I did not like your tone. It seemed negative and unhelpful. However, your opinion is yours and I think myself that the person who matters is the Original Poster (OP). Maybe your answer is exactly what he needs to hear or react to. If you help the OP understand something -- then who am I to say you are wrong? This is only my opinion. Stack Exchange doesn't agree with this pov.
    – WRX
    Jan 10, 2017 at 15:12
  • Thank you, @WillowRex. My tone was not intended to be negative and unhelpful, but to be very clear, "objective" and unmistakable; I felt like the OP was in a quite confused, emotional spot and needed very clear advice. You are of course correct in saying that everybody is entitled to their opinion, so whether the advice in itself is "correct" or not can only be judged by the OP. I will try to improve my tone in the future (not a native speaker).
    – AnoE
    Jan 10, 2017 at 16:18
  • People (very much including myself) read according to what they already think or are feeling. "Pass the mustard." sounds friendly to me, but perhaps you hear it as a complaint. ("Why did you not think to pass the mustard?" That is always going to be a problem whether you are a native English speaker or not. I just think an honest question deserves an honest answer or opinion.
    – WRX
    Jan 10, 2017 at 16:31
  • @WillowRex I did not really find the tone negative at all, it's interesting how differently we can interpret the same words.
    – barbecue
    Jan 10, 2017 at 20:38

I got married with my girlfriend of 3 years when I was 18.

I've been happily married for 15 years now and we have a great relationship.

Telling my parents and hers was very stressful, and was probably one of the scariest parts of the ordeal. Eventually, we just realized we're going to get married anyway and we want them to share our happiness.

A few of my relatives assumed I knocked her up (I didn't) and tried to talk me out of it, I gave them all polite looks and I acknowledged they were just trying to help.

When I told my mother - she laughed at first, but she accepted it and we got married 2 months afterwards. We've been happily married ever since.

What I learned:

  • First, you have to be really sure when you get married. People change over the course of 10 years and you need people to change with you. I was very privileged and lucky to have been in my position. I know I'll still be married to the same woman in 20 years unless something terrible happens.
  • Second, you need to acknowledge your parents are in your favor and whatever they do and say - they do for you. If they protest - you have to communicate with them and figure out what they do. You need to convince them you understand the consequences.
  • Lastly, be ready to make compromises in order to make them happy. I think having a good relationship with your parents is extremely valuable, they're the people most likely to stick around when things go south and they love you.

I'm sorry if this reads more as a testimony than an answer but hopefully you'll find it helpful.

  • It isn't an answer, but it is a good 'testimony'. Could you make any suggestions to add to this? How did you tell your mother? Where did you live? How did you pay for this? Did you both finish school? How did you solve practical problems? How do you work on your relationship? Why do you know you'll be together and how should the OP work towards that? These are suggestions -- you need not answer all of them!
    – WRX
    Jan 10, 2017 at 16:48
  • @WillowRex I added the advice under "what I learned". How would you make the fact that that's an answer clearer? Jan 10, 2017 at 16:52
  • It works much better now!
    – WRX
    Jan 10, 2017 at 17:04
  • 1
    This answer made me laugh. You basically said to your parents "We're getting married. You can either share in our happiness, or you can resent it." Brilliant. Jan 12, 2017 at 7:39
  • 1
    A very likeable and sensible answer. You were in a very unique position of being ready to do things the way you did, but it seems that much of what you said is transferable to the OP's situation and helpful.
    – omannay
    May 31, 2017 at 7:29

I think the way you tell your parents is by first demonstrating you're an adult, and you're responsible enough to make your own decisions. That means, at age 20, you're old enough to be living on your own, financially supporting yourself, and supporting yourself enough in the relationship to have your gf come over for visits without placing a burden on your parents.

It also means behaving in a way that shows you value their relationship and whoever the woman is you bring into the family. I think your gf needs to learn to speak Dutch or German (or your native tongue). What your parents see right now is you're dependent on them but want to move forward in a relationship they aren't thrilled about, with a person they don't like. Don't you think you're asking a lot of them, since you're living in their home?

  • 2
    Great first paragraph. In "the old days", to be a man required some level of self-sufficiency. While things have changed now, it would be wise to wait until you know how to manage your own apartment and work at a job before you enter marriage. Living together is fine, but marriage is another story. Jan 10, 2017 at 19:22

You haven't mentioned couple of important factors, like:

  • Are you or her religious (Christian)?
  • Have you had sex before with her, or with other woman?
  • Are you passionate about certain things in life? What are your interests? Do you have common passions and interests?

Now here are a few remarks based on what you did mention:

  • You are 20, and you met her at 16. I am kind of thinking she is your first girlfriend or relationship with a woman.
  • You live at your parents house. I suppose you don't have a permanent job yet, career, or profession you are excited about. And you are not financially independent, or self-sufficient currently.

I would say you are too young and immature for a marriage. You get emotionally wrecked and depressed when your parents say that they didn't like the girl you brought to the house. Then how would you handle a divorce, maybe even with children involved? Have you thought about that? What happens if in the long term it turns out that the match wasn't life-long, and you want to go separate ways?

Even then, marriage is a serious thing. It is a social contract. Why are you signing that contract? Can you count what you are getting, and what you are giving in return? You can think about it differently, that it is some kind of eternal spiritual bond, but in the end you will end up in a mental institution with chronic depression, after you have finished fighting over who gets the spoon-set during the divorce. Just telling you, keep these outlooks in mind.

You haven't mentioned what are your common interests, passions. But also, you seem to underestimate the massive cultural gap you have. Have you ever felt enthusiastic about European history, culture, or traditions? In the US you won't find those. It might be after a while, that you find yourself like a rootless grass thrown on the side-walk there in the US.

  • Hi and Welcome to Parenting SE. I am not sure whether the OP and his possible fiance's sex life has much to do with telling his parents. He does not say she is pregnant, only that he has problems with telling his parents that he wants to marry in a few years. Religion might well be one of the reasons the parents don't care for his choice, but he did not say that either. Your advice about marriage is fair and imo, the concerns you've raised are appropriate concerns.
    – WRX
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:34

In the end, there are three possible outcomes:

  1. You ask for your parents approval/permission, are denied, and you decide not to marry the one you love due to what your parents think.

  2. You ask for your parents approval/permission, they agree, and you marry the one you love due to having your parents permission.

Both of these first two risk getting your feelings hurt due to having to hear your parents views.

The third option is to simply marry the one you love, invite your parents to the wedding, and move on with what is YOUR life. You are an adult, and there comes a time when one has to start making major life decisions on their own.

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the "blessing" only done to the partners parents and not your own?
    – Markinson
    Jan 11, 2017 at 8:00
  • @Markinson Will edit to be more specific Jan 11, 2017 at 14:28

I honestly think that you should really consider all the issues and concerns your parents are expressing towards you and her. After all they love you and care for you and care for the decisions that are best for you!

Continue to talk to this girl, try to get her to come over with her family or really talk seriously to your parents about her. Don't forget that being a man is very different than being a girl. Parents are always super over protective of their daughters but for guys normally it's a bit different.

Go visit this girl, spend some time away from home and let your parents just see your seriousness towards her. Whenever you are ready just tell them. They will not say NO you CAN't MARRY HER! If they do, don't get emotionally destroyed just talk to them and tell them you love her and want her. In the end they won't be able to stop you and it's your decision to make.


You are an adult, and opinion of your parents is of secondary importance - especially, since there are (if I understand correctly) no rational reasons to dislike her - as you say your parents do not like her mostly due to her social awkwardness.

You are still quite young for the marriage, so yes, if there would be rational reasons why your parents don't like her, I would then suggest that consider their arguments carefully (e.g. if she were much older than you or something along this lines - sometimes parents really have a good advice).

But if you are fine with her awkwardness (whatever this means) then parents have no business in deciding whether you want to live with her, especially if you plan to move away.

In many southern EU countries people stay with their parents even after they marry, so in that case I would be extremely cautious - don't even think about that. But since you are planning to move away with her anyway, that will not be a concern.


A brief addition to the excellent answers above, but if my partner spoke Dutch, or any other language, I would be very keen to learn it. Talking to the in-laws would not be the motivating reason.

Perhaps your partner can become motivated to learn Vlaams/Nederlands/Frysk/whatever your language is? If nothing else, it would help her to get to know the complete you better.

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