Your Partner's Family Doesn't Accept You: What Can You Do?

It happens sometimes. Your partner's family doesn't accept you and might even try to turn their son or daughter against you. What can you do in these circumstances?
Your Partner's Family Doesn't Accept You: What Can You Do?

Last update: 26 June, 2022

Finding love is fantastic. However, sometimes you forget that, although you can choose the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you can’t do the same with their family. Therefore, if your partner’s family doesn’t accept you, you’ll probably quickly go from euphoria and happiness to feeling uncomfortable and stressed.

What can you do? Firstly, you must understand that each family nucleus is its own world with its own dynamics, secrets, virtues, and unhealthy processes. Furthermore, some parents take a dim view of any partners that their children bring home, without exception. For this reason, it’s best not to take things too personally or become excessively concerned by thinking that there’s something wrong with you because there isn’t.

In reality, these kinds of situations are as old as time itself. They’ve always existed and always will. That said, it doesn’t mean they’re any less complex and don’t pose challenges for you both, as a couple. After all, at the end of the day, you can’t separate your loved one from their family, nor is it advisable to ask them to choose between you. You simply need to decide the most appropriate action to take.

Apathetic girl representing when my partner's family does not accept me

What can you do if your partner’s family doesn’t accept you?

When you start a relationship, you almost take it for granted that everything will move forward in the right way. Love gives you a feeling of positivity that makes you feel strong and instills in you a fierce kind of optimism. However, you don’t usually expect your partner’s family not to accept you.

It’s not only you that experiences disbelief and frustration. In fact, your partner, as the child of the unwelcoming family, also suffers immensely.

They may well have experienced the situation before. If so, they’ll be used to a situation where their family’s displeasure and refusal to accept a partner forces them to place themselves in the middle. Where they get stuck in the middle, between two sides that are both important to them and to whom they must listen.

There’s nothing wrong with you, don’t take responsibility for the situation

Just because someone doesn’t like you doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. So don’t place the attention on yourself, try to be someone you’re not, or become obsessed with finding a way for them to accept and like you. This will bring you nothing but senseless suffering.

In reality, in most cases, the real problem is simply that the son or daughter has a partner, whoever they may be. Indeed, some parents simply can’t accept that their children have grown up. At other times, there may be different factors. For example, maybe they want their child to choose a partner with high socioeconomic status. Or, perhaps they have certain political affinities or follow a specific religion, or want their children to choose partners of the same race or culture, etc.

These elements do nothing but build unjustifiable walls, for which you’re not responsible.

Informal meetings

To make contact with someone and improve your relationship, you don’t need to make formal plans such as dinners together. In fact, informal meetings often give rise to another type of closer, spontaneous, and authentic interaction. Therefore, one way of getting them to know you and change the idea they have of you is by organizing these types of casual interactions.

For instance, you could go with your partner if they have something to deliver to their parents. Or, you could ask their parents to come with you and help you choose if you’re planning on buying something, or simply ask them to join you for coffee. These kinds of attempts are well worth a try to break the ice and bring you closer. With these types of meetings, you’ll be able to see if there’s any possibility of rapprochement or if, on the contrary, their ideas about you aren’t going to change.

Having the support and agreement of your partner is of paramount importance

If your partner’s family doesn’t accept you, the last thing you should do is blame the type of parents your loved one has. You mustn’t, under any circumstances, criticize their family environment or threaten them with ultimatums like choosing between you. It’s better to learn to accept the situation and reach an agreement between the two of you.

How do you do this? Well, you need the constant and indisputable support of your partner. You should also maintain good communication and make your boundaries clear:

  • You mustn’t allow the influence of your partner’s family to affect your relationship.
  • If they insist on getting in the way in any way possible, your partner will be in charge of defending you by establishing firm boundaries with them.
  • Some things you’ll have to tolerate and accept. For example, the fact that your partner occasionally visits them without you. However, there’ll be other instances where you mustn’t give in. For instance, blackmail, manipulation, and threats. Bear in mind that if, at any time, your partner doesn’t support you, your relationship may start to deteriorate.
Scene to symbolize when my partner's family does not accept me

Your psychological health comes first

As we mentioned earlier, it’s not advisable to give your partner ultimatums, forcing them to choose between you or their parents. Nevertheless, they should realize that the situation with their parents isn’t necessarily normal and could be signs of an underlying psychological problem. Barbara Oudekerk, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, conducted an extremely interesting study in this respect.

She claimed that the impact of having controlling and overprotective parents is immense. Indeed, adult children of controlling parents don’t always find happiness in their own relationships. You should make your partner understand this implication. As a matter of fact, in some cases, adult children need to put distance between themselves and their parents in order to recover their health, well-being, and happiness.

If your partner chooses to continue reinforcing the harmful bond that puts up walls and makes it difficult for you to have a healthy and mature relationship with them, you must choose. Remember, your psychological and emotional balance is of the utmost importance.

It might interest you...
What Can You Do if Your Partner Puts Their Family First?
Exploring your mind
Read it in Exploring your mind
What Can You Do if Your Partner Puts Their Family First?

Many people find themselves in a situation where their partner puts their family first. If this is you, we give you some advice.

 



  • Oudekerk, Barbara (2013) The Cascading Development of Autonomy and Relatedness From Adolescence to Adulthood. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12313
  • Valenstein, H., Cronkite, R. C., Moos, R. H., Snipes, C., & Timko, C. (2012). Suicidal ideation in adult offspring of depressed and matched control parents: Childhood and concurrent predictors. Journal of Mental Health21(5), 459-468.