Dear Prudence

Help! My Parents Think I’m Settling for My Fiancé.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

A man and woman back-to-back with a graphic of an engagement ring between them.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by PeopleImages/Getty Images Plus.

Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Q. So, so tired: My fiancé and I have been together for 10 years, and I have issues with both them, and my parents.

My fiancé has dreams to move and thrive in a particular industry (think show biz), but they haven’t shown a lot of initiative or growth towards that goal. I support them, but the lack of progress worries me a lot. We both have anxiety and depression, but I feel like I always have to be the one to push my fiancé into making progress. I love them dearly, but it’s tiring.

Meanwhile, my parents say I’m settling to be with my fiancé, and that moving to another part of the country would be throwing away the good things I have now. My parents have always been very involved in my life, and I have my own issues with them. They aren’t WRONG, but they seem certain the best choice is to break up with my fiancé and they think I deserve better. I’ve had the same conversation with them about my relationship day after day, and I always end up in tears. Every attempt I make to fix my problems is “burying my head in the sand.”

A: You have to draw a line in the sand. Your parents will say that you’re choosing your fiancé over them. That’s not true—you’re choosing to build a relationship with your fiancé rather than to have it destroyed by outside commentary. Your parents may never approve of your fiancé, but after 10 years, they need to move on if they want to continue having a relationship with you. Tell them that criticizing your fiancé is off-limits and hold that boundary. Your concerns about your fiancé’s drive are a separate matter, but you won’t be in a good place to help them to succeed if you’re constantly having to justify yourself to your parents.

Classic Prudie

I have recently gotten engaged, and my partner and I are absolutely over the moon about it. However, our parents can never be allowed to meet. My partner is transgender, his very Baptist parents haven’t been supportive, and we’re worried they’re going to out him to my parents—either “accidentally,” because they won’t use his correct name and pronouns, or on purpose, because they think my parents have a “right” to know. We’ve tried talking to them about it, but they’re ultimately very unreasonable about this issue. My parents aren’t overtly transphobic, but they’re very difficult people in their own right, and more importantly, my in-laws don’t have the right to out my partner against his will. What advice do you have for navigating this wedding-planning minefield?