I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost two years (we’ve known each other off and on since elementary school) and we recognize each other as absolute SOULMATES. We have a lot in common (music, mutual friends, sense of community, etc.) due to our weird ability to remain so close and so far away since age four. We just get each other.
So here’s the issue. Her family is very religious and difficult. Mine were too but they’ve had 5+ years to come around. In fact, MY STRICT PARENTS and liberal family LOVE HER! We’ve already accepted that we’re going to be together forever and we’ve decided to tie the knot. I’m 100% (OK, maybe 97%) sure that if she announced our engagement to my family they would accept it and participate with open arms. However, her family is still being abrasive and hard on her since she’s come out to them. We even think her coming out is a part of the stress that caused her mother to have a recent heart attack. They’ve definitely said a lot of hurtful things.
My GF/fiance-to-be and I love each other and support each other. We definitely have a relationship that we both know will sustain and we’ve started investing a lot into this relationship. I finally found the woman of my dreams and we’re both about to graduate college and build our lives together, but I feel that her family (her mother’s family) might not even show up at the wedding. My unofficial fiance wants to move on with or without them but I guess I’m the one that’s more family-oriented. I want her to have support in what would likely be her ONLY WEDDING. I also feel that us getting engaged and having a wedding will ruin any chances of her mother having time to come around. What do I do?—Confused, Unofficially Engaged Lezzie
Anna says: At the risk of squelching all your youthful optimism, I’m going to ask you to not get married at 22. This isn’t because I don’t believe in your soulmate-ness and excitable use of all-caps, but because I don’t think anyone should get married so young. Especially since your luvvah is freshly out of the closet and is very much still dealing with the repercussions of that. Organizing a gay wedding on top of everything else is, well, a lot to handle. So let’s silence the wedding bells for now and focus on your GF’s family troubles. At least until, say, 25? I’d ask for 30, but I realize that’s a lot from an internet stranger.
As I’ve talked about before, many families need time to process their feelings about their child’s/niece’s/nephew’s/second cousin twice removed’s/sibling’s sexual orientation. Sometimes this takes a few days, sometimes years, sometimes it never happens, which is shitty, but sadly still a possibility.
The best weapon I’ve encountered for dealing with intolerant people is to keep showing up, to let them see and share in you and your partner’s love, to “normalize” gayness, for lack of a better word. Don’t let them use you as their punching bag, and don’t apologize for existing, but at the same time, exist. The best revenge is a life well-lived, as the old saying goes. And while it’s terrible that your girlfriend’s mom had a heart attack, I sincerely hope neither you nor she is blaming it on your relationship.
Postponing a major (and expensive) life milestone like a wedding will allow her family the time they need to adjust and reconcile their faith with the reality of their daughter’s sexuality. And it will allow you both the time to adjust to the possibility that they might never be 100% ok with your relationship. In the end, however, your life is up to you. You can try to live it in a way that pacifies others, but it probably won’t work, and you’ll drive yourself crazy in the process. If it’s not super important for your girlfriend’s family to be involved in the wedding (that you’ll have in 3+ years), then you should respect her decision. It may be enough for her to have your family’s support on the big day.
Congrats on all your big squishy love feelings and on finding each other. That is a far greater gift than anything you’d get from a CB2 registry.
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.