Dear Thelma: His parents object to our relationship. Should I leave him?


  • Family
  • Sunday, 05 Apr 2020

thelma_forbidden3

LETTER #1

Dear Thelma,

I am 23 and he is 26. We’ve been together for the past six years and love each other very much even though we are from different backgrounds. We’ve had a wonderful relationship because we are comfortable with each other. I feel lucky to have a partner whom I can call my future husband.

He runs his family business, a small retail shop in a small town, more than 100km away from where I live. He usually visits me once a week, and I go to his place quietly on public holidays so that I can give him a helping hand as I know there would be a lot of customers at his shop.

Today, I went to his family’s store to help out. While I was having a few minutes break, making a sandwich for my boyfriend because he hadn’t eaten anything since morning, his parents came over to me and told me I shouldn’t continue this relationship with him. They told me he is their most loved and reliable son, the only one who can take over their small business, and they couldn’t accept me as his wife because I am of a different religion.

When I saw them crying in front of me, I felt guilty and lost. I was only able to smile but my tears wouldn’t stop falling. It’s very hard to control my emotions when the parents of the person I truly want to marry can’t accept me.

My boyfriend came to look for me, and he saw us crying. It was hard for me to move my lips when he asked me what happened. So his parents explained it to him, and they went out the moment he started shouting at them. When he tried to chase after them, I scolded him and told him to stay calm as I didn’t want more drama in front of the crowd.

I understand his parents’ feelings. I know his parents don’t like me very much from the first day I met them and they might question our relationship.

My mother had advised me to not go any further in this relationship because she couldn’t bear to see me suffer emotionally. My friends too told me to stop, when I asked for their opinion. But I was not ready to lose him; it would feel like one of my family members had passed away if I ended this relationship.

I don’t know what to do. I am scared of his family members even though he told me he would talk to his parents. I am scared of losing him. I feel very guilty right now. He has bought me a ring and I don’t know if I should accept it.

Lost Girl With Forbidden Love

LETTER #2

Dear Thelma,

I have been in a relationship with a guy for three-and-a-half years now.

Everything was great during the first year but things slowly started changing from the second year onwards. We began to argue a lot, and he started to blame me for many things. I tried my best to make him happy but somehow that was never enough.

So, I suggested we break up. Then he said he would change, for me. He was so nice for about two weeks, and then he went back to his usual ways. This has happened about three times. Each time, I forgave him.

Recently, I got into a lot of problems with his family. His mum thinks that I’m very clingy whereas I’m really not; he’s the one who keeps coming after me. And she has insulted me many times. Recently, she insulted me in front of the whole family. I was very hurt because all this wasn’t even my fault to begin with. She was so rude to me.

I tried apologising but she still talked bad about me and asked him to leave me.

He started blaming me and said I was very rude to his parents and didn’t know how to solve problems. But I don’t think what I’m feeling is wrong.

He broke up with me a week ago. But now he is asking me to continue this relationship, but settle all the problems with his family by myself. He will not help me.

I really don’t know whether to stay or leave. I’m scared I will make the wrong decision. Please help me.

Insulted & Hurt

Dear Lost Girl With For Forbidden Love, and Insulted & Hurt,

When you are in a relationship where your partner’s family don’t approve, there are two ways to look at the situation.

One way is to say that you marry into the group, and therefore you need to have group approval. That is for people who live together, share finances, and are very much interdependent.

Another way is to say that you marry one person and that the two of you are a team. That means you are not marrying the family. If they are nice and respectful, you have a relationship. If they are not, you cut them off.

Lost Girl, your partner wants you and you want him. He also protects you when others are rude to you. And instead of closing up shop on public holidays, he works. That man is a keeper!

You two need to sit down and talk about your needs.

Do you think you marry into the group or do you think you are a team? If you go ahead and marry, how do you two see yourselves dealing with his family and yours?

As he works for his family at the moment, how will your marriage impact on that job, his finances, and his future work expectations?

From your letter, I can’t tell what his family’s motivations are. When I read it one way, it seems as if they think having a child means they have a lifelong slave whose purpose is to look after them. But if they raised a child who is kind, sensitive and generous, that seems a contradiction. So I’m thinking I may be missing something here.

A question: given that some religions come with legal implications, is that the problem? If so, you need to talk to a lawyer to understand how a marriage will impact on your life and rights, and add that into your conversation.

It sounds like a difficult decision, but if you’ve been together six years, you are both happy with each other, and the only obstacle is that other people don’t like it, my vote would be for taking the ring. I believe that you have to live your life for yourself, not for the pleasure of others.

But it’s your decision, so go and have your conversation. If you decide to marry, leave the door open for his parents to come round. If they’re sensible, they’ll embrace the daughter-in-law who is so kind and generous that she voluntarily labours in their shop on public holidays.

Insulted And Hurt, I’m afraid you need to ask a completely different question. Your boyfriend is mean and your experience shows he has no intention of changing.

If you continue with him, you can expect him to be his nasty self for your entire marriage. From your description of his mum, it sounds as though he learned his meanness from her.

The two of them sound absolutely horrendous. I don’t know why you’re even taking the time to consider being around such people.

My advice is to break it off right away. Block him and don’t look back. Look for a partner who is kind and who respects you.

Also, when you start dating again, please consider it can be useful to take a good long look at a prospective partner’s family. If they’re nasty, rude, manipulative and generally abusive, you must understand that your date grew up with that and that they may have learned to copy that behaviour. So be very careful.


Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. Email lifestyle@thestar.com.my or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11,46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name, address and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

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