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Aubs427's avatar

To Elope or Not to Elope? (Asian Family Struggles)

Asked by Aubs427 (421points) June 2nd, 2016

(NOTE: If you want, you can review my most recently asked question as it somewhat ties into this as well).

I have been successfully moved out and having been doing well on my own. My parents have slightly mellowed out (in the sense that I’ve reduced the amount of times we’re in actual communication with each other) and also reduced the amount of times I visit them as visits always end in negative comments made.

Within the last 6 months, both my parents have retired. They recently had a huge fight with each other and I was caught in the middle (even though I live nearly 30+ miles away from them). I had gone to lunch with just my dad since my mom refused to be around him at the time. He had stated that he sees that I have not given up my SO and that there must be some “next steps” to be made such as an engagement party or a planning of a marriage of some sorts. He made some statements saying he wanted the rest of my family (E.G. cousins, aunts, uncles) to meet my SO and to possibly plan an engagement party.

While I’m slightly relieved he’s open to the relationship and the idea of a marriage towards my SO, my mother has the complete opposite recommendation. When I brought this up to my mom (who was still angry/pissed at my dad at the time), said that my SO has not met any of her “requirements” or “expectations” and that she does not support or believe in what my dad has said to me. She immediately turns the entire conversation on how much I’ve failed her or how much of a failure I am and that since my SO has not reached any of HER expectations…he has failed too.

So basically, to summarize in short: I have several options as previous Fluther members have stated:

1) I can take my dad’s offer and plan a family lunch/dinner so that the rest of my family can now meet my SO and hopefully start planning some type of wedding (Though, the word “wedding” was never mentioned)...if that would be even plausible as I’m not sure if this was what my dad was referring to or IF he was just referring to a simple “engagement” party…. with the repercussions of family relations between my parents will cause world war 4 as they more than likely will fight each other as they obviously don’t agree.

2) I can elope as I’ve wanted and proceed to let my family know, which in turn will cause not only immediate family to be disgusted, but certain cousins may be “disappointed” or “angry” by this maneuver.

Either way, I’m dealt with MULTIPLE family members being unhappy, displeased, and angry towards me. While the first option MAY reduce the AMOUNT of family members angry at me (as it may just be my mom who isn’t happy with that). It seems no matter what I do, someone is left in anger or disappointment.

I have struggled with the cultural battles all my life and never have they been more intensified than now. I have been raised in this American culture so while all my friends are able to easily say, “Screw your parents. They physically, verbally, and mentally abused you throughout your entire childhood, so fuck their happiness and their expectations.” There’s a lot of guilt, shame, and low self-esteem I continue to battle even at this age. It isn’t easy for me to just “walk away” and “not look back”, as even just the thought of doing so brings up a lot of the guilt and shame.

While I completely understand that this may look like a clear cut picture of, “You do what you got to do and deal with the consequences of those decisions”... What exactly is the right thing or the good thing to do? This is probably the biggest moral dilemma I will ever deal with as it TO ME it is a matter of, “Do I be selfish and do what I want KNOWING that it will cause extreme unhappiness in my family and whatever other wars that will bring?” That’s how I see this as.

I know for a fact that if I go the route my dad sees, I’m going to end up in the middle of a possible greater war between my parents as they ALWAYS loved to put me in the middle and if I wasn’t in the middle, I was the cause of their angry and misery.

I just want to point out that, in a parallel universe, I’d be able to sit BOTH my parents down and confront them with the abuse they put me through. They’d be able to see that they DID affect me and did GREATLY hurt me as a human being. They’d apologize for what they did and accept that they were wrong for what they did.

Instead…when I confront my mom about the multiple times she tried suffocating me with a pillow or chased me around the house with a knife… her excuse is, “Oh come you know I was never actually going to kill you. Plus, Grandma was in the house. She wouldn’t have let me even if I wanted to.” Or…the endless amount of times BOTH my parents have called me a “loser, worthless piece of shit, a terrible mistake, a burden” and when I had written on a 4×4 blank post card of all the things I feel inside confirming what they’ve called me… When my dad found it, his response? Nervous Chuckle “You know you’re not a loser” More nervous chuckle “we just want you to do better for yourself.”

What is it that I want? I honestly would just go to city hall, marry my SO, and be on our merry way. I hate weddings. I think they’re a waste of money. I’d rather spend that money on a nice trip somewhere. This would be what would (I guess, at the end of a long turmoil of whatever hell my parents/family bring to me)...the thing that makes me happy.

I need guidance, advice, tools to overcome this. ANYTHING. Please provide your thoughts and advice. It will be greatly appreciated.

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20 Answers

RocketGuy's avatar

Your parents have mental problems (kind of like my (Asian) parents and my (Asian) in-laws, but worse). You are out of their control now. Go make your own life. What do you like to do? What lifestyle would make you happy? Can you get there by yourself? Can you and your SO do it together? Does he want to go there too? The teamwork is important if you are to get married. Getting married should not be too high on your list unless you are talking kids and/or real estate.

Aubs427's avatar

@RocketGuy Me and my SO could ABSOLUTELY get anywhere we want to go together. Since I’ve moved out with him, I’ve accomplished quite a lot that my parents don’t really care for or see as accomplishments as it is their terms and their terms only. My SO has always been by my side from Day One. He’s willing to do whatever it takes. I personally do not want kids and neither does he. Him and I have stated to each other that we are in no rush to be put our relationship down on paper as we already know where we stand and a piece of government paper doesn’t need to make that any more clearer.

However, he has said that if it weren’t for my parents…we would have been married right now because he DOES want to be married to me whether that’s now or later. He just does. It’s just that just recently my dad was the one who was trying to coerce me into bringing him around more when he knows and I know that my mom doesn’t want that. So, I end up in the middle of two grown adults who put me in the middle of, “Well, He hasn’t accomplished this this and this!!! And I don’t want that for her!”- Mother Then it becomes “They’ve obviously chosen each other and we have to accept that, etcetc” -Dad

CWOTUS's avatar

Obviously you are intelligent and articulate enough, so you may only need some advice on formulating a policy to deal with your family on this topic—and maybe on others, as well.

May I suggest the following as a framework to build upon:
You [whoever you’re addressing at the time, and it could even be an entire group] are family, and I didn’t choose my family. You’re a fine [whatever], [even if they’re not fine at all, we’re being diplomatic here] and I love you, but this is the person that I’m choosing on my own to spend my life with. Period. You do not get a vote.

Because I love you [again with the diplomacy] I am of course interested in your opinion and approval [even if you’re not, really: diplomacy; I will stop repeating this now] and I hope that we can all be friends. If you have a contrary opinion or advice, offered honestly, respectfully and in good will, then I will of course listen to it and give it due and proper consideration. However, mean-spirited, unsupported, slanderous or negative-for-the-sake-of-being-negative commentary (or attempts to control of me, when I expressly forbid that) will be dismissed out of hand. Continuing to express such thoughts, opinions or attitudes will get you dismissed from the party. Lovingly, but firmly, completely and – depending on your subsequent reactions – potentially permanently.

Please respect my ability to run my own life, to make my own decisions, and to be an independent adult with her own thoughts and feelings and her own life to live. I will always be a loyal member of this family and love and respect you as you deserve, but my life is my own to live. I have earned my independence. I am an adult. You must treat me as such – as you would treat other adults who mean you no ill will – or risk the consequences your actions may incur if you act dishonorably toward me and my fiancé.
Obviously, you don’t want to deliver that speech word for word like a wooden character in an Ayn Rand novel, but it’s the kind of thought that you need to internalize so that you can adapt as situations present themselves. You’re a rock. Be a rock. Act as a rock would act. (But for gosh sake, speak like a normal human being.)

JLeslie's avatar

Somewhere in the middle of everything you wrote I read that you want to elope. If that’s what you really want then do it, and maybe let your dad know ahead of time you are doing it, and thank him for his offer. You can invite him to the elopement if you want, but there might be risk in that. He probably can’t be trusted not to tell your mom.

However, if you ideally would like to have the family meet your SO and join you in the celebration, accept his offer. Plan a nice party and start having your SO integrate into the family. It can be very nice to be accepted by family members when your parents are being difficult. A friend of mine did not invite his side of the family to his wedding, because his father was against the marriage, and he said his mother would have to fall in line with her husband (the groom’s father) and the groom assumed all the aunts, uncles, and cousins would follow suit. Months after the wedding when visiting some cousins, they said they would have come. Of course they would have! The groom did not give them the chance to decide for themselves.

My husband’s family similar in that his dad cut off from his siblings, long story, and I used to say that that does not mean the cousins would feel the same. After YEARS, 40 years, now his dad started talking to his siblings again. I don’t have time to write it all out, but as an outsider I think the whole thing is such a shame and a loss for the family with how disconnected they were all those years.

If you and your SO want the party, plan the party. You can invite your mom, and if she decides not to go, then that’s her choice.

Aubs427's avatar

@JLeslie I honestly just want to elope. And, while I did state my dad has offered, he has made supposed “efforts” yet never took any real actions like being cordial or friendly towards my SO. To further specify: when I was still living at home and they came to accept that I was with him…they said “he can come to the house now if he wants”, so I took their offer. I brought him around, but they’d ignore him or act like he wasn’t there. The actions and behavior spoke of disgust rather than a cordial “hello”.

And, I’ll tell you that if his family EVER EVER acted the way my parents acted towards him, we probably wouldn’t be together because who wants to put up with that??? I have had to and still have to put up with disgust/negative comments from them…why should he?

CWOTUS's avatar

I would personally recommend that you have some kind of meeting among your fiancé and other family members (whether that is “all family” or not would be your choice), as a way to express the thought that “we are going to do this, and we’re not afraid of your opinions”. You can always elope, should you still want to, but I sense that you’re in favor of an elopement because it seems to be a kind of escape from a certain amount of pressure.

That would be unwise, I think. You might be perceived in that case as having something to hide, or afraid to have your family face your fiancé before the marriage has been made real, or simply unable to bear close scrutiny. Don’t try to avoid that pressure; face it head on. Just don’t drag it out.

Aubs427's avatar

@CWOTUS in a way, yes you are correct. It is absolutely in a way to avoid pressure. However, my parents are the most negative people I’ve ever met in my life. And that negativity will ooze into the rest of my family members. I have attempted to confront my parents because I do believe in standing up for myself, but every time I’ve brought him up to “not hide him” or show that I wasn’t afraid of something…. they immediately give me a reason to do so.

Simply put: This is how a conversation will go in between me and my parents:
ME: “I want William to meet the rest of the family on this date.”
DAD: “That’s good. We will get in contact with everyone and schedule it then
MOM: Interrupts- “No. Why? Don’t encourage her. He hasn’t met any of my expectations (goes to list everything she expects from him)
DAD: “It will still be good for them to take the next step”
MOM: “What next step? There is no next step. Pfft I was hoping they’d end it by now.”

….and this could end up breaking into a PHYSICAL fight where my mom and dad end up arguing over it and who knows… he ends up trying to choke her out again like he did 10 years ago but she was lucky because my older sister was there to stop him from actually hurting her.

CWOTUS's avatar

Yeah, I understand. Fully. But having the internal policy set in your mind, you should be able to more calmly say to her – as many times as you need to, “Mom, we’re past that. He has to meet my expectations, not yours, and he does. So this thing is going ahead, with you or without you. And if you choose “with” – and I hope that you will – then you have to be as polite and respectful and hands-off as you would be with any other adult. Because I’m an adult now. That is just how it is.” (I suppose you could add “Thanks for helping me get to this point,” since she has done that, even if the way it was accomplished was by forcing you to become that rock that she can continue to storm against as she does. Obviously, you wouldn’t say that to her in so many words…)

At least your father would know that you and he are on the same page; sometimes all it takes is a calm, strong ally to present “the voice of reason” and help her, if not “see the light”, at least recognize that she can no longer divide and conquer.

Good luck to you; you have your hands full.

Aubs427's avatar

@CWOTUS You want to know what happened the last time I tried sitting my parents down, calmly, basically voicing exactly what you’re stating to do? I got punched in the face by my mom. Why? Because it pissed her off. It immediately went from me trying to speak calmly, as an adult, to her screaming and yelling in my face and throwing punches.

What then?

CWOTUS's avatar

Ah, well. In that case it’s time to avoid your mother completely. And if you think that too much of the rest of the family is willing to buy into that kind of misbehavior, then elopement would be the way to go. I had no idea things were that bad. That’s completely unacceptable, of course.

I disagree with at least ten people a day, but I haven’t tried to punch anyone since I started grade school. That was in 1958. So please forgive my somewhat insular viewpoint on how life should be lived between parents and children.

Aubs427's avatar

@CWOTUS Oh no. There’s no way you would have known and trust me, if you even ever have the time or want to go through my previous posts. I have time and time again tried to be an adult and I guess, for lack of a better word, set my boundaries and stand up for myself.

But, then it basically becomes, “WHAT YOU WANT TO DEFY US?” smack smack smack or if it’s not actual physical abuse, they threaten it to make me stand down. And, that’s where mostly ALL my issues lie.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Can you do both? Enlope and also have a public wedding. That way everyone is happy.

JLeslie's avatar

Your dad offered an engagement party, family launch party, sort of thing. I say do it. See how it goes. Then you can decide about a wedding. One step at a time. Will the family party be both your family and your SO’s family?

Aubs427's avatar

@JLeslie More than likely not. It will more than likely just be my family as they want nothing to do or have no urge or need to get to know my SO’s family.

@RedDeerGuy1 More than likely not. I don’t think anyone’s happy in general. I’d like to make it clear that while he did offer, it’s all very “forced”. My parents have always put me in the middle of their fights and have always at the end of the fight, put the blame on me. Whether I go about accepting my dad’s offer or not, either my dad will be pissed or my mom will be pissed. Therefore, causing a rift between the both of them.

There is no “solution” of making everyone happy. The only way everyone will be happy is if my SO’s a millionaire and I’m fucking Tyra banks (meaning super pretty).

Mind you, my SO’s family has been incredibly supportive and loving throughout this entire process. They are the COMPLETE opposite of my family. While the only main “expectation” my SO’s mom has is that we do it through the church, she has also voiced that she just cares about our happiness and that however we do it…she will be fine with. As long as him and I are together, well, and happy.

BellaB's avatar

Can you continue to maintain contact with your father without your mother being involved?

If so, I’d think about letting him know that you’re getting married (if that is the decision you and your partner have made) and asking him if his offer to host something would extend to hosting a small family reception a few weeks after the wedding. If so, he can arrange that – you can attend, and if other family wants to attend, it’s good.

Accept that families aren’t always good for each other and sometimes we have to detach ourselves from people who are not good for us.

Aubs427's avatar

@BellaB More than likely not, to answer your question. My dad will more than likely share it with my mom and regardless of the point. If I take his offer, it’s my mom’s side of the family my fiance would be meeting, not his. My dad doesn’t have any living family anymore. His dad died when he was 1–2 years old. His mom passed when I was super young. So, when I’m referring to “meet the rest of the family”... It means the rest of my mom’s side of the family (Her brothers/sisters/their kids).

BellaB's avatar

@Aubs427 , I think in that case, I’d suggest you proceed with your plans with your fiance. Elope or have a small wedding with just his immediate family. Make it personal, comfortable and meaningful for the two of you.

Contact with family isn’t always healthy for us. There’s no obligation to like or love someone simply because they’re related. Both love and friendship are earned.

Take joy in the new family you will be creating with your partner.

BellaB's avatar

oh and the small reception I was suggesting could have just been you, your partner, your father and your partner’s parents. I meant small. If that’s beyond what your dad could manage without involving your mother, I really would skip your father’s involvement in your marriage/future life.

Aubs427's avatar

@BellaB I understand and thank you for your insight. :)

JLeslie's avatar

They are willing to meet your SO. That’s the first step. Do that step first. See how it goes.

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