My family hasn’t welcomed my boyfriend

Hi Meredith,

I have been dating my boyfriend for about two years. We grew up in the same hometown and were acquaintances in high school, but did not get together until after college. I am 25 and he is 27. We have decided it's time to move in together, in the same town we grew up in close to our families. His family is very excited about the move and asks me all the time when we are getting engaged. My family however, is less then pleased. My extended family is constantly making remarks about how I am too young, that I should be saving for a mortgage, and that once I get married I won't be able to do anything.

I am so close with my family, but I feel that when the time comes and we do get engaged, they will not even be excited. I think they like my boyfriend – he is very smart, kind, and generous. He is truly my best friend. My parents say they want my siblings to find someone like him but then turn around and are not supportive of our next steps. Is this just because I am the oldest daughter/niece? Is my family seeing something I am not? My boyfriend is getting very upset that they don't see him in the family, and it’s starting to bother me too. I do not know what to do.

– not even engaged yet

It's a good time to set a boundary. Tell your parents (and aunts and uncles and cousins) that you love them very much, but that you're no longer interested in their many opinions about your life decisions. If they have specific concerns about your health (emotional or physical) they can let you know, but they can save and swallow the unsolicited advice. They might be offended by this request (they probably will be), but let them deal with that discomfort. They need to learn how.

This is probably about fear of change and some unwillingness to accept that you're a grown person making decisions without them. You went from being on their team to starting your own household, and you're the first to do it. That might scare them.

It might help to tell them how they can be helpful. Maybe you can ask for specific things – like some assistance with the unpacking. Maybe one of them is good at arranging furniture or helping you shop for your kitchen. There are ways to make it clear that much as you don't want their judgement, you do want them in your life.

Also make sure your boyfriend knows that you do see him in the family – because he is your family. Tell him you plan to address the problem with your relatives because you want everyone to know how excited you are about the next step.

– Meredith

Readers? How do stop family from affecting a good relationship?