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Cher
Cher, Relationship Enthusiast
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 18723
Experience:  Extensive experience as Educator/Teacher, M.A., Counselor, Spouse, Parent, Psychic Advisor
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Cher, I have spoke with you in the past and I got another

Customer Question

Cher,

I have spoke with you in the past and I got another question with my relationship. The holidays always seem to be a fight with me and the gf. I have a small family, there are only 5 of us and that includes me. So, my gf always has wanted me to come do Thanksgiving with her, but I decline bc I feel bad about not being at my parents, since the group is already so small. Christmas Eve we typically go out for dinner, but that is the night her family has their big get together, neither family really does much for Christmas Day. Again, I feel bad leaving mine bc its a small group, and she says it is not fair for her to have to come to all of mine. We tried combining the families once before, but that wasnt a success. Any suggestions? Do you see my point or should I be more flexible, since she has a big family her not being there is not noticeable and I think she should be more understanding. Am I in the wrong, what would you suggest as the most fair?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again,Customer and thanks for requesting me to answer your question.

The holidays are always a difficult situation for boyfriends/girlfriends and husbands/wives, if both are lucky enough to have families with whom to celebrate.

I don't think it's selfish or inflexible of you to think the way you do, because your family is much smaller than hers; however, just because she has a bigger family, she would still be missed and she (and they) would be upset, not seeing each other on the holidays.

If there's any way you can see both families on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, this would work best, XXXXX XXXXX both. For example, eat Thanksgiving dinner with one family, but leave before dessert, and have that at the other family's house. Same with Christmas Eve; eat out with your family, but try to go a little earlier than usual, eat light, then go to her family's house and spend the rest of the evening there. The following year, you can do the reverse of the year before, on Thanksgiving, re: eating dinner/dessert with each other's families.

If you would rather not 'split' the time with both families on these holidays, you should continue to each spend it with your respective families, because it's really important for your families to see you/be with you at these times. That's my personal opinion, as family is so important. Your relationship is also important, but you need to compromise and do what is acceptable to you both, so you don't offend your families and/or make each other feel badly. I think, just because her family is bigger, doesn't mean she won't be missed, but I do understand your thinking re: your smaller group.

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
There is kind of too much of a distance between the two, so it would be hard to do dinner at one and dessert at the other. What do you think of some sort of a rotation? Christmas Eve at one one year and then the following year the other. There does not seem to be an easy fix to this one... there are not that many holidays that are important, but the few days taht are can cause much stress leading up. Plus like i said having a small family if I am not there for thanksgiving dinner, it really is not much of a dinner. I do see how she would be missed to though. But spending them apart for us does not seem to be the best solutiion. I guess some sort of rotation? When we get married maybe try to do some of our own things too and not be tied to either? It is tough bc u do not want either party to feel left behind.
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again,

Yes, I didn't realize there was a large distance between the two families, so that plan won't work. I do believe a rotation is a good idea, one year here, next year, there, and you can rotate holidays, like one year, Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas Eve with hers, then the next year, vice versa.

I understand if you are 'absent' from Thanksgiving dinner, how there will only be 4 people, but it's really not right to only spend Thanksgiving with your family every year, just because they're smaller. I totally get your point though, and I would feel the same way if it were my family. But, you really have to fair regarding hers, too. If she discusses it with her family and makes the point that they have so many people, and your family doesn't, maybe they'll understand and say, yes, you go spend Thanksgiving with his family. But EVERY year? Well, until you get married, and then, as you said, you can try to do some different things on your own, or something at YOUR house, with both families. If they didn't get along or it didn't work out in the past, try again. They should want to do it for YOU two.

After you're married, spending the holidays apart from your families may be difficult and you may still want to be with them, so you'll work something out, as long as you're together and you both agree on a plan. Just always find a compromise and don't add further stress to the already stressful holiday time, by arguing. You have a good attitude, and that's important! : )

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Should it dissuade me from continuing a relationship with this girl when my parents say things like we do not ever see her being very close to us because she is so quiet. She is not super outgoing with them, or even with friends, but she has always been really good to me. I keep waiting for her to become more comfortable with them, but after like 6 years and at age 25 I fear that they might be right. I am confused about taking the next step and getting engaged with that looming over my head. I like the relationship i have with my parents and I would like her to mesh, but at this point too i think that they have given up trying very hard, which in turn leads tto her being even more reserved. What do you think? Like I said, this girl means the world to me, but they keep warning me about things like this... and I just thought I should get an outside perspective. Help!
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again,

While this is not an easy decision, it's not an uncommon situation. Many times, you fall in love with someone and they just don't seem to feel comfortable or mesh with your family. You find this hard to believe, because YOU see and appreciate all her great qualities and can't understand why they don't or can't. She may just be a naturally quiet person who is not ulta friendly with people she doesn't know that well. Of course, as you mentioned, after so many years, if she's been with your family a lot, she should feel comfortable, but she just might not ever feel comfortable with them. It's not her fault, it's not their fault, it's just the way it is.

While I get the idea that you are very close with your family, and nowadays that is so refreshing to hear, I can understand how it bothers you that they tell you she doesn't have the potential to feel very close to them.

You should never feel you have to choose between your family (parents) and the girl you love, but, more often than not, we find ourselves in this situation.

Perhaps if everyone STOPPED trying so hard, and were just relaxed and 'themselves' around each other, things might change.

Did you ever discuss this with her and ask why she seems so reserved around your parents? Is she uncomfortable because she's nervous and can't really be 'herself'? If she comes from a big family, I'm sure there's lots of noise and goings on, when they're together. With your smaller family, maybe she feel more 'put upon' to engage in conversation and doesn't know what to say. Ask her honestly, why she seems to be so quiet with your parents, and try to help her feel more comfortable, based upon her answer.

While parents' warnings re: the person we'd like to marry, come out of experience and wanting to see their child the happiest they can be, YOUR happiness is of paramount importance, also, so you have to consider your feelings for her, hers for you, and how you really view her. If she's NOT reserved with YOU and you love so much about her, why should you deprive yourself of being with her? If you're not sure and would like to see if she might 'come around' and be more comfortable with your family, don't rush into marriage; give them more time to try to establish a comfortable relationship.

Your parents may be interpreting her quietness as snobbishness or being unfriendly, when she just feels nervous, or is naturally quiet in uncomfortable situations. Observe her with other people she may meet for the first time, and see if she's the same way. It takes some people longer to 'warm up' to new people. While I understand it's been 6 years, she may want to impress your parents so they'll like her, so much, she completely clams up and is just too quiet around them, for fear she'll say the wrong thing.

Have a heart to heart with her about this situation, because it's on your mind, don't tell her your parents said anything, just ask her, matter of factly, why she acts that way when she's with them, and listen to what she has to say.

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have asked her, she says that she just does not feel very welcome in the environment. That she used to feel like she fit in more, but that now she does not.

My parents say similar things... she used to come around more, it seemed she used to try harder, but they say it was always like pulling teeth to get her to talk and that they finally have given up.

Like I said, it seems a self fulfilling prophecy where both sides assume the other does not like each other very much and in turn they seem to talk less at both ends.

I do see my parents point though but I see hers too. So i really am in the middle. A few years into the relationship my parents financed a trip to Ireland for me and my 2 sisters, my girlfriend was allowed to come too. My parents paid most of her way. They have gone out of their way to be generous and to spur conversatoin, they just do not seem to think that it has worked very well. I have observed her in social situations and yes, she is reserved, its not just them! And yes, even with her exended family she is often one to sit quiet and listen. I have explained this to them, but they either do not believe it or still see it as a warning sign. So yea, I have had conversations with both sides and it seems to have been rather futile to this point.

She thinks that my parents resent her, and they think she does not like them. So, its a standstill it seems, and the unfortunate thing is i do not see getting my parents blessing to proceed, it would have to be done on my own. In some ways against their wishes. I do not get along great with her parents either, they are not college educated and we have little in common. My gf is college educated as am I, so we always have had things in common and enjoy a simple lifestyle in many ways... u know walks in the park, watching movies, neither of us is big into partying, and both of us are real sentimental passionate people. Just very confused as to what i can do now, if anything.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have asked her, she says that she just does not feel very welcome in the environment. That she used to feel like she fit in more, but that now she does not. My parents say similar things... she used to come around more, it seemed she used to try harder, but they say it was always like pulling teeth to get her to talk and that they finally have given up. Like I said, it seems a self fulfilling prophecy where both sides assume the other does not like each other very much and in turn they seem to talk less at both ends. I do see my parents point though but I see hers too. So i really am in the middle. A few years into the relationship my parents financed a trip to Ireland for me and my 2 sisters, my girlfriend was allowed to come too. My parents paid most of her way. They have gone out of their way to be generous and to spur conversatoin, they just do not seem to think that it has worked very well. I have observed her in social situations and yes, she is reserved, its not just them! And yes, even with her exended family she is often one to sit quiet and listen. I have explained this to them, but they either do not believe it or still see it as a warning sign. So yea, I have had conversations with both sides and it seems to have been rather futile to this point. She thinks that my parents resent her, and they think she does not like them. So, its a standstill it seems, and the unfortunate thing is i do not see getting my parents blessing to proceed, it would have to be done on my own. In some ways against their wishes. I do not get along great with her parents either, they are not college educated and we have little in common. My gf is college educated as am I, so we always have had things in common and enjoy a simple lifestyle in many ways... u know walks in the park, watching movies, neither of us is big into partying, and both of us are real sentimental passionate people. Just very confused as to what i can do now, if anything.
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.

Hi again,

I think it might be a good idea to not ONLY rely on conversation, but do an activity, when you're at your parents' house with your girlfriend. For example, what about a board game or something along those lines? Scrabble, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, etc., are some good examples. Perhaps if your gf and your parents are doing something they both enjoy, some 'walls' will come down. Laughter is universal, and these games (well, not scrabble) can really be fun.

I reviewed your other question and remembered that you had said your parents were concerned about your future with this girl, due to her previous eating disorder; do you think this is in the back of their minds and they really want to try to talk you out of marrying her?

As I mentioned before, this decision is completely up to the two of you. If you love being with her, and she, you, and you feel you 'complete' each other and are in love, will be happy for many years to come, you can't deprive yourself of what you feel is true love. If YOU have all these things in common with her and she makes you blissfully happy, you owe it to yourself to be happy.

I understand why you're torn, because you really want/need your parents' blessing and feel they're not totally on board with your decision for a life-mate. I can really empathize, having been in a similar situation, many years ago. Typically, no parent ever feels their child is marrying someone 'good enough' for them. This isn't always the case, but a common situation.

Why don't you give yourself a time period that you feel is reasonable, to get to know her even better (even though it's been many years), allow your parents to get to know the woman YOU love, and
take it from there.

The ultimate decision is yours, and if you have any doubts, besides what your parents have expressed to you, consider them, and decide if she is truly the person you would like to spend the rest of your life with, and if your life would feel incomplete without her. Unfortunately, we don't have a crystal ball and really can't predict the future. Some couples who seem unlikely to 'make it' in marriage, are very happy and stay together forever. Others, who seem perfect for each other, grow apart and end up divorced. While you don't want to think in a negative or pessimistic way, if you decide to marry her and down the line it doesn't work out, you have options.....it's not written in stone, it can be changed. While we don't head in to marriage, expecting or anticipating divorce, even after careful consideration, we're human and we make mistakes.

Hopefully, in your case, if you get married, you'll have a happy life for many years. Being completely 'sure' about someone is practically impossible, but you have to go with your gut feelings and your heart. It's not like you rushed into this; you know each other for many years.

Would you consider 'taking a break' and dating other people, to make sure you're truly in love with her? From what you said, I don't think you want that, but you're not engaged, you're not married, and if you wanted to try other relationships, that's your decision. Personally, I do believe there's more than one person in the world, for each of us. It all depends on circumstances, where we live, how we meet, etc., that brings couples together. If you feel you're 'finished' looking, and she's 'the one', express this to your parents and let them know how much she means to you.

I'm trying to present both sides of the situation to you, and I'm sure you realize I can't say, yes, definitely marry her, or no, don't marry her. This has to be your decision alone, and you have to feel confident about it.

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yea i just spoke more to my parents last night... my mom is definitely opposed to me pursuing this girl! Says that she is so quiet, weird eating habits, rarely comes over, I am always heading her way, and that she sees this causing my relationship with them and my friends to go by the wayside.

So, going forward I would have to do so, knowing that my parents (especially my mom) sees this as a serious problem. Both say that they have a weak relationship with her, only on superflous level and they honestly do not see it developing into anything further. I am in a bad spot though, bc i have feelings for her, and i love my family too, so its like a pick one or another scenario.. talk about being drawn between the two. Plus, how do u discuss with the girl u care about taht your parents see red flags all over the place? I do not want to lose her though but i just wish i could have their blessing and support, but realize it wont be like that :(
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again,

I'm sorry you find yourself in such a difficult position.

You don't have to discuss with the girl you care about, that your parents see red flags; discuss with her that she seems so quiet when she's with your parents and they would like to get to know the 'real' her, better, so if she could make more of an effort to be more open and talkative with them, it would help them feel they know her like you know her. See how she reacts to this and if she makes an effort. Tell her you don't want her to 'force' her actions, but if she acts less reserved with them, they'll feel closer to her and isn't that what she wants?

On the one hand, your parents have more experience than you and want to give you the benefit of their experience and help prevent you from making the mistakes they may have made in the past (I'm not talking about their marriage; I mean life, in general). Because they have more life experience, they want to advise you to make the best decisions they feel will benefit YOU. They love you and want to see you happy. Also, sometimes, parents (especially mothers) have a sixth sense about these things, and just feel if you don't continue to pursue a relationship with this girl, you'll end up happier, and avoid lots of hurt, in the long run.

On the other hand, you seem to have a very close relationship with your parents, which is so fantastic, especially nowadays, when many families are split apart or drifting apart, and that's admirable, and of COURSE you want their blessing on this union, if you should decide to marry her, BUT, and this is a big BUT--it's YOUR life. If you are head over heels in love with this girl, you feel you know each other so well, you see yourself down the line being very happy, married to her, you feel there's no one else that could possibly make you feel the way she does, then, you have to, in a way, be 'selfish' and tell your parents you love them dearly and their blessing means so much to you, but you're in love, you're happy, and you'd like to marry this girl, and you're sure your happiness is very important to them.

If you've always been this close to your parents/family, if you decide to marry the girl, will they disown you? I think not. They love you so much, and you will continue to see them, and you will be the same; you will be unchanged in your love for your parents, even though you may be married. Many people DO change, after marriage, but when you've grown up in the security of their love, and have always been close, I don't see that changing. They may not be happy with your choice for a wife, and in a perfect world, they WOULD accept her, but I don't think they'll not want to see you anymore, do you?

At this particular time, don't rush into anything. Keep seeing the girl, and keep doing what you're doing, without any more mention of marriage. Give yourself more time, and take it day by day. Is SHE pressing you to make the commitment on paper, i.e., marriage? Is it that important for YOU to be married, immediately? If not, keep things as they are, continue to talk to your parents about how this is tearing you apart, and can't they see their way to just 'accepting' your choice, even though they don't have to be thrilled with her. Explain to them how she's not 'snubbing' them; she's like this with everybody, including her own family. She's naturally quiet, but she's not quiet with you, you connect on many planes, and that's why you love her and love being with her.

You know, one thing was 'telling', which you mentioned your mother said: that she (your gf) rarely comes over and you're always heading 'her' way. Even though a man may be close with his parents, a woman's relationship with her parents usually takes precedence when it comes to how often they visit, etc. That's just a fact of life. I don't know why, but that's how it usually works out, unless one of the families is dysfunctional and/or there are bad feelings and one partner in the relationship/marriage doesn't care to see his/her parents/family often or at all. When your mother said this, and mentioned because of this, she sees your relationship with them (your parents) and your friends, going by the wayside, I think this is her biggest fear. She thinks she's going to lose you, but this couldn't be further from the truth, considering the type of close relationship you've always had, and always will have, with them.

I've mentioned to you, that I can't make this decision for you. I can't say, oh, definitely marry her and upset your parents; I can't say, don't marry her, make your parents happy and go look for someone else who your parents may like better. What if your parents pick out traits of EVERY girl you get serious with, and tell you they don't care for her and they're not very friendly? Or, what if you do meet someone who is more talkative and friendly with your parents, but she has traits you can't stand (although you love MOST of her personality)? Should you marry her because she pleases your parents more than the girl you're with, now?

YOU have to be happy and I know you want both: to be happy with the girl you love and for your parents to give you their blessing, but obviously, your mother made it clear last night, that this isn't going to happen.

You need time to think and figure this thing out, so don't make any more future commitments to this girl, i.e., a marriage proposal, and decide if you want to stay in the relationship or leave it and try to find someone else you could be as happy with.

Would you consider going to a couples counselor, to discuss this problem in person? You can go first, lay the groundwork, explain the situation, get some ideas from the therapist, and then ask your girl to join you and have the therapist try to find out why she's so quiet when she's around your family. Just a thought that you can consider and decide if it might help. Many couples go to 'pre-marital' counseling before they're married, to work out any issues that may be present.

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
We are engaged! Thanks for your help!
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
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