The trouble was that throughout the whole of their time together, her partner had always resisted the thought of the two sets of parents meeting and consequently her parents had never met his parents. Now that she was pregnant, she wanted both parents to meet but he still resisted the idea.
She asked me if I thought he was in denial of their relationship.
I think the signs of denial and avoidance are certainly there – but without speaking to him, it’s a mistake to assume that as a fact.
I have known people in similar situations where one of them was absolutely just hanging in there until something better came along.
But I’ve also known situations where a person did not want parents to meet because they feared that formalising the “in-law” status would put pressure on and damage their relationship.
Know What You Want
Introducing parents to each other is such an established part of marking the next phase of a relationship that it wouldn’t typically occur to us to check that our beloved sees it in the same way.
Moving in together is a serious alternative to marriage and although it’s a proper commitment, the romance under which it normally comes about means that you might get yourself deeply into something without meaning to. You might not know each other terribly well. One person may go along with things to avoid conflict.
Before you move in together, try and get a good feel of the following areas. You don’t necessarily need 100% compatibility in all areas but you will get an idea of possible areas where you’ll need to compromise and work together in ways that are not immediately obvious.
Cross Cultural Relationship
How can you cope in each other’s cultures? How will you handle home-sickness? Are you prepared for your home to be used by her friends and relatives when they visit?
Children and Child Care
Do you want children? Would you expect the mother to work or stay-at-home? Do you have similar views on child-rearing? Do you prefer private or public schools? Do you have any issues from your childhood that may get in the way?
Yes, the “M” word. Do you want this someday? Under what circumstances? How do you feel about the thought that it may never happen?
How much interaction do you want with your parents as they age? Do you want to look after them in your own home? Do you want to live near them for support?
Are you spenders, savers or one of each? Are your financial habits going to impact what you want for your children? How will you each share costs, save for mutual spending and maintain financial independence? Can you easily talk to each other about money?
Education and Ambition
Do you have mutual interests, independent interests, things to talk about and a supportive attitude towards each others future ambitions. Ambitions and hobbies do change over time, so this is less about the actual activity than it is about finding a level of energy and action that you are comfortable with. If one person wants to change the world and has many activities, the other person could soon build up jealousy and resentment.
Do you each have your own friends as well as mutual friends. Does your partner have friends that you particularly dislike? If so, why is this and what are the possible consequences for you? Also, women in particular can stop seeing their old friends once they enter a relationship and especially if they move to a different part of the country. Paradoxically, maintaining friendships helps you to maintain your identity while you find your feet in this new phase of your life.
How do you know when a relationship is serious?