Aunty Bella is our agony aunt column on BellaNaija. We launched this column in the early days of BN and periodically feature issues sent in by BN readers. We hope the BN family can offer insightful advice as well.
Hopefully you all can give me some sound advice on my current issue. My boyfriend and I have been dating for over a year (he’s 27, I’m 28). We were set up by his uncle and my aunt because they thought that we’d be great for one another due to similar careers in healthcare. We’ve had problems like most couples. We want to spend the rest of our lives together, but we are not racing to the altar tomorrow. I have no fairytales about him being “the one” or that our love story will be made of milk and honey. I consider myself to be pretty realistic. We are open and honest with each other, respect one another, and genuinely want what’s best for each other. He’s not just my boyfriend, he’s also a really good friend. The problem is that from the very beginning of our relationship his parents have been STRONGLY against the idea of me being with their son. Even after more than a year of having a positive influence in his life (his words), they still want him to seek out someone else. Their reasons include:
1. My parents never married and I was raised by my single mother
2. My mother has children by different men
3. I’m one year older than their son (seriously ONE year!!! WTH)
4. I don’t speak Igbo (Dad’s igbo, mom’s American)
I have come around to understanding their concern about their future daughter-in-law (my bf is the only son) and grandchildren. No one understands the importance of raising kids in a nurturing environment more than I do. Although I get where they are coming, I can’t help but feel like this is a personal attack. I am the first to admit that my upbringing could have been a lot better and that I am still dealing with things from my childhood that effect the way I see the world. But, when you take a holistic view of my life and my accomplishments, I know for certain that ANY man would be very lucky to be with me. The fact that I went to university and am now finishing my Master’s degree at an ivy league university speak highly to my resilience and the fact that I have my priorities straight. I have lived and worked in three different countries and I am bilingual. I have worked very hard not to repeat the mistakes of my parents and to set a good example for my younger family members and future children (God willing). The bf’s parents are unwilling to take any of this into account. It’s almost as if the things that were outside of my control matter more that any accomplishments that I’ve made. They are unwilling to meet with me. My boyfriend recently tried to introduce us, but his mother shot down the idea. It hurt but I tried to understand it by taking Naija culture into account. But we recently had an argument because he lied to his parents on Christmas by telling them that he was at home alone when he was really spending the holiday with my family. He said that he didn’t want to argue with his parents on Christmas. I felt that he was being a coward, but I let it go.
I try to see things from his point of view. He’s a parent pleaser and I am sure that he is stuck between a rock and a hard place, but this is also very hurtful and hard on me. he assures me that he is fighting for me and that he wants to stand by me no matter what. Most days I believe him but, sometimes when I think about just how close he is to his family and how much influence they have over his ENTIRE life, it makes me wonder if he can truly withstand the pressure. Another issue is that if we do end up together I am afraid that I’ll have some lingering resentment toward them. I’m really trying to be understanding and to see things objectively, but it is difficult. They are essentially being judgmental without ever having met me. I’ve met and spent time with his sisters and some of his aunts, uncles and cousins. I’m trying to build relationships with them all, so that they can support my boyfriend and I. his uncles absolutely love me and want me to be with their nephew.
This is really putting a strain on my relationship. I try not to think too much about it because my bf and I are still building a strong foundation for our relationship, but it worries me. I want to be with him, but I don’t know how much longer I can wait for his parents “to grow to accept” me. I’ve been open with my bf and he knows exactly how I feel, but I don’t really think he understands the depths of my hurt/pain. He asks me to be patient.
I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to break up with him. I also don’t want to have to jump through hoops to prove that I am worthy of their son. Ok BNers, advise me biko (see, I have some igbo words in my vocab! 😉