Dear Fiona: Will my parents accept that I want to marry an older man?

14 April 2022

The problem…

“I am 24 and currently live at home. For much of the past year, I have been seeing a man who is 33 and has an eight-year-old daughter. We have grown very close and also started making plans to get married. I have been spending more and more time with him in recent months, including staying over at weekends.

“My parents noticed this almost immediately and voiced concerns about Covid. I said I was simply spending time with a girlfriend, and that we both did lateral flow tests. They accepted this – until I stupidly mentioned my boyfriend’s name last month and the whole story came out.

“Far from being worried about Covid and the fact I had lied to them, they immediately laid into me about the age difference. They are also furious that I will be taking on someone else’s child. I have tried to calm them down, but they won’t let it go.


“It’s made for such a bad atmosphere that I now dread them ever meeting him, not that they have shown any interest in doing so. Every chance they get, they try to talk me out of it, and if I go out anywhere, they want to know where I am going and who I’m going to be with.

“It feels like I am teenager all over again, having to sneak out to be with friends. What are they behaving like this?”

Fiona says…

“They probably don’t want to see you get hurt. The problem is they are showing this concern in a very heavy-handed and perhaps hurtful way, especially as they know nothing about this man, other than his age and the fact he has a child. I am sure this isn’t deliberate, so please try not to judge them too harshly.

“I suggest you spend some time telling them what it is you love about this man and why you think he’s right for you. Give them some time to adjust, and then arrange a meeting. Hopefully, once they get to see him and his daughter, they are more likely to come around to the idea of you getting married.

“If they continue to make things difficult for you though, you will probably need to be a bit more assertive. Explain that you are serious about this man and that you intend to marry him, with or without their approval. Make it clear that you would obviously prefer it if they could see their way to being happy for you.

“Stay calm and try not to be confrontational, however make it clear that, at 24, you are an adult willing to accept responsibility for your life decisions. Hopefully, this will bring them around.

“This might also be a good time to examine your own motives here and be sure that this is really what you want. Age difference aside, stepping into a ready-made family will not be plain sailing and will bring many new responsibilities. If you have any lingering doubts about being ready for this, it might help to chat with a Relate counsellor ( Readers in Scotland can contact

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to [email protected] for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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