How to Tell Your Parents You Are Getting Married

17 year-old Melissa and her 21 year-old boyfriend Mark want to know how to tell her parents they are getting married. Melissa and Mark secretly got engaged last month on Melissa’s birthday and are planning on getting married soon, and she is very nervous about telling her parents. She’s especially nervous about telling her dad that she is getting married at 17, as she’s afraid both of her parents will not approve of the marriage. After searching for information on “telling parents about getting married”, Melissa found my Questions to Ask Before Getting Married article, which lead her to email me yesterday.

Melissa wrote, “How do I tell my parents I’m getting married so they will give parental consent? In the state I live, the age you can get married without a parent’s consent is 18, but we don’t want to wait. No, I’m not pregnant. We love each other very much and want to get married right away. I’m very mature for my age and we both feel we are mature enough to handle the responsibilities of being married, so why should we have to wait until I turn 18? What’s the big deal? Please don’t tell me I’m too young to get married, and I’m not looking for a lecture on whether we should get married or not. Oh, we’ve been dating since I was 14 and he was 18.”

Getting married at 17 is a very big deal, and while I won’t lecture on how young is too young to get married, I will give some important things to consider before getting married and then how to tell your parents you are getting married, or at least wanting to get married.

There are many good reasons to get married, just as there are many reasons not to get married, and it doesn’t matter if the person is 17, 18, 21, 26 or 30 years-old or older. Getting married is the easy part; being married and being happily married for the rest of your life is not so easy, and those considering marriage should not take getting married lightly.

Reasons not to get married include getting married because of “love at first sight”, immaturity, sexual attraction/lust, a cure for loneliness, freedom from parents, as an act of rebellion, rebound relationships, pressure to marry, wish for a fancy wedding, friends or peers are married or getting married, a sense of obligation, pregnancy, wanting a baby, emotional insecurity, and financial reasons.

Many of these reasons are purely selfish and do not take into account the other person’s feelings or needs, and such marriages are more likely to end in divorce. Just because there is an chronological age you can get married legally in most states, with or without parental consent, doesn’t mean you should get married now, or ever.

Regardless of age, anyone contemplating marriage should spend a great deal of time learning everything there is to know about the responsibilities in marriage, the roles of husband and wife, paying special attention to learning about how to be a good wife or how to be a good husband before getting married and preferably before getting engaged.

Waiting until you are already married to discover the hard way that having a successful marriage requires a lot more work than you initially imagined will only create conflicts and problems in your marriage you weren’t prepared for.

There aren’t just 10 questions to ask before getting married, there are hundreds of before marriage questions that couples have a duty and responsibility to discuss openly and provide honest answers to, in order for both to know exactly what they’re getting themselves into if they choose to marry each other.

That’s why premarital counseling is so important, regardless of what age you are when you get engaged and plan to marry. My advice for anyone planning to get married (regardless of your age) is to make sure you take the time to get as much marriage advice as humanly possible, seek out premarital counseling by a reputable premarital counselor or minister of your choosing, research information on Christian premarital counseling online, take a marriage preparation course, and read marriage books that provide helpful information and advice on how to have a happy, successful marriage.

Being nervous to tell your parents that you are getting married may be because you already suspect they won’t approve or give consent, but you won’t know that until you talk to them. Keeping your engagement a secret, or rushing off to secretly elope, will only make matters worse when telling your parents about your marriage or wedding plans. Don’t wait any longer to tell your parents; they just might surprise you and give full support of your marriage plans, and offer to pay for the wedding or at least part of it.

If you tell your parents about your plan to get married with a disrespectful attitude and tone of voice, prepare yourself for the news to cause an explosive reaction from both your mom and your dad. You may want to tell your parents over dinner at a restaurant if that makes you feel more comfortable and at ease, otherwise calmly and respectfully tell them you are engaged and would like to get married with their consent and approval.

Be prepared to answer any and all questions they ask honestly and respectfully. If you don’t know the answer to one or more of their questions, say you don’t know but be sure to explain that you and your fiance’ are taking all the necessary steps to educate yourselves about marriage and will complete premarital counseling classes, and make sure you do so. Listen and carefully consider whatever your parents have to say, whether it be questions, concerns, doubts or fears if they feel you are too young to get married at your age, or if your parents have other concerns about your relationship.

Telling your parents what they want to hear rather than the truth is a surefire way of making your parents angry, and you can bet they won’t be inclined to give parental consent and you’ll have no choice but to wait until you are of legal age to marry without their approval.

Your parents likely know you better than anyone else at this point in your life, and while I won’t tell you that you are just too young to get married, the fact that fear and nervousness is keeping you from telling your parents about your marriage plans creates questions and doubts about your maturity and readiness for marriage.

If you were my daughter, or Mark was my son, I’d tell you both to wait a couple/few more years before getting married. I’d tell you both to go to college and get your degree, establish yourselves financially in your careers of choice, as you have your entire lives ahead of you to be married and have a family. No lecture here, just facts to help ensure you are saving your marriage before it starts and ends up in divorce court within two years after the wedding.

Do you think someone that is only 17 is just too young to get married, or do you think the decision to marry depends more on maturity and readiness for marriage? What is your advice for Melissa and Mark, or other young couples thinking about getting married at a very young age?


Related Articles:

Questions Before Marriage – Questions to Ask Before Getting Married
Toxic Relationships – Toxic Family Members
How to Fight Fair in Marriage
How to Spice Up Your Marriage
How to Get Along With the In-Laws: Dealing With In-Laws and Extended Family
Relationship Deal Breakers – Non Negotiable Boundaries
What does it mean to “leave and cleave” in traditional wedding vows?
How to Spot a Gold Digger

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72 Responses to “How to Tell Your Parents You Are Getting Married”

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  1. MM says:

    Hi,

    I know this has been a while, now, but I need to post a question, because this has been driving me crazy.

    I’m recently 20 and my boyfriend’s almost 19. We’ve been together three years (since the beginning of my senior year of high school, we’re both young for our grades), but were close friends several years before that. We realized how much we cared for each other after a summer of talking a lot, and so we started dating, getting to know each other, setting clear boundaries, and making a conscious effort to learn how to communicate effectively, how to disagree cordially, etc. He’s the only person in my life who I have ever learned to allow myself to disagree with — I’m naturally very unassertive — and he’s taught me to assert my opinion so that we can have a genuine discussion. And he’s silly and fun and sweet and kind and gentle and smart and altogether awesome. We get along well and he truly is my best friend. So, the subject of marriage came up fairly early on because we both believe in saving sex for marriage and wanted to discuss boundaries, but we were open about our ideas of marriage too, including how we see a household being run, what values we hold important, the way we want to handle finances and stuff. We obviously haven’t figured everything out but we know that a marriage will take work, and we’re willing to do that work together even when one or the other of us is down and out.

    Additionally, we have both had to consider our commitment due to the fact that last year, (my freshman year of college and his senior year of high school) my mom wanted us to separate and me to date more people. While I did date one or two guys, my heart wasn’t in it. Over that year, we did stay in touch a bit, and since reuniting this year we are even more sure of the fact that commitment, in its ultimate sense, is deeply freeing. (fyi, we were planning to go to the same college before we ever started dating; he’s studying engineering and me math & we both go to a denominational Christian university)

    We’ve talked to adults about our ideas and most are supportive with the fact that we’re committed young. Most notably my boss/pastor/mentor has always been especially supportive, as has my high school physics teacher, who we were both personally close to. (let’s just say the denominational system is pretty tight knit). Actually I think all of the teachers we had in high school, when they see us together, are super glad that we’re still together and think we’re perfect for each other.

    Even my boyfriend’s parents adore me. They’re the sweetest people and are always welcoming, and I really could start calling his mom “Mom” right now and she’d be elated.

    So what is the problem you ask? Well the fact that I visited this website should say enough– I am having a hard time communicating this with my parents. Whatever I say, I am immediately dismissed as being too young to make any decisions for myself. (and it’s not limited to this decision: I can hardly decide whether to come home or not, or, if I am home, I am frequently required to go with them on shopping trips against my will, and I STILL have to ask their permission to leave the house at any time.) To make matters worse, my mom dislikes my boyfriend for the sole fact that I’m reasonably serious about him. She has said this, almost word for word. She has made it clear that she likes who he is, she just doesn’t like that I’m dating him seriously. If I mention one of my friends from my same class getting married, she makes it clear how stupid she thinks they are. She believes vehemently in the idea that one should NEVER marry until one is out of college, and so because of this my boyfriend is terrified to ask them their blessing, whenever he does that.

    We’ve been thinking it through and, for us, we feel like the best time to marry is about a year before we’re out of college. We’ll both take 5+ years, and by the time we’re both out of college, we’ll have been dating 7 years, which is beyond an adequate time to date someone before marrying (honestly, 3 years ought to be adequate, but we’re even planning to make it a total of 5, so 2 more years from now). Marrying would actually gain us money, since I get absolutely nothing from FAFSA due to my parents making a LOT, and we would no longer have to purchase cafeteria food ($7 per meal, required plans, where you can’t take anything out of the caf, suuuck when you eat as little as I do). Additionally, and I know attraction is a poor reason to marry, despite holding ourselves to careful and cautious boundaries we are both ragingly attracted to each other. This wasn’t at all a part of our original reasoning; my attraction towards him has gradually developed and to be honest when I first started dating him I wasn’t particularly attracted to him at all. Anyway, we believe in saving all things sexual til marriage and yet are ridiculously attracted to each other and feel like we’d be unduly tempting ourselves by stretching out our dating and engagement when we already KNOW that we love each other, we’re committed to each other, and we plan on marrying.

    Anyway, for me my biggest issue is finding a way to communicate this to my mom maturely because no matter what I talk about, or how calmly I bring it up, she cannot hold a conversation without yelling or crying, and there is no logicalness or coherence to what she says. I don’t know any reason why I covet her approval save for the fact she has the power to tell me no, and I’m sick and tired of bending to her every whim in every facet of life. I don’t know how to tell her that I’m doing something that she disagrees with because instead of being rational about it she will burst into tears and conclude I do not love her, when that is far from the truth. There have been times where she has said that if I understood her, I would automatically agree with her, and that if I loved her I’d do what she said. I feel extremely manipulated and do not know how to do anything except what she wants me to, and yet I am unwilling to break up with my boyfriend (because that’s how far she’d want me to go). (also this is the reason my boyfriend had to teach me to be assertive). Anyway I’m sorry for the long post i am just utterly lost and confused and frustrated. It’d be nice if you could give me some pointers…

    • Ali Shah says:

      Dear MM,

      Many people will give you advise but mentally you’ll be more prone to taking in what you seem more healthy for your self, so I will not be supportive nor will I be against you in anything I say.

      For starters, YES in the society we live in these days, getting married or just the though of it is outrageous to many/most people. Everyone can list you BILLION things on what and why will be the consequences. They are not wrong at all, but at the same time everyone on this page must accept that they are not all right either.

      Problems in terms of commitment (i could have done better), sex life (so boring), arguments (im always right), misunderstandings (you said you were at your friends place), finance (we have to move out, didnt pay the rent last month either) all exist and CAN arise in the future. This is where the terms, compromise and trust and planning take their meaning.

      If after all the glamour and fancy lights you look in to the scary and empty hollows of marriage and still would like to go for it, congratulations. You are one of 2 things, immature/mislead OR loyally in love.

      Being scared just means your human, but take my advice for it.. its nothing big, in a week everything washes away. You’ll know what i mean soon :) just stay calm and composed. everything tends to fall into place no matter how horrid the situation might seem.

      Now if after reading through all the comments and stories above (particularly the negative ones) you still seem that your partner seems suffice? Well then I would like to share something with you.

      My father has told me a lot of things but this one thing in particular actually stuck in my head.

      “son, if you think what your doing is absolutely positively 100% correct? then you cant go TOO wrong :) ” (yes he smiled in the end)

      here are some tips:

      One should respect the other and vice versa. Show kindness to one another as you do now, DO NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED your partner at any moment in time. One of the biggest problems is:

      before marriage.. Hi baby, did you eat anything? Ive been waiting for you, lets have dinner im starved

      after marriage.. What took you so long? where were you? the foods in he freezer, Im exhausted and off to bed.

      AVOID Initiating A MENTAL FRACTURE IN EACH OTHERS MINDS THAT “they’ve changed”

      If your going to make it a commitment, take it to the death.

      DONT BE SHAKY!!! nothing will hurt him more than to find out that after discussions with your mom, your “RETHINKING” things. Put your self in his shoes. This will only force him to keep a grudge or even worse, loath your mother.

      Stay composed, react with no reaction. Comfort your mother, let her know you respect and cherish her and also try to inbed in her mind that you really want this and that your really happy :). Dont demand or impose that “I WILL” marry him, instead propose that Id like to marry him and that I know he can keep me happy. MOMS are MOMS shes bound to melt. Your happiness is greater than any thing to her, trust me.

      Try to talk abt the good things, avoid the bad. What happened, happened. You cant change the past, but you can always mould the greatest future together.

      create a “prince” type image in your mothers mind, it wont help if you say a billion good things about him. Your mother may have a friend or sister or bro etc. try to relate to them and share the matter. If some one hears that all pigs can fly for a while, they end up starting to believe it.

      Lastly, your getting married a guy who had the decency to respect you and your body. Its very hard to find that in somebody these days. And a point to ponder. Your getting married, not committing a murder. LOVE IS NOT A CRIME..

      In the end Id like to share with you that I speak from experience. I got married finally after 5 years 3 months ago to a girl who was made for me. My dreams, my love, my goal. I had your problem, her family loved me, mine didnt. But look? after the storm there was eternal sunshine. Good luck to you and your partner, there is nothing like prevailing love in this world.. that kind of proves if it was ever love or not.. TC :)

  2. Jordan says:

    I’m sorry for the lenght of this post, but I really need some outside advice on my situation! My boyfriend and I met when I was 15, he was 16. I had lived with my mom, but after meeting him moved 3 hours away to my dad’s house to be with my boyfriend, Garrett. He instantly became my best friend and the person I wanted to tell everything to, but because of family issues (my dad didn’t like the idea of me having a serious boyfriend at that young age) I moved back to my mom’s house. We agreed that we would try our hardest to make things work, but after a few miserable weeks and talking to both my mother and his, we decided that if it was meant to be, then it would work out at a later time. We didn’t want to spend our high school years miserable because we weren’t together.
    We both dated other people during that time, and ALWAYS kept in touch. If a guy ever broke up with me or did something to hurt my feelings I seemed to dial his number every time. He knew how to cheer me up. We knew we still loved each other, but I think we tried to put it out of our minds and move on.
    Well let’s just say after 2 years, we decided enough was enough. But that was right after he made a big life decision. He joined the Navy. We see each other once every couple of months, and although it’s very hard, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t bare the thought of losing him for a second time due to distance.
    Sorry for the long explanation, now I’ll get to the question! :)
    I’m now 18 years old, and he just turned 19. Getting married to him would give us an opportunity to get an off base apartment and also get payed extra because he’ll have a dependent. There are a lot of benefits that come with being a military spouse. BUT that isn’t why I want to get married. When we start receiving his extra pay, we plan to save all of it and use it for whatever life throws our way.
    I feel like waiting is putting off the inevitable. What do you honestly think about this whole situation?

  3. New Ring on Finger says:

    Hi,

    I found this post interesting, it seems that no older people (if they have mentioned their age) are supportive.

    My boyfriend (although I should say finance) proposed to me on the weekend. He wanted to ask my father first but changed his mind. I am 21 and at university, I still have another year left and have an idea and plan as to where I am going when I finish.
    My partner is 26 and is a commissioned officer in the navy, and his job is guaranteed. We are currently living together as well as having a house mate in order to take the pressure off us and also to provide company for me when he is away working. We have lived separately too and I have spent 2 years sharing with friends before now.
    We are also looking to buy a house together and have saved for a mortgage and it is just a case of finding the right house and moving over the summer when I have no university commitments. I am also working part time while at university.
    We have been together for 3 years now, and we have told his parents and those we want to be in our wedding party but we haven’t told my parents yet. My mother will be excited but I dont think my father will, I am his only girl and very much a “daddy’s girl”. His reaction was quite bad when he first met my boyfriend and took him months to get over and only when my family turned against him and told him to get over it. However now they get on really well. They have a lot in common and can talk for hours. My father has even gone so far as to explain why he is so protective over me to my boyfriend. However, because of his earlier reaction and because he was so young when he had me, we are afraid of his reaction when we tell him on the weekend. I really don’t know how to approach this and I am quite nervous. I want him to be happy with me and to help me plan and to have an input but I am just not sure this is going to be the case.
    I am however really happy, and we are taking our time with the preparations and will not be planning anything until I am at least out of uni a year.

  4. KiyliePalmer says:

    I was wondering…my boyfriend recently turned 18 and we want to get married now. were both 18 n want to be with each other. but my parents dnt want me to be with him. they think he’s not good for me but i think he is. i dnt want my parents finding out if we Do decide to get married. So how can i keep our marriage a secret without them knowing and anyone including the state notifiying them were married. Like documents and stuff. And can i keep my name that i was born with? and change it later on? i don’t want ANYONE finding out before i tell them. But im afraid that somthing is going to notify my parents before i do and i dnt want that? can you give me advice on what i should do????

  5. Brian L says:

    Me (22 years old) and my girlfriend (19 years old) have been dating for a little over a year and a half. We have been living together for a few months and spend just about all of our time together (mainly because we are boring people and just like to spend most nights in together). My work is making me move halfway across the country and she is more than willing to move with me especially since she will be done college in a couple of weeks. I keep thinking that if our lives are sorted out career wise like they are and we are moving far away together if its a good time to think about getting married. I know we havent been dating for a ridiculous amount of time but I love her with all my heart and I know she loves me the same way but im worried about how my parents will react as we are still a little young. Any advice?

  6. Andrea says:

    This is my situation.

    My boyfriend and I are 19 and in university, we’ve been together for about a year, and we want to get married. I’ve been through a lot, and I’m very independant, and he is too. We are Christian, and we know that God has brought us together to be married. We want to get married at the end of the summer of 2014, with me taking school on in the summer and an overload during the school years before that so I only have one or two courses during our first year of marriage. He will be in a very well paying co-op for the first year of our marriage, and we are financially stable enough to afford our wedding as he is a mining co-op student and I am a successful entrepreneur on the side. When he goes back to school for his last year after his co-op, I will be graduated and able to work full time, and I have many connections in my field already. After that 8 months of him being back in school, he will be an engineer in training and we will have sufficient income in our lives. We’ll be 21 at this point, but my mom has serious control issues and will resist. The rest of my family knows I want to marry him, but as my parents are divorced, my mom and stepdad do not know yet. I’m nervous as to how to tell them but I’m so ready to be with the love of my life. Any advice would be great.

  7. Christine says:

    I am in a similar situation. I am a sophmore in college (19) and my boyfriend of over four years is 21. He has graduated college and has a job at Ford. We want to spend our lives together, but I’m worried about my parents thinking I’m too young to get married. Both me and my boyfriend want to wait until I have graduated from college and gotten a job before we actually get married, but we do want to get engaged soon. We have been living together for the past year and also have gotten a puppy. Although I don’t think there is an age that is too young, from being in a similar position I think that if you think you can’t wait to get married, then you’re probably not ready. Being married isn’t about the ring on your finger or the ceremony, I think its about the promise that you’re going to be together forever and that you’re willing to fight through things to stay with eachother. This might be a little silly, but thats what I think. Alought I really do want to get married to my boyfriend I know that it wouldn’t be smart to do it right now, I’m not finished with school and I don’t have a job, both of things are really important to me. Getting engaged is a good step because it shows that you’re ready for the next step, but maybe for reasons out of your control not quite ready to have the ceremony. For me those reasons are my schooling and the fact that we are both young and don’t have the money for the wedding right now.

  8. Nicky2 says:

    Dear Melissa and Mark, I am 19 years old and so is my fiance. Yes he did ask me to marry him and gave me a gorgeous ring just as I gave him 1 but it was understood between us that we are going to finish our education first. Him asking me was really just like a promise made between us so to speak. Let me tell you why we are finishing our education: both our parents were married young, mine are divorced his aren’t. But they cannot care for us financially and they have proved that if they had taken the time to establish themselves and their carreers first life would have been easier now. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying to do it alone, by all means be together through college but think about your children and eachother. Love is not selfish. At the end of the road if you really love eachother you would want the best possible life for the other and for the children made between the two of you..getting married doesn’t prove you are in love, waiting to get married doesn’t prove you’re in love BUT making the best decision for eachother even if its not what you want is a step in the right direction of love. At the age you’re at the best decision for eachother is to allow eachother to get educated, grow with eachother, and in the end have the life you wanted at 17 without the financial stress you would have had while being able to properly care for your kids..after all the unborn are innocent in this situation why suffer them?

  9. Tinman says:

    Hello, Lin. I’m 18 and my fiancé is 20 , 21 in 3 days. We wish to be married but my fiancé isn’t sure to wait or go on with it because everyone keeps telling us to wait. They say we are “too young”. I believe that we have the mentality to get married. I mean, we know what we want and we know eachother inside and out. I’m going to school when I graduate high school within the next year. A successful marriage has compassion , trust, honesty, and most important, love. Thank you for reading. :)

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  2. [...] ha” moment, which is a good thing. Nevertheless, there are still many young men and women getting married too young, and far too many couples get married for the wrong reasons and end up regretting it [...]