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Family Relations/How to get my family to accept my fiance

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Question
Alright, well, Iím 23, and my fianceís name is Samoset. He is 26 and he is American Indian (Algonquian). Him and I have been together for two years and just got engaged a couple of weeks ago. My family has met Sam maybe four times on holidays and he has always been friendly, gracious, and just very well-mannered, as he always is. They have been mostly cordial but I know that they are somewhat judgmental because they donít like the idea of me marrying someoneÖ WellÖ Not white. Now donít get me wrong, my family is not racist or prejudiced or anything of the sort. Theyíre just very traditional and Iím going to be the first person bringing someone not white into the family. And the cultural difference is much more drastic than with some other races. My family is also made up of mostly devout Christians, and they don't really like or understand Sam's beliefs, and I'm unsure whether him telling them more about it would help or hurt. My family has asked him some uncomfortable and rude questions not realizing they were being rude. I just want them to be accepting because I love Sam more than anything. I live in a different state from my whole family so I havenít told anyone yet that we are engaged, minus my mother and sister, who are the only accepting ones. I am planning on telling everybody on Sunday when I go to visit, but Iím very nervous. How can I get my family to accept that I am marrying an American Indian? Sam is very quiet to start with, and he is convinced that they hate him, so he is always very intimated to go see them. What do I do?

Answer
Storm,
While your family may be a challenge to deal with if this relationship is meant to be then it will weather family issues. Time and exposure to a person usually helps decrease hostility. In most societies the something that is unknown usually is feared or looked upon with suspicion. This is probably no different. If you let this rule you and limit time with family and continue to be intimidated by it then it will persist. My suggestion is that you overlook this because people will eventually get used to the idea.
My concern is more for how you will raise your children in regards to religion. You may not have strong beliefs now about your religious preferences. Yet, when kids enter the seen it becomes important. Will they go to church? Will their ethnicity be important to your husbands side of the family and they will need to go to native American traditional events. These are things you should get hammered out prior to marrying because if you don't then there will bigger challenges than your family simply not being used to him. I would suggest you seek out pre-marital counseling to talk through all these issues.

Doc David

www.DavidSimonsen.net

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Dr. David Simonsen

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I am a licensed Marriage & Family therapist with a Ph.D. in Psychology. I work primarily with teens and families on a weekly basis. You will get the straight truth. I will not pull punches.

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I have been working daily with teens and families for the last 10 years.

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AAMFT; AACC; WAMFT

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M.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy; Ph.D. Psychology

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