Why break ups are shit when your parents liked your other half.
Break ups are tough enough without your parents getting involved.
My parents try not to get involved in mine or my sisters relationships. Partially to do with the fact that they don’t think it’s their business but mostly because we’re all so dramatic that they know that by involving themselves they’re just asking for a world of pain and tantrums.
So when my parents completely fell in love with my partner, I was very surprised.
They treated him like a son and completely doted on him. His successes were theirs too, and they shared the pain of his failures. They talked to him often and even had inside jokes with him.
I loved how welcoming they were of him, I’d never seen them like that with anyone else.
Sometimes I would question how genuine they actually were until my mother told me how lucky I was to have found my partner and how sad she would be if we ever broke up. She also said she would side with him if ever we did split but that she would understand why he had to leave me. Well that does your ego a world of good… Not… But I knew this was my Mums way of being supportive and showing how much she loved him. I was glad with this because all I ever wanted was the support and approval of my parents in my choice of partner. My previous track record of men were not the best and I’m just glad I finally found someone my parents genuinely liked.
In my partner my mother found a taste tester, a shopping buddy and karaoke partner. They’d spent evening after evening in the TV room singing their heart out, sometimes singing a duet trying to beach each others highest scores. You’re probably thinking, God that must have been torture for him! But it wasn’t! It really wasn’t, sometimes it would be my partner who would egg my mother on in turning on the karaoke machine, he seemed to genuinely enjoy it.
My Dad found a friend in my partner, they had a lot in common, had similar outlooks on life, shared the same work ethic, and best of all they shared the same experience with dealing with a Richards woman, the first time my parents visited us at Uni, my partner even took my Dad out on a pub crawl and they came home absolutely plastered, and because of this gave my mother and I a shared experience in looking after our drunk partners. Yup… It’s safe to say my parents loved my partner, sometimes even more than I did!
The one thing my parents would always remind me of was how much of a good man my partner was, they’d say “Jessica, he’s such a good boy and he loves you so much.”
I’ve always had a problem with PDA, I’ve always been very embarrassed to kiss or hug in public, I find it difficult to say I love you anywhere within ear shot of anyone else. My partner loves all of it, PDA and all. Now my parents are incredibly old fashioned and strict when it comes to things like that, my Mother thinks we should be married before we live together etc. But when we’re around them and my partner is sweetly affectionate, I get this weird feeling and I just turn away and reject his advances, even just for a kiss. It’s not that I don’t love him, it’s just I don’t like people to watch… One day my mother pulled me aside, she sighed “Jessica, you should be more affectionate to him, you should give him little kisses sometimes… I bet you’re not even giving him private hugs.”
Private hugs for those of you who don’t know… It’s sex. My parents and I have the relationship like so many others have, who find it uncomfortable to talk about the birds and the bees but here she was practically telling me to mount my partner in public.
That’s how much they loved him.
So when we broke up it was a huge surprise to everyone.
What? Were you having problems? Why didn’t you tell me? Can’t you work it out? Those were the kinds of questions I received upon confiding in a new friends and family members about our break up.
When it came to telling my parents, I decided to tell my Dad instead of my mother, he was shocked but very practical and instead of asking for details like others had he wanted to discuss the next steps I was going to take. Where are you going to live? How shall we move your stuff? Etc. It was a breath of fresh air to discuss solutions and moving forward rather than being devastated or depressed like people seemed to think I should be. My Dad told my mother for me. I didn’t hear from her for a few days and I was relieved for this, but then the dreaded phone call came a few days later and her voice sounded weak, I asked her what was wrong and she told me she hadn’t slept in days, it was clear she had been crying. I assumed something had happened but no…she told me she had been stressed and worried and hadn’t been able to stop thinking about my break up. Was she upset for me? No. She was upset about loosing her dear son-in-law… I love my mother dearly but it seemed like she was more upset for my partner than for me!
The next few weeks was a roller coaster ride, whilst trying to balance working full time as a coordinator and as a commuter (yes I class this as a full time job), as well as trying to pack my belongings into depressingly little boxes (because when we moved in we never planned for me to be moving back out… We’d never kept any of our packing boxes and if truth be told this was what made me cry for the first time about my break up). I was processing the big changes around me, I informed my work that I would be leaving when my contract ended therefore a contract extension was no longer necessary, I started looking for jobs elsewhere because lord knows I cannot afford to live in London on my salary. I had to start planning my life that only involved me… All the while my parents fretted and worried and cried… It didn’t make it any easier.
You see, most kids would do anything to find a partner who their parents not only approved of but also loved as their own. My Mother treated my partner like he was the son she never had and on a few occasions after our break up, my partner even joked (I think it was a joke) that he would still visit my parents even though we were no longer together. His relationship began with me but he had established a connection with them that could probably have continued without me.
The thing that’s difficult is whilst we want our parents to love our partners, we also want them to stop that love when we end our relationship. But that can seem really disingenuous so I guess this is something that no one can win at…
I think having someone more upset than me about the break up helped me shift my devastation away from myself to someone else. My Moms heartbreak concerned me more than mine, but not just that but I got to see a break up far different from all my other ones. I saw that the love my parents had for my partner was genuine and the hurt was real…
They actually suffered a loss. I will be 100% completely honest with you and say that their love for him is one of the biggest reasons why we stayed together, why I didn’t feel able to break our relationship… The promises I made to him were also promises made to my parents. It was tough because even though they were MY parents, breaking up with him felt like I was also breaking up with them.
No one goes into a relationship planning for a breakup, so when my parents got along so well with my partner, I thought about how perfect it was! I saw how lovely it was, when things ended I felt so annoyed by how hard it was for my parents to believe it didn’t work out and I found myself having to answer questions I had yet to ask myself, let alone answer!
But still they showed nothing but love and support to both of us, they made my partner feel comfortable and they let him know he was welcome anytime… What’s that suppose to mean Mother?
Breakups are shit when your parents like your partner because you’re not only breaking your partners heart but you’re also breaking theirs.
Just to let you know…
After a lot of talking and compartmentalising the problems we had, after some time apart and trying various methods of breaking up we decided to end our trial separation and see if the ongoing changes we were making in our individual lives would make a positive difference in our relationship. Some big changes had to happen, like me quitting my job. New plans had to be made, some things had to be put on hold and those compromises that added so much pressure on our relationship was put aside for now so that we could concentrate on making ourselves happy both together and apart. The thing is we are 23 years old trying to live like a married with children 40 something couple, we were so busy with our jobs that we barely had time to enjoy our new home or each other…
When I told my Mother she was very relieved, it was like I had given her her Christmas present early. In being able to confide in her, I was able to reevaluate the last few months so I could learn from everything. Time apart will do us a world of good because it will help us to appreciate the time we do spend together.
Whilst break ups are shit when your parents love your partner, there are also some good that comes with it… When you’re ready to give up and you can’t see the good anymore, your parents can remind you of all the happy times and the hardships you’ve endured together, your parents can act as the cheerleader and support system that your relationship may need to get over a particularly hard obstacle.
We did, so I’m sure you can too!
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday, and you proud everyday.
Peace and Love,