How Do I Tell My Parents I Secretly Eloped with My Older Boyfriend?

AAPW: Just because I live with my parents doesn't mean they own me

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW


Q: I’m twenty years old, I’m in school, I work, I pay my own bills, and I live with my parents, who are overly protective. My whole life I have always played the good girl, I’m an angel in my parents’ eyes. I met a guy who is twenty-nine years old and I’ve fallen in love with him. I know how my parents can be, so I tried to keep him a secret. To keep the story short, they found out about him. From that moment on I became miserable. My parents begged me to break up with him, they cried as if they lost me, and my dad told me if we stayed together I might as well consider him (my father) dead to me. After holding out for two weeks, I couldn’t take it. I lied to them and told them I broke up with him. After this, we secretly got married, and now I’m planning on moving out to go live with him. I want to tell my parents the truth, but I’m afraid of losing them in that process. It makes loving someone so difficult when your family is at odds with you for how you feel. My husband’s family is so supportive though. They’re happy with us being married. I guess what I’m asking is should I tell them the truth and risk losing my family, or should I shelter them from the truth until I feel like I’m ready for the confrontations involved?

—Torn Apart

A: Dear TA,

Oof. I just cringed at the lying. If your parents aren’t treating you like you’re an adult, lying and sneaking around like a teenager aren’t the best way to convince them they’re wrong. I get that it can be tough, especially when they’re taking such a hard-nosed stance and you just don’t want to hear their noise any more. But, there’s a big difference between just not involving them in your decisions (for example, choosing not to share the in-depth details of your relationship), and outright lying to them. No one likes making unpopular decisions, but that’s the nature of this adulthood beast. Not everyone is going to like everything you do, where you choose to live, how you spend your money, whether or not you have kids and how many and how you raise them. People (particularly parents) have opinions about these things, and starting now, it’s up to you to make your choices and stand firmly behind them.

The ideal situation here would have been that your parents got to know your partner and came to see all of the good qualities that you love so much. They would watch the two of you together, acting in maturity and care, and grow to respect you as an adult in a caring and thoughtful relationship with another adult. I mean there are no guarantees that this would happen, but that would be nice, wouldn’t it? By lying to them about him, you completely remove this from the realm of possibility. Maybe they’ll find out about your relationship and have a few dinners with him, and they still won’t like him, or like you together, or approve of this marriage. But you’re not even giving them the chance. You’re cutting them off at the knees. And the longer you wait to tell them, the more you’re inhibiting the possibility that they’ll ever like anything about all of this.

You guessed it—that means a conversation with your parents clearing up the lies and setting the record straight as soon as possible. Nope, they won’t be happy. But, honestly, they have good reason not to be happy. This is pretty bad, TA, but the only way to make it better is to start changing it now.

Tell them that you’ve lied, and not only have you not broken up with this guy, but you’ve actually made things more serious and official. When you have that chat, keep a few things in mind.

1. These people care about you. I guarantee it. Anything they say—no matter how forceful or angry or extreme—is most assuredly coming from a place of care for you and concern for your well-being (and okay, maybe some hurt at being deceived). Try to keep that in mind when things get really heated.

2. As a result of all that care and concern, what they say might have some value. Listen to them. Weigh what they’re telling you. I’d even ask them outright, “What are your concerns?” and “What can I do to make you feel more comfortable with the choices I’m making?” Maybe they just need to get to know the guy. Maybe they’re worried about something you aren’t even aware of.

3. You also care about them. Make sure that they know you respect them and value their opinion, and that you only lied because you hate to be at odds with them.

4. You are only responsible for your decisions and how you handle yourself. If they do something drastic, like stop speaking to you, that’s their decision. They’re making their own choices, you’re only responsible for your own.

5. But notice what I said there. That means you’re responsible for your own. Which means you need to make these big decisions with consideration and care, hearing the concerns of the folks around you who love you, and responding thoughtfully. Recognize, the decisions you’ve already made carry a lot of hurt. Lies always do. You may not be responsible for how they choose to respond, but you unfortunately carry responsibility for the hurt they need to process.

By sheltering your parents with dishonesty, you’re guilty of that same overprotection you accuse them of. You’re a grownup, you can handle yourself. They’re grownups, they can handle themselves. Don’t try to guard them from something, assuming that they can’t take it. Let them make that determination for themselves, the way you hope to make it for yourself. And in the same way that you hope they listen to what you have to say and consider it, listen to their thoughts and consider them. You guys all want what’s best for you. The only disagreement here is what that looks like.


Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Sarah

    I’m sorry for your tough situation. My now-husband is significantly older and my parents weren’t crazy about the idea of him and even less thrilled when we moved in together. They did warm up to him, and as much as I hate to say it the fact he’d never been married or had kids was a selling point. They were happy by the time we got married, maybe because now it was more legitimate in their eyes. Giving them their first grandkid also doesn’t hurt. Not saying that you necessarily need a planned, family-centric wedding and kids for your parents as that’s totally your business but wanted to share a story of hope.

  • EF

    I mean, the age difference is one thing, but that doesn’t seem to be the core problem. More importantly, letter-writer lives at home and is in school. Pays her own bills? Like what, cell phone? It’s a lot different being self-sufficient than having your parents take care of things.
    LW needs to figure out some things before going to her parents, I think.
    1) How is school getting paid for? If her parents reacted badly before, there’s a definitely chance of them cutting her off (as her father threatened to), and if they’re helping pay tuition, she’s got to figure out how to get by without that.
    2) What’s the living situation with the boy like? Does he have his own place? Does he expect rent? What other bills will there be? What’s money going to be like in the relationship, in general, needs to be covered — the LW doesn’t mention their talks on this, but it does sound rather the whirlwind relationship, and 20-year-olds who haven’t lived on their own aren’t the best at sorting these things out.
    3) How important is her family to her? Because it sounds like they have different values, and that there’s a real chance at losing her family for at least time. She needs to have a proposed game plan on healing the wounds this has and will continue to create.

    Eloping is fine, I mean, I did it and then we had a party for everyone later. It might be worth considering having a sort of open house celebration, at least, to reach out and have the families meet each other, which could help.

    But yeah, a lot of this doesn’t sound well though out on the LW’s part. Dating for a few weeks is one thing, marriage is another, and it doesn’t seem like they spent a whole lot of time in between. I do hope that they are one of those couples that end up ridiculously happy and well matched and just knew it from the beginning, but it will take a lot of work to get the family’s backing, too.

    • Nell

      Yes to all of this.

      The other question I have is why LW tried to keep this guy a secret from her folks in the first place. Was the age difference the problem, or is there something else going on that her folks wouldn’t approve of?

    • Eenie

      Yeah, I mean I “paid all my bills” in school, but that’s way different than once you’re graduated. Does you job provide health insurance? Are you joining his health plan (assuming this is the US?)? Will his income affect your ability to get loans for school (I never looked into this personally)? I guess I’d like to say that there is a minimal amount of information in the letter to go on, but for anyone else in a similar situation your marriage is going to affect your parents. Because you’re still dependent on them. In most states you can stay on their insurance (if they don’t kick you off!) until you’re 26. They can take out special loans to help you pay for school. They can cosign loans. They might “own” your car to get you better insurance rates. I’m very lucky to have awesome parents who supported me even when I thought I was on my own (I know not everyone has this kind of support).

      I think it’s really easy to feel independent in your early 20’s in college when you’re really not. But the whole running off and getting married thing will quickly speed up the process. Your parents may “cut you off” but honestly, that’s what happens when you marry someone whether your parents like them or not. I think LW needs to figure out what type of relationship she wants with her family of origin going forward and proceed accordingly.

      • Lauren from NH

        Or she might be one of those young people who is totally paying their own way and killing it at life, just throwing that out there for balance. Though I would imagine in that case her parents would have had a hand in shaping this independence and would have more respect for her relationship choices.

        • Eenie

          For sure! She could also not have super supportive parents and that’s why she pays all her own bills. This was just my perspective at 20 (I thought I was so independent). It wasn’t until years later that I got hit with all the adult expenses (which just comes with being out of school and living on your own) and realized that my perspective was very much skewed.

          • Lauren from NH

            Yeah me too, don’t they suck? I thought money went so far when I was younger and some people were just irresponsible…nope! The basics just really add up.

          • Eenie

            Well, I still think some people are irresponsible with money (unnecessary credit card debt for one thing). Totally looking forward to adding kids to the mix and seeing just how far our money doesn’t go!

        • laddibugg

          I COMPLETELY understand that she could be paying her own personal bills but there is something to be said for still knowing that you probably would still have a roof over your head even if you didn’t. She said ‘I pay my bills’, not ‘I significantly contribute to the family’s income’. Huge difference.

          • Eenie

            Good point. Job security? Emergency fund? Lots of financial stuff to think about.

        • Amy March

          Except she’s living at home! You just aren’t fully independent if you’re doing that, no matter how much else you may be taking on.

          • I’d argue that’s not entirely true. I called it “living at home” but I was paying for everything: rent, utilities, debt repayment, food, insurance, car note, took care of all the maintenance. Sure I didn’t cook but in a family of 4 adults, there had to be ONE thing I didn’t do. I called them “my bills” but they were the family’s bills and I was the family’s breadwinner. Not saying that’s the case here specifically, but that I wouldn’t always assume living at home means you’re not actually independent.

      • z

        And it’s not just the money, it’s the responsibilities. Making sure each bill gets paid on time. Dealing with a landlord and neighbors. Working out a system for cooking and cleaning. It’s a surprising amount of work and there’s definitely a learning curve. This stuff is hard enough solo, but in a brand-new relationship it gets even more complicated.

    • Emily

      I agree with this and I think it’s really important for everyone to know (and experience) living on their own. LW, I wonder if a middle ground– not living with your parents or this man for awhile, having your own place, might be a good idea. It could also help get relationships worked out, because you wouldn’t be depending on the various people involved for a home.

      • TeaforTwo

        I think this is a really culturally-specific thing to value. The idea of an extended adolescence in your twenties is a pretty western and very modern one.

        There were parts of living on my own in my twenties that I really enjoyed, but I don’t think that everyone needs to do it. I learned some good lessons about managing money and setting up a home, and…I also learned a lot of behaviours that were not particularly well-suited to marriage.

        I grew up in a big family and had to share space and make compromises and not be in control from that living situation. Then I spent ten years living on my own, and had to readjust to family life when my husband moved in.

        In a lot of ways, I think that going from living with family-of-origin to marriage would be a more natural transition.

      • Eenie

        I thought this was important. Really contributed to us doing a LDR. After “living on my own” for 1.5 years I realized I really would have been fine skipping it. I really thought I needed to do it to prove to myself that I could…but it’s been really fricken lonely and not too kind on the wallet. So not necessary for everyone, but a good thing to consider thinking about.

      • EF

        If living on your own = not with support of parents or a partner, totally agree. but in most cities, it just isn’t reasonable to expect to have a flat to yourself these days.
        Nothing wrong with learning how to be a grownup AND get along with having roommates.

      • Emily

        I’m going to reply to my own comment in order to reply to these comments.

        I definitely made a mistake by saying “everyone.” I would like to amend that to “many women.” What I’ve seen and what I was trying to get at was that I think it is important to feel confident about living on your own, fixing broken toilets or calling the plumber, dealing with landlords or roofs or other complications of being an adult. I’ve known too many women who aren’t willing to leave a relationship because they are scared of doing these practical things for themselves, having never had a time in their lives when they did them.

        To me this is not an extended adolescence, it is a very adult time. I can see where it could be culturally-specific thinking on my part. I also can see that some women may be able to have this confidence without actually living on their own first–I was not one of them.

        Roommates are different–one still has to stand up for herself as an adult in a roommate situation.

    • laddibugg

      At least with 1., now that she’s married she no longer needs her parents’ financial info, so maybe she’d get more money…

      • Eenie

        Is that how that works? For some reason I thought her parents’ income will still affect FASFA…or can she get stafford loans without submitting it anymore? I just know at age 24 the government decides your independent and no longer factor your parents into the equation (I got a crap ton more money that way, like call the financial aid office in a panic that I’d filled out a form wrong).

        • laddibugg

          No, marriage is one way that you are exempt from having to report your parents’ income. You’d have to report your spouse’s, though.

          • Eenie

            I’m half hoping she gets more money and half hoping she gets less (because her husband has a super awesome job that will easily support both of them…).

          • Mrrpaderp

            laddibugg is correct, but it won’t matter for this year. Ime, your financial aid is determined from the date you had to submit your FAFSA; it’s not revisited even if you get married. So LW can’t get more financial aid for this year even if she and her husband make significantly less than her parents. Which of course means that LW is really up a creek if she was counting on her parents’ help with tuition this year.

          • Another Meg

            You can file a change of life form or an exception form with the financial aid office at the school. Every school calls it something different, but I had to do that one semester and it allowed me to get more financial aid.

          • EF

            not the only way. I was an independent student and didn’t have to report my parents, either. But obvs that is rare.

          • laddibugg

            I did say ‘one way’, not the only way. There are quite a few ways, but most people don’t qualify them.

          • EF

            sorry, sorry, misread what you wrote.

  • Amy March

    The only argument I see in favor of waiting to tell them is if you believe doing so would be unsafe. Otherwise, there simply will never be a good time to tell them that you lied to them and secretly married a man old enough to be your father.

    • Lisa

      Old enough to be her father? Nine years age difference at 20 is pretty drastic, but I don’t think he could realistically be her father.

      • Amy March

        Oh my goodness yes! Reading before tea and thought 29! Will edit thanks!

        • Lisa

          Ha! I figured it was something like that. :)

          And to be fair, I’d be much more concerned if he was 29 years older than her.

          • Amy March

            So much more concerned right?!

    • Laura C


      I do feel like there’s so much missing from this story, that might explain why the only solution was getting married rather than finding other ways to continue the relationship. Because that could be immature romanticism or it could be a religious issue that’s relevant here. But as Amy said, unless it’s unsafe, LW pretty much has to tell her parents and work through the consequences from there.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I, too, have so many questions. I don’t get it. But I don’t get a lot of things so..

    • Yeah there were some details missing from this letter for sure. What is the parents’ primary complaint? Why the rushed marriage? It could be on the up and up but I’m definitely getting the vibe that some relevant details were left out.

      • Amy March

        Yeah it’s the marriage part that baffles me. Secret dating, lying, sneaking off with him, moving out all make sense, but why a sudden marriage right away?

  • Kayjayoh

    “My parents begged me to break up with him, they cried as if they lost me, and my dad told me if we stayed together I might as well consider him (my father) dead to me.”

    Here is one of those things where so much depends on what the LW is leaving unsaid. That’s a pretty strong reaction just to finding out your daughter is dating someone. So there is likely a huge chunk of context, about the parents and/or about the guy, that we just don’t have.

    That being said, I think Liz’s advice is pretty spot on.

    • Lauren from NH

      Yeah isn’t that’s what is always so tricky about these letters? I totally understand the LWs not wanting to air all of their dirty laundry in a potentially vulnerable setting, but then I worry sometimes that we may be giving truly horrible advice if we are missing key details…

      • Yeah, when I read that, my first thought was: wow, the parents sound *really* controlling. A 20-year old is an adult who should be able to date whoever she wants, and it’s pretty messed-up for her parents to try to stop her from dating someone, let alone threaten to disown her.

        But then again, there could be all sorts of context that would make her parents’ reaction understandable, if still not particularly good. Maybe she’s from a culture where parents usually have a lot of influence on who their children date, or maybe the boyfriend (now husband) is really bad news and her parents are trying to protect her in the best way they know how. It’s really hard to tell without more details–are they upset because she’s dating someone at all, or because he’s older, or because he’s troublesome in some way?

        • Eenie

          YES. I think it’s important for her to understand the why so she can have a productive conversation with them. The letter sounds very immature (which may just be how she was feeling/acting when she wrote it) and she needs to figure out how not to sound like that to her parents if she wants them to take her seriously.

    • fletchasketch

      Yep. I’m guessing the LW and her family are religious, as in waiting-for-sex-until-marriage religious, and the new husband is not. There is nothing wrong with that, but I’ve seen it lead to a reduced timeline like this with some of my friends.
      Best of luck to the LW, this is a tricky situation!

    • Liz

      I know! I really wish we knew the rationale for that reaction… the age difference? Something else about the guy? Something specific about the parents’ cultural/religious/whatever background?

      • Eenie

        I’m really hoping she chimes in with either an update or some more information!

      • Emily

        Frankly, I think there is a very real possibility that her home life is seriously f***ed up. I think anyone would have trouble putting up with intense wailing and threats of disowning for two whole weeks. She waited two weeks for her parents to calm down, and they never did. You scold her for almost a thousand words, and yet you say nothing about her parents behavior. Getting married was a rash decision that in the short term probably confirmed all her parents worst beliefs, but now she is leaving their home to live with someone else. Even if the relationship doesn’t survive, there is a good chance she won’t on the whole regret making the decision to get married and leave.

        When I saw the headline to this AAPW, I jumped to a lot of conclusions about LW, but when I read about the way her parents were treating her (demeaning, manipulative, and controlling in the extreme) I really changed my mind. This is text book enmeshment, and it can be really damaging to all parties.

        • Violet

          Your assessment, based on only the LW’s words, might be 100% accurate. I’d say that advice can only be given to the person who wrote in, which was the LW. I know advice columnists are often frustrated that they don’t have access to the other party, and also don’t have all sides of the story. Liz handled the letter based on who wrote it, which is all anyone can realistically do. I’m not sure how Liz including any judgment of LW’s parents, whom she obviously loves, would help LW move forward.

        • Liz

          It’s a possibility, but there are a lot of possibilities listed throughout the comments.

      • NatalieN

        It may also have to do with hurt and concern felt over how she kept the relationship secret for… I dont know how long. My MIL found out about my relationship with my now husband on facebook and it took her I think years to get over it (it had a lot of layers, but that was the ignition spark because she felt like she should be much closer to her son). Not saying that this is the case, but if my daughter is dating someone significantly older than her AND hid it from me? I’d be really upset and concerned. I don’t know that I would react the same way her parents did, but I don’t know that I wouldn’t.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        Totally. I think sometimes as parents though, you just feel in your gut when something or someone is wrong for your kid and you see what’s coming bc you’ve got 20 plus years of experience under your belt and they don’t. And sometimes parents are wrong. But I will give parents the benefit of doubt and say that they prob have some legit reason in their minds for not liking this guy for her.

    • pajamafishadventures

      yes. From reading the letter I feel very strongly that the LW is in a toxic relationship. But with who? And is it salvageable? (I’ve found that a parent/child relationship can flux in and out of “bad news” much more easily than other types of relationships). Without knowing it seems there’s not much to do

      • Or even two toxic relationships, although I hope that’s not the case…

      • Kayjayoh

        Exactly. Could be that the parents are toxic, hence their reaction. Could be that the guy is toxic, hence their reaction. Could be that both are trouble. Could be neither. Could be that it was hyperbole on their part. Could be an exaggeration on the LWs part.

      • M

        Or, maybe neither relationship is toxic, but LW comes from a background where dating someone 9 years older is just not accepted for any reason no matter what. I know some people from religiously conservative families who have generally good relationships with their parents, but I could see them ending up in a similar situation.

        The fact that LW felt the need to lie is still concerning, but we just don’t have the whole story here.

        • A.

          Yeah, I have a great relationship with my folks, but they would have freaked out if, when I was 20 years old, I started dating someone closer to 30. Right or wrong or completely circumstantial, they would have said that he is or should be in a completely different life stage than me and that he is likely more interested in me for my youth than anything else, since a functional 29 year old shouldn’t want to date someone who acts more like a child than an adult about 40-50% of the time (which is how I did act, to be fair–I was not a mature 20 year old).

          But if I started dating a 34 year old when I was 25, they wouldn’t have batted an eye.

        • laddibugg

          I have a lot of friends from very religious families, and generally they were ok with big age differences (and sometimes encouraged them), as long as the older person (always a man) was the same religion.

      • Liz

        Yeah, my parents have reacted super strongly (I’d say overreacted) to some of my dating choices, and it wasn’t because they’re generally controlling or terrible. They just handled that one specific situation really badly.

        • Liz

          Just did the math, and I was exactly 20 when I had the whole “dated someone my parents didn’t like > my parents overreact > overreaction makes me stubbornly hold my ground > I figure out they were a little right and he was terrible” experience.

          I got married at 24, so I don’t think age necessarily indicated immaturity as some folks are saying. But I do think those early 20’s could be prime for some push/pull with parents over how to become an adult making independent decisions without their input.

          • Noelle

            Yeah, this is very true. My parents and I had a major – MAJOR – fight when I was exactly 20 involving boundaries and dating while I was at college.

    • Julia

      I dealt with a similar situation in my early 20s where my parents reacted in the above-mentioned way to a guy I was dating. At the time, I felt like the LW . . . and then, over time, I realized that some of their concerns were legit (turns out the boyfriend WAS in fact very controlling and manipulative). FYI – I’m not suggesting AT ALL that this will happen for the LW or is her experience. But I do think there is likely a lot of context and detail that is missing from this letter. It might be worthwhile for the LW to consider, hmm, did I choose to leave anything out? (And that’s okay! You don’t need to tell the internet everything even in a personal essay.) If so, why? Is there any small chance my parents may have had some tiny basis to express concern or fear? Just consider it.

      I know that when I look back at that tumultuous period of my life, I feel compassion for my parents, who were trying to protect their beloved daughter. Do I wish they hadn’t been so dramatic? Yes. Do I wish I hadn’t lied and fallen into an immature “my parents suck/they just don’t understand!” mentality? Yes. Did we all say things we regretted during that time? Ohhhh yeah.

      But, LW, even if you and your partner have a wonderful, solid relationship — lying isn’t a good foundation. You know this already. Plus, age 20 is different than age 29, and you will likely grow and change throughout the next several years, regardless of what happens within your relationship or not. Give your parents a chance to be a part of that, and hear them out without getting defensive. Part of being an adult is allowing the people you love to have opinions that differ from yours, and learning how to disagree while making your own choices. It is hard and scary to have those types of conversations, but you can do it! Listen to Liz :)

      • Julia

        I should add that I mention the age difference between the LW and her significant other because I find it interesting that his perspective is not included. Is he like, F the parents, who cares! Or does he want a healthy relationship with her parents? His role in all this matters a LOT.

        • Amy March

          And why is his family excited about him marrying a 20 year old in secret against her parents’ wishes? Huge red flag for me.

          • Violet

            Yes, I am very concerned about what her in-laws know or think they know. Maybe they were lied to also. If they know the truth, that their new daughter-in-law is lying to her parents about the existence of this marriage and even the relationship at all, and they’re still excited? Errrrr…

          • Penny7b

            I dunno, different families have different expectations about this sort of thing. Example: I started dating my first bf at 16 and by 18 my dad was gently suggesting that maybe he wasn’t the right guy for me. Meanwhile bf’s mother was demanding to know why we hadn’t moved in together already and heavily implied that it was because my father was too controlling. In hindsight, Dad was right and bf’s mum just had very different expectations about how relationships should go.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          This concerns me too and it’s not clear to me that the in-laws know her parents don’t know. But there are just so many things going on here — the sneaking around with a basically 30 year old, the 30 year old being ok with it, the 30 year old being ok with getting married while she’s still living at home in secret without telling her parents, everyone in his family being excited about this…I don’t know how you can be excited about your daughter in law lying to her parents etc unless there’s something very very wrong with LW’s parents and home life and I really am not buying at this point that there is.

          I’m in a family where someone did something similar…they were VERY grown (40s) but point is, they were dating this person in secret, had a secret wedding etc (secret to us as her in laws were there) and we later found out that she had lied to her husband’s family about us and basically made herself sound like she was an island with no family or friends who loved her and cared about her. His family was pretty shocked when the truth came out and it’s been awkward between the families when we get together ever since.

      • Emily

        The thing is, they knew basically nothing about her relationship when they flipped out for two weeks straight, so it isn’t clear to me that they had a relationship specific reason for flipping out. It seems like a lot of people are projecting their own histories on to LW.

        • Kayjayoh

          That’s what happens when there are big unknowns. People take guesses, people project.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          Oh I think finding out that your 20 year old daughter, who lives at home, has been in a secret relationship with someone a decade older is PLENTY reason to flip out for 2 whole weeks. Her parents sound dramatic by LW’s description but then so does LW…

          • Alison O

            Yeah, seeing that she swiftly then married the dude…the parents’ earlier reaction, if it was dramatic as it sounds, may actually indicate that they know their daughter and the kind of dramatic decisions she might make, and that’s why they freaked out…and she proved the point. Impossible to know.

        • ML

          We don’t know how they found out. It could have been they found him in her room or something, and that’s not acceptable in their culture. Who knows. But accidentally finding out about a relationship doesn’t breed trust and good feelings.

    • Stefanie

      Yeah, this is what seemed like a red flag to me. Obviously I don’t know this girl or anything about her situation other than what’s in the letter. But this sounded really familiar to me. I had something really similar happen; I was 19, dating a guy 13 years old older, my parents hated him and my Dad demanded that we stop dating. Rather than break up with him, I told them I did and stayed with him a further 5 years, totally in secret, though luckily I didn’t marry him. At the time I thought they were being unfair and overprotective, and that they didn’t respect me enough to live my own life. What I didn’t recognize at the time and they did was that he was a huge jerk, and that he would only get worse and more manipulative with time. That abusive became more and more abusive over time, to the point that I essentially have to move out of state to get away from him. And all along, as I was being abused and in total denial about it, I didn’t even have my parents as backup because I kept them totally in the dark).

      There is a chance that the LW has complete control over what she’s doing and her parents are just being unreasonable. It’s also possible that they are seeing things that she might be refusing or unable to see.

      • Or her parents are seeing things that she might be refusing/unable to see, *and* her parents are being unreasonable. Even if the boyfriend/husband is terrible, she’s an adult who should be allowed to make her own mistakes.

        If her parents brought up their concerns in a less controlling/melodramatic manner, she might be a lot more willing to listen–and more likely to stay in contact with them and be able to accept their help if the relationship goes bad later.

        • Angela Howard

          As an 18-year-old, I dated a 26-year-old. We initially kept it secret for a variety of reasons, but when it came out, my parents opened their arms to him, even though it was clear they weren’t his biggest fans. But they included him in family dinners and activities despite this so I could be open about my relationship with him. In the end he wasn’t right for me at that time and my parents were relieved that I had realized it on my own, but our lines of communication were still intact. And now I admire my parents even more for how they handled that situation.

          • pajamafishadventures

            My parents had an opposite reaction to someone I dated (closer to LWs). I broke up with him a long time ago at this point, but my relationship with my parents has never recovered.

          • TeaforTwo

            I had a similar situation: I was 19 and he was 31 (this baffles me now, but I genuinely do continue to hold him in high regard) and my dad NAILED the perfect reaction.

            For the year we were together, he made only two comments that showed how he felt. One time he told me “He obviously loves you, and you two seem to be well-matched. I just want you to think about what you will be like at 31 and how that might change.” His second comment was more hilarious: “A Jeep is more of a car that a boy drives than a man, don’t you think?”

            When we broke up, my dad was still completely magnanimous. He told me that he had really liked my boyfriend, and was glad that we had dated. And then he said “And I’m really, really glad that you didn’t marry him.”

        • Liz

          Yes, I think this is the most likely possibility of them all. A little of column A, a little of column B.

        • Stefanie

          Regardless of what the specifics of her relationship are, I think it’s safe to say there is some poor reaction behavior on the parents’ part. But part of my purpose in chiming in about the potential of manipulation/abuse is because we are just not adequately educated as a culture about how to be an outsider in that situation, especially with someone who’s young interacting with parents. At that age, we always think we KNOW what we’re doing, and sometimes it’s true and sometimes it isn’t. That age is so susceptible to domestic abuse BECAUSE we’re still learning the nature of relationships, but we also want to feel like we’re doing everything the right way, and if people don’t agree, it’s because they just don’t get it. Young women can get isolated so quickly in those kinds of relationships when no one around them knows quite how to talk to them, and a parent’s instinct might just be to say, “No, you can’t,” and hope that does it.

          One another note: a few people have commented about how unusual it is that his parents are so excited about her. This was part of my experience as well. His parents loved me, and this was because: 1) they were seriously misinformed, and 2) their son was kind of unstable, and a girlfriend who was keeping him together was a blessing as far as they were concerned, no matter how old she was.

          Again, triple emphasis here: these might not have ANYTHING at all to do with her experiences. But my first worry with that kind of age gap, especially with the younger party so young, is that the guy picked her because young women are easier to manipulate.

          Trying to evaluate your relationship objectively, and trust that the people around you care for you and want the best for you, is the best advice I could give.

  • pajamafishadventures

    Given that what’s done is done I really only see one option: Get ready to move out. When ready, tell parents and be prepared to make a quick exit. Leave your forwarding contact information and (if this is true) tell them you know they might need time but would love to maintain a relationship with them. Send greetings at holidays and birthdays if that is something you want to do, and then sit back and wait because the ball is in their court.

    (And LW, I hope that there are other friends and family members that you can maintain a relationship with, don’t allow yourself to be isolated no matter how in love your are)

  • Lauren from NH

    Just one perspective, I think the LW, should she choose to come clean, needs to woman up and make a heartfelt apology. It wouldn’t be for the marriage or her right to make that choice, but to lie about it while living with your parents, that’s not right in my book and you should be sorry. Living under someone else’s roof (paying rent or no) is kind of a golden line to me. You owe them a certain level of respect and if you don’t want to owe them that you should move out.

    Like Liz said there is a bit of a dichotomy going on between LW wanting to be treated like an adult by her parents where it came to her relationship and the childish way she handled going about that relationship/marriage. (Not saying the LW is childish, just the specific action of lying.) I think if you want redemption and the respect for your decisions that comes with adulthood, you have to own your mistakes.

    • Amy March

      I agree with this wholeheartedly.

    • NatalieN

      Yup yup. It seems a little like a self fulfilling prophesy too. like “I think you’re going to disapprove so I’m not going to tell you I’m seeing this guy”, they found out any way and yeah, the disapproved, although it could be equally in part because LW hid the relationship to begin with (I may be concerned if my daughter is dating someone significantly older than her, but if she is dating someone significantly older and hiding it from me that would make me hugely concerned). And then when they found out and did disapprove, LW lied. I have no doubt that she had the best of intentions… but it seems a little immature to me.

    • my2cents

      I think this whole situation is a strong argument for some kind of secular version of pre-cana where you can’t get married unless you’ve hashed through this stuff first.

      • Eenie

        In Georgia they give you a discount on your marriage license if you’ve gone through a qualifying premarital counseling program (and have a free program you can attend in certain counties). I think that should be more universal and encouraged, but I don’t think it should be required.

        • Another Meg

          That is awesome. All states should offer that.

      • EF

        YES. this. i did a sort of secular pre-cana and SO WORTH IT

  • laddibugg

    Soooooooooooooo many questions.

    Why did LW run off and get married? The seemingly quick wedding, plus the fact that dude is almost a decade older (and technically in some ways the LW is still underage) makes me wonder if he’s from another country. Yes, obviously there are a lot of legit relationships with Americans and non citizens, but there are a lot of relationships where one partner preys on another’s youth and/or desperateness for a relationship. Could be why her folks are so upset–and the marriage seems like a knee jerk response.

    How long have they been dating? Was she legal when they started?

    What ‘bills’ is she paying? I know folks older than she live with their parents but usually the situations and expectations are quite different at 20 than say, 35.

  • april

    First, I just want to say that I understand where the letter writer is coming from. From an early age, I learned to keep my mom (who is an intense worrier and can be cruelly judgmental) on a need to know basis about a lot of things, including my love life. I never outright lied to her, but I tended to hold off telling her things, like when my boyfriend and I decided to move in together, until the decision was already made and it was too late for her to give too much push back. So, I get it – we all develop coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult parents.

    That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with Liz that the lying needs to stop. The one suggestion I have for LW is to look for an ally to be there with her when she comes clean to her parents — maybe an understanding sibling, aunt, or family friend (I would advise against involving her husband for the time being, since it might exacerbate her parents’ “us vs. him” feelings). Not only would the presence of a third party potentially help to keep the conversation civil, the right ally can also help to smooth the relationship in the weeks and months afterwards.

    • Anon

      I also understand where the letter writer is coming from. At the same age, when my father reacted similarly to my proposal to go live with my boyfriend for a summer, I caved and lied and said I would be living with my boyfriend’s parents (which ended up being true because of construction on my boyfriend’s apartment, but that is neither here nor there). I am not proud of this, and I wish I’d been able to tell the truth and stand up to my dad. But I’ve forgiven myself, because I was young and it’s sometimes really difficult to deal with a parent who has always taken your life and your choices personally, as if everything you do is about them.

      Clearly this is a much stickier situation, but I just want to say that I’ve been there, and I also lied, and I have since figured out how to stick to my guns and tell truths to my father that might be painful for him. And he has correspondingly learned to accept those truths in healthier ways (at least not taking them out on me). We’re all just trying to figure this out, parents and adult children alike.

      Though I understand the pressures, I will throw in my voice with others that telling the truth in this situation is essential.

    • joanna b.n.

      Also, I’m wondering how this conversation is going to go down in a way that reduces the potential for further drama, high emotions, etc. Perhaps consider writing out your side/feelings/apology in a letter to your parents, delivering it and then giving them space/time to read it, and then asking to meet in a more mutually neutral, safe space to hash out the conversation – like an aunt’s house, for example. If, you know, the person writing this is still figuring out the HOW of next steps, this might be worth considering. How can you set it up so this is a successful conversation (ie. leads to repaired relationships all around)? Since I think the consensus is that the conversation needs to happen. Let’s figure out how to make that happen, since I’m guessing that’s half the reason she has held back on being honest. Because it’s scary.

      • Amy March

        I don’t think there is a way to set this up to lead to repaired relationships. At least not in any near-term framework. And in a way, I think trying to structure it that way does a disservice to the parents. Completely reasonable for them to leave this convo with mostly anger. I’d fpcus on safety concerns, if she has them, and a plan to quickly move out more than trying to find the best way to do this. Because there just isn’t one.

        • joanna b.n.

          Fair enough assessment. I guess I was focused on giving the writer some suggestions to help her feel like she CAN talk to them/be honest, since that seems to be a major issue. But my eternal optimist was shining through, which is probably not giving a realistic expectation of what will happen. Anyway, we all seem to agree that her NOT talking to them is the worst thing that could happen. You know, if the relationships are ever going to survive at all.

  • Violet

    I agree with many of the commenters that the info here is not a lot to go on. I think Liz did a beautiful job with the limited info.

    It’s already done, so the only thing I can think of is advice for the future. Lying because you “can’t take it”
    anymore is not really a good long-term solution. Sometimes you might lie to protect yourself until you can get somewhere safe. We get that. But in the interest of an ongoing relationship where you are safe (and I’m hoping that includes your new husband), know that there will be MANY times in your marriage where you will be upset with each other. He will upset you. You will upset him. A LOT. It will be very uncomfortable, and you will tell yourself things like, “I just can’t take this.” But you are going to want to avoid lying in response to that feeling. You have to work through the discomfort (again, huge disclaimer if you’re not safe, but I’m really keeping my fingers crossed that’s not part of the equation, here). Lying is a way to deny a difficulty, not a way to fix it.

    Everyone lies. Some a lot, others less so. Sometimes white lies, sometimes about big things. But in the context of keeping a healthy, long-term relationship, please stop yourself before telling a lie, ask yourself why you’re doing it, and problem-solve to find a different response that is an actual solution.

  • Kay

    Oh, TA. I feel for you. My family was very enmeshed. My parents only had 2 settings: incredibly proud, or bone-crushingly disappointed. I learned quickly that the only way to stay above the fray was to act only to please them, and hide everything that would flip that switch to disappointment. I think a lot of posters might not realize that if you’ve had 20 years of this kind of training, lying often does seem like the best way of handling things. Even if her parents are loving and caring, she does not have a healthy adult relationship with them.

    But yes, you have to tell the truth. Your husband needs to be ready to help you move & possibly support you for awhile. You need to be prepared for your parents to be angry & possibly not have contact with them for awhile. You need to do everything you can to keep the lines of communication open with your parents (unless, of course, things become toxic or violent). I think the only way forward is to apologize for lying, explain why you did it, and accept that their feelings, while you might not agree with them or wish they were different, are valid to them.

  • H

    Ok let’s take a step back here:

    “My parents begged me to break up with him, they cried as if they lost me, and my dad told me if we stayed together I might as well consider him (my father) dead to me.”

    Yes, the LW isn’t behaving as well as she could in the situation, but she learned those patterns *from her parents.* This is a crazy reaction to hearing that your daughter is dating someone, unless that person is a murderer or something!

    • Spot

      But context: that’s a reaction to finding out your barely-out-of-teenhood daughter has been deliberately lying to you about being in a relationship with a man a decade older than her whom you have never met. Not to say that two weeks of hysterics are justified, but we also don’t have any details about her new husband and why he may not be her parents’ dream match for their daughter–besides the fact that as a 30 year old man he seemed to think that sneaking around his young girlfriend’s parents and eloping without their knowledge was the smart, adult thing to do.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        “besides the fact that as a 30 year old man he seemed to think that sneaking around his young girlfriend’s parents and eloping without their knowledge was the smart, adult thing to do.”
        Plenty of justification for hysterics right here I think. I’ve got a daughter. I would FLIP.

        • z

          I would flip right out too. My daughter, who may not have enough income to independently support herself, has little experience managing life on her own, with an older man in a very new marriage, and them both feeling comfortable lying to me? I would be very, very, very concerned for her safety and well-being.

        • Alison O

          Oh gosh yeah. Thinking of myself, or my partner–I’m 30, he’s 32–sneaking around with a 21 or 23 year old who lives at home, knowing their parents are in the dark? I can’t fathom this on so many levels. Like in the abstract, sure, 9 years isn’t a huge difference. But when I really think about real 30-ish people I know, and try to imagine them doing this? Can’t.

          • z

            Especially if the relationship was out-and-out illegal when it began.

    • Amanda

      That line gives me pause too. If my parents said that to me, I would be CRUSHED, because it would be so out of character and I can’t even imagine what actions would even bring that on. But, I have other relatives who kind of just say things like that–and then in six months they’re sitting at the dinner table saying, “pass the potatoes.” That’s their vocabulary for the heat of a moment. And some of my relatives who hear things like, “Consider me dead to you!” are devastated and react harshly (and further everyone’s pain, including their own), and others just roll their eyes because they know it’s “just an expression.” Without knowing how this falls, it’s difficult to know how crazy it is. The thing is, “I must be dead to you” is a sentence people say when they’ve been hurt, and while the LW is hurt hearing it, she needs to also take ownership that something she did caused hurt too.

      The other line that struck me is: “I know how my parents can be, so I tried to keep him a secret.” As advice givers, I have no idea how your parents can be. Violent? Will they ground you & lock you in your room, furthering your feelings of being treated like a child? Will your mother cry and faint on the couch? Will they pack up your stuff and move it to the lawn? I just don’t know what that means!

    • ML

      I have conservative, immigrant parents and upon reading this reaction, I was like, “yup”. In cultures where family well-being and accord fall above individual wants and desires, parents can feel beyond betrayed by this type of deception. It’s not a matter of young love to them. It’s about choosing yourself before family, something they’ve probably never felt the freedom or desire to do. I don’t know anything about the LW’s culture, but just throwing my experience out there because it does not seem like a stretch to me at all.

  • Amanda

    I’m kind of reminded of the line in the Little Mermaid when Ariel says to King Triton, “Daddy, I”m 16, I’m not a child any more.” When I was six, I was like “Hell yeah, Ariel, 16 is an adult.” And what does a full decade mean to a six year old? A lot. It’s also worth noting that I thought this in the context of knowing my mom was married at 19, so it didn’t sound that far off. But wow, a decade in the other direction, 16 is young. And running off to a sea witch wasn’t really the adult way to meet and marry Prince Erik–despite Prince Erik’s ultimate dreaminess. And here’s the wrap: We teach people how to treat us. King Triton didn’t treat Ariel like an adult because she didn’t act like one. She was always late to stuff, didn’t respect others, and put many at risk for her own whims. I had friends with “over-protective,” and at time dramatic parents–oftentimes immigrants or conservative or religious. But those friends didn’t teach their parents to trust their decision making, either.

    Adulting requires a little empathy for your parent’s perspective. How can your parent’s trust your partner when he is shrouded in secrecy and lies? From your parents’ perspective, if he was an honorable man, trustworthy, and kind, there would be no reason to hide the relationship in the first place. If your partner knocked on the door, introduced himself, and discussed the age difference with your family in the beginning of your relationship, would they be as concerned? Now, this isn’t to say your Prince Erik isn’t trustworthy and kind. But your actions have given a shroud of dishonestly and therefore suspicion–and that suspicion is something that you and your husband have brought on yourselves. If you are your parents’ angel, you need to be empathetic to the fact that anyone in your life connected to dishonorable behavior will be treated with suspicion. The best way to proceed is to go forward above board. Be honest and trustworthy. Have family dinners, with both sets of parents if that lessens the tension.

    And for the missing information in the letter: I’m very curious as to what nearly-30 year old thinks its okay to lie and sneak around his girl friend’s parents? This is very immature on his part, and is even more concerning to me than much of what’s being discussed. It’s not the age gap on paper that gives me pause (I know lots of happy couples with 9-year age gaps), it’s how the age gap is being acted out.

    • Spot

      All. Of. This.

    • StevenPortland

      “I’m very curious as to what nearly-30 year old thinks it’s okay to lie and sneak around his girl friend’s parents?” — My thoughts exactly!! And this would be true if the genders were exchanged or for same sex couples as well.

      • TeaforTwo

        Yes! This is true regardless of the age gap, too. They are married. If my husband lied about being married to me to anyone, I would not be OK with that.

        (It is perhaps slightly more analogous that early in our relationship he was 24 and living with his parents in the summer after first year law school. They are Catholic, he is not, and he would try to hide the fact that he was sleeping at my house. Even that was just not on for me. I needed him to grow up and either tell them where he was sleeping OR decide that their opinion mattered enough that he wouldn’t stay over and do that. I had a strong preference for the former, and that’s what happened, but I was 26 and just too old to sneak around or make apologies.)

        • Amanda

          “OR decide that their opinion mattered enough that he wouldn’t stay over and do that.” <<<Yes!! This second part is so important!

          • TeaforTwo

            Well, I mean, I had a strong preference for him sleeping over. But I wanted integrity!

          • Jess

            This is hilarious and also factual.

    • laddibugg

      See, I’m ambivalent with the undercover dating, but the secret marriage really does seem rather immature on his part…30 is old enough to know better. I wonder if he *did* push back, though.

    • Christina Helen

      I don’t think it’s fair to assume that whenever parents don’t treat their adult kids like adults, that’s because the kids aren’t behaving like adults. Sometimes parents just have really strong ideas about how much control they should get to have over their kids’ lives (particularly in conservative families, and particularly for oldest children).
      When I was in my early 20s, my parents certainly thought I had no right to make life decisions without their blessing, and that really didn’t come from me acting immaturely. (My main regrets about how I behaved in those years have to do with putting *too much* importance on being responsible and planning for the future.) The only way I was able to get my parents to eventually treat me as an adult was to set pretty strong boundaries for them: move out, make life choices completely on my own, and inform them afterwards. It took years of re-training to get my parents to see me as an independent adult person rather than as an extension of themselves and their own aspirations.
      Obviously I’m projecting some of my own experience onto the LW here, but the way she speaks about her parents makes me think she’s in a similar situation. She hasn’t spent years being irresponsible – she says she’s always been very responsible until now – but her parents still refuse to treat her like an adult with the faculties to make considered choices. Wanting some input into your adult children’s lives is one thing – attempting to assert power of veto over their life choices is quite another.

      • Amanda

        i actually think you’re illustrating my point. you show a lot of empathy for your parents’ perspective. doesn’t mean you agree with them, but you are able to understand why they felt that way, parse out your own feelings, and respond accordingly which was to set firm boundaries. maybe you didn’t feel that way in your early 20s, but you learned how to do it as you grew up. adulting vs. adultolescence. maturity–and distinguishing maturity from responsibility and “playing the good girl”–knows that not all of our decisions will garner our parents’ approval and works through the fallout with our partners. risk-taking behavior in young adulthood is ultimately a good thing: it’s how we develop a real sense of morality and learn to navigate consequences. “playing the good girl” and following rules for the appearance of others or to avoid consequences, not because we understand the value of particular rules themselves, is bigger red flag of adolescent thinking than anything else in the letter. and being responsible also means taking responsibility for our actions & how they affect others, which means not lying to her parents about getting married. i don’t mean this as a value statement–it’s okay and age appropriate to make choices outside of our family of origins–but the next step is navigating the consequences of having lied, not hiding behind lies to maintain the appearance of status quo.

        • Christina Helen

          I guess I just don’t think that there’s only one way to “take responsibility” for our actions. Taking responsibility can sometimes mean treating a choice as something that belongs to you, and nobody else, for a while; taking time to internalise the choice and to decide on how you want to communicate it before sharing it with the world, particularly with people who will try to control you and shame you for your choice. Sometimes taking responsibility means protecting yourself emotionally and working out how to look after yourself first, before taking care of everybody else’s needs.

          I think LW shows pretty strong evidence of taking the first steps towards setting these boundaries (she’s decided to make her own choices rather than be governed by her parents’ values, she’s worked out that her emotional needs matter to her), and she also shows a lot of compassion for her parents in wanting to do what is needed to look after their emotional needs and protect her relationship with them. (The process of asserting independence may have gone better if she worked *up* to a big decision like marriage, but none of us at any stage of life make perfect choices.)

          Personally, I think that LW telling her parents about her marriage out of the blue without taking some time to work up to it, and work out how to communicate it (and probably arranging somewhere else to live) *could* turn out to be disastrous. I waited a couple of years before disclosing some big life stuff to my parents (in my case, loss of faith, the biggest betrayal possible) and honestly, it was just better that way. By the time we talked about it, they had got used to the idea that I was an independent person who had my own life to live, and our relationship wasn’t destroyed forever as a result of that disclosure. (Obviously there is no particular reason to think that the same applies to LW’s situation – I’m just trying to explain that I don’t think that immediate disclosure is *in all cases* the most responsible choice. I don’t think we, as distant observers, have enough information to know whether immediate disclosure is in fact the healthiest thing for LW and her family in this situation.)

      • I agree. It goes both ways; parents being unreasonable will also breed unreasonable responses in their children, i.e. i think LW’s father saying that if she continued to date her now-husband, he would be as dead to her, is actually a very immature thing to say (being older, or a father does not give you the authority to guilt and manipulate like that). LW pays her own bills, etc. and sounds like a responsible adult; her parents refusing to treat her like an adult is disrespectful. i’m not surprised she responded with an equally disrespectful/immature act.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    Ya’ll are not gonna like what I have to say about this. I feel like if you’re adult enough to make the decision to secretly elope and not tell your parents in whose house you are still living, you should be adult enough to tell your parents the truth and deal with the fallout whatever it may be.

    • Violet

      I like it!

    • Eenie

      I think this is the general feel of the comments so far. With some caveats about it being a potentially abusive/manipulative relationship (with the parents OR the husband!).

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        Lol I read the comments AFTER.

    • taue

      Lol, I like that, though!

  • Stretch2643

    Nothing about this situation is good…

  • Alice

    The truth is so much harder at first, but is so much easier in the long run. My husband’s family doesn’t approve of me, and more or less cut my husband out of their lives because he married me (although we had been together for two years and living together for some time prior to the wedding, and they had never objected to that). This is a horrible, painful, tragic situation to be in, but at least we know where everyone stands. And we know that, while the outcome wasn’t a good one, we did our very best to reach out to them, and still send them cards and occasional emails when we can. Toxic relationships are sometimes unavoidable, but knowing we behaved as honestly and kindly as we could, under the circumstances, has made it a tiny bit easier to live with.

    Adulthood is really hard sometimes, and I feel sorry if the letter writer is being thrown into this mess on top of the usual struggle with graduating school and moving out on her own. But, I think this is also a really good chance for her to come into her own and start figuring out what her world is going to look like, and how to make that happen.

  • Mrrpaderp

    LW’s parents sound very controlling, manipulative, and vindictive. This may be an unpopular opinion, but make sure you pack up enough clothes and other essentials to get by for a couple of weeks before you tell them anything. If necessary, the police will help you to recover your things, but of course you run the risk of your parents trashing your stuff, perhaps claiming it was their right to do so because they paid for it. Did you pay for your own computer? School books? Furniture? Expect that they will withhold anything they can to manipulate you.

  • Torn apart

    Okay, I hate putting myself out there, but I really needed to hear advice coming from different people and points of view. I understand putting this out gives everyone a chance to judge and make assumptions, and I’m prepared for that. Although I did leave huge chunks from the story. I’ll start with. My financials, I work full time as an insurance agent,and go to school full time. When I mention I pay my own bills, I literally get no assistance from my parents from my car, insurance, phone bill to every little expense in between with enough left over to save if I wanted to get my own place. Now I offered to pay rent to help out my parents , but they refused because that would mean , I have a right to say I pay bills in this house and that would mean I can come home late or even go out when I feel like it, etc, long story short It would make me feel like an adult, too them. Now with financial aid. Since I’m under 24 no matter what the circumstances, unless I was married ,emancipated minor, or if I was an orphan ,both would still need to qualify me for financial aid . They qualify me, but they are not paying a dime for my education, I get grants and scholarships to pay. I don’t have any loans and my parents don’t have any loans on my behalf. The main reason why I don’t move out is because my parents are very dependent of me, they are not sick or anything, but they are from a different country, so I have to drive them around if they need something done, I handle the bills for them, and I bring them to work from time to time. My dad drives but is barely there, and I have to bring my little sister to school everyday, and I have to make sure my siblings wake up on time for school. Ive always new my parents were over protective but I never know they would react to that extent. With that being said I am going to move out as soon as I graduate with my associates degree in a couple of months, then move to another county to continue my education at a university.
    Now the main reasons why my parents are against me dating him is because, 1.) They think I’m too young to date! 2.) they don’t like the fact he’s American, they think that he isn’t a good fit for my family. 3.) they are worried about what my extended family will say about me dating him. 4.) that expect me to do better, as in being with someone who has A high level education with a big degree and is making a lot of money. -he’s not rich nor poor, I would say he makes a decent amount of money. Those are the main things. Now my parents never took the time out to get to know him, they just assumed that he was A bad person. Now he is a great and wonderful person, he helped me spiritually, emotionally, and he seems to be the only person ever there for me, he supports me with everything I do, I agree that getting married may have been rushed, but I don’t have any regrets. I understand the age gap, but he understands that I’m young , and I still have a lot to accomplish, he’s patient with me. I also agree keeping it from them was an immature move, Ive never been at odds with my parents, I’ve always been the good child, I didn’t know how to handle it and I panicked. I’m starting to cope with the fact that this situation comes with consequences and that may be my loosing my family, for a temporary moment maybe. But I was old enough to make this decision, and I’m old enough to handle the consequences. Thanks everyone for your advice. I will take this all in for consideration.

    • laddibugg

      Where does the husband live? Is it possible that you could still do those things for them even if you don’t live in the house full time? They are going to have to learn to survive without you at some point if you were planning to leave anyway…might as well start now!

    • Violet

      Thank you for your bravery in sharing. With this last piece of information, all I’d say is that as you prepare for tough times ahead, do everything to bolster up support from a number of people in your life. When you say “he seems to be the only person ever there for me,” that gives me serious pause. Serious pause. You’re currently a worker, a student, a sibling, a daughter, a chauffer, an accountant, and on and on. I’m glad you’ve found someone who supports you, but putting all your eggs in one basket with him is just as precarious as putting them with your parents. Please consider multiple sources of support. Friends, extended family, religious community, students at your program, coworkers, etc. There are people out there who want the best for you. Find them. I think of this quote from About A Boy: “Suddenly I realized – two people isn’t enough. You need backup. If you’re only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you’re on your own. Two isn’t a large enough number. You need three at least.”
      All the best.

    • z

      Thanks for sharing… Are you no longer going to be the household driver, then? How is your sister going to get to school? I don’t think this is actually your responsibility in the long run, but it seems like you are very seriously disrupting the family’s daily life without very little notice. It’s not a big surprise that that would cause anger.

      • Torn apart

        My parents know I will be leaving at some point, they are aware I won’t be here forever, it’s just this situation makes it harder on them , well lying and deceiving them. As much as it hurts, I will tell them the truth.

    • Lauren from NH

      Hugs lady! This sounds like such a tough situation and I don’t know that I will be able to give any great advice (certainly my advice elsewhere here is probably useless given these details), but as someone else in an intercultural marriage (I’m the objectionable American) I know how isolating it can be and I want to give your hand a virtual squeeze. You aren’t alone.

      If you are part of an in between generation that grew up here but with your family’s culture at home, I am sure it’s hard being caught between their values and expectations versus your hybrid possibly Americanized values. Though your relationship/marriage may be rushed (still not 100% clear), I am hoping your evolving values and/or future plans should not be. Though you say you have been an angel child, I would imagine if your parents have been paying attention they would have noticed you are more open to American culture and are preparing/prepared for financial independence. They may still be very shocked by your marriage and the change it will cause in all of your lives, but maybe try to remind them you haven’t changed, you are just growing up. All children grow up.

      Where is comes to your role and responsibilities in the family, I am sure you don’t want to leave them high and dry. Since you have some time remaining with them before the end of your program and moving out, I would try to help your family prepare and find some solutions to function without you. Maybe your mom can get her license, or a local family member can pitch in, or perhaps your sister will be driving soon?

      And to wrap up, I will second what Violet said, you are going to need a support system, if you don’t have one find one! This is tough and confusing and your need people in your corner to help see you through this and life in general. Congratulations on your marriage! Don’t forget to take moments to be happy together. XO

      • Torn apart

        Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      With more information this puts a better light on things. I applaud you for outing yourself on here as it were. I think given what you’ve said, much of the advice still stands. I think that given your relationship with your parents, your parents’ reaction and the fact that you didn’t give them time to get to know your now husband is still fairly justified. I’m not saying this to beat up on you, I’m just saying this to give perspective about how ANY parents might respond in this situation. If you want to preserve that relationship and care about your relationship with your family, you HAVE to tell your parents what you’ve done. There is no way around it. They will probably be very angry. But they sound like they love you and they will eventually (hopefully) allow some of that anger to subside so that you can all work together as a family. I’m not going to comment about how this man is basically your everything at this point but I will encourage you to allow yourself to grow and learn how to stand on your own. Good luck!

    • Thanks for being brave and sharing more. It sounds like your situation is super tough, and you’re generally a responsible decision. Nobody but you knows if your elopement was a good idea, but just sending a little first generation love to you, because it’s hard straddling both worlds.

      Best of luck!

  • Rebekah Jane

    I’ve lied to my parents a lot over the years due to a multitude of factors, be it fear of disapproval from my pastor father or shame over my less-than-stellar-depression-fueled choices. There’s been yelling, crying and threats to “bring me home to live under their supervision” and I couldn’t understand why they weren’t treating me as an adult. But, as I came to realize, it’s because I wasn’t ACTING like one. I hadn’t set up proper boundaries in our parental/child relationship, I hadn’t been taking responsibility for my own actions and I definitely hadn’t been managing my life as an adult should.

    Once we as Team Family realized this, it made our relationship and our lives a lot easier. When I moved in with my boyfriend, for example, I was up front and honest with them throughout the process, even though it was not their ideal choice for me. My reward for this honesty? Two parents who adore my partner and even drove down to help us move into our home.

    So, yes, it will suck. Telling them WILL involve crying, yelling, threats – it’s the bed that’s been made. But use this moment to lay the groundwork for a better, healthier relationship with clear boundaries and open communication and eventually you four might grow to be the happy family you dream of.

  • Kara Davies

    This one is an easy one from my view. You’ve already gone out and done a major piece of adulting (marrying someone) so it’s time to do another piece of adulting. It’s high time to come clean, time to cowgirl up and tell your parents you’ve eloped. And, another piece of adulting is to deal with the fall out, like an adult.

  • EJ

    This story reminds me so much of a friend in college. I think she was 22, dating and then living with a much older guy without her parents’ knowledge or approval. She ended up pushing out everyone in her life who was concerned about the relationship, isolating herself in the relationship. In this situation, the red flags were indications of reality. He emotionally and financially manipulated her. She ended up dropping out of college and selling things that were important to her because his drug addiction was ruining their finances.

    Please do not isolate yourself because even in good relationships, it is important to have a support system beyond the two of you. I am so thankful that my husband and I both have family and friends we can lean on.

    Just know that sometimes when people are wary of a person, it is coming from a genuine place of concern for you, and maybe they can see blindspots that you might be missing. I know that is what happened to my friend. I hate she blew-up so many relationships to be with someone who, in the end, was toxic and self serving.

  • yrb

    These parents sound emotionally abusive to me. LW I hope you’ll check out captain awkward for alternative advice on dealing with this. It’s hard to know exactly what’s going on here but I feel that this advice presumes some degree of reasonableness on the part of your parents and that may not be the case.

  • HKay

    Don’t lie. I wish I never did. My advice is first have a place to stay in case your parents’ reaction is over the top (perhaps with your new husband?) and then just tell them the truth.

    I get where you are coming from. I think I was raised in a culture that seems similar to yours. When I was your age, I left my home country and resorted to lying to avoid conflict. People have a hard time understanding the grip your family’s culture and beliefs can have on you. Especially when personal independence is not really encouraged or cultivated. At 20, I felt it impossible to stand up to them. Just thinking about it filled me with dread.

    Even after I graduated and was working full time as an engineer, I could not find that courage to grow up and tell the truth.

    I truly felt like an adult when I got pregnant and there was no hiding anymore. “Here is how it is,” I said. It took time but I’m amazed at how many in my family accepted my life. Still there is a part of my family that does not want to meet him or my children.

    I truly regret the lying. It made me unhappy. Tell the truth, plan ahead for the worst reaction but do tell the truth. You will feel a relief and gain strength you can’t imagine right now.

  • Unknown Unknown 3675

    Yes, even though I’m a guy a heterosexual(straight), genetic(xy chromosome) 24 yr old adult male and still present myself as such; i can see where your parents are coming from because I live with my parents still and yes i’m 24 yr old and still unemployed or semi-employed however you wish why don’t I have a regular job well, its because when i was working at a discount retail store, and got sick and tired of all the drunkards and thieves coming into the store and making trouble and other regular customers complaining about the sale tag still being up even though it’s the end of the damn sale,and guess what if the fucking ass sale tag is still up if though the sale has ended you still have to give them the fucking sale price. which i find fucking ridiculous. if i owned my store. there will be a placard that says ” If the sales signs are still up even though the sale has ended, I apologize for the misunderstanding but we don’t give sales other than what specifies on the sale tag. if you don’t like it go outside and kiss your own ass in front of the security camera. and i mean that literally.” I know that might seem mean but those who work those stores are under a hell of lot of stress and some people can’t deal with all the complaining yelling, returns and all of that other stinking fucking ass crap and that’s mostly why i resigned from my job. and they have to make money as well..

    And it was a thankless job. I prefer to be self-employed or going back to college which i plan to later this summer. hopefully i can do the summer quarters.or semester or whatever they are now. And what I’m getting about this is some parents can be extremely stubborn and not listen to a stinkin word their child says even if the child knows the person better than they do. but they still trust their own judgement not their childs judgement. and for me it’s hard to find a girlfriend even though i’ve tried and i’ve probably came on too strong if you catch my drift, i said the words “I love you” to the girls i’ve like a bit too soon. or a hell of alot too soon. because I’ve always seem to get trapped in the friend zone never been above that zone at all in my 24 yrs of life. And I don’t mind it. But also if this person thinks her parents are bad then what about the Duggars allowing their child Josh Duggar to still live with and go under “Christian Counseling” and still not be register as Juvenille Sex offender which i find fucking ridiculous if a teenager commits a sex crime to a younger child especially a sibling, should be put in jail if paroled that they shhould be on the sex offender registry for fucking life. which i’m getting sick and tired of those folks they are making a bad name for us true christians the ones who would do what the freaking law would say and not hide it for over a fucking year which is what Jim Bob Duggar did, he hid his son Josh’s sex crime for over a year before going to the police. why because if jim bob went to the police he would’ve probably lost his state office in the senate area. if josh was convincted and sentenced to prison and paroled and lived in the duggar house then the duggars couldn’t homeschool their children anymore the safety of the children are the main concerned the young one are supposed to be the concern about the teenager should know right from wrong at the age of 12 based on the bible considering what they were being taught. they have responsibilities and consequences of their actions don’t they those kind of people see that. If I was in Jim Bob shoes i would make sure my child that committed those heinous act went to prison for life.. and I apologize for the yelling and cursing and sorry if the religion comment offended you. please forgive me for the yellign and cursing and also please forgive me if the religion comment offended yall.

  • Jeanie Foster

    I have been married for 7 months, i was 5 months pregnant, i love my husband so much, but he treated me so badly we fought because i have found numerous other emails, and texts on his phone from other women, i became so tired of of his womanizing behavior, worrying all the time, and i was always scared when i am not with him . one night he came back drunk, he also came with the another lady, when i i tried to confront him, he immediately started hitting me and he pushed me out the house and ask me to leave, i was lost and confused, i was stranded that i have to find a help from anywhere then i came across a spell caster Dr. Todd who had saved many marriage so as i emailed Dr. Todd and he told me what is needed and after 3 days, he restored my marriages, i and my husband came back together as a married couple again, i am so so so so happy, my marriage was saved by