Help! My Parents are not Agreeing to My Marriage!

I belong to caste A, my boyfriend belongs to caste B. We have been together for two years. None of our parents are OK with an inter-caste marriage. But we are unable to live without each other. Our parents take the reactions of their relatives and neighbours way more seriously than our feelings. They’re telling us about the loss of face in their respective societies that they’ll have to suffer if this marriage happens. His parents even want dowry which my parents are unable to provide. How can we convince them? Please tell me. We want to marry with those precious blessings only and we’re ready to wait till we get them.

Here’s the actual comment from Shrivalli.

Parents are not agreeing to marriagePhoto by keeping it real

On the average I get about three such queries every day and they make me sad and angry. Very angry.

I feel – what in the name of God are we doing to our younger generation? How can some dogmatic parents have so little regard for the happiness of – not a random guy on the street but – their own child!

Boys and girls (and don’t demand to be called men and women. If I could find the me of your age somewhere I’d have called myself a baby. Well, on second thoughts there are people who’d still call me a baby and their number is more than two, but I digress again… ;) ). In my experience of talking to, consoling and counselling scores of young people like you, I’ve observed that there are three golden rules of dealing with parents who are real tough nuts to crack, and I thought I’ll lay them down today, fuming as I am.

Have you noted that I said “dealing with”, not “convincing”? You’ll soon find out why.

Rule #1. Your life belongs to YOU.

Not your parents, not your spouse.

You’ll never make everyone happy. Take it from me – it’s rarely possible.

Of course the first step is to try to convince your parents. And you’ll do that to the best of your abilities. However, if it proves impossible, you need to take a stand – one way or the other.

If you have to take a stand that involves sacrificing someone’s happiness for someone else’s, whose happiness will you choose?

Surprise! Surprise! The answer is – yours.

Be very clear in your mind.

It’s not about choosing your boyfriend or girlfriend over your parents. It’s about choosing yourself over everyone else.

Let’s face it – life is all about making choices. Making choices that make you happier. Not happy, but happier, than making any other choice.

Will it not make you unhappy to irk your parents by marrying against their wish? Of course.

Will it not make you unhappy to say goodbye forever to the person you love?

Of course.

Be selfish and choose the option that makes you the least unhappy, and then let go.  

How? Read on to find out.

Rule #2. If someone’s paying for your food, you’d better do as they say

If you’re financially dependent on anyone, you can never be fully free. Period. It’s a sad fact and it’s time you stopped burying your head in the sand.

People facing pressures from their parents are usually young people just starting out in their careers. In most cases they’ve either not started earning, or are still financially partly dependent on their parents.

Parents are not agreeing to marriagePhoto by starush

If neither you nor your boyfriend/girlfriend is earning – work on that before working on anything else. If your parents are paying for you, you’d better do as they say. I’m sorry, but there are no ways of going against reality.

Does that mean money is the only language that you can use – even with your closest family? No. But it gives you the mental strength and confidence to even believe that you can make your own decisions. And you have no idea about the power of that belief.

Why? Go to Rule #3 for that.

If between the two of you you’re earning an amount which won’t allow for the maintenance of the same standard of living you currently enjoy – well, that’s a call you need to take. Again, you need to choose the option that makes you the least unhappy:

Option #1: Embark on a radically new life. A life with the man/woman you love, a life of absolute freedom, but one which offers drastically lower levels of material comfort than you currently enjoy.  

Option #2: Decide that you won’t be able to adjust to the above reality of a reduced standard of living and say goodbye to the man/woman you love.

There’s nothing wrong with choosing either of these options.

I repeat – There’s nothing wrong with choosing either of these options.

Keep the guilt and the emotions out temporarily. Get your head clear. Make a rational, practical and well-thought out decision, and prepare yourself mentally for the consequences. Don’t go into a hailstorm of remorse when those consequences become reality, because you know that you can’t have it all and you’ve made the best decision.

Rule #3. Cost-benefit analysis always works

This world works on cost-benefit analyses. The costs and benefits can be purely emotional. That analysis might happen in our minds entirely unconsciously. But it’s a rule of Nature that it happens. In fact it’s crucial to our survival.

Let’s take the example of your parents’ decision of allowing you to marry your girlfriend/boyfriend.


Benefits for your parents

Costs for your parents

If I say “Yes”

My child will be happy.

I might lose face in the community due to the marriage being inter-caste.

If I say “No”

No loss of face in the community.

My child will be unhappy.


I think it’s very clear that their child’s happiness – while important – is not a determining factor for them so far as this decision is concerned. (Otherwise why on Earth would they deliberately want their child to get married to someone other than the one they’re already deeply in love with?)

Now put yourself in your parents’ shoes. Is it looking very compelling to say a “yes” at the cost of losing face to the community?

Probably not.

Now look at this one:


Benefits for your parents

Costs for your parents

If I say “Yes”

My child will be happy.

I might lose face in the community due to an inter caste marriage of my child.

If I say “No”

My child will be unhappy.

My child will get married to their girlfriend/boyfriend, leave home and cut off contacts with me. Hence I’ll lose face in the community.


What does that look like to you now?

I know countless inter-caste couples who have tried to convince their parents, failed and then gone ahead to get married anyway, leaving their parents’ home.

You know what?

In 100% of the cases, the parents’ accepted them within one year of getting married.* :)

Blackmail? So be it. If that’s the tried, tested and fully working method, please help yourselves. ;)

All the best. :)

*[Update: As pointed out by some readers, this requires some clarifications. When I say “100% of the cases”, I mean 100% of the cases that I know of. Going ahead with your decision is not a guaranteed way of turning your parents around, but the best shot you have at it.
In my opinion, if they don’t turn around and decide to disown you forever – well, that’s the best proof of your decision having been the correct one. ;)]