Marriage is about two families

Pscyhologist explains how to cope with parents' rejection of a life partner

In Summary

• Getting the nod can be elusive sometimes.

• Ngare adds that your partner’s rejection is also yours because he’s a representation of you.

A couple exchange vows
A couple exchange vows

Grace Ngare, a psychologist based in Nairobi, warns that there are side-effects should your parents disapprove of your partner.

" First and foremost, you’ll feel rejected because that’s the person you’ve chosen for yourself. Before you met him, you had dated other guys and it didn't work out but with him, it did, and you found out he’s the right person,” she said.

Ngare adds that your partner’s rejection is also yours because he’s a representation of you.


You may not be able to love again and you will enter into confusion. “The culture that parents have that their children can’t settle down with a person from a different community is misleading. Love has no boundaries,” Ngare warns.

This will make your child have questions like, "If I brought a white man instead of Luhya, will they still disapprove, will the outcome be the different?"

“Due to the rejection, your child may fail to embrace their partner, start self-blame because they feel they don’t know how to choose carefully,” she said.

She warns it’s bad for parents to reject their children's partners when they don’t have something tangible, and in most cases, they don’t. This is because they haven’t related with the person well enough to know them. It's merely perception.


Case study: Your mother hates the idea of you being married off to another community, and you’re only supposed to marry from your tribe. What do you do?

“Make her understand that you’re not looking for your father, who happens to be her husband. You’re looking for your own husband,” Ngare tells the Star.


"The choice is yours and you’ve already chosen. Besides, taking your partner home is not for your parents', it's for yourself." 

She adds that you ought to prepare your parents by having a talk with them should your partner differ from their expectations. Make them understand it’s between you and your partner, not them and him.

Parents make the mistake of looking for husbands in their children’s partners and vice versa. This can never happen.

Also prepare your man on your parents’ expectations. Premarital counselling is important during courtship, as such matters will be addressed.

“Come up with a plan on how to go about your situation,” she said.


“If my parents point out a valid reason as to why my partner isn’t the right fit for me, of course I will listen but other than that, it’s a no. Some parents have misplaced reasons and are just greedy,” said Mercy*.

Young people are more liberated and ‘woke’. No person will ever be great or good enough for your parent to warm up to, so they ought to be open-minded.

Kim* also stands by the belief that it’s very hard to please your parent and if you let them dictate, influence every decision you make, you will suffer.

He says there comes a time where you stand by your person, regardless of what people or your parents say.

“You’ll leave your person just because your folks don’t like him or her only to suffer later, while your parents continue with their lives,” Kim warns.

However, Tom*, 26, begs to differ and insists that taking his mum’s advice is not debatable at all. “She’s my rock and listening to her is something that I really value. Her advice usually influences most of my decisions."

He believes that wanting to start a family is a very big deal, and involving your parents is important but more crucial is taking their advice, whether good or bad.

“Marriage is not for two people. Marriage is about two families,” Tom says.

On the other hand, Carol was noncommital about the question, saying she has never thought about it. Whether it’s a yes or no from her parents, her life continues.

“I'm not heavily invested in relationships. But whatever their opinion is, nothing about my love life changes," Carol said. 

She believes that as long as her relationship with God is good, the rest is water under the bridge.