I am twenty-eight years old. I fell in love with a forty-seven-year-old single woman. Our relationship has been very strong. We have been very happy, and we have gotten married. But I have a problem: My family doesn’t know about my marriage, because I think that it would be detrimental to our relationship.

Every time I talk to my family, I lie to them and tell them that I am still alone. But my conscience won’t leave me alone…. What should I do?

Dear Friend,

Congratulations on your happy marriage! We wish that more of our audience had happy, strong marriages.

You think that telling your family would be detrimental to your relationship. You must believe that family members might do and say things that would have the potential of coming between the two of you. Since you gave us no other information, it must be that you think that your family will not approve of the age difference between you and your wife, and that they will actually try to break you up. Perhaps you are afraid that they will hurt your wife’s feelings and that she might blame you for what they say, or that she might expect you to take her side against them, and you are not sure if you are strong enough to do that. Maybe your parents still treat you as a child, even though you are twenty-eight years old and live far away from them.

Whatever the truth is about your complicated relationship with your parents, that is secondary to the reality that lying will not only bother your conscience but it will also worsen the eventual moment that your parents finally find out that you are married. They will likely be much more devastated by your lies and your secret life than they will be about the age of your wife. Every day that you continue lying to them will only make it worse.

Both Jesus and the apostle Paul quoted the passage from the book of Genesis that says that when a man marries, he is to leave his father and mother and become united to his wife.(1) In this case, to leave means not only physical distance but also emotional distance. At the moment a man takes a wife, his highest loyalty (that may have been previously reserved for his parents) now belongs to his wife. He still loves his parents and honors them, but to have a healthy marriage, his wife must always come first. When a man lets his family come between himself and his wife, he destroys the marital unity that God planned for the couple to experience. The bond between them is weakened, and there are almost always other problems that result.

It is time for you to grow up emotionally and take responsibility for your life, whether your parents approve or not. Be prepared for them to be hurt and angry. Give them time to sort it all out before they meet your wife. Be respectful to them, but make it clear that you are now a married man and no longer their little boy. Therefore, if they will not accept your wife and treat her with respect, they will alienate you and risk losing future communication with you.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles
1 Ge 2:24; Mt 19:5; Mk 10:7; Eph 5:31