I am twenty-three and have plans to marry a woman who is the same age. She is an only child, and her mother is not really in agreement with our marriage plans. I understand that it is rather difficult for her because of my girlfriend being her only child, but what bothers me the most is the way she tries to separate us. Yesterday she forbade me to give gifts to her daughter and to speak to her affectionately….

I don’t want her to live with us after we are married. I love my girlfriend a lot, but I believe that her mother has crossed the line with us. I am confused and don’t know what to do. Please help me!

Dear Friend,

It is very good that you are asking advice before, rather than after, getting married. You have very wisely noticed the danger signals that have been put into your path. It is always best to pay attention to danger signs rather than pass right by them because of strong feelings of love.

The part of the story that you leave out is how your girlfriend reacts to her mother’s interference. However, since you don’t mention anything about that, it is probably true that your girlfriend gives in to her mother even though it is not in the best interest of your relationship. Unfortunately many mothers manipulate their children through guilt, and that is even more common in the case of an only child. Your girlfriend feels torn between you and the mother who is emotionally tied to her. If your girlfriend cannot stand up to her mother now, she will most likely never be able to. Her mother will get older and more fragile, and your girlfriend will feel even more guilt for displeasing her. It is almost certain that your girlfriend will want her mother to live with her even after she is married.

In any event, what is unquestionably true is that one of the Ten Commandments is to honor your father and mother. This is a Biblical principle that is extremely important. However, honoring your father and mother is not the same as obeying your father and mother. An adult who is supporting herself financially is responsible to make her own decisions while at the same time showing respect for her parents and caring for them if they are dependent on her. If your girlfriend is not able to make her own decisions independently of her mother, then she is not ready to be married.

Love is not enough to get you past this danger sign. So we strongly suggest that you terminate your relationship with your girlfriend. However, if that is too difficult, then at least make a firm decision to wait two years before talking about marriage again. Your girlfriend needs time to mature and stand on her own two feet as an adult, and you need time to watch how well she does it.

We wish you well,