My husband and I are a young couple. He is twenty-six years old and I am twenty-three. We have been married for six years and have two daughters.

The problem that we have in our marriage is my father. He won’t let us make our own decisions. Instead, he ends up making them for us. I am an only child, and I think that he does it because he is afraid that we will make mistakes.

Dear Friend,

Isn’t it wonderful to have two men who love you very much? Your father and your husband are both trying to protect you in the best way that they can. However, problems arise when they don’t agree on what is best for you and your family.

The most important information you did not disclose is whether or not you have made a financial arrangement with your father regarding the family you have formed with your husband. Are you living in your father’s house? Does your father help pay your bills? Are you financially dependent on your father in any way?

The reason this is so important is that when your parents take care of you financially, you take on the role of a child. Any time that you allow your father to pay for your housing, your schooling, or your bills, you are putting yourself in the same position as a child. That gives your father all the permission he needs to meddle in your affairs. So if you are receiving any financial assistance from your father (or you are living in his house), there is no good answer for how to get him to stop interfering in your life. Instead of worrying about that, you and your husband should spend your energy on a plan to support yourselves and free yourselves from financial dependency.

But if, on the other hand, you are not receiving any financial assistance from your father, your problem is much more solvable. In that case, don’t talk about decisions in your father’s presence. Don’t discuss your personal finances or your living arrangements when he is around. If he asks about these things, remind him gently and kindly that you and your husband are a married couple and, as such, you need to keep some of these things private. It may hurt his feelings at first, but in time he will see the wisdom of your position.

As in all family conflicts, we advise you to tell the truth with love. King Solomon reminds us in one of his proverbs that “a truthful witness does not deceive.”(1) So don’t deceive your father in order to have the privacy that you long for, but rather be truthful with him in all you say. Every time you talk to him, try to begin your conversation with how much you love and appreciate him, and try to end it by telling him once again how much you love and appreciate him. But in the middle, be firm in informing him that you have made the decision not to discuss your personal business when he is present.

We wish you family harmony,

Linda and Charles
1 Pr 14:5