You are old enough…


I am a 27 year old woman from UK. My parents are from the Middle East. I was born in the UK. My father is a fairly traditional, non-practicing Muslim, whereas my mother has no interest in religion at all and is generally very liberal in her opinions. I have no interest in religion as well.

When I was at university I met and fell in love with a British man (his is mixed race). We have been together for 7 years. Throughout those 7 years, and during the times I have had previous partners, my father was never told. This is the reason: my father has a temper that can erupt when he feels offended by so called ‘western’ influences on his family, even though he realises this is inevitable. Whenever my mother dressed or behaved in a certain way, or even if she spent time with other men, he would shout at her and threaten her with violence. At one point myself, my mother and my 2 sisters lived in a women’s refuge to escape the escalating threats. I do not know the extent to which he has physically harmed my mother, but I do consider him potentially very dangerous.

My father is older now (in his late 50s) and has mellowed out somewhat, and I have started being able to talk to him as a daughter should to a father (previously we had no relationship to speak of, until I moved away from home). However myself and my 2 sisters still keep our boyfriends a secret from him – we worry that he will inflict harm on our mother (as in his eyes, she is responsible for us having boyfriends). The difficult thing is my mother and father are [effectively] separated. They are not divorced, but behave as if they are. Unfortunately they still live together. God knows why, out of laziness, stubborness, or the stupid notion that being an unhappy couple together is healthier than being a happy pair of people separately, but regardless, this is the crux of the issue….

I am getting to a point where I cannot keep hiding my partner from my father, because we are starting to consider marriage and buying a house together. I want to tell him about my relationship to make my life easier, not necessarily because I feel he deserves to know, BUT of course the trade off is putting my mother at risk.

If you have any advice, I would be so grateful. I have been anxious about this situation ever since I started dating this man, and have spent many hours of weighing up the consequences, but never get anywhere. I do not know of any other person in the same situation and as such cannot benefit from advice from friends. Thank you.
 

Answer:

  Helena,
You are an adult woman who is living on her own. You have your own life as do your sisters. So what will you do? Are you going to wait for your father to do before you choose to marry? That means for the next 10-20 years you will be waiting?? I suggest you let him know and then whatever he does is on him. Your mother is a big girl. If she wants to divorce him she can. She can also protect herself from him if she chooses to. Let your mother know before you let your father know so she can protect herself. Bottom-line you are old enough to stop hiding.

 

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