How to Avoid Losing My Daughter to Her Domineering Fiancé?

Updated on July 24, 2019
E.P. asks from Oklahoma City, OK
15 answers

My daughter recently turned 20 and was also recently engaged. They have only known each other for about nine months now and both lack in communication skills. They were on again / off again for the first four months of the relationship which required certain changes by my daughter. She has distanced herself from nearly all of her friends since they began dating and solely relies on him for all of her friendship, attention and time. She’s in college full time and is due to graduate in May 2020 with the wedding scheduled for March. She recently announced that she would be moving out of her apartment and moving in with her fiancé. This goes against all our family values and she knew beforehand that we would not financially support that decision. If she chose to live with him then she was choosing the responsibilities that come with it of paying for all of her expenses. She doesn’t work so her fiancé had agreed to take care of it. However, he has since blamed us for putting a burden on our daughter and him as well. He has thrown our Christian values in our face and stated that if we “keep this up” we will not be allowed to be near any future grandchildren. It shocked us that he would make these kind of threats and even more so that our daughter would stand by and say nothing. The fiancé is refusing to speak to us anymore and says that he is too busy to deal with our nonsense. We feel like our daughter is so afraid of losing him that she is just cowering in a corner. I feel so helpless. I want her to know that we are always here for her but she’s so consumed by everything her fiancé says that we can’t even talk to her anymore. She used to be a very happy, fun person to be around but now the whole family has noticed how mean and hateful she seems to be. Anyone have experience and have advice?

EDIT: We are continuing to pay for her college, fees and books, health insurance and the wedding. We are only making her/them responsible for their everyday living expenses. We felt like if they want to take on adult responsibilities of living together then they also get the bills of being adults. By no means have we cut her off completely. My husband and I have scheduled a meeting with a family counselor for this week and hope she will give us the tools necessary to work through this difficult situation.

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answers from San Antonio on

I do see red flags all over the place...mostly on his behavior...but don't give him fodder for use.

You can agree than when a couple marries they are to become one under Christian teachings and are responsible to each other and for each other. You stopped giving her money because they chose to start living as if they are married before the wedding. (Just make sure that she can finish her degree so if the money is for tuition please make sure she can pay to finish her degree and she can support herself when she does kick this guy to the curb...especially if there are kids involved by then.)

I am guessing this finance is not a practicing Christian (and maybe your daughter isn't any more either and afraid to tell you). So, he is looking at your views from a different upbringing and angle than you cannot force him or your daughter to live up to your Christian guidelines if they are not Christians.

You can love your daughter and make sure she knows she can always come home (go re-read the Prodigal Son parable). Don't cut her off, don't lecture, don't preach anything but we love you and want to see you and spend time with you. Step back, she is 20...

Hopefully one or more of her good friends will cut through and talk with her about him and his controlling ways. I tried with a good friend about her fiance who was a total loser. She was in love and got very angry with me and every single friend who tried to talk to her. We were all in her wedding and cried not tears of joy. She is now a single mom and we love and support her as still her best friends was hard watching her walk through it when we tried to warn her but we all still have her back. Be the parent that has her back even when all the fallout is over.

Pray for her behind her back and love her with nothing but love to her face. Hugs!!

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Hey Frazzled,
I can only imagine the heartache you are feeling. I would stick to your guns meaning don’t financially support her when she’s has decided she wants to live with this guy. Other than that boundary, I would continue to love on her and support her any way you can emotionally. I wouldn’t talk about him with her unless she brings him up. If she does bring him up I would just listen.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

ETA: So glad that you reached out to a counselor, and that you are continuing to pay for her college. I hope things turn around in your favor and that there is a happy ending for all. Prayers for you and your husband, your daughter, and a healthy and happy outcome.

So your daughter is going from one controlling relationship to another.....

You will only love her if she follows your values. Both you and the fiancée are sending her the same message, but clearly she is picking the fiancée.

She is an adult. Treat her as such.

DO NOT stop paying for her education.

Please take the time to read the experience of others who have written responses.

If you truly want a relationship with your daughter, you will need to change your approach with her.

If this is an abusive situation, eliminating resources that allow her financial independence and to be without dependent children play right into his hands of isolating her and being dependent on him. Allowing her to complete her education and access healthcare until she can get it on her own is keeping her safe, not enabling her.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

There are red flags on their relationship for sure (it's not all him, she's being incredible passive here too as well as him being domineering) - you're coming off as controlling also. You have to watch that. I get those are your values, and not knocking them. But they clearly are not hers at this point in time, or not as important to her as her relationship right now. Perhaps she sees because they are engaged, that's enough of a commitment.

So - for you to say, we're not paying because you're not doing as we like as your parents- you are at risk for losing her. My husband's parents do this, still, in his fifties, because they never realized he was an adult - they would have done this kind of thing when he was twenty. That's when the rest of us had parents who were supporting us as parents, but were letting us spread our wings. I don't think you have to support her fully - she could help pay for something else, her tuition, car insurance, etc. Maybe don't pay her rent, but she contribute some other way - juggle it. That's reasonable at 20.

You don't want to appear extreme or make this 'statement'. It will drive her away, and create drama/fuel for this fiancé who seems to enjoy it. Just support her, keep being her support system, her safety net. Keep that up so she is reminded she has options, other people out there who love her, and that she has another world apart from this guy. It may help her see he's not the one.

Good luck :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I feel for you. What a difficult position to be in.

I am frankly floored they would expect you to foot the bill when they are playing house. I don’t think I could do it. I would continue to pay tuition and books however.

Also, for what it is worth, my girls have grown up knowing we will not pay for their weddings. My girls are graduating college debt free and should be able to have whatever kind of wedding they see fit and can afford. Of course we will give a very generous wedding gift when the time comes but I think couples will think twice about cost when they are footing the bill. My daughter’s friends brother just got married and spent $80,000 for the one day, my doctor’s daughter is getting married and it’s costing him $45,000. Personally, I think that is outrageous and the money would be better spent on the down payment of a house.

If I were you, I may tell my daughter we are giving you $X for the wedding and let them figure the rest out. It is so much easier to spend other people’s money. However, I can’t imagine you are feeling particularly generous given your future SIL is already threatening to keep the future grandkids from seeing you and he is not even speaking to you!😳 That would not go over well with me and it would be very difficult to pay for a wedding when the fiancé has such blatant disrespect for you.

Best of luck and I sincerely hope your daughter comes to her senses.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Give your daughter an easy way out of the relationship. I see so many red flags here.. If someone would of pointed out alienation and abusive relationship patterns I would of run far away from the narcissist I am stuck with now

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it sounds very worrying.

it's also largely self-created. you can't claim 'we are always here for her' while holding to your 'christian values' position that you won't help her if she needs it.

that being said, i do agree that if she wants to live with him, they need to figure out how to support themselves. but i would have framed it very differently. you're the ones who turned it into a sword hanging over their heads, so it's not really surprising that both your daughter and her fiance are resentful of it.

almost all young people live together before marriage. frequently it results in them realizing they're not a great match and preventing a much more expensive and painful mistake. perhaps if you'd discussed this with her in a different fashion it would have had a different outcome. my slant on this would be 'we prefer for you to live at home until you finish school. that way you can get a part-time job now and save up for your wedding. we think that when you're ready to move out, that signals that you're ready to be a full adult and support yourself. maybe that's not really what you want to do with a year of school still ahead of you.'

or even just state what you ARE willing to do (keep paying for school, keep her on your health insurance, take her to costco once a month) instead of shaking your finger at her and outlining what you won't do.

unfortunately you've created an antagonistic paradigm, you and your husband against her and her fiance. he may well be a bully and is dominating her, which isn't surprising, since it's likely that's what she's grown up with.

the right time to empower her and help her become a strong woman who can stand up and speak for herself has mostly passed. all you can do now is try to support her going forward. stop framing this around your helplessness and her cowering in a corner. create an atmosphere of mutual adulthood. let her know that even if you're worried, you recognize that she's an adult and will make her own decisions. don't force your opinion on her unless she asks for it. stop pitting her against her fiance and casting him as the villain.

you're in danger of losing both her and a relationship with those future grandkids. hold your nose and start laying the groundwork now for a better relationship going forward.

or hold fast to your christian values and your controlling parenting paradigm and lose any hope you've got.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I haven't been there, myself, but to the extent that I can, I really do get that you feel like the fiance really has "thrown our Christian values in our face." I cringe when I hear people say things like, "get with the times" or "everybody lives together before marriage" or whatever. This is very important to you. I don't know if you just mean not living together or if you were hoping they would wait until they were married before having sex, but either way, those values are very important to many people and they are clearly very important to you.

You don't have to like it, but at this point, you have to work towards accepting the fact that your adult daughter gets to make her own choices. Even if they chose to wait until after the wedding to move in together, there would be (will be) other decisions they make that you may not approve of. You simply are not going to like every choice she makes, but they are hers to make, and she has to own the consequences of her decisions. This isn't going to be easy, but you can do this!

Your role as mom is changing. She may ask your opinion on things (I'm 47, and I still call my mom and ask her for advice - and occasionally cry and ask for love and support). She may also call just to have someone listen. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and listen and not give input. Other times you will be asked for advice. Sometimes it will be hard to know whether or not she wants to hear your opinion. Sometimes it's not easy, but just do your best.

Just keep loving and supporting your daughter, even when she makes choices you don't agree with. She will remember how you supported her and how you made her feel, and that is what matters the most.

Just keep loving her and being her biggest fan!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I understand that you don’t want her living with him, but it’s not clear to me if that is because of how controlling he is or because it goes against your values. If your daughter doesn’t share those values, you might have to set them aside in order to focus on the things that are the most concerning, the controlling behavior. I would not withdraw financial support now if you had been supporting her. Let them both know that you would like to start over in your relationship with him, and that although you don’t like the idea of young people living together outside of marriage, you mostly want to have a good relationship with them both. If you are very kind and make an effort to get to know him without judgment, and he is still threatening, controlling, etc., then you can focus on that and hope that your daughter can see the problem here for herself.

Resist the temptation to tell her what to do, just look for opportunities to calmly respond to any controlling or mean behavior and help her see the concern. Sounds like he must work if he’s paying for everything, is there anything else about him that you can like? There must be something she sees in him that you don’t, can you find it?

If he is still not willing to speak to you, let them both know how disappointed you are, but leave it open that you hope he will change his mind. You can let them both know if you are uncomfortable with something, but ask her how she feels, and listen. For example, if he does something disrespectful, you can ask her what she thought about what he did. You want her to see it. If she says something mean, put your arms around her and ask her what’s wrong that she would say that. Remind her that you love her and of all the things you are proud of her for, like finishing college and anything else you can think of.

Keep your connection with her strong and trust that if he is really bad news, she will figure it out, hopefully sooner rather than later.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

This is hard. Honestly, I think in one's 20s iving with someone before marriage is a great way to see if you really should get married or not. So, I disagree with you that it's this disgraceful thing. BUT he sounds way too controlling and she sounds way too passive. Also, I think doing this while still in college is too young, but I don't really think anything will change her mind at this point. Not having a friend group in college and only relying on him to be her friend is so unhealthy. I guess if this were my daughter I would talk to her about your concern about how she is isolating herself and about how controlling he is. That this is not a healthy relationship. I would offer to pay for her to go to some therapy to talk to a counselor about this and see what they say. Also, if I had previously said I would pay for college tuition, I would continue to pay for that and not withdraw my financial support. I would tell her you will pay for her dorm room, but if she wants to move out to live with a boy she needs to pay for her living space herself. That she is still young and right now is the time to focus on her classes and her grades and not play house. Instead of making ultimatums, I would talk to her about how she is about to be her own adult and it's almost time for her to support herself in life. Mom, she is most likely going to move in with him no matter what. It's in her best interest if you really get to know her fiance and spend as much time as possible with her...that way you can keep an eye on how controlling he actually is and keep the lines open between you and her. --I had a guy friend in grad school who was married and he never hung out with any of the other students. He and his wife kept to themselves. She was very religious and he was not. About 8 years later they divorced. He admitted it was a huge mistake and he missed out on making friends and having a community because of her.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

She made her choice knowing it would mean being cut off financially for living expenses. It sounds like they thought you were bluffing. I would simply continue to express my unconditional love for her while reminding her/him if they bring up the money issue that you made that clear before she moved. The fact you are still paying for all her schooling, her medical, and even the wedding (which these days many adults pay for themselves rather than taking large amounts of money from parents close to retirement age) is super generous, if she wants to live like an adult there is nothing wrong with expecting her to pay her own way. She may be angry for a while, and may even try to manipulate you into giving her what she wants (he is clearly trying, and honestly sounds manipulative and possibly abusive if he is threatning time with future grandkids if you don't pay up), let her be angry, when she grows up a bit more she hopefully will understand. But if you let them blackmail you for more money now it will never stop.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

She's really young to be in such a rush to get married.
At least she plans to finish college before the wedding but it would be better for her to work a few years to get her career going before marriage.
Unfortunately there's not much you can do.
Anything you say will go in one ear and out the other.

This relationship has some flags for being abusive.
She's becoming more isolated, cutting off old friends and family, doing what ever he says, and changing her personality.
We tell our son it's better to play the field - date lots of people - so he can figure out what he likes and doesn't like before he picks one person he wants to be with for the rest of his life.
We also tell him that sex is for people who can afford the consequences of their choices - so he'd better not be making any babies before he has a job and can support his own family.

It's surprising that this fiance can afford his own college bills and take on your daughters as well.
Are his parents helping him?
Have you met his parents?
Financially they are making a big mistake by rushing their plans so much that they are turning down any help from you to pay for your daughters education.

It's going to be hard on you watching her making her life so complicated.
She might not wake up before she has kids - or ever - so try to keep communication open and don't say anything bad about her fiance because she will rush to defend him if you do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

she is caught between a rock and a hard place. You are being just as domineering as her fiance.

If you don't want to lose her, you need to back off. Tell her that you love her, will be there for her but only pay for her education. If she is going to make an adult decision, then she needs to bear the consequences of the adult decision and be an adult and pay her own way in regards to housing expenses, etc.

I would send her care packages every month with little things you know she might need but overall? No to helping out with the housing expenses because she is going against your values. You raised her. She's an adult now and making adult decisions.

Take her out for manicures and pedicures once a month too to keep in touch and get a pulse on what is going on. Be that safe place for her to fall. Make no ill comments about fiance and gush over him. Yep. Gush. Once you start 'Loving" on him? She might wake up and see all the negatives. Reverse psychology.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Your daughter is a “big women” and making adult decisions. It’s not your responsibility to support a grown adult. Why are you financially supporting her anyway? Seems like she is just using you and you are using money to control her and her decisions. Let her crash and burn with this guy. Back off, she will learn that there is a price to pay being a mooch. She is going from one controlling relationship to another.


answers from Los Angeles on

If your daughter doesn’t like him then, maybe change the plan. Maybe she could change her mind.

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