123four. five. 678nine. ten. ELEVEN. TWELVE.
^ IT BEEN THREE DAYS. WANT TUNE LEAVE HEAD PLEASE. YES? NEED ROOM IN BRAIN FOR THINK.
Aright, SO! Happy Wednesday evening to your faces n stuff. Listen, I will have you know that I am very, very excited for today’s question. Of course by excited I actually mean totally emotionally distraught and angry that effing people keep effing acting this way towards their own effing children.
Here’s a fun fact before we throw down: some people aren’t the definition of supportive when you announce your engagement! SHOCKING, eh? I know, not so much, unfortunately. Especially if you’re me, a wedding blogger who takes reader questions and thus you’ve heard the kinds of struggles quite a few of your readers have gone through with regard to families not being so welcoming to the people they’ve chosen to marry.
Today’s question is from a lovely reader we’re calling Miss M. I need your help with this one, because I think Miss M could use all the thoughts and ideas and personal stories and potentially bits of advice you guys can stand to offer her today. This one’s a shocker and doozie. Aright here we go……
Alison, I am at my wit’s end. The situation with my parents has gone so far past out of control, they are making out of control look calm and serene. I am engaged and we are getting married this coming July 28th. I have received nothing but support from everyone, with the exception of my parents. Did I expect them to be excited for me? No, but I do expect them to behave like adults. This past weekend, my fiance and I went to my hometown in South Dakota for a belated Thankgiving/early Christmas visit with my family. We arrived before my dad was back from work. When he walked in the door, he did not make eye contact with anyone or say hello or respond to my hello to him. Saturday morning, my fiance walked into the kitchen and said “Good morning Mr. R, how are you doing?” In response, my dad looked around the kitchen and left without saying a word. The atmosphere did not improve as the weekend progressed. Yesterday, I gave my mom a call, as I usually do several times a week. My dad’s behavior over the weekend was brought up and I mentioned being of the opinion that my dad, while he did apologize to me for what happened, also owes my fiance an apology for how rude he was. My mother proceeded to inform me that my dad’s behavior was completely justified because my fiance “gave us the ultimate fuck you when we said no after he asked to marry you, and he proposed anyway.”
Some quick background information on my fiance’s experience when talking to my parents about the two of us getting married. Now, I wasn’t present for the conversation, but I trust that my fiance was honest in the facts he relayed about the event. According to him, my dad said “I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no.” This response had my fiance pretty upset because it’s a yes or no question, there isn’t really room for ambiguity. My parents proceeded to accuse my fiance of being the reason for all of my faults because I was perfect before I started dating him. Alison, the things they were throwing out there were almost comical. They blamed him as being the reason I no longer play the violin (I do still play the violin). He’s also the reason I no longer take dance classes (I no longer take them because there are none available for adults my age). And he was also credited for being the reason I no longer go to church. I quit going to church because I felt forced into a religion, which I have tried to explain to my parents numerous times and it seems to go in one ear and out the other.
My parents have met me with whole hearted resistance on all major decisions of my adult life to date, so I was not surprised when they were less than supportive of my engagement and upcoming marriage. But they have gone past simply stating their concerns to being just plain mean. During my phone call with my mother yesterday, not only did she say that by saying “not yes and not no” they actually meant no and we should have known that, but she also said that everyone one in our family, on both sides, extended family included, thinks I am making a poor decision in getting married. The only person (besides my parents) who has been less than supportive is my dad’s mother, and that is because she doesn’t want me marrying anyone unless they are Catholic. She’s old, and I expect that from her. Everyone else I have spoken with has been extremely supportive and excited. My aunts are throwing a bridal shower for me for goodness sake.
After saying that everyone is lying to me, my mom proceeded to tell me that I am irresponsible and my fiance is lazy because isn’t working full time while going to school. He starts student teaching on January 4th, so please, tell me how he is supposed to work full time while being in a classroom from 7:30 to 5 everyday. Yes, I agree completely with anyone who says you need to have a financial strategy laid out because if the money does work, then you’re screwed. We have crunched the numbers into a fine powder and are very comfortable. On my income alone, we pay all our bills, rent, groceries, and are able to save $7,000 between October 2011 and July 2012 to pay for our wedding. My parents seem to be ignoring the fact that I have a good job that pays me more than enough to live off of. I don’t mind being the sole bread winner. In actuality, I prefer it that way. When my parents got married, my dad was still in college and my mom was the only one with a job, but according to my mother “that’s different”. When Jon and I get married, he will have at least graduated and presumably have some kind of job somewhere. There are dozens of teaching positions opening up for next school year and only 6 people are graduating this semester from the local university who could apply for those positions, not to mention positions that will be available in the surrounding areas. I understand why people would be concerned about my fiance not currently having a job, the two of us have certainly discussed this already and are not lightly entering into the decision of marriage.
At this point, my main concern is how to deal my with parents for the remainder of our engagement. My mom didn’t want to see the ring or the dress this weekend, didn’t want to hear about plans, and my dad didn’t really speak to anyone so that pretty well put the kibosh on wedding talks with him. They have not said if they will be contributing financially and right now I don’t even feel like accepting money from them would be a good idea since they are being so controlling and pushy. If this attitude from them continues, do I tell them to shape up or they can’t come to the wedding? Do I try to kill them with kindness and talk about wedding stuff even if they don’t want to hear it? Do I push for a relative to say something to my parents? Because nothing I say seems to get through to them. How do I make my parents understand that when I get married is not their decision? I want to enjoy my engagement and be excited to talk about it instead of nervous about what my parents are going to try and pull next. Just to clarify, I am 21, the fiance is 23 (will be 22 and 24 by the wedding), we have been dating for three years, and I am financially independent of my parents.
Before I tell you what I think and before I offer any suggestions, I want you to ask yourself this: Do my fiancé and I have the kind of love that is supportive, kind and true? The kind we all should courageously strive for and not settle for less?
I’m going to assume that your answer is “Yes!!” so let me continue;
Your parents love you in the way they know how. And they feel (from their vantage point) that you would be happy if you continued to develop and perfect the talents that you showed them in your youth. Choosing a man of the same religion would add to that happiness, in their opinion. You not doing what “they believe” is best for you is much easier for them to explain if they can blame it on someone other than you or themselves. Your fiancé therefore becomes a convenient and unfortunate scapegoat. (By the way, know that you and your fiancé are not to blame for your parents’ feelings and behavior, even though you have likely wondered what you might have done along the way to prompt such a response.)
There are parents who want you to be happy and will be supportive and nonjudgmental in whatever ways you ask or don’t ask of them. They prepare you for life and then root for you as you go out and pursue your dreams, whatever they may be.
There are also parents who want you to be happy but in their minds, it is only if you let them guide you, will you achieve that happiness. These parents, unfortunately and often unknowingly, prepare you for a life that makes their happiness more important than yours.
Sadly, it seems that you do not have the nonjudgmental ones. So…… What do you do?
I think you plan your wedding and your life without any expectations of financial help from them, or any change of heart from them, or any epiphany coming to them.
Do not ask them anything that could result in an answer that might upset you. Continue to show them your love and respect. But, keep phone calls and visits short and sweet.
Invite them to the wedding without requesting assurances of any kind from them. Hopefully, seeing you confidently taking mature control of your life and the events surrounding your wedding, your mom and then your dad will see you in a different and more positive light.
If this works, and I hope it does, you and your fiancé and your parents will have the happiness that we all want. If not, you will know that you tried your best.
In the grand scheme of things, there are the people who show you love without condition, and there are the others. You build your life with the ones in the first part of that sentence.
Much love, Miss M.
And to finish up this post, here’s a little video. You know… to lighten the mood a smidge, if you need the mood lightened for a sec.
I totally like to make him guess. This video is very true to life.
Ok. I’d really like to turn the answering of today’s reader question over to you guys. What are your thoughts on Miss M’s situation? Perhaps you have some advice? Or maybe some of you can identify with some part of it, or have seen a friend go through it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in general.
Final note to the world… I want people to know that this is certainly not a unique problem to have, and I think it’s very important to know that people who struggle through something like this are by no means alone in what they’re experiencing.
xoxo! - Alison
To see the rest of the shoot shown in today’s lead image, click here.