IN-LAW ISSUES, YAY! | Dealing With A “No Boundaries” In-Law, In Today’s Letter From A Reader.

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In today’s exciting installment of In-Law Issues Revealed, one lady is trying to plan the wedding of her dreams to another lady’s beloved son, and that second lady is so totally not having ANY of it.  LOL!  High kick, woot!

No but seriously this poor girl.  

Now, as always, I am but one person with one perspective and hardly the gospel on these matters.  But I think I nailed this one.

Okie doke!  Let’s begin.

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Hey Alison,

I’m a huge Knotty Bride fan!  I’ve got some crazy going on right now, but first here’s some backstory.  My boyfriend and I have been together for a good while now, and he’s got my grandmother’s ring… It’s a matter of when not if we get engaged.  Well here’s where things get a little tricky.  I got married right out of college and had a huge, no-budget blowout of a wedding my first go round.  (Side note: my dad passed away when I was 18, and my mom passed away suddenly literally 5 days after I got engaged when I was 21 – so I was basically spending money in hopes I wouldn’t feel what was glaringly missing from my wedding day.)  Now I’m 28, my boyfriend is 34, and he has never been married.  We are shooting for a wedding in May of 2015.

I’m a huge wedding enthusiast.  I’ve loved weddings since I was small.  I’m genuinely interested in wedding trends and love to entertain in general.  My boyfriend is from a small town.  His parents are definitely well off, but they certainly don’t act like it except that they travel out of the country multiple times a year.  Due to the fact that I have no parents, the majority of our wedding budget will be paid by Jonathan and me.  That’s totally fine by me, but I’d rather a long engagement (and us start saving now) and a reasonable wedding ($15,000 max budget which seems almost “cheap” by today’s standard).

Well enter future MIL*… She’s literally said that’s such a waste of money.  She feels everybody can just bring a covered dish, no need for flowers – we can just use clippings from everybody’s gardens, and here is the best of it all… “So many people take pictures with their phones these days, you don’t need a photographer”!  Wait what?!  And this is all for between 150-200 people (less than 50 people on my list) not including the fact that we “have to” invite the whole church.

Now I’m all for some DIY projects, and I don’t think I need excessive florals.  But having been through the wedding planning process once before, I know that my priorities are photography/videography, live music, food/bar and then as an aside, my dress. (The first time I went dress shopping I had just lost my mom and had taken custody of my then 13 year old sister… Needless to say it was not a fun, pleasant experience, and just about everybody cried the entire way through the process.)

So here’s the problem – my boyf’s mom is very outspoken.  She has no qualms telling me that my expectations are unrealistic and we just need to go to the courthouse with someone taking iPhone pictures… I don’t feel like I have a dog in the fight because she is so overbearing, and I obviously don’t have my mom there to balance her out.  Again, I’m fine with us paying for the wedding, but her thinking is “how dare I put that sort of financial bourdon on her baby boy”.  (Another side note- my boyf owns his own home, has a fabulous job, and I just graduated and will become a teacher very soon.  We both have good cars, and one is even paid off.)

So is this a battle worth fighting, or do I just sit back, let her “plan” this train wreck of a party (at this point I wouldn’t even call what she’s describing a wedding or a reception because of course I’ve been told I can’t wear white, or a veil, or a dress with any volume, etc.)?

Sorry this is so long, but if it’s this bad before he even proposes, I don’t want to even see what she’s like when plans are being finalized.

Thanks,

“C”

Dear Miss C,

Your FMIL** as you describe her seems rather set in her ways and judgmental about other people’s decisions.  It appears she faults people, as she seems to be doing with you, if she doesn’t agree with their choices.

If that’s the case, this will be your future: her acceptance, if you do what she wants… or sadness, frustration and anger if you do what you want and she doesn’t approve of it.

It will extend as it already has to dress choice, and wedding reception plans.  And it won’t end there, unless you and your fiance do something about it.  It will eventually include following her child rearing rules, should you choose to start a family.

You should be aware of this very possible aspect of your FMIL’s personality – She can’t help her unwanted intrusiveness.  She is, like most of us, stuck with her social behavior.  If it’s accepting of one’s right to be different from her in one’s choices, then that’s great.  If it’s not accepting of one’s right to make one’s own choices – as in your situation – then you’ve got a real problem.

So, here’s what your fiance has to do (because this is more his responsibility than yours):

In a very understanding and loving way, he has to talk to his mother and acknowledge that her choices in her own life have been okay for her.  However, her way is not the only way to live a life.  He has to explain to her that there are many equally acceptable ways to navigate one’s course through life.

He then has to stress that your choices, although different, are as valid and as proper as hers.  Finally, he has to assure her and convince her that your choices are not a challenge to hers, they are just different from hers.

Easy peasy.  Right?  No.  Not right.  BUT- necessary if you want a happy life together.

Good Luck
Alison, TKB

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Ok, so let’s discuss:

1. Do you guys have any advice for this girl?  I was joking earlier about nailing it; I’m only like 75% sure I didn’t lead her in the wrong direction.

2. Do you suspect the fiance is kinda in agreement with the mom about spending?  Or do you think it’s more about not wanting to step on her toes?

3. Have you dealt with this at all in your life, in one way or another?  If so-what would you recommend (or is it HOPELESS?)?

4. And that part about the bride not being allowed to wear a white dress; obviously, because she’s been married once before and therefore “is not pure” or some shit.  Thoughts on that?

(p.s. Would be cool to hear from some mothers-in-law, too, about anything.  Could offer some extra perspective on this.)

(p.p.s. I’d love to have as open a discussion as possible with you guys today, becuse I know it’s a touchy topic, still, in our culture, but I’m betting the more we talk about it super openly and honestly, the LESS compelled we’ll feel to brush it under the rug and suffer in motherfuckin silence.)

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*MIL = mother-in-law; **FMIL = future mother-in-law, but you probably already knew that.

Label(s): "DEAR TKB..." Advice Column, Real Life Issues

Love all of this...

9 comments

  1. Jess on September 6, 2013

    Her future husband definitely needs to talk with his mother about this. But first, what does HE want? This is his wedding, too.

    If he DOES want a wedding like ‘C’ describes, he needs to talk with his mom and let her know that he, too, wants a wedding with a photog, food/bar that is NOT guest supplied, etc. His mom might change her tune when she learns that ‘her baby boy’ wants this, not just her future daughter-in-law. If he does NOT want a wedding like ‘C’ and instead agrees with the courthouse and iPhone photos, then ‘C’ and her boyfriend have some things to discuss. And ‘C’ needs to compromise a bit.

    Either way, he does need to talk to his mom about her behavior because this is going to go on for their entire lives if they let it…kids, vacations, everything will be run by MIL.

    Reply
  2. Jaimee on September 6, 2013

    “He then has to stress that your choices, although different, are as valid and as proper as hers. Finally, he has to assure her and convince her that your choices are not a challenge to hers, they are just different from hers.”

    This is so profound, and SO important. The challenge of the situation needs to be removed. This is not a power struggle, this is a wedding. The moment the power struggle comes back into play, everyone needs to sit down and hash it out. Even you, because when someone is pushing so hard one way, lets be honest, it feels nice to push back even if you don’t really care one way or another.

    I agree that this needs to be you and your fiancé. Sit down, alone (!) and talk I out. Decide what you BOTH want. Come up with your game plan, and embrace it as a team.

    Good luck!!

    Reply
  3. Jessika on September 6, 2013

    I agree with commenter Jess. You MUST set boundaries and stand up for yourself. It is going to be 100x worse when a child comes along. Trust me, been there, done that. When my husband and I required that everyone get a Pertussis vaccine before seeing our newborn baby (during a pertussis outbreak) our in laws disowned us and bad mouthed us all over facebook and to their friends. We did our own thing, stood our ground. It did not result in a turnaround on their part, but I would not change a thing. My MIL has since passed away and now my FIL is essentially MIA. But I am still glad that I stood my ground in establishing the rules for our relationship going forward from that point.

    Being a wedding photographer, I see poorly behaved MILs every weekend, and I have vowed that I will not be one to my future DIL. It is NOT HER PLACE to dictate the above things. If you give in, you’re setting the tone for the next 30 years. You can still be respectful (ie, the bigger person) and come out of this situation feeling good about yourself.

    I wish you all the luck in the world and stand with you in solidarity!

    Reply
  4. Marie on September 6, 2013

    I can’t help but wholeheartedly agree that the son must respectfully and firmly talk to his mother. It is so important that he verbally communicate his want/support/agreement with his bride to his mother about the wedding budget and what is most important. The photographer is the most important expense in my opinion. Take it from me, a person in the wedding biz, when I say I have heard countless stories from people who have skimped on this expense and lived to deeply regret it. I am not a photographer so I gain nothing from stating this. Brides! Please, if you have one splurge on your wedding day. Make it a photographer. These photos will live on forever. Your grandchildren, great grandchildren will look to them to know you. It is extremely important to preserve those memories as best as you can.

    Reply
  5. Crystal on September 7, 2013

    I have the overbearing mother. And there are times, for my fiance’s sake, I have to nip her unwarranted behavior in the butt. So, I agree that the poster’s man needs to sit down and have a very real conversation with her. Not just about the wedding, but how they are trying to make their own way in life. Once some ground rules are established, then some compromising about wedding details can be done. But they still need to keep in mind, this is not FMIL’s wedding.

    Reply
  6. Lone Pine Photography on September 16, 2013

    If the bride starts clean, has a discussion with her FH, and they decide TOGETHER what they want, then FMIL can have her opinion, but it won’t matter. I would want to hear from my parents if they thought I was making a mistake, but they don’t expect me to comply unless I agree. I’m sure it’s the same way with this bride and her FMIL.

    Another option to consider is a destination elopement. It’s become increasingly popular, and you’re not spending your budget feeding a lot of people that decided to attend for the free drinks and good food.

    Reply
  7. jon on November 2, 2013

    Being a wedding DJ I have seen this too many times. I have even witnessed the step mother of a groom become overbearing just before the ceremony. HE needs to set his mom straight not you, if you have words with her right now it may not be so good for you in the future. Let HIM be the one to tell her “It is out day mom!”

    Reply
  8. Jenn on March 30, 2014

    As soon as he proposes, you both need to sit down and discuss what you both want, without judging the others wishes. WRITE down what you want – this is important. Then, when MIL starts butting in, commenting, dropping hints, you’ll know that your fiancé will have your back. And don’t get into any arguments – let your boyfriend deal with his family. Don’t make my mistakes, you’ll just resent them if you compromise your happiness for the sake of people who just want drama and to be more important than the bride and groom. Trust me.

    Reply
  9. Rebekah on May 7, 2014

    I completely agree with all of these comments! Thank ya’ll so much. As similar as situations are, I still can not figure out exactly what boundaries to set. For a long time, my husband always said “shes my mom, i can talk to her when I want”…but…then he realized and saw for himself the ugly messages she sent me, and the complete OBSESSIVENSS on her part with him (30) and my daughter that is now 7 months. She expects me to bring her over every Saturday and allow her to stay all day, until she is satisfied with the alloted time. If he doesnt answer when she calls him, she freaks out, and even called his work and left a message on the HR directors voicemail that she was worried bc she hadnt talked to him in 2 days. I got so fed up with it all, I completely cut her off about 2 months ago, after asking her to back off and not call 20x a day with no acknowlegement of my statement, and there has been hardly any contact on OUR part since. She has tried to fight me, called me pathetic, and said that I have torn her family apart… which is so far from the truth, its really funny now… Am i wrong to not let my children go over there because of the things she continues to do? Im just so torn that I dont know anything anymore…I feel bad that it has come to this, but completely pisses me off that I have to waste valuable time doing this, when she could just be normal and everything would be fine. I may be partial, but we dont have any problems with my mom, she calls and then comes to get the girls with no problems… Some One Please Help Me!!!! :)

    Reply

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