Broke-Ass Tag: In-Laws

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I am from Texas. Travis is from Michigan. We have different backgrounds and our own way of doing things. A year ago, we traveled to different cities to celebrate the Holidays independently of each other and it was on Christmas morning, 2015 that we decided that we would not spend another Christmas away from each other.

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Home is where the heart is. Photo Credit:  Rayna Wooden Photography

His family travels and rotates households for Christmas and it just so happens that Christmas 2016 was already planned for Atlanta, so I began to plan with my family for them to travel to Atlanta as well. For approximately 100 days —  also known as the 1st half of the year — I reminded, plotted and attempted to help them plan a seamless trip to Georgia. I kicked my efforts into overdrive after we got engaged over the summer. In my mind it was a great plan for the two families to meet over the Holidays and get to know each other before our 2017 wedding.

Fast forward to December 19th. After weeks of Holiday parties, end of the year meetings and basking in the spirit of Christmas it finally dawned on me that our families were about to meet each other … for the first time!

Lots of lessons learned and sharing is caring, so here you go:

  1. Over-communicate: I had a lot of great ideas in my head, but I didn’t share them with anyone. Oops! Next time, I will communicate early and often the plan, itinerary, dinner menu, schedule, etc. … Basically all of the stuff that was in my head that would have been beneficial for others to know 🙂
  2. Informal is Key: we planned to have Christmas dinner at a house that I don’t live in and I was a little concerned about not having all of my tools for success to properly host so I planned an informal dinner on Christmas Eve that was intimate and cozy enough for everyone to get to know each other. An added bonus was that my dad traveled with my Aunt Edna’s world-famous chicken tetrazzini all the way from Texas and lifted some of the burdens of slaving in the kitchen so that I could enjoy my guests.
  3. Delegate: mixing family traditions can be HARD! Everyone has their favorite dish that they like to prepare and/or the dish that they have been waiting all year to eat. I connected with the cooking crew a few days out (I should have done it earlier, but we already hashed that out in #1) and we mapped out the menu. Two lessons learned on this one: I wasn’t solely responsible for preparing everything which was a win; and no one person carried the weight of the grocery expenses!
  4. Movies are movies and not real life: Maybe I’ve watched one too many “Meet the Parents,” “This Christmas” and “National Lampooon’s Christmas Vacation” movies. I was just waiting for some excitement, some big political conversation or a sports team dispute but nothing happened. My 1st highlight of Christmas day was that I won my 1st Spades game. The 2nd highlight was the BEST one, the families met, they liked each other and I am looking forward to part two when we all come together for the BIG Day!

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One big happy family.

I definitely suggest a pre-meeting between the families before the wedding.  It’s a perfect way to break the ice before the celebration.

 

  • 10/28

    dinosaur centerpiecesWeddings — planning them, paying for them, putting them on — are kind of an ordeal. Even the simplest of soirees can have a lot of moving parts and when those parts get to rolling, the unsolicited advice starts coming in. Seriously: death, taxes, unsolicited wedding advice.

    Plenty of people out there have already explained that it’s important not to take these opinions (or thinly veiled demands) personally, but it’s worth mentioning again … don’t take it personally. However, depending on the source of the advice things can get a little … contentious between you and your partner and nothing drives a wedge quite like [*ominous music*] in-laws.

    Personally, I love my in-laws. They’re wonderful people who brought me in and treated me like family, but family can get under your skin. Through all that love, I still managed to get really. fucking. sick. of all of the opinions my mother in law expressed.

    That’s too expensive! Well, we’re footing the bill ourselves.

    Why September instead of the spring? Um, it’s just what we wanted.

    You should just go to the courthouse! We’ve already put a large and non-refundable deposit on the venue and damnit, I want our pretty prince and princess day!

    When your future in-laws start grinding your gears, your first instinct will likely be to bitch to your future spouse. Don’t. Even the most practical of people can feel personally attacked when you speak ill of their family. Hanging on to your frustrations silently can be damaging to your, well, sanity, so find neutral ground to talk about your irritation before it turns into out-right anger.

    Start by mentioning the family member’s advice or opinion without embellishment. “I feel like your mother dislikes the colors we’ve chosen.” Give your partner time to react and consider whether the family member is criticizing a choice you made together. If you find yourselves firmly on the same page, ask for help. “Since we agree, would you please remind her that we made this decision together and we’re very happy with it?” Having a unified front with your future spouse is a good way to let a persistent parent know that their son or daughter is also involved in the planning and their preferences are being heard.

    Make your feelings known without insulting mom or dad. The constant barrage of suggestions and requests that many couples get can be frustrating and stressful, so don’t be afraid to explain that. You do want to be careful of jumping into more inflammatory language. “Your dad is really pissing me off,” or “I can’t stand your mother,” can leave your partner feeling stuck in the middle between two of the most important people in his or her life. If you feel the push of a parent, your betrothed will likely feel the squeeze from both sides.

    If they care about their parents’ opinions, care with them. If necessary, find a compromise, but try giving the benefit of the doubt. Remember that you are in this together and the pushiest of parents are often very close with their kids, even after they’ve become adults. You don’t want to form a rift over things like stationery or a string quartet. If they’re insistent about something, ask why. They may have a good reason. If an inlaw is pushing a family tradition, it’s likely because they see you as a part of their family.

    That being said, know where to draw the line. Don’t fold over cultural or religious elements when you and your partner specifically want to include or exclude something. Don’t get bullied into something you hate. Don’t put up with being personally insulted over a choice you and your partner have made. Most in-laws mean well, but it’s an unfortunate fact that some of them don’t. If you start getting that feeling, put them on the spot. Explain that you and your fiance(e) are trying to plan an event that pleases everyone with everything is causing both of you a lot of stress. If the idea would cause a financial burden, make that plainly known. If it’s time to bring out the big guns, this is the line that worked for me: “I love you and I don’t want to fight with you. I love your son with all of my heart and this is something we decided on together. May I ask you to support us, please?” Worked like a charm!

    Are you having issues with an in-law? What has worked to break the tension? Let us know in the comments below!

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    Photo: We Are The Parsons Hey Liz,  I'm getting married in April and my parents have had a rocky, nasty relationship for the past few years, which has led to their not-so-wonderful relationship with me. They are once again together, against the advice of most of our loved ones. Now, my mother wants my father and her to walk me down the aisle together. She sprung this on…

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