10/28 Broke-Ass Advice: Be a Lover, Not a Fighter with the In-laws

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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!

  • Joe DeFabis

    Great article, I’ve seen few articles that mention relationship with inlaws.