Photo: New Line/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection
Got in-law woes? Who doesn't. But, awkward as it may be, our experts suggest handling any mother-in-law issues earlier rather than later in an engagement so that you can pinpoint specific examples of hurtful behavior and hopefully get to a place of mutual understanding and happiness in time for the wedding. Here's how to deal.
We've seen it a thousand times: Your fiancé's mother insists he attend your women-only bridal shower so that he can open her gift, which is something slightly odd like a GPS system for his car, or she seats your entire family in the back at the rehearsal dinner so that they can barely hear the speeches, let alone see around a giant pillar obstructing their view of the happy couple.
It's easy to see how a mother of the groom could misattribute the attention paid to the bride as everyone only focusing on her rather than the couple, particularly if she's feeling like the wedding means she'll no longer be the most important woman in her son's life. Now we all know that she hasn't been the most important woman in his life for quite some time, so allow this unspoken truth to remain just that — unspoken.
Instead, talk with your fiancé. Explain to him that it hurts your feelings when she refuses to participate in bridal celebrations, only reserving her happiness for when he's there to witness it. While you may come off as being overly sensitive, stay calm and persuade him to see things from your perspective so that the two of you become acquainted with being on the same team. The easiest way to do that is to position the conversation as though you want to make things better, for both you and his mother. Encourage him to have a conversation with his mom in which he expresses his happiness in your relationship and excitement for the future. This is also a great opportunity to tell her how thankful he is for the role she played in his upbringing and how she'll continue to be important in his life. Let her know that celebrating the two of you as a couple is what will make him happy.
Even though he left home years ago and hasn't been "mama's boy" for quite some time, this is still a milestone for her, and recognizing the weight of that milestone will go a long way in tempering her emotions leading up to the wedding. Plus, it might allow her to begin accepting you as important in not only her son's life, but in her life as well.