potentially awkward family differences

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ecnusbau Posts : 12 Registered: 12/18/08
potentially awkward family differences
Posted: Jan 28, 2009 6:29 PM

Does anyone else worry that their family might make their fiance's family uncomfortable? Both my family and my boyfriend's family are incredibly kind and good-natured, but we come from different backgrounds.

I dread the day when our parents meet (they haven't yet purely for geographic reasons) because I'm worried his family might think my family is pompous, stuck up, or arrogant. Even as I'm writing this, I'm wondering if maybe I'm being all those things by worrying about this, but it's a legitimate concern of mine.

Has anyone felt like this before? If so, how did you handle your worries and/or situation? I really want everyone to like each other (okay, okay... at least tolerate each other in a pleasent manner) but I'm not sure how to keep two families that are so different from each other feeling like they are on an even keel. Any ideas? Experiences?

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: potentially awkward family differences
Posted: Jan 28, 2009 7:06 PM Go to message in response to: ecnusbau

Dear Ec,

Yes, I was in exactly that situation. I got married in 1976 and our families met in 1974, when we graduated from college.

My family comes from "old money". His family is working-class. I worried and worried about what would happen when they met.

I need not have lost a wink of sleep. Both the mothers were proud of their new college-grad children and the fathers were both WWII vets and talked about the South Pacific. SIL stood on a chair to get better photos of the grads, and my father thought that was a great idea, and followed her up.

They had something very important in common: Both sets of parents loved their children and were happy they had found someone in life. That is far more important than old money/working class roots.

It's still like that, even today, long after the deaths of both my parents. Just last week my husband and I went to the Inauguration in Washington, and stayed with my father's brother. My husband and my uncle got along great.

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myra Posts : 5,550 Registered: 3/28/06
Re: potentially awkward family differences
Posted: Jan 29, 2009 12:49 AM Go to message in response to: ecnusbau

I really want everyone to like each other (okay, okay... at least tolerate each other in a pleasent manner)

I think your concerns are very normal. Of course, you want everyone to get along. And, although there's no guarantee that they'll love (or even like) each other, you have an absolute right to expect that they will "at least tolerate each other in a pleasant manner." That's called being polite and grown up.
myra at www.classysassyweddings.com

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Mushaboo Posts : 2,165 Registered: 3/22/08
Re: potentially awkward family differences
Posted: Jan 29, 2009 8:00 PM Go to message in response to: ecnusbau

I was also terrified that my parents and FH's mom would not get along. Dad is a good southerner. Mom is a good Cheesehead. lol FMIL is a NYer. Different religions....different ideas.....different accents....outspoken bullheaded children.....ahhhhhh....a recipe for disaster. However, when the three of them met, everything was great. As a PP mentioned, the one thing they have in common is loving you! Now, it's 60 days to the wedding. My mom and FMIL speak at least twice a month. They both are very proud of FH and I so they find things in common to chat about so things aren't awkward at the wedding.

          ever thine          ever mine          ever ours

Check out our site http://www.mywedding.com/robertandginger

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: potentially awkward family differences
Posted: Jan 29, 2009 8:52 PM Go to message in response to: ecnusbau

Dear Ec,

I'll add this:

I have a niece who is like a daughter to me. She got married a couple of years ago, and I'd like to bet she wondered what would happen when her family (a bunch of white WASP people) met her fiancé's family (African-Americans with cousins married to African national women).

We all get along great.

I love her husband's large extended family, and I believe they enjoy us. One of my sons, the happy-go-lucky one, jumped up on the stage at their wedding reception and played African drums along with the band. I was surprised and embarrassed at first, but found out later he had actually rehearsed with them in order to surprise everyone at the wedding. When he did not totally screw up the music and appeared to know what he was doing, everyone relaxed and enjoyed the scene. He was a white boy with soul!

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newsjunkie Posts : 3,417 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: potentially awkward family differences
Posted: Jan 29, 2009 10:09 PM Go to message in response to: ecnusbau

I was in a similar position with our families being VERY different and my side living in New England and his in the south so I understand where you are coming from. However, Myra is right that you can and should expect them to get along OK as they are all adults. They may not be instant and forever friends but if anyone thinks the others are pompous, etc. they will probably keep it to themselves. I suppose if there is something in particular you think, say, your side might do you could casually mention it to your FIL's (or have your FH do it) as though it were a quirk or something like that and give an explanation for it. Like if your dad always mentions that he went to Harvard and it comes off as bragging but he isn't bragging, just talking about who he is and trying to learn about the other person you could mention that ahead of time. (Kind of a lame example but you get the point!)

Like I said, I was in the same position and at first my mom and I tried to come up with ways for my family to get to know his family better but they aren't that friendly (so much for that "friendly Southerner" stereotype!) and eventually we just gave up. The reality is that the wedding weekend is the only time my whole family will be with his whole family and even our parents may never meet again so to push for an actual friendship is sort of unnecessary. You can certainly try but you really don't have to. I'm sure your wedding day will end up working out great!

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ecnusbau Posts : 12 Registered: 12/18/08
Re: potentially awkward family differences
Posted: Jan 29, 2009 10:26 PM Go to message in response to: newsjunkie

Thanks guys, your advice certainly helps ease my worrries. I thought the "they have you in common so they will get along fine" thing was a fanciful day dream, but I'm so glad to hear that you have actually experienced it and it's real. Who knew fairy tales were true?

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MrsSy Posts : 504 Registered: 7/6/08
Re: potentially awkward family differences
Posted: Jan 31, 2009 6:47 PM Go to message in response to: ecnusbau

My parents are from Puerto Rico and doesn't speak English. FH parents are from PA and doesn't speak spanish. They haven't meet yet, and will be meeting at the rehearsal. Both set of parents are worry about meeting each other, but for the language barrier. FH is not worry, he won't be translating to them, he speak a few words in spanish. I'm a little worry and will be translating for them. I asked my 7 yrs old nephew to help me translate. It's goign to be interesting when they meet.

Can't wait to be Mrs. Snyder

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