Difficult mother of the bride!

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Brie84 Posts : 5 Registered: 6/30/10
Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 3:01 PM

I'd love some advice from anyone who has had to deal with a difficult mother or mother in law.

I'm 26, have two young children of my own (from a previous relationship), and got engaged on Christmas Day 2009. My mother separated from my father when I was about 3 years old, and she has been quietly bitter towards him ever since.

My mom and I have never gotten along very well, in fact, the only reason we still talk is because I am trying to foster a positive relationship between her and my kids. She has remarried, and her husband is not really close with me or my brother (my only sibling).

When my fiance proposed on Christmas Day, my mother was not present because she chose to spend the day at her home (hours away) instead of being with me, my kids, my bf/fiance, his mother, and my father. When she found out that everyone else was present for the proposal, and she wasn't, she assumed that they were all informed it was going to happen, and she was intentionally left out. This was not the case, my father didn't know, he chose to be there because he wanted to spend Christmas with us. My fiance had asked my father for his blessing in asking me to marry him, and this was also a problem for my mother.

I made sure to call her first after the proposal, because I know how she wants everything to be about her, and needs to know things first. She seemed happy.

A little while later, my fiance received a phone call, and I didn't realize at the time that it was my mother's husband.

He said that my fiance had made two huge mistakes. First: asking my father instead of my mother for my hand. Second: not making sure that they were there for the proposal.

Needless to say, this upset me, and everyone else there. I couldn't believe my mom would have her husband call to chastise my fiance.

After a couple days of not hearing from them again, I called and tried to find out why she would do something like that. She explained that it was a parent's job to teach children when they have made mistakes, and that my fiance had made mistakes.

I find this offensive considering he is not her husband's child, nor a child at all!

Anyways, this situation created a very large issue, with my mom sending out hurtful emails to large groups. She decided to include my brother, who had nothing to do with it. He and my mother had always been much closer, so I believe she did this to recruit someone to her side.

She has since turned this into a personal vendetta against me, which I believe is fueled by baggage that she is holding onto from the past.

She barely talks to me, has shown no interest in our wedding plans, got upset when shown our engagement photos (said they were too hurtful to look at).

I recently learned from my brother that she will basically write me off if I don't have her walk me down the aisle. I can't do that, I have no connection to her, and I have a great relationship with my father.

Is there some way that I can make sure she doesn't freak out at the wedding? Some other role she could fill? We aren't close at all, and I don't want to pretend that we are for one of the most important days of my life.

TIA

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agd1017 Posts : 464 Registered: 9/14/09
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 3:12 PM Go to message in response to: Brie84

Honestly, it sounds like no matter what you do, it's not going to be enough for her. She has a personal issue against you, and there is nothing you can do to make it all better. I'm assuming that even if you did allow her the honor of walking you down the aisle, she would find something else that she would use against you, that if you didn't give her that she would write you off.

Personally it sounds like an untenable situation. I feel for you. I've had a mildly dysfunctional relationship with my own mother my entire life- she left when I was a baby and I was raised by my father.

Hopefully someone else can give you some better advice!

Amanda and Eric
10/10/10

Amanda and Eric

 

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 3:18 PM Go to message in response to: Brie84

Dear Brie,

Wow.

OK, first things first.

Your "hand in marriage" is your own hand to give away, no one else's. Your boyfriend proposed to you, you accepted, you informed your parents and family. Period.

Mom is way out of line even thinking that you have to go to her or anyone else for permission to marry someone.

Next, she is way out of line for chastising your boyfriend. He is not her child, and he has every right to tell her to go pound sand.

Third, the decision of who escorts a bride down the aisle is that of the bride. It's a very personal decision and is totally up to the brides. She can ask her father, a step-father, grandfather, brother, best friend, her mother, her aunt, her kindergarten teacher. No one has any right telling a bride who she must ask as her escort.

The traditional escort is the bride's father. Assuming the father and daughter have a good relationship, he would be the first person to be considered. You are not being a "bad daughter", you are just being a traditional bride by asking your father.

Now, as for how to deal with Mom.

It's simple: Invite her. Period.

She can accept or decline. Her choice.

If she accepts, great. If she declines, great. Either way, it's her business. Make contingency plans for either option. Similarly, do not include her in any wedding planning. Do not give her any opportunity to screw things up. She has exhibited little or no interest, so far, so just continue on without her.

How can you make sure she doesn't cause a scene? You can't. Period. You can find some muscular friends of yours to drag her out of the room should you so request ("Bubba, Tiny, execute Operation Remove."), but how she acts and what kind of scene she makes is totally up to her.

Repeat after me: The only person whose behavior you are responsible for is your own. Other people act like jerks? Let 'em. Not your problem.

Ignore the emails. She's just stirring up trouble. If anyone asks, just respond "Oh, she's such a Drama Queen.", and change the subject.

The more you let her upset you, the more control she has over you. If you don't get upset, then she has no control.

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 3:43 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Exactly what AOTB said.

Sorry you have the drama though...wow.

 Proud Member of P.O.O.P.,  People Offended by Offended People

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Brie84 Posts : 5 Registered: 6/30/10
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 4:26 PM Go to message in response to: Brie84

Thanks for the responses.

I am definitely going to invite her, unless she does something absolutely unbelievable between now and then.

You're right, she will most likely find something else to hate me for, as usual.

I believe that if she doesn't walk me down the aisle, she will see that as a public snub, and will create a scene, or at the very least leave early while making it clear she is unhappy with me.

I've gotten to the point where her varying emotions or grudges don't cause me much stress, but I'd like to avoid it completely on that day.

Can anyone think of some other simple ceremonial task that I could include to make her feel honored? Something symbolic that doesn't fake some sort of closeness between her and I?

I had thought that maybe she could be escorted down the aisle by the best man (my brother), to her seat. My fiance had suggested her walking with the flower girl (my daughter), but I'd rather my daughter gets to do that on her own.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 4:48 PM Go to message in response to: Brie84

Dear Brie,

"I had thought that maybe she could be escorted down the aisle by the best man (my brother), to her seat"

That's perfectly OK, and is in line with what Tradition has to say about weddings.

The bride's mother, as hostess of the event (in this case, hostess??? ha ha ha!!!), is the last to be seated. A good hostess sees to the comfort of her guests, then seats herself last.

Thus, the bride's mother is the very last to be seated, just following the other two honored guests: the groom's parents. Typically, MOB is escorted in by one of the groomsmen, or by her own son, if possible.

Following the seating of the bride's mother, the procession starts. Bridesmaids, flower girl, bride and her father.

That's the Traditional Way. Since your family is dysfunctional, moosh it around to better suit your needs, if necessary.

"I believe that if she doesn't walk me down the aisle, she will see that as a public snub,"

She can see it as a public snub all she wants, but she'll be the only one. As I said, Tradition suggests the bride with a good relationship with her father consider him, first, for the role of escort. If the bride does not have a good relationship with her father, or if her father is deceased, then the bride considers other options, one of which is to ask her mother.

She can think of it as a public snub, but that's just the Drama Queen in her. Ignore it.

I sincerely suggest that you not give your mother so much control over your emotions. You are old enough to get married, so you are old enough to realize that parents are far from perfect and that you are free to live your own life, independent from Mom and Dad.

Draw a line around your mother. She will be invited, she can accept or decline. If she accepts, she can be the last person seated, escorted by your brother. If she declines, then the parents of the groom will be the last two persons seated. Be prepared for either situation.

I feel for you, truly I do, but you've got to grow a backbone and stand up to Momzilla.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 5:28 PM Go to message in response to: Brie84

I've got a bit of a drama queen mother myself, so I can understand where you're coming from.

One thing you can do is Thank her in some public way. You'll have to figure out the words to do it. . .something like "Thank you for supporting me growing up" which she did, financially at least. Stick that Thank you on the back of your programs, while singling out some others for Thanks.

Now, I don't really think you have to do this. I'm actually a little against your being manipulated to do anything just for her. But sometimes you do this stuff just to calm the waters as much as you personally feel comfortable with.

But I also have to second what others have said about there being no way to control what she does. I knew my wedding would be an intense time for my mother (she's got baggage, definitely) but we made it through the wedding without indident. But. . .the next day, several people from out of town all met up at the same restaurant for breakfast, and we chatted with our guests before they left. My mother made a dramatic entrance and then started publicly berating me for a perceived slight in our Remembrances section of the program (I'd honored some paternal relatives, but not many maternal ones -- I'd never known them!) and it was definitely mortifying.

Those who witnessed it later asked if I was okay, and made it clear that it was more embarssing for her than for me.

You really can't control these things. You've just got to have a contingency plan.

__________________________________________

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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karebeartg Posts : 831 Registered: 6/25/08
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 7:23 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

Like MrsD, I have an idea of what you are worried about and I absolutely agree that you will just have to find a way to let it roll off your back. AOTB has some excellent practical suggestions, but in the end, the most helpful thing I found to do was remember that my mother is who is she is and not even my wedding day was going to make her into 100% perfect normal mother.

For me, there are two points in my mind where I really just had to suck it up. First, when she flipped out at me 30 minutes before we left for the ceremony because my sister couldn't ride in the limo with me to the church because it wasn't wheelchair accessible. Mind you, at approximately 52 points prior to the wedding, I asked my mother, my sister and my father if this would be a problem because if so, I would attempt to find wheelchair accessible transportation and was told it'd be fine because it was only a 10 minute drive. Second, when she snapped at/yelled at my photographer when we were leaving for the ceremony because he took a picture of her. (Right, typing this out is making me remember how nutty she was that day...)

My mantra to myself was twofold: 1) I love her because she is my mother and 2) this is entirely her decision how she wants me to remember her on my wedding day and that if she chooses crazy, that is not at all my fault.

From the other side, I can assure you that nobody will think it's your fault or reflects poorly on you if a parent acts nutty, I promise. My friend's father decided he could NOT walk her down the aisle because she was also having her mother (his ex-wife) walk her down. He'd known this for months and told her about an hour before her wedding. Drama ensues, naturally. Fortunately, her uncle convinced her father to walk her down, but I promise you that none of us thought SHE was the crazy one. We sure didn't think too highly of the father though.

 

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Brie84 Posts : 5 Registered: 6/30/10
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 7:24 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

Thanks MsDenuninani, I totally agree with you.

I've always been able to stand up to my mom, and I think this is part of why she has such a problem with me.

I'm not about to let her craziness manipulate me, which is why I am steadfast about her not walking me down the aisle.

I think thanking her for raising me (or however I end up wording it) is a good idea. I'll make sure to do that, it should be enough to keep her happy.

I can't believe your mom did that, well, actually I can believe it, it sounds just like my mom. It helps ease the awkwardness when other family members support you like that, glad they had your back.

Hopefully I can appease her sufficiently that she doesn't pull some guilt trip on me like that.
Whatever happens, her bad attitude isn't going to ruin my day, because I know I have a ton of loving supportive people around me. I just really wish that she could see the happiness surrounding my life and enjoy it with us. She's such an unhappy person that it's often a relief when she doesn't come around.

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Brie84 Posts : 5 Registered: 6/30/10
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jun 30, 2010 7:38 PM Go to message in response to: karebeartg

karebeartg

I love your mantra, I think I'll use that! "this is entirely her decision how she wants me to remember her on my wedding day and that if she chooses crazy, that is not at all my fault" Perfect, that thought really put me at ease, thank you.

Man, it's so sad that there are so many of us with mom issues. It always made me feel like a weirdo when I read books or magazines that talk about how the bride will want her mom there for dress shopping, or fittings, shopping for favors, decorating, etc, etc. Now I'm coming to realize that there are tons of women dealing with moms that are similar or worse.

Like you said, I'm pretty sure people won't think badly of me if my mom does something crazy. Although, my mom has a habit of talking about our issues to everyone she knows, and she tends to put a spin on it to make people support her. So, I'm sure some of her family that is closer to her than me will assume that I am being spiteful by not giving in to what she wants.

There isn't much I can do about that, just keep doing what I think is right, and not let her behavior bother me.

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myras Posts : 396 Registered: 2/26/10
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jul 1, 2010 7:40 PM Go to message in response to: Brie84

"Is there some way that I can make sure she doesn't freak out at the wedding?"

The only way I can think of would be to not invite her, but you've already decided that you wish to invite her. I have difficulty understanding why you would want to have such a rtoxic person in your life (I know, I know, she's your Mother), but particularly difficult to understand why you would want to encourage a relationship with your children. Would she not be just as toxic and manipulative with them? I would keep her at a distance. Invite her, if you must, but try not to be so needy--she is who she is, and that's not going to change. Sorry you don't have the mother you'd like to have, but don't let her ruin your happy moments.

myra@classysassyweddings.com

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2dBride Posts : 158 Registered: 3/16/09
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jul 7, 2010 2:55 AM Go to message in response to: myras

but particularly difficult to understand why you would want to encourage a relationship with your children. Would she not be just as toxic and manipulative with them?

Actually, my own experience is that someone who is a toxic mother will not necessarily be a toxic grandmother. The power relationship is very different. Children will internalize disapproval from their parents. In the case of their grandparents, they can understand, "Grandma is kind of nutty, so don't take it personally."

I have not had contact with my mother since 1994. When I was divorced in 1996, my ex asked if it would be all right if he took our kids to visit my parents. I said that as long as the kids were willing to go and he was willing to take them, it was fine by me. After one such trip, I asked my son how Grandma's behavior had been. He said, "I think Grandma decided that if she couldn't say something nice, she shouldn't say anything at all. She therefore barely spoke at all to Dad, didn't speak much to me, and spoke mostly to (his sister)." He thought for a moment and then said, "I felt really sorry for (his sister), because she ended up having to talk to Grandma all the time." He could see that Grandma didn't like him much, but he understood that this did not reflect badly on him, but on her.

Ironically, my mother even likes my son, now that he is an adult. Notwithstanding that she always told me how horrible my parenting was, he apparently went from being an unsatisfactory child to being a satisfactory adult. I'm assuming she credits divine intervention for this transformation, since I was such a "horrible" parent.


Our wedding Web site and items for sale

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jul 7, 2010 10:39 AM Go to message in response to: 2dBride

Dear 2nd,

"Actually, my own experience is that someone who is a toxic mother will not necessarily be a toxic grandmother. "

There's an old saying.

Why do grandparents and grandchildren get along so well? They have a common enemy!

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jul 7, 2010 12:07 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Hello

Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding. First and foremost a famous quote comes to mind as I read through your post:

"We have nothing to fear except fear itself"

In a relationship such as the one you have between you and your mom, she unconsciously sees this as her last chance to manipulate you. She is losing you and will no longer be the focal point of your life. Even if she wasn't that's how she sees it. Letting go is hard to do.

At some point you and your FH will have to tell your mom and her DH to pound sand. This is your life and you have to be able to live it without being manipulated by them. Trust me I know how hard it is to tell parents to butt out. But it can be done.

As others have said, the only person who's behavior you can control is your own. I'm going to go one step further. If you have not read "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankle, you might want to sit down and read it. The book does go to the next step. In addition to being able to control only your behavior, you can control how you react to a situation.

For instance, you child breaks a vase. You can be upset for the rest of the day and ruin your day or you can clean up the mess and then enjoy the rest of the day. How you choose to react is your choice. If you allow your mom to control your emotions then she has succeeded in manipulating you.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


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Brie84 Posts : 5 Registered: 6/30/10
Re: Difficult mother of the bride!
Posted: Jul 7, 2010 4:50 PM Go to message in response to: Brie84

Thanks for all the replies, I really appreciate the thoughtful responses.

To be honest, I have been very blunt with my mom when she does things I don't appreciate. There were some very heated phone calls and emails where I told her off, I'm not a shy person that can't lay down the law. I've had to tell her in the past that she could only visit my kids at my house when she wasn't respecting my rules, I definitely told her off when she tried to ruin our engagement day. She doesn't get off easy with me, and I don't let her get away with acting crazy. I've just realized that in certain situations it makes it easier on everyone else to make sure that she doesn't get cranky.

On certain days I would like nothing more than to completely cut her out of our life. I realize that it may come to that, but it would be very difficult. My children are extremely attached to my mom, they love going to visit her. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that my mom spoils them and doesn't have a lot of rules at her house.

I like that quote about grandchildren and grandparents having a common enemy heheh I can see how that could be true sometimes. Fortunately my children and I still have a great relationship, one that I plan to maintain.

Here's a question: Do you think having her read this thread could be a good thing? I thought that maybe seeing the opinions of people who are completely neutral might give her a little perspective.

Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll check that out.

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