While you're steeped in engagement bliss, you might be blissfully unaware that your mother is teeming with concerns, worries, and even demands. And that, our expert warns, could be a recipe for conflict. So here are five wedding fights you might have with your mom, and how to solve (or even avoid) every single one.
Your Mother's Involvement in Wedding Planning
Like you, your mother may have been dreaming of your wedding day since you were little—or even before you were born. So if your mother feels left out of the planning process, it could cause problems between you two. "I've heard mothers say they often feel relegated to second class, and all-but-replaced by the [spouse-to-be]," says John Duffy, Ph.D., parenting expert and author of The Available Parent. In this situation, "I would strongly suggest protecting some element of the planning—whether it be the ceremony, flowers, menu, or dress—as decision time [with mom]. This way, your mom will always feel like a critical part of the process."
"Denomination tends to come up frequently, due to disagreements about religion or services," Duffy says. Perhaps you're a Christian and your partner is Jewish, and you've agreed—to your mother's dismay—to marry under a chuppah rather than at an altar. Duffy says if you find yourself embroiled in an argument over what you'll read or recognize at your ceremony, "it is imperative you acknowledge your mother's feelings and her faith, while being clear in your own intentions."
Possibly the most difficult disagreement of them all is when a mother doesn't approve of her child's partner. "This is among the trickiest issues I ever work with clinically," Duffy says. Because this is such a painful disagreement, Duffy recommends seeking professional help in order to work through it. If you can talk it through, you could "[sidestep] what might be a lifetime of avoidance and strife," he says.
With all the monster-in-law stories we've heard, it might be hard to imagine a mother would feel threatened by her child's new mother-in-law. But Duffy has seen it happen. "Mothers sometimes feel as if the new mother-in-law is going to take her place in the life of their [child]," Duffy explains. Tell your mother that could never be the case, Duffy says. "Then it's critical that you protect time between you and your mother," he says, so your mother feels she is still a big and important part of your life.
Your Relationship After the Wedding
"Many mothers feel as if their importance will diminish after the wedding and fanfare, and this can become a major driver of conflict," Duffy says. It's important to show your mother you want to spend time with her—outside the wedding. "I encourage [to-be-weds] and their moms to protect time for each other on their calendars before the big event to ensure this will not be the case," Duffy says. "The occasional ritual—weekly lunches, for instance—sustains your connection, provides for a happier relationship over the long run, and short-circuits any conflict. There are no losers in this scenario."