Approaching the In-Laws?

April 7th, 2010

Last December, I asked my future in-laws for their blessing to ask their daughter to marry me. I was more nervous about that question than the actual question. Of course they said yes, and a week later, she did as well.

Now my worst fears are being realized and I am not sure how to handle it. I met my fiance while we were both in our undergrad. For the past four years we have been dating, and after graduation we knew things would change because she was going for her PhD and living at home for a year. Her parents, particularly her mother is a traditional Catholic, and for the past four years has made us live under the old fashion rules for everything. Something we were happy to agree to, because it was their house, they were paying for her school and we certainly didn’t want to be disrespectful.

Now we are engaged, fully employed adults, and are planning the next step in our lives. This fact is escaping her parents and everything we decide is being made more difficult and they are backing my fiance into an impossible choice. We would marry tomorrow if we could. However, we would like a larger ceremony, that is a celebration with our friends and family. Realistically, we know we can’t afford this right now.

I am going to law school next year, and for one year we will be apart. That year is going to be hard enough. The plan we had is that she will move in with me after that year when she has completed her residency, and that we would get married two years later after I graduate and we can afford the wedding.

Her parents forbade that, and threatened to disown her. Under no circumstances will they permit us to live together out of wedlock. They have since indicated that their blessing is for a wedding in 18-months, which we just frankly can’t afford to do. Initially they offered to help us pay for it but are dictating, where the wedding is (not where my fiance and I would like to have it) where the reception is (Not where we would like) and how many people we can invite (Not nearly enough to cover even our immediate family and closest friends).

When we said we would be happy to have the wedding in the eighteen months to respect their wishes, and would find a way to pay the difference between the wedding they will pay for and the one we want they withdrew their offer. It is their way or the highway. My natural inclination is the highway which brings us to this scenario.

We hold off until 2012, and pay for the wedding we want to have and either
A. She moves in with me per our wishes and her family disowns her. (These are crankiest stereotypical Puritanical Catholic New England stereotypes – it is not an empty threat.)
B. We stay apart for the next four years (Which I personally don’t feel is fair to me or her)

Now even if we pay for the entire wedding ourselves, and managed to do so in the 18 month time period so we wern’t living out of wedlock, they are still imposing rules, including saying that they would not come to the wedding if we had it more than one hour from their home.

My fiance is calling me in tears after her parents are just downright mean to her. However, she loves her parents, and they have done a lot for her including paying for school and I am sure it would break her heart to permamently damage her relationship with them. My feeling is that a wedding is the bride’s day and it should be the day she wants.

How can I give her the wedding she wants without creating some irreparable fracture with her parents?

Should I privately speak with her parents and let them know how much they are hurting their daughter?

Am I being unreasonable in wanting to wait so we can have the wedding we want when we can afford it? Or if they are going to impose a time limit shouldn’t they be willing to pay the same amount towards our dream wedding that they were willing to pay for the wedding they wanted us to have?

Any thoughts are appreciated.

6 Responses to “Approaching the In-Laws?”

  1. abc says:

    Again, parents of the bride or the groom are under NO obligation to pay for a wedding…you are unreasonable and selfish….you and your fiance plan a wedding that the two of you can afford….

  2. Nicole Lynn says:

    I don’t think it is selfish at all for you to want to have a wedding that is all about you and your fiance, not about her parents.
    Why don’t you see if they would be open to the idea of you having a simple ceremony soon so that in the eyes of the Lord and government, you will be married and can live together without the worry of being ‘out of wedlock’ and then save up for a vow renewal ceremony and big reception later on when you can afford it. I know it isn’t ideal, but it seems like one of few possibilities.

    You really do need to talk to them. Tell them that you and your fiance want to abide by their rules, but you want to make your own choices about the wedding.

    Good luck! And I am sorry this is so stressful! I will pray for you and your fiance!

  3. ncbaby03 says:

    I don’t think you two are being selfish at all. It’s completely understandable to want to have your dream wedding. However, I do not think you should go about this by talking to her parents. I have a feeling that they are not going to cave and it’s just going to make the situation worse.

    I’m going to have to agree with the 2nd post. You could do the ceremony the way they want it, live together until you are both done with school, and then when you can afford it have your dream vowel renewal and reception.

    I definitely do not think that you should make your fiance chose between you and her parents. What I mean is, you two deciding to just live together and have her parents disown her. As much as she loves you, I’m 100% positive that she will regret this later in life. By that point who knows if there will be anything she can do to fix it.

    Have the simple wedding. Live together. Be happy with each other for a couple of years, then have a big to-do.

    Listen, if you two truely love each other and truely want to be together then it won’t matter what kind or how small your wedding is. Although, everyone wants their dream wedding, I would be just as happy to marry my fiance at a courthouse.

    Good luck with everything!

  4. Hound Lover says:

    Wow, you guys have a lot going on.

    This might be a long shot, but what about having a pre-wedding? Meaning, get the priest to officially marry you with just parents in attendance, move in together, and then do the big she-bang. Would they go for that? If their stance is truly one based on religion, then being married, quietly, would resolve their issues. Also, your wife wouldn’t have to change her name until you guys do the big wedding, therefore no one is the wiser.

    I have to respectfully disagree with your pitch. Waiting the additional 4 years is going to put a significant amount of strain on your relationship with your fiance, since it will hamper your growth as a couple, especially if she is going to live with her parents the whole time. Further, it will complicate things with the in-laws as they have shown they’ll resort to threats to get what they want. Waiting that long will cause turmoil and create resentment.

    I appreciate that your fiance has an idea of what she wants her wedding day to be like, but there is nothing that says she can’t alter that vision to incorporate what you want too.

    As for speaking to her parents, it depends on the current relationship you have with them. If it has been historically warm and caring, I might go for it. But please remember, you are dealing with their religious beliefs and aren’t likely to change their mind. If they are mean to their daughter now, imagine what it will be like once they realize you aren’t supporting their decisions?

    Either way you’re in a tough spot, and I can sympathize with you. Good luck.

  5. Backgammoner says:

    I have one word for the both of you, and then my reasons for why this might be the best choice for you.

    The word is: ELOPE !

    The reasons for this choice are many:

    A) You want the best of both worlds – a wedding now, and to make her folks happy. It looks like her folks are never gonnabe happy, no matter what you do.

    B) On the one hand, yes her folks have done a lot for her, but they are holding her future as ransom against what they’ve done for her in the past. Like “Hey, she owes us for everything we’ve done for her” instead of them doing it all in the spirit of being good parents with the means of giving her the opportunity to further her education, and then saying “we love you, but this is your choice and if you want to marry this man, go for it. we don’t want you to be apart from him, and we trust your judgement” which is what they are NOT doing !

    C) They are being completely unreasonable to expect the two of you to be apart – it’s just wrong of them, and her parents MUST accept their part in whatever consequence happens. They can’t rule roughshod over her forever, and if you don’t stand up to them, this will BE your married life, with them thinking they can dictate everything.

    D) For them to think they can dictate every aspect of the wedding is flat out wrong – and I don’t care how much they contribute to it. It’s not THEIR wedding, even if it is their money.

    E) You are both grown adults, and part of the whole marriage experience is the hard times when you first move in and struggle, which only make it all the sweeter when, a few years down the like, you’ve come thru the struggles and it’s only made you a stronger couple. Think of it as an adventure !!

    If the two of you have the means to live under the same roof, pay your bills together, buy food, etc … if you’re willing and able to begin a life together after you elope, and if you’re positive that you can make it as a couple, then just do it. Her parents will either accept it over time or they won’t … but you have GOT to take a stand, and doing it the slow, torturous way over the next four years isn’t the way. Who knows what other problems, delays or situations will arise to make it take even longer.

    At the end of the day, what is more important: The wedding, or the MARRIAGE that follows it ? In 5 years, have a big renewing of your vows ceremony and then you can do a big shindig. Right now, the two of you are obviously devoted and want to be together more than anything, so you should be !

    Best of luck !!

  6. kbk823 says:

    Your wife-to-be is an adult, as are you. Her parents are being slightly unreasonable to say the least. She will have to decide if she wants to bow to her parents wishes, or if she wants to make her own. I would bet that if she does move out, her parents may disown her for a small time, but would be back quickly. Personally, I wouldn’t put up with that much control in my life, and that’s why I moved out of my family home and in with my husband (then boyfriend) when I was 20. Turn down the wedding offer, move in together, and deal with the aftermath as a united front.

    (By the way, the Puritans were Protestant, not Catholic. They came to America to freely practice their faith, which wasn’t Catholicism)

  7. lytedk says:

    You are being unreasonable.
    Get married now and let them pay for it.
    Notice I said now, not 18 months from now.
    How is what they want different from what you want?

    After you are married for a few years you can plan what ever kind of party you want to have.

RSS feed for comments on this post. And trackBack URL.

Leave a Reply