Post # 1
My fiance and I were dating for about 11 years before we got engaged. Not only have I always been very private about our relationship, he has also been suffering from bipolar disorder for a long time, so for his own comfort and mine, I did not make much of an effort to bring him around my family until after we got engaged. I also didn’t feel like it was necessary for them to get to know him until they “had” to because I was so tired of seeing my siblings’ love interests come and go all of the time.
My family is being supportive of the wedding, and my parents are paying for everything – but this weekend it came out in conversation that they feel awkward and shortchanged that they haven’t had much of a chance to get to know him (or his parents) very well. I know his family well because I spent most of the time at his place instead of him coming over to mine.
I understand how my parents feel, and I understand my part in it. But at the same time, if they are so worried about not knowing him very well, I have not seen them make much of an effort to talk to him at the family events I have been bringing him to since we got engaged.
It is a short engagement (5 months), and we will be getting married in January. I am also the first wedding in the family, so this is a big change that we are all experiencing for the first time.
Has anyone been in this situation/have any advice? I can’t go back in time and change the way i have handled the situation thus far, but if I can make changes going forward, I will.
Post # 3
Can you find a day and spend it with your FI and your family, so they can get to know him?
My DH’s family was worried when we first got engaged, since they had only met me twice (despite that we’d been dating for two years). But we saw them every other month while planning (we got married in their city), and they felt much better by the actual wedding day!
Post # 4
@BrandNewBride: That’s a good idea, maybe I can have everyone over for dinner or something.
I do feel like they have seen him a lot since the engagement – we even spent an extended weekend at the beach with them and some other family members – but they didn’t really spend any time getting to know each other. I guess I will need to do some “hand holding” on both sides if it’s going to happen before the wedding.
Post # 5
@marie_antoinette: rather than just a dinner why not organize a full or half-day outing that everyone can take part in? Dinner is only a short period of time and people might feel pressured to make conversation which could end up being awkward. A fun outing or activity will keep the focus off the “getting to know each other” part and your family can interact with your FI in more casual setting. Try to find something that everyone will enjoy doing, maybe skating, bowling, visiting a comedy club, go karting or even visiting a holiday attraction in your area. When FMIL was visiting us last December, we took her and my family to an outdoor Christmas market that had little stalls, mini carol concerts, etc. Everyone enjoyed walking around chit-chatting, having a hot chocolates, buying little gifts and basically just getting to know each other without realizing it.
Post # 6
Yep. been through this, on both sides actually because my FI and I fairly private as well.
It doesn;t sound like your family is too needy. One side of the family was very needy with what they classified as “knowing us as a couple,” and ultimately we just decided that they would need to get used to it because what they were asking for was too much. (think weekly dinners and activities)
The other side, all it took was them to recognize that we took a concious effort to get to know them, and then it was all good.
Have them over for dinner once or twice and take it from there. In my opinion there is no need for ellaborate all day outings. I think you can get a lot more mileage out of more low-key time, but your call.
Post # 7
I think it’s a little bit ridiculous for you to expect them to get 11 years of knowing him into 5 months. He’s this guy you for whatever reason didn’t feel was important enough to bring around them, even though you had been dating him A DECADE until you guys got engaged. That story works for folks dating a few months or a year or two… but 11 YEARS?!?!?! and you were just fine going around his family? There’s something MUCH more to this story because his BPD isn’t going to go away the day of the wedding.
I don’t know how you fix this because their daughter is marrying a virtual stranger and that’s nothing you’re going to fix in 150 days.
Post # 8
It sounds like you are in a tough spot. How important is it to you and your FI that your family gets to know him and his family? My dad has met my FI twice and will see him again in January. So 3 times in 3 years. I have met his mom and step dad a half a dozen times in addition we went on vacation with them last summer, we stayed at a seperate hotel and spent the days with them. I have never met anyone on his dad’s side including his dad. Our families will meet for the first and most likely only time at our wedding. This works for us. If you are ok with things the way they have been for the past 11 years, don’t force the issue to please everyone else.
Post # 9
That’s just the thing – I am OK with the way things have been. It works for us. It’s not like I have been dating him in secret for 11 years, it’s just that I have not felt the need to bring him around the family until the last 3 years or so. Our relationship was very off-and-on until that point anyway, because of his mental health issues which have now stabilized because he’s found the right combination of medicine.
So, it’s not like my parents don’t know him at all…he has been to holidays and other family events, and I’ve brought him with me to weddings over the past few years. They just don’t feel like they know him super-well. And I think it’s freaking them out among all of the other usual parental wedding concerns, like the whole “we’re giving our daughter away” thing.
I certainly don’t expect to cram 11 years of getting to know someone into the next 2 months, that’s unrealistic and not my goal at all. I just want my parents to feel more comfortable about it. The way I see it, they will hopefully have the next 30 years to get to know and love him as much as I do.
I appreciate everyone’s advice!!