Post # 1
We are getting married in August (2nd marriage for both of us) and several relatives and friends are throwing showers for us together and for just my wife to be. My future Mother-In-Law is invited to all of them except one and she is upset about not being invited to that one. The situation is causing much strife.
Our neighbors have invited my fiancé’ to a small floating neighborhood shower on their boat (I’m also to go along to keep the driver/husband of host of the boat company). Since my fiancé moved into my house, she has not had a chance to get to know our neighborhood well and we are excited about providing her an opportunity to meet some of the women in our small neighborhood. My fiance’ elected to invite one family member along for morale support (her sister) and no one else. She wanted a chance to really get to know her neighbors.
My future Mother-In-Law is extremely upset that she was not invited to the shower and has been doing everything she can to get invited. She has used guilt, shame and blame on my fiance’ to try and get invited. She has even gone so far as to take a poll among her friends as to whether or not they believe we have violated etiquette rules. All of her friends agree with her.
My fiance’ has told her mom that this is her choice and has asked her to respect it and to please let it go. She has not and it has resulted in a huge rift in the family as her mom insists that she should be allowed to go on the boat.
I think that even if my fiance’ is wrong in not inviting her mom, that it is equally wrong to impose on an event to which you are not invited. I also believe that even though most bridal showers involve the mom, this one is a bit different in that it is really more of a neighborhood get together for the neighborhood women who want to get to know my fiance’.
I am concerned that this situation may even threaten our joyous event when her mom and dad are to walk her down the isle.
Thanks in advance for your advice.
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Post # 3
Will there be another shower? Maybe your fiance could explain to her mother that this is more about getting to know the neighbors, and she was hoping they could plan another shower for family and close friends. There is no guarantee that this will cure her hurt feelings, but perhaps she will be more forgiving if she knows she is not being entirely left out.
Post # 4
Oh my goodness. She can’t handle being left out of one shower? I think you guys should stick to your guns and let her get over it. She needs to put on her big girl panties and realize that she doesn’t need to be involved in every single aspect of her daughter’s planning process. If you give in to this, you’re just reinforcing her own impolite behavior.
If you’ve explained to her that it’s a neighborhood get together, not really a real "shower," and she is still being irrational about it, then it sounds like you’ve done all you can. Just be there to support your fiance (which it sounds like you’re doing!) and reassure her that she’s not doing anything wrong by choosing to have a friends/neighbors-only event. My guess is that her mom will get over it as soon as the event is over (and probably find something else to nag about.)
Post # 5
I’m not sure what you necessarily can do about this. Your fiancee has every right not invite her mother to this shower, or ask to have her invited. Your Mother-In-Law is actiing out of control by asking her friends whether or not this was an appropriate move and then using it to make your fiancee feel guilty.
I think the only thing to do would be to have your wife respectfully ask her mother to let this issue go, and then to just move forward. She will get over it at some point. I would also stop referring to it as a "shower", since it seems like more of a neighborhood party than a shower and it may help the situation.
There may be underlying issues here as well, so it would be a good idea for your fiancee to spend some extra quality time with her mom to assuage any other fears, help her feel less left out, or cope with sadness that he daughter is getting married.
Post # 6
@missrain: He said that there were a bunch of other showers, and that the Mother-In-Law was invited to all of them save the neighbourhood one. =)
Wow. Umm…personally, I would let your fiance know to stick to her guns. If worse comes to worse, stop referring to it as a "shower" and start calling it the "neighbourhood get-together". Sure, it may be a little weird that the MOB isn’t invited to a shower…but it’s not a breach of etiquette. It’s the bride’s decision who to invite, and really, in this case, I think it’s a really good idea for her to bring just one family member (and personally, I think inviting her sister was a better decision — especially after getting wind of the "controlling" vibe from her mom!).
Post # 7
Most of what I would say has been said by PPs, I just wanted to chime in and say I think it’s awesome you included a "cancel the wedding" option. Good luck with Future Mother-In-Law, she sounds like a handful, but don’t let her ruin this opportunity to celebrate with your neighbors!
Post # 8
I would agree to stop calling it a shower. If it’s just a "meet the neighbors" kind of thing, play it off that way. Are they all bringing her gifts? Even if they are, just play it off as if it’s not a shower. I know it’s a little late to do that now, but it might help.
Post # 9
Kudos to you for supporting your Fi through this. She MUST stick up for herself and not back down. FMIL is being unreasonable. No means no – and she’s trying to break your Fi. This is time for her to take a stand. It will sent a precedence for the future (in what your word really means).
You may encourage your Fi to talk to her mom about why she’s so upset about it. Does she think she’s being left out because of x, y, and z? If your Future Mother-In-Law is making such a big deal about it, there has to be some other underlining issues involved. Perhaps if your Fi can assuage those sentiments with her mother, it will allow the drama to lessen.
But, PLEASE, encourage her to stand her ground!!!
Post # 10
Thank you so much for all the thoughtful answers. My fiance and I have been watching and learning.
My Mother-In-Law (to be) seems to feel that we are being rude by not inviting her. She has drawn the sister into the mess and "confided" in her creating a very unhealthy communication triangle. My fiance has offered to do joint counseling with her mom and the mom has agreed. However, the mom also has many times put down the mental health profession and has gone as far as to blame my fiance’s standing her ground on my fiance’s counselor.
The mom has told the sister that she is going to be a big pill unless she gets her way. Normally the mom and dad watch our dog when we go away. And they had offered to do that when we went our honeymoon. The last time we were up there the mom says that she’s not sure that is going to work for her now. Its all very passive aggressive and ugly. We’re going to board the dog, but the mom keeps raising the stakes to the point where I feel she is going to permanently damage her relationship with her daughter.
The whole situation is becoming really awful. My fiance’s other sister died a few years back and now the family is just her mom, dad and her remaining sister. Over the last month the sister offered to help get our backyard in order for the wedding. She’s spent two or three full days working with my fiance in the backyard helping. Its been wonderful and we thought it was such a wonderful gift. My fiance was so happy with all the sister time they spent doing something they both love to do – gardening. Things were great until the last time she was here.
After she was done, she asked about being paid for what she has done. She has a sideline business where she does light gardening for people and she felt that we should pay her. Obviously if someone wants to get paid for something they should make that clear before beginning to work. We took her out for dinner each day that she helped and thanked her profusely for her generous gift. It was shocking to hear this.
I get the misunderstanding, but now my fiance is heading into this wedding feeling completely alienated from her whole family. Almost thinking of eloping at this point…
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Post # 11
Well, it’s important to have good relationships with family, but you can’t let them walk all over you and get their way with YOUR life all the time. As far as the mom attending the boat shower, I would be firm and just refuse to talk to her about it. The people throwing the shower get to decide who is invited and her mom has to respect that.
As far as the sister asking for payment, you should tell her you thought this was a wedding gift and she should have told you ahead of time she wanted money for her services. Tell her to stop coming over to ‘help out’ or work and that it’s not in your budget to pay someone to do these things.
Post # 12
I’m so sorry for you both. Wow. So did you pay the sister? Or is she miffed? That’s really strange.
Sometimes I think it’s best to relax a bit and try to be kind, but clear on telling someone how you feel. Sometimes I think after arguing and fighting, people think the other person understands their position quite well. But in reality all the anger and arguing clouds everyone’s judgment. Maybe this whole shower thing is a front for what’s really going on. (Oh I don’t know, real insecurity on the part of your Mother-In-Law because one daughter died.) No it’s not healthy for her to try to control your Fiance, but I don’t think there’s anything worse than losing a child. And she is probably pretty messed up worried that she could lose another child at any point. After all it happened once.
Of course it’s difficult if she has issues going to counseling. Can they go to counseling, not about your Fi standing her ground, but simply for dealing with the loss of the other daughter? Can your Fiance try talking to her and say someting like, "Mom, we really need to meet these neighbors. It will help make living in our neighborhood such a better experience. It makes it harder to do if your there. No one means to exclude you. It’s just going to be us hanging out. Even the husbands are going. Yeah they’ll probably give us a couple of gifts, but really I think it’s going to be mostly beer and Trivial Pursuit (or something else she finds unappealing.) And I wouldn’t get to spend that much time with you. I’d rather just spend time with you on our own. Would you like to go to lunch next week instead?"
I don’t know if that helps. Good luck.
Post # 13
What a rough situation! Your FI’s mom is definitely acting crazy. I mean, what does she expect? That now she’ll be rewarded for all of this nasty behavior by being invited? I don’t understand why people act like this.
I think that what Tanya recommended to say to her is great – just de-emphasize it as a wedding event and make sure that she knows the priority for the two of you is getting to know your new neighbors. If she can’t respect that, just let her fume on her own. Don’t let her get to you guys. Hopefully by the time your wedding day comes around she’ll be able to stop acting like a child and support you and her daughter! Good luck with this.
Post # 14
The craziness is not likely to stop any time soon. We have a shower tomorrow that we’re all going to in honor of us. One of the cousins is throwing it. But her mom and dad are staying at the sister’s instead of our house and I fear that they will feed upon the negativity and that tomorrow might be really uncomfortable with this 6 ton elephant hiding behind the couch.
The money thing with the sister has an interesting parallel with the Mother-In-Law. Awhile back, before we were engaged, the Mother-In-Law threw a birthday party for the Dad at her house. After the party and as we were leaving the Mother-In-Law told my fiance that she would be sending her a bill for her portion of the party… There’s something going on with money and the way it is perceived. At the time, my fiance was struggling financially and could not afford this surprise. But she paid anyhow.
I come from a family where we all fight about who gets to pay the bill – its a lot more fun as we sneak away from the dinner table to find the waitress to sneak the credit card to her. Can’t do that in this situation because it feels like if I were to do that, I’d always be paying… I don’t blame the mom for this unusual issue about money, I just wish I could understand where it was coming from so I could deal with it better.
The Mother-In-Law is claiming that tradition requires that she be invited to the neighborhood party (thanks for the great idea of re-characterizing it). Interestingly enough, the mom and dad didn’t contribute anything to my fiance’s first wedding and certainly of course (wouldn’t expect it) nothing towards this one.
We did not pay the sister. The sister runs her own business and is aware of how important it is to discuss terms before starting work. Heck, there was never any discussion about how much it would cost or anything else. The Dad got laid off a few months ago and he is a great craftsman. So I offered to hire him to do work around the house and I paid him his going rate. Everything was discussed up front and I was very careful to make it clear to him that I didn’t want to chance a misunderstanding about money and that we be very clear about how much everything will cost. He was great. He is very easy to get along with, very smart and great work ethic and no problems about money and fairness. But he always is quiet when the mom does these things. He won’t stand up to her either. In a sense it is almost just as bad that he is quiet about these things as it is as if he is abandoning his children when the mom acts this way.
Nothing like that occured with the sister in regards to discussing terms up front. But now she is asking why do we value her dad’s work more than hers that we’re willing to pay him and not her? My fiance is an artist and she never discounts her work to anyone, including family. Her sister claims that since she won’t give her art away to her family, why should she give her gardening work away? Ughhh!
I see minneapolitin is from our area. Want to watch our dog for 10 days in September? 🙂
Oh, and its not just my fiance’s family.. My Mom isn’t coming because I invited my Dad’s wife…
But one of my best friends is coming from France!