Tuesday, January 30, 2007

THE PARENTALS (AND OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS): HOW TO DEAL: PART VI

I received an interesting comment today about the STBMIL, and how religion may end up playing a role in the ensuing tension that oftentimes results....

"...a friend recently got engaged and her STBMIL has turned into Monster In Law. When the non-religious couple mentioned on the fly that they wouldn't be having a church wedding. Well she went off. She went on about how hurt she was and said "well why didn't you ask me?". That was fairly early on for them and I think it was a hard lesson for them that she had a lot of expectations about their wedding, and they're now figuring out how to gently deal with her."

While issues with religion in weddings may arise within one's core family, a lot of tension results because a bride and groom's family may not be compatible when it comes to religious faith--and that raises a host of issues that a bride and groom have to deal with, particularly when considering the thoughts and feelings of family members.

A college friend of mine (Beth) is Jewish--she's "reform", only going to temple on high holidays and the occasional Bar Mitzvah. Her soon-to-be husband's family (Sam) is "conservative." (going to temple every weekend, etc.) Seth's mother (i.e., the STBMIL) had VERY set ways in how she thought the Jewish wedding ceremony should be conducted. (As with other religious ceremonies, Jewish wedding ceremonies have varying degrees of religion/tradition). The STBMIL wanted more elements of the traditional Jewish ceremony incorporated than Beth was happy with, and she made her opinion clear to Beth--several times over. This caused some unspoken conflict which could have bubbled over the surface--but Sam intervened and spoke with his mother, asking her to back off a little bit (the compromise they came to was that Sam and Beth would have the Hora, a traditional Jewish dance, at the ceremony--while Beth would have liked to do without any religious dances, she decided to please her STBMIL with this request, which took more pressure off the actual ceremony).

While there's no hard and fast solution to the issues of religion when it comes to wedding planning (and how religious faith plays a role in shaping the ceremony and reception), it's an interesting theme which should be explored. I liked how Beth and Sam handled their own issues--having the help of an intermediary (like Sam, here) is a good idea, instead of having a bride and STBMIL go head-to-head (or vice versa with the groom and STBMIL). Of course, if a bride/groom feels comfortable being direct and honest with their STBMIL, then they should go for it! Being HONEST is always the best approach--HOW you choose to be honest is your decision. Each individual situation is different---therefore, no rule can be applied across the board.

Having said that, I also believe that COMPROMISE is a huge aspect of the planning process. You may not love every idea your STBMIL throws out there, but if there's a way to appease--and please--without your giving up your own plans, then that's terrific.

I appreciate your recounting your own experiences--as they raise new and provocative issues that need to be shared!

Stay tuned!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is funny how people change once you get engaged. My wedding will be held at a resort with a civil service, not a religous one. My STBMIL was very surprised that we were not having a minister for the service, even though neither she nor my fiance EVER attended chruch. I thought this was very amusing as my family is religous but his is not, so we choose a serves that both of us would be comfortable with, end of story.

Katie

Megan said...

Yes, I think compromise is important. It is very common here in France to invite acquaintances just for the ceremony and then cocktail hour or dessert. Close friends and family come for the entire thing, including main meal. Otherwise, acquaintances come the day after or something for a small little get together. MIL wanted to invite about ten neighbors for just the cocktail hour. I wasn't thrilled with it, because to me it is "all or nothing" and I think in the US people would be offended to be invited just for part of the event. But I finally let it go, especially once I realized it is very common here and that the invitees wouldn't find it rude.

Dataceptionist said...

For this couple I think the most confronting moment was her saying "why didn't you ask me?" because obviously most people's reaction to this question is going to be "because it's OUR wedding!" They just never expected it. I advised the same thing to her my friend however, as it's HIS mother, he really needs to help her by stepping up to the plate and speaking to her. As they've been together for 10 years already I don't think he understands why she can't do it herself. But they're working thru it all : )

Another couple, when they told the heavily Catholic Mother of the Groom they weren't having a church wedding, STBMIL refused to speak to them for a week! I think she's ok now though :P