Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: I’m marrying the middle of three brothers. We have been engaged for about a year now. Growing up I never imagined myself getting married, much less having a big fancy wedding.
My problem is that I don’t want to get married in front of the family — I don’t want a big day where I don’t get to spend the whole day with my fiancé. I want something just between me, him and the officiant. How can I explain this to the mother-in-law without making her feel like I’m giving the whole family the middle finger?
Never miss a local story.
Well, you kind of are. What does your fiancé think about cutting out all guests? Does he want this, or is he agreeing to it to appease you? Why are you the one explaining it to his mom?
And, have you talked about the role your families will play in your shared lives ever after?
Eloping doesn’t faze me; I think it’s natural to say, “Ugh, let’s just go make this official.” But complaining that “I don’t get to spend the whole day with my fiancé” has a whiff of possessiveness that stops me.
If that’s how you see your marriage playing out — just you two, locked arms, no one else — then I beg you to make sure this is what he wants too. And that it’s healthy for you both.
Also imagine being a parent yourself someday, one your future son-/daughter-in-law doesn’t want around.
If your fiancé wants distance from his family, then that’s his prerogative. But if you’re the origin of this approach, please keep in mind that sharing him with the people he loves is one way for you to show your love for him.
Re: Wedding: It’s all about communities. And the “the whole day alone with my fiancé” thing is troubling for me too. Granted, a marriage is about the teamwork between you and your spouse, but you don’t marry out of your families — you marry into each other’s.
Yes. Some do want out of their families, but that’s a personal choice, not a choice one’s partner gets to make for you.
To clarify, though: I have no problem with a couple who wants to elope. I’m merely concerned this no-families-wanted attitude would carry into the marriage. It’s fine if you want privacy, but you can’t keep your partner away from family because your sense of privacy demands it.
Re: Wedding: The bride sounds to me like a private person who didn’t want all the pomp and circumstance that would keep her separated from her husband. To think the bride and groom are giving their families the middle finger, you would have to take it as a given that families are entitled to be present at the ceremony. That’s not the case at all.
No, families aren’t entitled to be there, but families are still entitled to their own relationships with their grown children, and vice versa, after said children take on life partners. When a partner presumes to interfere with that relationship, that’s very problematic.
Is that happening here? I don’t know, but it certainly seemed possible and therefore worth flagging. There’s no “us” to this letter; it’s bride versus groom’s family. Yellow caution flag.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.