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Fiance is reluctant to stand up to domineering family

Fiance is reluctant to stand up to domineering family

Q: I'm getting married to a fantastic guy with a very tight-knit family that does everything together. His sister and her 7-year-old daughter are both in the wedding party. The bridal shower that the sister helped plan is being held at a winery and includes wine-tasting.

I opened a can of worms by assuming the shower would be adults only. My simple request has them questioning his decision to marry me because I don't like children — which is absolutely absurd. I love children and have always imagined we will have children of our own. However, I am a firm believer there are certain events that are inappropriate for children.

My extremely passive-aggressive future mother-in-law is furious with me, and put my fiance in the middle by calling him and not me directly. She laid the guilt trip on thick when she told me she had already bought the outfit for her granddaughter to wear to the shower, and how could she disappoint a 7-year-old? My future sister-in-law is on the defensive because she thinks I dislike her daughter.

My fiance now feels I am asking him to choose between his beloved family and me (again, absurd).

They have said they will not attend the shower if the 7-year-old cannot come. Is it possible to get them to see things from my side without seeming like Bridezilla?


A: No. They've made it pretty clear they're not entertaining alternate viewpoints.

Which, as it happens, is the real issue: His mother is the one asking your fiance to choose between his beloved family and his bride, not you.

Scratch that; the real issue is his failure to see this himself.

And if your fiance has any intention of starting a family with you, instead of just opening a branch of his family in your uterus, then he needs to stand up publicly for his beliefs.

Does he think you're being reasonable or not? If he disagrees with you, then his "don't put me in the middle" is just an excuse not to take you on. If he agrees with you, then his "don't put me in the middle" is just an excuse not to take his family on.

Either way, if he doesn't stop this power struggle now by stating his opinion, then that's bad news for your marriage. While it's possible he's agnostic on kids at adult events, it's not possible that he's agnostic on who's being unreasonable. He knows the facts. He knows who's telling the truth and who's twisting it.

Gently, firmly explain to him this isn't a winery battle, it's a turf battle over his loyalty — the first of a marriage's worth. Unless, of course, he steps into the vacuum and makes his loyalty clear: not to wife, not to family, but to what he thinks is right.

Consider reputable premarital counseling to help you sort this out.

But first, vow to yourself that you won't fight his family for him; he either has the spine to articulate — and take responsibility for — where he stands, or there's no marriage to fight for. It's swell that he wants to be a good son and a good husband, but when those conflict, he needs the courage to be a good person.

Say what you will about wine-tastings — marriage is just for adults.

Fiance is reluctant to stand up to domineering family 10/14/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:39pm]
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