Dealing with parents

One of the main issues during the whole engagement/wedding process is dealing with parents and future in-laws. The strange part is that most couples are surprised at this.

There are as many reasons for this phenomena as there are guests on the Dr. Phil Show. Some fathers have trouble letting go, some moms have trouble letting go, there are control issues, tradition issues and—here’s the big one—financial issues. I’ve found that the more involved parents are in financing a wedding, the more power they feel they have over decisions. There is some truth to that old saying “money is power.”

The simple answer is that weddings are a big deal. They not only unite a couple, but unite two (sometimes extremely different) families.

That is why I want to spend some time talking about the engagement. Many of this issues can be eliminated early in the process.

The most important thing—I repeat the most important thing—is that your parents approve of your fiancee. While some of you may scoff at that statement, saying it’s way too old-fashioned, I would say it is far more sensible than old-fashioned.

I know there are some parents who will never be happy with any choice. And I know there are many now days who are completely absent from their children’s lives. I am not talking about those. I am talking about the average ones, the mainstream.

Age of the intended couple is also irrelevant on this issue. A couple still needs to have parental support and blessing no matter what age they marry. The reason is clear: Parents and in-laws can make life hell for the couple if they don’t approve of the marriage.

Ultimately, the decision is up to the couple. However, I would advise that a couple who marries against a parent’s wishes moves far away and understands they are never to ask or expect those parents for any type of support (financial or otherwise) to sustain their marriage or existence.

There is another very good reason for seeking parental blessing: to make sure you are making the right decision.

I had a very good friend, who at the age of 22, decided to marry a man. I was rather concerned about her because she had just broken up with the love of her life and seemed a bit too anxious to get married. However, I kept my mouth shut and was supportive.

Her parents, however, had similar concerns. On top of that, they were going through a divorce. They spoke to me privately and prodded me to attempt to convince her to postpone the wedding. Not cancel her plans. Postpone. For one year. They also really wanted her and her beloved to go to pre-marital counseling.

I agreed with them, feeling it was a wise decision. I will point out none of us had a problem with her chosen. We just didn’t know him very well. He didn’t seem like her type. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was amiss.

Long story short, my friend hit the roof. I was ousted from the wedding party, but I really felt she should have listened to her parents. We did make up before the wedding (which was not postponed, but instead was moved up with only a four-month engagement) and I became good friends with her husband. We are still friends.

However, I was not really that surprised when my friend called me six years and two kids later to tell me she was divorcing. She said she should have listened to all of those telling her what she didn’t want to hear.

The fact is that love is blind. We fall in love and tend to overlook some obvious—and some not so obvious—red flags. Parents and friends see these warning signs where we can not. Sometimes, they can sense trouble when we are oblivious. This is the very reason we need their honest and heartfelt blessing.

Reasons vary why we marry. Sometimes we don’t plan on it and love just happens. Other times, we talk ourselves into being in love out of a need to be married, a need to have kids, a need to be “on track” with our lives. Those aren’t necessarily bad reasons to marry, if we are honest about it, make a good choice of spouse, and don’t try to make our partner into something they are not.

However, I have witnessed many female friends fall into the “29” trap or the “39” trap, feeling they have to marry NOW. Typically, they choose the wrong guy because their husband is simply the guy who is around at the time. They become very disenchanted early on when they realize they can’t make their husband into the man they want.

Some divorced. Others decided to live, albeit, unhappily with their choices.

In every one of those cases, the parents weren’t in favor of the marriage. Those parents knew the reason for marrying wasn’t the right one and the guy wasn’t a good choice.

Their daughters simply didn’t listen.

Melody Dareing

Event Coordinator

Dareing Events Catering Inc.

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