Wedding Woes

My (possible) future in laws are very kind and generous, and it makes me nervous

Dear Prudence,
I have a wonderful problem. My boyfriend’s parents treat me like one of their own, and we get along fantastically. We live several states away and plan to get married in the next year or so. Whenever we visit his parents, they are endlessly generous with meals and experiences. They are planning a big family vacation overseas this summer and have included me in it, with all expenses paid. They are also very casually affectionate, signing group emails as “Love, Mom and Dad” and ending group phone calls with “Love you guys!” I appreciate this, but I am nervous about accepting such generosity from nonfamily members and hesitate to express casual intimacies with them. I have no qualms about calling them Mom and Dad after I marry their son, but we’re not even formally engaged yet! I send thank-you notes and flowers regularly for their generosity. My question is: Is that enough? Do I risk coming across as cold-hearted or selfish for not being able to reciprocate financially or emotionally?

—Lots of Love, but Not Family Yet

Re: My (possible) future in laws are very kind and generous, and it makes me nervous

  • A lot of SOs aren't lucky enough to have FILs or ILs that are so receptive and welcoming, at all.  If LW is really, truly serious about these plans to marry within the next year, then I think she needs to be more accepting of the fact that BF's family treats her as their own. Especially considering it sounds like she will officially be family soon.  It's uncomfortable, sure, I completely understand because DH's family was the same way almost from the minute we started dating, but that's the way this family is. They've welcomed her into their lives and family with open arms, and while there's nothing stopping her from declining these gifts or offering to pay her own way (which they in all likelihood wouldn't accept), if LW can't accept and understand and embrace the love BF's family is showing her, I think she needs to stop and think about things. If it's a discomfort she can't get past today, getting married won't fix that. 

    "And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me..."
    --Philip Pullman

  • My guess is that LW got burned in the past by someone who gave with strings attached. She needs to work through that an remember that not everyone is like that.
  • LW has some baggage and has likely never encountered that there really are legitimate people like that in the world. 
  • my ILs are actually a lot like that, so i know where she's coming from. it took some getting used to. even after being married for (almost) 10 years, i still don't call them "mom and dad" but do my best to reciprocate their hospitality and generosity. 
  • GBCKGBCK member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    eh, kind and generous also often means 'overbearing' and 'pushy'.
    I love my ILs.  They've always been pretty awesome, but early on, all of those awesome generous thingst felt like they were pushing us to push our relationship faster than it was ready to go.

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