Wedding Etiquette Forum

Apathetic Mother In Law: Do I have to involve her? Help!

Before I get to the main question, here's a bit of background. My fiance and I have been together for 5 years at this point, and will be getting married in a year and a half. We're both from blended families, though the circumstances are different, and it's causing some anxiety on my end. His parents divorced when he was in middle school. While they are on speaking terms with one another, they don't regularly interact. He's very close to his dad, which has strained things with his mother a bit. By contrast, my mother and my stepdad - who I've always called my dad - have been together since I was still in preschool. Aside from that, I had a very traditional, filial-piety-esque upbringing, so I'm incredibly close to both of my parents.

Following his proposal, my parents were thrilled, his father was thrilled, and his mother was meh.

I don't want to shut his mother out of the wedding planning, but I'm not sure whether I even want to involve her. My parents are helping with the ceremony and reception, his dad is helping with the rehearsal dinner, and he and I are paying for or making the wedding attire, invitations, and gifts. She wouldn't have a real duty, and I don't want to ask her to do something when it seems she couldn't care less. However, I feel somewhat guilty about not trying to reach out to her. He doesn't seem to bothered either way ("I just want us to be happy, babe."), but I don't want to be dealing with this fallout years down the road. I don't dislike the woman, and I don't want to add strain to her relationship with him.

I realize it's a long shot, and a long question, but does anyone have any advice here? Should I just tell her "This is what's happening" or should I try getting her input? Is it a major faux pas not to include her? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Re: Apathetic Mother In Law: Do I have to involve her? Help!

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    For now, I'd let your FI handle things with his mother.  He can say to her, "Mom, do you want to be involved in our wedding, and if so, what aspects do you want to be involved in?"  Then take your cue from her response, and plan her role, if any, around that.  The one suggestion I'd make from there is to leave her a little slack.  Her immediate response may be defensive or indifferent.  She may just need some time to think things through, and a subsequent response may well be "I've given it some thought, and I'd like X, Y, and Z to happen."

    courtmcm
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    My MIL, while happy for us was not involved in the planning.  I also lived OOT from her AND the venue.    So just due to logistics she couldn't be more involved anyway.  

    I would call her every so often to say hi.  If she brought up the wedding I would tell her details.  I'm sure DH did too.  She wasn't paying, so I didn't feel the need to include her in every detail.  

    I asked for her help on things that involved her.   I let her pick who sat at her table.  I asked for help in the seating chart for her family.   Of course, I asked if she wanted to invite some people and for those addresses. (she is a reasonable person, not everyone can do that with their FILs)    What song did she want to dance with DH?    Little stuff like that.

    If she asked a question, I answered them.     I would say follow her lead.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    [Deleted User]huskypuppy14
  • ashtsbashtsb member
    Second Anniversary 10 Comments Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    My mom was very much the same way at first. I'd opt to at least just keep her in the loop, see where that goes.

    My mom was kinda upset when she learned of all my wedding things going on and she didn't know even though she didn't seem to care.
  • If she's not paying for anything, then you don't have to involve her at all. If she offers to contribute, I would ask what, exactly, she wants to contribute to (i.e. flowers, DJ, cake, etc.) that way, she only gets a say in that thing.

    If you decide you WANT to involve her regardless, I would just put out the feelers in a conversation: "MIL, what do you think of <these> flowers?" "We're down to 2 cake flavors, what do you think?" You could also invite her dress shopping if you want. And if anyone offers to throw you a shower, you could make sure she's on the guest list.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
  • SepiaTone said:

    Before I get to the main question, here's a bit of background. My fiance and I have been together for 5 years at this point, and will be getting married in a year and a half. We're both from blended families, though the circumstances are different, and it's causing some anxiety on my end. His parents divorced when he was in middle school. While they are on speaking terms with one another, they don't regularly interact. He's very close to his dad, which has strained things with his mother a bit. By contrast, my mother and my stepdad - who I've always called my dad - have been together since I was still in preschool. Aside from that, I had a very traditional, filial-piety-esque upbringing, so I'm incredibly close to both of my parents.

    Following his proposal, my parents were thrilled, his father was thrilled, and his mother was meh.

    I don't want to shut his mother out of the wedding planning, but I'm not sure whether I even want to involve her. My parents are helping with the ceremony and reception, his dad is helping with the rehearsal dinner, and he and I are paying for or making the wedding attire, invitations, and gifts. She wouldn't have a real duty, and I don't want to ask her to do something when it seems she couldn't care less. However, I feel somewhat guilty about not trying to reach out to her. He doesn't seem to bothered either way ("I just want us to be happy, babe."), but I don't want to be dealing with this fallout years down the road. I don't dislike the woman, and I don't want to add strain to her relationship with him.

    I realize it's a long shot, and a long question, but does anyone have any advice here? Should I just tell her "This is what's happening" or should I try getting her input? Is it a major faux pas not to include her? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Nobody is going to care about a wedding as much as the people getting married.  Maybe after 5 years her response wasn't "meh", but "about damn time."  Maybe she just wants to stay out of your way, let you do your thing.

    I know I gave zero shits about my sister's wedding.  I will be there with bells on, smile lovely for photos, and be super happy for you on your wedding day, but planning it or giving and getting ideas matters to me not at all.  Not my wedding, I don't care what the colors are.  Maybe weddings just aren't her thing.
    STARMOON44lovegood90
  • Thanks for the prompt responses, folks. They mean a lot.

    At this point, I'd like to let FI handle it, but it's such a different communication pattern than what I'm used to. I contact my parents regularly, every other day or so; he's gone over a month without calling his mum, so it could just be me being paranoid.
  • Why would she be excited about the wedding when she and her son don't even talk? I think you just need to be happy you have a great relationship with your parents and let this go.
    [Deleted User]
  • lovegood90lovegood90 Ontario member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    SepiaTone said:

    Thanks for the prompt responses, folks. They mean a lot.

    At this point, I'd like to let FI handle it, but it's such a different communication pattern than what I'm used to. I contact my parents regularly, every other day or so; he's gone over a month without calling his mum, so it could just be me being paranoid.



    Some people just have that relationship with their parents. Ie I talk to my mom on the phone maaayybe once every 1.5-2 months, and I see her 3x a year.

    I'd just continue to step back and let him handle it. If people want to contribute ideas or money, they will offer. It will put them in an uncomfortable position if you ask (also if we're talking money- it's never appropriate to ask for money).

    Formerly martha1818

    image


  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    You are not required to include her, or anyone (unless they're footing the bill), in the planning of your wedding.

    If you WANT her opinion on something you can always ask, but otherwise I wouldn't worry about it.

    I didn't really include my MIL in any of the planning, but we also didn't purposefully exclude her, I just didn't see why or how she'd be involved. 

    DH asked her for a list of whom she would like to see invited from her side, and then when we chose whom we would like to invite from the list, asked for addresses. I also asked her what type of corsage she would like. 
    SepiaTone
  • BouxRadleyBouxRadley DFW member
    100 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Coming from someone who is in a mutual hate-ship with her FMIL, and feels the same way, if she doesn't want to be involved, or has shown no interest, I wouldn't push the subject. It makes it uncomfortable for all involved and puts unnecessary stress on you at an already stressful time. There are so many other things that need your attention as opposed to what Miss Apathetic over there is thinking/feeling. 

  • edited June 2015
  • TrixieJessTrixieJess member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited July 2015
    *Username Removed* said:
    I am just going to tell you about my really similar situation and maybe you can decide if your feelings are the same.

    I have a mother who buys things for me whenever she is at the mall for herself, who sometimes brings costlier groceries like olive oil or a container of guacamole when she comes over to help with our finances, and who does her own dishes when she comes over because she abhors the idea of making work for me. Yes, some might call me spoiled, but for better or worse this is what I am used to-- a mother who constantly tries to make me happy.

    My husband's mother, on the other hand, bought us a basket of snacks she put together from Target (Goldfish, banana chips, paper napkins) as our wedding gift, and that was one of the only times she has ever even gotten us something. Sure, some might think I am gift-grubbing, but I can't change the fact that I was raised to think that you show love to family by anticipating needs and doing extra things, so it is more like when someone who is supposed to be close to me does not do that I think they must not care about me or must dislike me.

    Now, my mother-in-law is not a mean person at all, but it is just not within the realm of her experience to think to ask me "hi, how are you dear?" or "how is married life after the wedding?" or "I know how much you were hoping to take a honeymoon after the bar exam, here is a few bucks to put toward it." My husband has been on his own-- emotionally and financially-- for a long time.

    I am literally in culture shock and I have SUCH a hard time trying to understand how a mom can act like that. BUT I have caused myself and my husband a lot of pain labeling my mom's way of doing things as "right" and his mom's way of doing things as "wrong". 

    The biggest mistake I made was trying to include her in the wedding planning when she did not offer to be included or express her desire to be included. Maybe I told myself I was trying to be "nice" or to "not leave her out", but now I look back to the last few months and I realize I had a very specific idea of what I thought would be the "right thing" and I did not try to think about her past behavior to see if she would even agree with what my idea of the "right thing" a mother-in-law should do. 

    I should have left it up to my husband. It is his mom. And if they have a weird relationship in my opinion because they never speak and it makes me uncomfortable, while I, on the other hand, literally call my mom everyday, well then I just needed to set a boundary with him. Because at the end of the day what I realized is I was having a little internal freak out because it dawned on me her apathetic behavior bums me out and I can never make her care more and  because her behavior bums me out-- I actually don't like being around her which was SUPER hard to admit to myself. I do not dislike her, but I am never thinking "I am having a great time!" when I am around her either-- I usually just feel awkward and uncomfortable... So I did something completely illogical and asked her to make the wedding cake after I determined that 1. she didn't seem excited about the wedding and 2. her presence makes me uncomfortable. Really dumb. It ended terribly-- but I'll spare the details here.

    Anyway, the point of this long post is I am learning day-by-day to accept the best thing to do is just leave her be if she doesn't want to be involved in our lives. Some people might say "you're so lucky to not have a meddlesome mother in law" but the truth is it very hurtful and I sometimes do feel sad my children won't have a grandma on that side who bakes them cookies or cuddles them. BUT my husband is AMAZING and my hero. I grew up with a mom who gave me everything and this is a huge lesson in you can't have it all!

    Sometimes life is a little awkward and you have a wedding with a mom of the groom who thinks her only job is to show up. Just let her do it. Even if you say your intentions are good, it is being pushy to not let people be left alone. She is a grown woman. If she wanted to help she would have said so. Whatever you do, use this as an opportunity to make healthy boundaries so that when your husband's family's behavior makes you feel bad or sad, he knows when he should say something in your defense or if a conversation isn't appropriate, he should at least sit out the next family dinner with you to show you that he supports your need for space.

    In my case, his family's apathy about the wedding was too hard to have a direct conversation about-- what could he really say "I need you all to change your personalities"? So instead, we are not going to any family functions until I am able to do a little better accepting that I have in-laws who just don't really have me as a priority because it is just not how they handle their emotions. Ouch!! But for the sake of my wonderful husband, I have to stop thinking about them. I literally obsess over our interactions sometimes because they are SO FOREIGN to me. But it's so unhealthy for my new marriage. Acceptance that my relationship with them will never be loving is key-- it is so hard and disappointing, I totally understand, but at this point it is literally the only choice I have besides a divorce and finding new in-laws!! 

    This was a really long post-- I think I needed to let some of it out since the wedding was only a few weeks ago haha, but focus on the two of you and let other people be rude or weird from a distance without letting it hurt you as a couple.

    I wish I did that more!!!!
    JIC
    charcoalandblush
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