Talking to my future mother-in-law

Chat at 1 p.m.

Hi Meredith,

I've been with my fiancé for nearly two years and now we're engaged. We're in our 30s. We talked about the type of wedding we wanted and both agreed that something small and simple was best for us. It was so great that we agreed, and we quickly came to a short list of close family and friends to invite. Everything about wedding planning has been easy, quick, and with very little fuss. Exactly the kind of thing we both want.

The only snag is my future mother-in-law. She expressed recently to both of us that she feels like she's not involved, and I'm not sure how to help that. My fiancé said he's not sure what her expectation was but hasn't followed up to ask for more information. I don’t think he's as concerned because it's her expectation but his wedding, and he believes she'll likely get over it. None of our family members are helping to pay so we're footing the bill ourselves (and we're fine with that).

I'm of the mind that family is important, but if they aren't paying, they don't get to have a major say in the type of wedding we have. I know it's not my job to fix how she feels, but I'd like to learn more about what might help her feel more included because I know sometimes it's just that a person needs to feel heard. Is it appropriate for me to reach out to her? I don't want friction but by the same token, I'm not really the big wedding type and if her expectation was a big wedding, then she's still going to be disappointed. How should I approach this?

– Save the Date


"... I know sometimes it's just that a person needs to feel heard."

This is very true. So ... hear her. Get together with her and talk – because she's going to be your family, too. There's a way to do this without framing it as a possible conflict. You can explain that you and your fiancé want a simple wedding and that you're excited you've managed to pull it off. You can add that you do want the family involved, and then give her a few ways she can participate. There must be a way she can help.

I would not assume she wants something bigger and flashier. Based on what you told us in the letter, all she said was that she was feeling excluded. Remember that while some people fantasize about their future weddings, others daydream about what it will be like when they attend weddings for their kids. People want to feel like they're part of that special experience, regardless of who pays.

Of course, this is Love Letters, so I'm most interested in your relationship with your fiancé. If you are unhappy with how he's handled this with his mother, and you feel as though he's left you to figure this out on your own, please let him know and be clear about your needs. Were you hoping that he would take part in a discussion with you and his mom? How does he feel about you establishing an independent relationship with his family? It sounds like you need to talk more about dealing with issues as a team. This is a good learning experience, so make it count.

– Meredith

Readers? Should the fiancé take a more active role in discussions with his mom? Should the LW follow his lead and let this go?