Congratulations on your childs engagement and congratulations on your new daughter in law!
Here are my tips for surviving and, hopefully, enjoying this new experience.
1. KNOW YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS
It is important to ask yourself–maybe even write down–the expectations that you have for your sons engagement and upcoming wedding. It will help you to know what is motivating your choices and driving your feelings.
2. ABANDON THOSE EXPECTATIONS, NOW
Honestly, this is a necessity. You won’t survive the emotional toll that this may take on you unless you release the need to have any of your expectations met.
This experience is about your son and his love. You do not want your expectations to damper their joy. It isn’t worth it.
Talk about maternal sacrificial love…this is where this will come in handy.
I had voiced that I wanted to be apart of the bride choosing her wedding dress and, yet, it was done without me, anyway. My heart was so very broken. But, at the end of the day, did my being present really matter?
No, it didn’t. And, I am sure that it was done innocently, anyway.
I have the rest of my life with this girl and I do not want one little situation to ruin the joy and possibilities that our relationship can have, here forward.
Give the benefit of the doubt and protect your relationship from any offense. Believe the best.
What really matters?
Make this your mantra.
3. DON'T TAKE OFFENSE
Depending on your personality, this may be a very easy or a very hard task, but it is essential
And, accept that you will be offended from time to time. To expect it will have you ahead of the game.
I was sitting in a wedding planning meeting and something that my son wanted for the wedding was mentioned and the mother of the bride said, “It doesn’t matter. This is your wedding, not his.” And, I sat there thinking, “ouch”.
No mother wants to hear that her son and his opinions don’t matter. And, no mother wants her future daughter-in-law told that her sons feelings don’t matter, either–especially in an age when men are taking a more hands on role with wedding planning. Either way, this is one of those occasions that it is best to just keep your mouth shut.
Consider that the person may not have realized the seriousness of what they said, or just simply said it in jest. Sometimes you don’t know where things come from.
If I had spoken up and voiced my offense,in that moment, it would have only made a lot of trouble for my son; and, that is not worth it.
Choose your battles wisely and choose which routes you deal with the ones that are important issues, wisely, as well.
4. KNOW WHAT IS FINANCIALLY EXPECTED OF THE GROOMS FAMILY
Know what is expected of the grooms family and do your very best to satisfy all of your responsibilities. If you cannot meet those financial responsibilities, make sure to have a very forthright conversation with your son and his fiance before any seeds of contempt can form with the in laws.
If interested in a list of typical expenses for the grooms family, read my blog post What Should The Parents of The Groom Expect To Pay For?
5. DON'T BE TOO MUCH--EVEN IF YOU ARE TOO MUCH
It is going to pay you dividends if you are able to take social cues from the mother of the bride and scale back a bit to allow her to have her day in the sun. The wedding day is not about you or the mother of the bride, but she will probably see it as her event and her day to make her daughter shine.
If she feels like you are competing with her–even if you feel that she is competing with you–then she will shut doors and exclude you from important aspects of the process.
And, we know that you do not want that.
6. SEE THE DRESS THE MOTHER OF THE BRIDE IS CHOOSING BEFORE BUYING YOUR OWN, IF POSSIBLE
I am struggling with this one. My taste is much different than the mother of the bride, and probably will be with most of my sons. Everything that I have read says that you should take your clothing cue from the mother of the bride so that you are both dressed comparably.
If you are going into a similar situation as me, take this advice: do not compromise your own taste and style, just try not to create a situation where anyone feels “out done”–at least not too much.
I am very aware of the style of wedding, weather, season and such. So, I have a clear vision of what I want, style wise; and, I have a clear vision of colors and patterns that I want in consideration of the chosen wedding colors.
So, I will be dressed very differently than the mother of the bride, but I will be very cognizent of not dressing too elegantly or too flamboyantly so as to create any reason for offense.
Most importantly, though, is definitely, do not wear anything that would outshine the bride! That would be a horrible way to start your lives together.
7. DO NOT BURDEN YOUR SON WITH ANY GIRL DRAMA BEFORE THE WEDDING
Don’t be a burden by putting your son in the middle of a bunch of girls and the potential cat fighting that can take place. You know your son better than anyone; and, you love him more than anyone.
He will honor you for being the peacemaker.
And, if you aren’t and you stir up a lot of strife that puts him in a bad place, you could lose him to his new family.
8. RESIST JEALOUSY AND NAGGING
It is easy to become jealous as your child gains a new family–especially when you have a son. Your son will start to cleave to his wife; and, as a result, her side of the family.
Your son will start sharing stories about how this new family does things differently than his family…and, it will come with a twang of implications that this new way is better.
But, know that all of this will ebb and flow. As with most things, the newness wears off and he may start to actually come to appreciate his own family more, as time goes on.
Be the steady anchor.
Allow the tides to ebb and flow and be consistent with your love and affection and time. Your stability will come to be greatly appreciated and honored as the years pass.
Remind your son and his new wife that everyone can be appreciated for what they bring to the family and it never has to be an us or them situation; and, never pressure or nag the kids to make things equal.
9. DO NOT OPENLY DOUBT YOUR SONS CHOICE
If you question your sons choice, do so privately. Or, share it only with your pastor or counselor.
The quickest way to push your son away and injure your relationship is to tell him that you do not like his decision.
Granted, if there are some very unhealthy traits such as drug abuse or infidelity or such already present, you may have to speak up. But, tread lightly and use great, great care and wisdom in doing so.
When I remarried, my husbands mother said to him..in our receiving line…”well, I hope that you made the right decision!” all because she didn’t approve of the fact that I already had children from a previous marriage.
And, as you can see, I have never forgotten that show of disapproval and conditional lack of acceptance of me for being a mother.
Luckily for us, I knew that my current daughter in law (to be) would be my DIL even before she started to date my son. So, no matter what bumps and hiccups come our way, I know that she is exactly where she is intended to be; and, that my son is exactly with whom he was intended to be.
So, no doubts here!
10. BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR WORTH
If you follow my tips, you will be giving a lot of yourself and doing a lot of putting yourself second. But, that should never mean that you are allowed to be mistreated.
That doesn’t mean to go into situations with guns blazing, either. You will have to walk away from a lot of situations where you may have normally spoken up for yourself.
Just that, to do that, you are going to have to know your worth. And, by knowing your worth, you will know which battles to fight and which not to…and, how to go about both for the very best outcome.
I have been married more than once. So, I had a comment made to me that sounded like it was intended to sting. The comment was, “Well, in our family we don’t divorce. We stand by our choice no matter what.”
Considering that I was married to a serial adulterer and then to a very abusive man–both of whom I stayed with and fought for my relationships with even in the throes of adultery and abuse– I was initially offended by the insinuation that I was “less than”– or, that my son was coming into the family “less than”. Or, at least judging my decisions as irresponsible, right?
But, I just let the comment roll off of my back because I know my worth. I know that I am loyal. I know that I have and continue to carry heavy burdens to walk with people and that while–yes–I may have been married more than once, that is about as much scandal as you will ever find in my life.
And, if that is the worst that you will ever pin on me, I will take it, gladly!
Besides, just because your child grew up in a broken home doesn’t immediately mean that he or she will be the divorcing type. Quite the contrary, actually. I have known many people who grew up in broken homes who vowed to NEVER divorce and stood by that.
So, it is always best just not to judge people, amiright?
What matters is that I have raised a bunch of amazing young men, oftentimes on my own. I know my worth and my sons individual worths–and none is predicated on the fact that I have been married more than once.
In the end, someone healthy will see that families will all have strengths and weaknesses…and, hopefully, those ingredients will be a beautiful mix for the kids to build a life on.
Starting any relationship off with prideful contempt will only serve to hamstring those very people you hope to see succeed.
In the end, refer back to number 3.
And, there you have MY TOP 10 TIPS FOR YOUR SONS ENGAGEMENT AND UPCOMING WEDDING. If you have anything to add to my list to help our readers, add it in the comment section. And, on your way out, please remember to subscribe to my newsletter and stay plugged in for future posts.