Bonnie and I continued our conversation as we nibbled on chunks of pineapple, plump, sweet blueberries and red, ripe strawberries at Sammy J’s Breakfast Cafe. She was sharing her experience with her soon-to-be MIL.
Hmmm … curious. Had she recognized before the engagement that Matt’s mother might not welcome her into the family?
“Before we (Matt & I)became engaged, I was a friend of the family. I had dinners with them, participated in activities with them. No one really took our relationship seriously. I think they knew it was coming, but denial is a beautiful thing!” She again broke into laughter.
She and Matt had dated for two years and when she became his fiancée, things picked up speed. In the short three months between engagement and wedding, “there was an epic battle.”
“Over what?” I asked.
“The wedding … where we would live … everything! I yielded on the things that I didn’t care about – like what dresses the bridesmaids would wear. Have your way!”
The blender whirred in the background and I imagined fruit, milk and honey being blended into a lip-smacking smoothie. Blending… smoothie … The situation Bonnie described was an example of neither and I pondered how I might have reacted were I “in her shoes.”
“Your attitude was basically “Do whatever you want?” I offered.
“Yeah. And she did. His mom planned the whole wedding.”
Matt’s sister chose the bridesmaids’ dresses.
“Yeah, and she let me pick the color.”
Bonnie had wanted a small, intimate ceremony and reception, but that was not to be.
It could easily be argued that a bride and groom should be the ones to plan the details of their own wedding. At the same time, I recognized that Bonnie had employed that wise principle of “choosing one’s battles.” “Do you really need to ‘die on that hill’?”my husband would ask me when we were raising our two sons. “Can you let go of this issue and allow them to do it “their way?”
I never knew a battle that I didn’t want to fight to the finish. … But, that’s not wisdom. Bonnie, on the other hand, must have realized that, to have any kind of a chance of a decent relationship in the future, she would need to allow her MIL some “say” in the matters about which she felt strongly. And there were many.
Is this one factor in fostering a great MIL/DIL relationship? Yielding to another for the sake of peace? Sometimes “yes” and sometimes “no”. And for soon-to-be-MILs: Whose “day” is it, anyway? It’s your son, but it’s their wedding – one of the biggest days of their lives. Is there any good reason for demanding, manipulating, and otherwise overruling the wishes of the two to be wed? Wisdom suggests a different course of action: open communication, honest conversations, and a cooperative approach – no matter who’s paying for it. This is an event that will be remembered by all for many, many years to come. And it often sets the tone for the future MIL/DIL relationship.