I wish I read this post about consensual bridal showers when I first got engaged. I wouldn't have felt so “wrong” when I came across the same scenario…
My future mother-in-law and I have many differences. For the most part, we work around them. She is a conservative, older woman from a white, working class, small factory town. I am an independent, experimental documentary filmmaker (need I say more?). She wanted thousands of children, especially a girl, but could only have my fiancé.
I know many of our clashes come out of her knowing no other way to express her need for a close relationship with little understanding as to why some of her actions could be offensive to me. It is this understanding that is my saving grace when our clashes get difficult.
Recently, she went against my wishes and decided she would be throwing me a wedding shower. Nobody I know will be at this shower, and it's highly unlikely she'll be inviting my family. If she does invite my family, they live four hours away and it’s doubtful they will come.
I tried to be polite. I tried to kindly turn it down. That didn't work. I tried to explain my reasons and that these reasons meant a lot to me. She said it didn't matter. Furthermore, all my stuff is “junky” and it's time for me to get “nice” stuff. (For context, the “junky” stuff she is referring to is my mid-century teak that I've collected over the years and cherish). Besides, she's been to so many showers of other people that she's owed a shower.
I tried to enlist my fiancé to tell her my reasons, but he didn't see the point in fighting, especially if he was getting free stuff out of it.
Then things got ugly. When things get ugly between a bride and her future Mother in Law, and the groom happens to be the only child of a very possessive and controlling woman, guess which side he'll take? Not yours.
When I finally came around to ending the fight I told her, “Weddings are not about the bride. They are about bringing families together and I'd be honoured if you threw me a shower.” She cut me off mid-sentence and said she was going to throw me one anyway.
This is when I had a big realization…
These fights will exist no matter how hard I try.
Some of these fights will never go away, no matter how steadfast you are in your reasons and politics. But it's better to make compromises on the things surrounding your wedding so that you don't have to make compromises for the things during your wedding day that greatly matter to you. If controlling energy is part of the equation, direct it to where it will do the least damage.
Yes, I think showers are wasteful acts of consumerism, carried on by sexist, obsolete tradition, but there are ways to work these politics into the compromise.
My solution was to agree, but only on the condition that it was a joint shower for the both of us, and the shower guests had to pool together to get us three things on our registry.
I'm not saying always agree to the shower, but if you can turn it into something positive while redirecting that energy — and perhaps a shower is that place to do it — then there might be no harm in reworking the idea of the shower to suit your beliefs. The byproduct of this is the joy that my future mother in law will be getting out of hosting a shower and feeling included in the day that she’s probably dreamt of since the moment she decided to have children.
Pick your battles. There will be many along the way.
Which battles have YOU picked? Which have you decided to let go?