a woman with red lips shows her ring with little skulls adn a blood red garnet gemstone

When I was a child, I became convinced that my shoelaces could hold my mother's love. Every morning she would tie my shoes and take me to school, and all day I imagined some of her love had gotten wrapped around the laces and was held in place by the flimsy double knot bow. I say flimsy because inevitably my shoes would start to untie, and I would get anxious. It's dumb, but the rules of this little imaginary game prohibited me from doing anything to tighten the bow — my laces would slacken and I just knew that her love was leaking away with it.

I guess I assumed my engagement ring would feel the same, and in some ways it does. But I'm older now, more practical, and so I take it off to do the dishes and take a shower, to climb the silks, and train on the trapeze. While it doesn't feel like the betrayal of my shoelaces becoming undone, I still hold on to that bit of superstition. If my future husband isn't around I'll slide the ring on myself. But if he is around, I give it to him to slide on my finger himself and, on some level, I feel like I'm capturing some of his feelings close to the skin of my hand.

I took my ring off yesterday.

Just for a shower, but before the shower I had been crying on the phone to my mom and before that I had been dealing (poorly) with the joyless obligation our wedding had become. The juggernaut that was my in-laws had rolled us over with cultural presumptions and growing financial expectations. An invite list of 96 because “no one can be left out,” though nowhere on that list were my family or friends to be found. A bottle of Remy Martin at every table. A cab for everyone that came. All our attempts to compromise were brushed aside.

It had become toxic, and through it all I could see a miserable future for us. He, with his inability to set personal boundaries with his family. I, on the other hand, am the steel to his humanity (as he likes to tease me). I don't submit if I don't choose to, and though I've been unfailingly polite (bless their hearts) I had reached my breaking point.

“I'm done,” I told my fiancé, and it was the first time in all this ridiculous drama I saw that he really looked worried.

“I'm not going to spend $10,000 for a reception that doesn't include my family or my faith. I have tried to compromise, I have tried to offer suggestions, but no one has cared. You all can have your giant feast, but I won't be a part of it.”

He, earnest man that he is, promised to get this all under control. He tried by writing a clear and honest email to his sister that clearly stated our position. He read articles on setting boundaries with loved ones, and together we found clarity in what we were looking for.

But instead of a reply from his sister, he just got more demands from his mother.

“This is how it's going to be for the rest of your marriage,” my mom told me on the phone, when I said I was getting frustrated with all the wedding advice to just make my in-laws happy. “If you let them have everything they want, it's just going to kick the can further down the road. When you have a kid, it's only going to get worse. Will he really be able to stand up to his parents then? I know he doesn't think he's going to let them move in with you, but if he can't tell them no now, over a banquet you can't afford, they are going to do it anyway. They are going to suck you dry, if you let them”

“I don't know if I can deal with that.”

“Well, then, it's good that you're learning that now,” she said, and I recognized the tone. It was absolutely neutral, the voice she used to her sponsees when they called her at all hours needing that cool, clear-headed opinion she has become rather famous for in the AA circuit.

There was a lot more discussion, and tears (mine) and wisdom (hers) and when it was all said and done I needed a shower, as much for the literal cleansing as the metaphoric one. When I came out I looked at my engagement ring and, for the first time, I hesitated.

And when I got dressed I left the ring on my dresser.

I needed one day, just one, where I really considered whether this marriage was something I wanted. Throughout the in-law drama I would ask my my fiancé if he was absolutely sure he wanted to marry me.

I realized I'd never really considered the question myself.

On the subway to work, I thought about it.

When that wasn't enough, I prayed on it.

Now, I was raised Presbyterian, but I have a healthy appreciation for all forms of spirituality and sometime in the past ten years or so I picked up the habit of praying the rosary. There's something about the structure of it, the recitation of the same two prayers over and over that I've found takes me to a place where my conscious mind is kept just on the edge of distraction that my subconscious is able to get a word in. Since I didn't have a rosary with me, I counted the decades on my knuckles and (lighter, more aerodynamic) fingers, ignoring the jostling hostility of New Yorkers getting to work.

I needed one day, just one, where I really considered whether this marriage was something I wanted… I realized I'd never really considered the question myself.

I hailed Mary on one side of my brain while the other thought of how my engagement ring had looked, glinting bright and hopeful on my dresser. A slow realization came over me that, along with my ring and my Mason jars and bistro lighting, I had become enamored of the idea of a wedding and hadn't paid more than lip service to the idea of marriage.

I was upset by the money my in-laws wantonly thought was their right to spend, and I don't think I'm being dishonest in my worry that the wedding my in-laws want will take away money for our future. But was I willing to give up “my” wedding too?

What if we eloped?

Would elopement put us on equal footing? I realized I was sad that I wouldn't get to throw the reception I wanted, but was that because I wanted to honor my community or feed my ego? Raised in a family that can create beautiful dinner parties at the drop of a hat, was I anxious that I wouldn't get the chance to show off my taste and capabilities?

Was that what was going on?

If I'm being perfectly honest, then yes. That was part of it.

It wasn't the whole story, though, because I also knew that my fiancé and I were good together. I knew that as difficult as I can be, his easy-going nature could tease me out of my fire and brimstone, death-to-all-dissenters inclinations. I knew that those same qualities of mine could be used to bolster his confidence and empower him to set and keep boundaries, which he had begun to do, though my impatience to be done with this drama had blinded me to the progress he had made.

Maybe we needed to extend the engagement another year.

It's not quite giving up, but it tastes the same. When I got to the last “Our Father,” I turned on my iPhone and consulted my other spiritual adviser: Dolly Parton.

When I'm feeling lost, or overwhelmed — when I'm at a cross roads — I like to listen to Light Of A Clear Blue Morning. She wrote it when she left Porter Wagnor, and headed out to begin her new career on her own. I usually can find empowerment when she belts out that she can “see the light of a clear blue morning,” but this time it was her saying “everything's going to be alright, it's going to be okay” — the simple hope and faith in those words that hit something inside me.

I started to cry. And I started to believe. If Saint Dolly said it was going to be alright, who was I to argue?

When my fiancé got home we made dinner and, as has become our custom, took a shower together. I like to hold him close to me under the water. I've never felt comfortable taking a shower with other significant others, since I always worried they would hate what I looked like without make up. But I've never worried about him seeing me.

We talked about postponing the wedding. We talked about my concern about my wedding obsession — I told him I was worried I had bullied him into marrying me because that's something that I wanted. We talked about eloping.

I asked him again if he was sure that this was what he wanted.

“I choose you,” he said, like he had told me countless times before and this time I believed him.

When we got out of the shower, I took my ring off the dresser and handed it to him.

“Are you sure you want this?” he asked, my words in his mouth.

And it's true, nothing has really been solved. His parents still have their demands. We are still as close to broke as ever. We still can see the future: filled with familial demands, and hurt feelings, and unwieldy egos.

But I feel more resolved.

“I really really do.”

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Comments on I took off my ring yesterday

  1. Powerful read. My heart goes out to you. I have walked in your shoes lately, and it is overwhelming. You are not alone. At all.

    • You are absolutely not alone!! Reading this gave me so much hope, even two years from when you wrote it. My fiance’s family has a long and painful history of passive-aggressiveness, indirect communication, paranoia, and an inability to trust that people have positive intentions. We are getting married in January, but learned yesterday that despite all of our hard work and positive intention to be inclusive and respectful, both of his (divorced) parents feel left out of the planning process, and as though we don’t want them in our lives. To us, this sounds ridiculous, and we’re hurt that they could possibly think that. We have been together almost 8 years (since we were 16 and 17) and that after all that time they could still hold onto a belief that I secretly don’t want them in our lives is baffling at best and devastating at worst.
      Your writing was a beautiful reminder that at the root of all of it, I fell in love with my soon-to-be husband as a young girl, and my feelings for him have only ever gotten stronger. Wedding planning has sucked so much harder than I thought it would, and I’ve definitely gotten caught in the swirl. But knowing that he and I have the power to choose each other again and again, even when the going is this tough, is incredibly significant and empowering. Thank you for reminding me of that. I wish you the best of luck!

  2. Thank you for writing this! I totally got caught up in the wedding fever too – and I was the one who ended up having to set boundaries with my family, which was really really hard. I almost did call it off, but then I realized (like you!) that I was too focused on the wedding and not focused enough on the marriage. Refocusing helped me figure out which hills I was willing to die on and where I could compromise so that our wedding ended up being the perfect start to our marriage! Keeping my fingers crossed for smoother sailing for you!

  3. Such a wise, considered, intimate article. Thanks for writing it, and I wish you all the very best in your future grappling.

  4. Thank you for sharing. And in such a heartfelt way. I too walked a similar path during our engagement and the issues with his parents are far from resolved. Our wedding brought a lot of tensions to a head between us and his parents, and even though it was probably one of the toughest times that we’ve encountered as a couple, I am grateful for it. I am grateful because it has shown me what a compassionate, strong and loving man I chose to marry. Because we as a unit worked so hard together. We didn’t always get it right, and when we slipped up, we took stock, learned from our mistakes and altered our behaviours. Our mantra became “starting as we mean to continue” and we still repeat it to each other when things get heated or emotional or tough. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. I’m a firm believer in this. And beginning our marriage as a solid partnership felt amazing and was well worth any struggle it took.

    Choosing each other when it’s easy, is something anyone can do. Choosing each other again and again when it’s one massive emotional learning curve, now that’s true love.

  5. Beautifully written and I’ve been where you are. Just keep remembering that your future husband is what’s important, a marriage is worth so much more than a wedding. These future in-laws need to realise that.

  6. This made me cry a little. =(

    Its a lot of heaviness in the heart to love someone who is your “one” when the people that they came from are horrible, inconsiderate jerks. If it makes anything easier..I’m actually like your husband. My family does horrible guilt trips and into our second year of marriage, we had just wasted money to go on a 6 hour drive to stay the weekend with my blood-sucking family. I spent hours of listening to my grandmother say how much my husband needs to be in the military and how I need a civilian job on a military base. I promised him I would stand up to them and tell them we just couldn’t drop everything to cater to their whims. I promised this would be the last time. I even bitched and gnarled my face in anger all the way there, ready to start a fight as soon as I saw them.
    I didn’t do it. It wasn’t that I was afraid. As soon as they saw me, I felt like a child again. A misunderstood child who is always wrong and had to follow what others said. I felt horrible for dragging my husband down into this. This vicious cycle that I’m afraid won’t stop. You know what helped me through that storm? My husband’s love and strength. He knew my inner struggle and gave me a place to cry and move on. He knows what he married into. I warned him of everything I could, but he never stopped and walked away. He even did yard work and played poker late at night with my drunk family. All without complaining. I felt horrible about it, but he just kissed and reminded me that he’s in it for the long haul.
    Thank you, author, for being you. If it wasn’t for the love you have for people like your husband, like me… who were raised in a briar bush, we would feel hopeless of ever finding someone who loves us as individuals, regardless of our families or friends. Just be that rock. Be that sea of comfort and always remember that patience and love pay off. Be happy in each other, find strength in each other. Marriage will never be easy. Its like the saying, “A calm sea never made a skilled sailor” Just chalk it up as trial that can just solidify your relationship. I know that sometimes stuff like this is hard and some people have it way worse and have no other option but to walk away. Thats okay, thats life. Thank you for posting this, and I honestly hope everything works out for the best for both of you.

  7. This is beautifully written. That specific song by Dolly Parton has helped me through some tough times. Good for you for taking the time to examine what you are doing and what this marriage is about. We’re rooting for you!

  8. Thank you for sharing your honesty and beautiful writing. I’m sure this will help so many brides.

  9. I felt as if I was reading my diary entry just now. I would Google search for feelings and experiences just like this. We are dealing with the EXACT same thing my friend! I am freaking out still and my wedding is in less than two weeks. I am so sorry you are going through this, as well, as it is a heart-wrenching experience. Please feel free to email me if you need someone to talk to as I think I am still in need of someone to connect with about this topic. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Though I’ve never planned a wedding with my fiance, I too encountered the same struggles you did with your in-laws, with my own prospective in-laws. They began to act as though our budget was THEIR budget, our clothes THEIR clothes, our pet THEIR pet, and they even tried to have say over the fact that I wanted to bring a new kitten into our home (they’re deathly allergic — they immediately protested and hemhaww’d — “But, but what about us!” to which we’d reply almost disdainfully, “You don’t live with us at all,” and then they’d go on and on about how they were sure their genes would certainly take stake in the child I was carrying (I knew it wouldn’t, just a gut feeling I couldn’t shake and I trust my instinct more — and viola, she isn’t allergic).

    It was the most difficult thing my fiance and I weathered as a couple and it nearly broke us — funny thing, he’d weathered rehab too, while we were together. That was nothing compared to dealing with the in-laws. He was too, like your fiance — afraid to establish a boundary for the sake of his relationship and his own family.

    I often had to tell him, “I think you picked the wrong woman. I really think you did.” After multiple attempts to break up with him, and his mother continually getting involved to try to get us back together (which was the LAST THING I wanted, but didn’t want to look bad in front of his grandparents, which I knew would happen if I did not do what she wanted).

    It took bolting from his mother’s house (after a very, very awful argument where every single resentment came out) in a very, very small town in the South to a well-populated city in Upstate New York for us to recover almost totally, as a couple by the time our child was born.

    To this very day, she still gripes after us for moving up North and we try to remind her how bad off we were as a couple in her hometown, which she tries to dismiss but she can’t ignore the fact we are much happier here, with our own family, our own home and our own boundaries.

  11. I love this! It’s such good practice for marriage. That ability to take a step back, cry and get it out, and then make that decision every time it get’s rough. To choose your marriage even when you know it’s still going to be tough and nothing is really solved. Beautiful!

  12. Wow. How self-aware and introspective of you. Knowing you’ve reached your limit is tough, both intrinsically and extrinsically. You don’t want to seem like an asshole to those around you, even if they’re the ones being assholeish, but you want to stand up for yourself. My hat’s off to you for doing so.

  13. I get completely what it is to compromise. I have just given up the wedding reception of my dreams just to be able to make my fiance happy and use the money to move back to his home town in England. I just wished men got the whole ‘dream wedding’ thing we all have in our heads since we’re little girls. I feel like crying so bad and even worst. I don’t really have anyone to talk about this with. I’m so sad and I feel I can’t say anything about it at all. I hope you guys make it through and live happy. As for myself, I really don’t know

    • this doesn’t sound like a compromise, sweetheart, but you completely giving up what you wanted. I hope it’s for the best and you feel better about it soon.

  14. This made me smile. It’s so hard when the details get overwhelming. Your marriage is going to be so much stronger simply because you took your ringless day to really think. I applaud you for asking yourself the tough question, because so many people don’t.

    As for the in-laws, maybe if your fiance is having trouble saying no (or getting them to listen), you could take the driver’s seat. They’ll be your family, so they’re going to have to learn to listen to you at some point. I could throw all kinds of suggestions at you, but I’m sure most of them have been addressed on this site anyway, and I probably wouldn’t say things you don’t know. So I’ll send good thoughts your way, and just say “You can DO this!” 🙂

  15. This article is so good. I really do feel for you and feel like I’m there sometimes too. It does have some great advice and makes me think about our upcoming wedding

  16. Thank you so so so so so so much for this post. I’m currently going through something similar with clashing cultures. FMIL does not know how to compromise, and what she’s asking for isn’t much, it’s just not leaving room for things that my family cares about. We’re actually debating telling our parents that we’ll pay and be in charge of specific things, and the families can work out the rest of the details, and we’ll just show up and go with it. It’s a tough place to be in, but at the end of the day, all I really want is to be married to my FH. So we have a venue already, we’ll get an awesome DJ and photographer (for the day of the wedding only, if they want photography other days they can pay for that), we’ll pay for the venue and the alcohol, and the rest will be up to them. If nothing else, we’ll have an awesome dance party that will be captured on film by a photographer we really like.

  17. My Fiance and I decided to delay our wedding for a year and our conversations have turned from one sided wedding conversations (there is some minor wedding drama on his side that he doesn’t want to deal with) to two sided marriage conversations (our five year plan, finances, houses, kids, etc).

  18. It’s good to know I’m not alone. This was such a wonderful read. It’s more my family than my FH family that are having demands and things. We’ve gone through the same processes of putting it off, or should we do this, that and the other thing. In the end, so long as you’re married at the end of the day, it’s all that matters. Best of luck to you!

  19. While I’m not engaged, I have dealt with a lot of issues with my partner’s family being pushy over the years. It took me breaking up with him once to get him to stand up to them. I hope when we get engaged, we will be able to stand up to them.

  20. This story breaks my heart to think that they are not getting the wedding they want because others (who have already had THEIR wedding) are dictating what their day should be. PLEASE STAY TRUE TO YOU and what you have envisioned your day to be. It goes by so quick but you will cherish every fleeting second of it if it is what YOU want. On the other hand you will look back with regret if you do things that do not feel right to you. I wish you a long, happy and healthy marriage.

  21. My in-laws aren’t controlling my wedding, but they(well, she) is controlling my life. My future MIL lives with my fiance, and since i’ve moved in with them, i live with her too. She started off trying to pick our wedding date, picking the venue, she tried to pick my dress out for me. She’s gone over my guest list and added people, written up lists of what food we’ll serve and what decor we’ll have. She huffed and puffed and scoffed at every choice i made, argued with him about every choice he made that was different from hers. She openly despises every decision i make, telling me it’s idiotic or stupid, or not a good idea, or “sure that’s great if you want it to be ugly.” If i pick out a dress she says the print is terrible, it looks like a costume, the designer obviously doesn’t know what good taste is, it looks cheap, it’s a fine thing to wear if i was going to bar. I get told that my taste is definitely different, in the most rude and snide tone.

    It’s not just the wedding where she does this to me. It’s constant. She re-folds my laundry, because i don’t do it right. She opens the lid of the washing machine every time i run a load and either comments that it’s too full or not full enough. Same with the dishwasher. She checks on the amount of soap i put in the dishwasher and gripes at me. She criticizes my cooking, yet gets upset because i don’t cook enough. Is angry with me because she has to take care of fiance’s son in the morning while i’m getting dressed. Yet when i get up early, get dressed early so i can watch him in the morning, she won’t let me do a damn thing, overrules me on everything and pushes me aside so she can take care of him. She treats me like i’m useless, and is then mad because i don’t do enough around the house- only reason i don’t is because she won’t let me! My time with my Fiance is limited, because she monopolizes his time. After work, he HAS to watch TV with her, until she is ready for bed or we’ll never hear the end of it. She yells at me, she yells at him, yells at the kids. I wake up with anxiety, i am fine at work, but as soon as i walk in the door at home a wave of anxiety hits me in the gut. It’s almost unbearable.

    Last night i told him maybe i can’t do this. I’m looking at another 10 years minimum of living with this woman. He doesn’t stand up to her enough. We do things the way she wants cause he doesn’t want to have to deal with her when she doesn’t get her way. But she will stay with him till she dies, he’s adamant about that, since she has no where else to go, can’t support herself and no one else in the family will take her in. So, i’m looking at my marriage like a life sentence. I wasn’t sure if i could handle it. I’m still not. But either way, i’ve decided he’s worth it. Because i love him more than i can describe and for me, the lesser of two evils is to live with his mother. Not having him in my life would be worse for me than having her there.

    So, he promised me, we’ll share an umbrella, we’ll get through every storm together. He’ll stand by me, he’ll do better when it comes to standing up for us. We’ll carve out a measure of happiness together. And eventually, we hope, things will be easier. I too am resolved to stick it out. I’ve given up hope of having the wedding of my dreams, just like i’ve given up on the idea of the house of my dreams. What i will have, is the man of my dreams. And for me, that’s what this whole love thing is all about.

    • I feel for you, darlin’. That whole situation sounds awful. If you have no option of living without MIL, you should at least have separate spaces within the home- i.e. a mother/daughter house, or a house with a garage-turned-apartment for MIL. Having a separate space might make it a bit easier for you get out from under her grasp a little. That way she can lord over her own space, and laundry, and dishes, and you can have your own rules in your space thankyouverymuch.. I wish you luck!

    • “I wake up with anxiety, i am fine at work, but as soon as i walk in the door at home a wave of anxiety hits me in the gut. It’s almost unbearable.”

      Please change your situation. Please have your fiance make clear boundaries with his mother. Please enforce those boundaries. Please see a counselor/therapist. You deserve to be happy. Not anxious about living in your own home!

    • girl. there is more to life than having a man. even if he’s *that* man, you’re going to get physically ill from living this stressed out. wake up and get out.

    • A friend of mine was in a very similar situation. Her fiancé’s mom treated her snidely and badly – nothing was good enough for her son, because she actually just wanted him to stay home and take care of her. It only improved when he finally told his mom “look, this is the woman I’ve chosen, and if you can’t treat her better, it’s not going to be HER that I stop seeing, it’ll be YOU.” And then he explicitly told his mom, either in the moment or later, when she was being unacceptable and rude. The only problem is that this can’t be a bluff. If he says something like this, he has to be willing to either move out or make her move out if the situation doesn’t improve.

  22. This reminds me so much of a lot of the issues my foreign friends here in Taiwan have confronted when marrying significant others who are from here – both male and female, but usually it affects the Western women marrying Taiwanese men I know more (though it depends on the individual family dynamics too).

    Pretty much the only saving grace for some of these couples is that they know the parents aren’t bad people: they just really believe, culturally speaking, that the wedding is just as much for the parents and their community as it is for the couple – if not more so. That translates into them deciding these things that Westerners would not be OK with their parents deciding.

    Also, in these situations, the parents (knowing full well that the couple doesn’t have the money) pay for everything. In Taiwan, if they want 1,000 people that the couple doesn’t even know, a reception at the W, big cookie boxes, a fancy banquet with wine etc. that they are going to have to pay for it.

    So I’m not surprised at all by the story: happens all the time where I live (and no, it doesn’t get better after marriage with these families [families with this dynamic – obviously not all are this way], some will even tell you when to have kids and how many to have, on their timeline, not yours! Although often the in-laws will think “well our DIL is a foreigner so we can’t tell her what to do” – kinda racist but there you go).

    What I am surprised by is that they seem to expect you to pay for it.

  23. This is amazing. I have just had a similar situation where I’ve had to step back and ask myself if it’s what I want even though I’ve been asking him.

    We’ve had to step back and look at what a wedding really means to us and still arnt decided but there is something beautiful in my partner who had his heart set on a wedding say if you want to just sign the papers I don’t mind as long as we are together at the end.
    I hope you find the right fit for the wedding for you! X

  24. I love this article. Not only for the in-law side of it, but the questioning-this-marriage-while-planning-the-wedding side of it. Maybe it’s a right of passage for some to reach that point in their planning/relationship where they stop and REALLY THINK, “Do IIII want this?”
    So glad that you, like me, have found that answer in your heart. And although circumstances may not be different, the perspective is – and that helps too.
    Xoxo for your future.

  25. So touching! And one of the reasons that we had a surprise wedding. We hosted a holiday party and invited close friends and family. We only told the people we had to and let the rest be surprised. If anyone did questioned one of my decisions, like my decision to wear a black dress, they got told, it is not a wedding it is a holiday party. 🙂

  26. Beautifully written. As someone who tried to please her inlaws by having a wedding that was nothing like I actually wanted the only advice I can give you is to make sure that everything you do is to please your husband and yourself. In the end you can never please everyone so you may as well please yourselves by having the wedding that you both want. I’m actually having a do over, exactly how we envisaged for our first wedding however this time the inlaws will be guests and have absolutely no say in any of the arrangments.

  27. Oh sweety loads of hugs and wishes for strength to you. Truly beautifully written and touching and ….i don’t know I’m kind of at a loss for words..just wow.
    We had our moment not that long ago. There was an incident and it took a dark turn that made me question everything. Actually you have inspired me…. I think I’ll write our story. Maybe it’ll help someone else that has a situation like ours. Thank you

  28. I’m not even thinking about marriage right and my boyfriend’s parents are that way! And they aren’t even together! Which makes it worse because he gets it from two families. I love that you are so strong and human (for the breaking down part) because I felt that I was the only one who was also being bullied by his parents to do certain things with him. And it’s hard to say nothing back because they will be family the rest of your life but that doesn’t mean you should let them run you. It’s your lives not theirs. YOUR wedding. Maybe someday if you have kids, your rules on how to raise them. Keep strong! And I hope everything works out for you two!

  29. I am planning to take care of the situation by just having a all-inclusive package wedding planner do it. My parents will have the rights to make decisions, because they are paying 2/3s for the wedding. I plan on buying a Victorian wedding dress that is my style and appropriate for church wear. I know what I want, and I’ll get it if I make compromises with my parents.

    Of course, if I didn’t grow my self-confidence over the years, I may have the same situation as the author. Dealing with controlling relatives is very tough.

  30. Wow, beautifully written. And I love the story about the shoelaces–it’s amazing how children’s minds work.

  31. The in law problems will never go away trust me. You are wise to ponder your situation. Your story is all too common, but acknowledging the problem is your key to resolution. Good luck. Weddings take work, but good marriages take even more work. You are smart to listen to that still small voice. Hope everything turns out for the best!

  32. What wound up happening!!??? Hopefully you both eloped on your own terms (and money), and told his parents where to go and are saving for your honeymoon. You have to get that control back in your life to have peace in your home. Mother in laws that start out that way will end up trying to run your life. Your mom was not wrong.

  33. Thank you for sharing this intimate piece of your life with us. As someone raised in an area of southern tendencies I know it’s not always easy to put it all out there. As someone who ended up marrying a New Yorker with a strong family and cultural traditions I understand even more. Find strength, and know they will get a little of what they want but also that you have the power no matter what they say. It is not easy but go inside that place in yourself and realize that they love him (and you) and that even though you may hurt their feelings and they may complain that they will get over it (eventually – and not without a lot of grumbling at every family event). But find joy in the fact that you stood up for some of the things that were important to you. We had a wedding 1/5 the cost of his cousin’s wedding the year before, but believe it or not after all the arguments and angry relatives, EVERYONE had a good time and said it was a beautiful wedding.

    Also, I love that you too look to the wisdom of Dolly Parton when you are feeling low. For some reason I really love that woman, I think she has a good heart and if her words ring true for you, then let them be your inspiration.

    Finally, this past weekend was my 1 year anniversary and both my husband and I looked at each other and asked “Are you sure you still want to be with me, even with my crazy family?” (because in the end we both have crazy families), and the answer is even more deeply ‘yes”, because we are each other’s rock and sanity.

    (I know this post is a bit late but I wish more than anything happiness – because at the end of the day all that matters is that you are married to the person you love)

  34. Now I am dying to know how this works out. I had the same problem with my in laws. I had a very clear cut idea of how I wanted to enter into my marriage, and luckily, my husband agreed. We had to draw boundaries, and lay down certain rules. They were not happy, but we had to stress that this was our wedding, and it was what we wanted. I didn’t want to wear a white dress, which was shocking to them. I didn’t want to get married in a church, or have a night reception. We had an afternoon reception, and then retired to our beautiful hotel where we spent the late afternoon and evening together. It was what we wanted. My dress was hand made by my friend, in a beautiful emerald green satin with silver embroidery, absolutely gorgeous, but not exactly what they had in mind. They were very disapproving but we had to say to them that they were welcome to share in the celebration of our marriage, but that we were not going to change who we were, or what we believed in, for them. We had to maintain our integrity, and I didn’t want to start off our married life with a lie. It was a celebration of our love, and we got it right. We have now been married for 18 years, and it was so worth it. I wish you luck in your marriage and I’m glad you’ve had the wisdom and courage to think this through, and decide the best thing for you and your fiance.

    • 🙂 thank you so much for sharing your story. Your dress sounds lovely, here’s hoping we will be lucky enough to be sharing an 18 year anniversary some day, too!

      We got married a couple of months ago and wound up having two weddings, which was exactly perfect for us. One my inlaws planned (and paid for) and one that we created and paid for (http://offbeatwed.com/2015/04/miami-circus-wedding) ourselves. We couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful, joy-filled day, despite all the bumps along the wedding-planning road.

  35. Reading this really spoke to my heart…I have been going through something so similar. My fiance and I finally just chose to elope with only parents present. I was desperate to have the wedding of my dreams, but due to my fiance’s spotlight-craving sister, all of my wedding dreams were crushed to a pulp, and nearly every moment of our engagement has felt like a miserable struggle. I finally cancelled our entire wedding, and we are planning this tiny ceremony which sort of feels like a pathetic failure and a joke compared to the wedding that we wanted and his sister’s $25k barnyard party just a few months ago, but I keep telling myself, there are more important things in life, far more important things. We want to travel the world and have experiences, not just a huge day in the spotlight. It’s been a constant worry in the back of my mind that the clear favoritism for his sister that has been shown by his parents will trickle down to our children as well (and his parents will favor his sister’s children over ours) but I still choose him. He’s my person. Life is always a constant fight. But we are stronger together, and happier. And we deserve that.

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