Family dynamics

Over dinner on Sunday, G asked if C and her fiance, A, have set a wedding date. Nope, not yet. Things are informal, casual, comfortable; our family pretty much discusses anything and everything. We batted it around a bit, and while I (and just about everyone else at the table) understood that it is differences between C’s family (very small) and A’s family (HUGE!) and what type of wedding they have, there seems to be a certain discord about it.

Essentially, I am not sure C wants to marry into A’s family. She loves A, he loves her, but his family dynamic is a challenge for her. It’s been this way for the last 2 years, and there seems to be no resolution in sight.

M and I decided long ago to stay out of it. If asked for advice or opinions, I/we provide it. However, I try to be both objective and honest, but diplomacy and tact are not always my strong suits. Thankfully my daughter is not bothered by my straightforwardness; she knows there is no malicious intent behind my frankness.

Sunday night M and I were joking Sunday that they should elope in Bakersfield, where C’s best friend resides, maybe celebrate at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. It’s a funny vision to imagine, as neither C nor A are big country music fans, nor could I ever imagine either of them at such a honky tonk type establishment. While overall I encourage she and A to do whatever makes both of them happiest, as the wedding is truly THEIR day, she replied that the marriage was all about them but the wedding was actually more for their families and friends. I do not necessarily agree, but she’s an adult and I need not be right about everything, especially when it comes to my adult children’s lives.

We were texting this morning about the wedding and stuff, and the stress I felt the stress in her words in the same way I heart it in her voice every time the wedding topic comes up. I finally asked her if she simply does not want to get married right now, period. Her reply: she loves A, she is happy being engaged and committed, and she would really rather put their funds and energy into saving for a home of their own. The actual wedding is stressing her out in big ways. My advice was simply to go with your instinct, follow your gut, and do not let anyone pressure you into doing anything you do not want to do.

But again, the pressure she feels is not coming from us, but from A’s family and indirectly from A. They have high expectations of a wedding forthcoming and see their reluctance to plan or set a date as an issue to be overcome with their assistance. Since my daughter is an adult, this is not a battle I can fight for her, so my whole role now is to sit back and listen while she vents. Her method of coping – avoiding his family most of the time – is not working all that well. They are nice people, but loud, brash, overbearing. My daughter is sensitive and too much of that brings an emotional outburst and tears. There are times when this is inappropriate, but having witnessed what A’s family is capable of, in my mind it is bullying. Unfortunately A is not that effective in standing up and pushing back against them.

I read blog posts and know other parents with children with special needs. While this is a bare shadow of what they endure each and every day, I feel sort of helpless to help my daughter develop the skills to cope with her fiance’s family. She is perfectly normal, but her brand of sensitivity makes her a soft target for them. A tries, I believe he does try his best, but to a degree even he has difficulty understanding. I had little to offer her this morning except 110% support that she did not have to get married ever if she didn’t want to, and we were quite comfortable with her choice to live in sin the balance of her days if that’s what made her happiest. I love both my children all the way to Heaven and back, and it’s frustrating when I have so little practical advice to offer. While M (and her brother) would suggest she dump his ass until he grows up enough to erect and enforce boundaries between their family and his extended family, it is not the sort of advice that would be well received.

Ugh. It was so much easier when she was 8 and I could tell her to ignore the cruel “friend” who did not invite her to her birthday party and we instead had a fun sleepover with other friends who were not included where we tie-dyed and baked cookies. School the following Monday was suddenly a lot more bearable. If only there were such a solution to the bigger issues that come with being a grown-up.

8 thoughts on “Family dynamics

  1. I don’t come here often, but I have to say that anything that is an issue before marriage will become an even bigger issue after marriage. He will align with his family and waffle about his allegiances after they marry, Plus, the family will be even more vocal. She will rear children under the dictates of this family. She should run….Now. okay, just my two cents worth.

      • When my daughter got a divorce after fifteen years of marriage, I told her I had always despised the man she married. She burst out with, “That’s what Dad said. Why didn’t you both tell me. I might not have married him.” I told her she was so in love that she would have not have listened to me. She said that she might have not married him. She had lived with him for two years, and I often think she thought she was “ruined” after that, so marrying him might restore her to a stated of being “good” again. This was not coming from a place of religious thoughts.

  2. Tough for C and for you. The wedding is of course only the first of many times they will face the pressure – A’s family (based on earlier posts too) will give their input on every decision – kids, house, jobs, vacation…….. Perhaps if they decide to go the house route first and A’s family dynamic comes into play there too – it will be an opportunity for C & A to find a resolution – either A improves boundaries with family of C has to decide if she really wants to live her life like this. No easy answer.

    • Yep, I know. My best advice has been don’t rush into anything, things get worse the longer it goes on, etc. But it is hard when it’s your child versus just a good friend.

  3. Generally, people tend to place a lot of emphasis on the title of getting married, and little on the actual relationship. It is quite a puzzling concept in my opinion. I see it often, and understand the reason(s), but I consider it puzzling. because the act of the title itself is irrelevant in the grand scheme of the relationship. The relationship and the environment surrounding the relationship (relatives), should be in a state of calm, long before heading down the aisle. I bid her well in this matter

    • Thanks for your insight and always so nice to see you again.

      In her heart I know my daughter agrees with you, me, and everyone else who says “get the relationships and boundaries in order before getting married” and I know she takes that advice seriously. However, short of terminating the engagement there seems to be no end to the pressure about setting a date and getting married. In truth this is where I see her fiance faltering and showing some signs of immaturity, which I hope and pray he overcomes. As I tell M all the time, it does not matter if WE like the kids’ chosen partners because we are not the deciders in these matters.

      • I hope your weekend concluded well. One of the most difficult situations for a parent, I presume that is—being present in a situation and knowing it is not their place to step in. This is one of those situations I believe.

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