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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 17 October, 2018
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Dear Fifi: I feel a lot of pressure to have a white wedding

Dear! Fifi! Dear! Fifi!

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Hi there! The change of the seasons is well and truly upon us. There’s new coldness in the air and everyone is fannying about in their new (or recovered) winter coats. Some people love autumn, but I love summer – and I don’t really like bidding it farewell every year. 

Got an opinion on the seasons? Well, keep it to yourself and tell me about a life problem here, securely and anonymously

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Hi Fifi,

I’m in a long term relationship. We bought a house together and are planning to start a family in the next year. I’m not too pushed on getting married, it’s more important to me to focus on my relationship staying happy and our future family. However, as we are planning to have kids, we will get married. We talked about going off to Vegas just the two of us and maybe having a low key family get together to celebrate when we get home.

The only problem is our families. His Mam, for example, is not happy that his sister is not having a church wedding. His auntie got married in a registry office to her husband 10 years ago and told her family afterwards – and his Mam has never forgiven her for it and talks about it all the time. I don’t want to upset anyone, but I really don’t want a wedding for a number of reasons. I really hate being the centre of attention and the thoughts of a wedding day really stresses me out. Any ideas?

First of all: look at you! Congratulations on the life stuff. It’s no mean feat to get happily to where you are and I’m sure you don’t need a randomer on the internet to tell you that. Fair fucks. 

The wedding, as you rightly surmise, is just window dressing to all of this. And to a certain extent, so are your mother-in-law’s feelings on it. Her own daughter isn’t bowing to her pressure – that’s a huge sign in my eyes. In many ways, the auntie and your sister-in-law are walking so you can run. They’ve blasted through the sandstone necessary to make the motorway. 

They did what they wanted and lived with the consequences. And it turned out the consequences were just snark (which, and correct me if I’m wrong, by the sounds of it you’re probably going to be facing in some way from this woman no matter what).

Her daughter is marrying outside of a church. Is there any chance she views you (or your partner) as an easier mark? If so, hold firm. A wedding day would make you unhappy. Hold onto that idea. Your unhappiness – and the memory of it – won’t be worth appeasing one other person for a day.

And don’t feel guilty for standing firm either. I imagine you never tell this woman what’s right or what’s good for her around major life decisions out of self-interest. So try not to accept the same in reverse. You sound thoughtful, so I don’t need to remind you to be polite while you’re at it.

What’s really important here is how your partner handles it, I think. It’s his mother after all. Is he supportive towards you? Does he have a history of giving in to his mother’s interference for an easy life? Is he okay with taking some flak for going against her wishes around this wedding? Ask for him to view you as a total unit on this one. Become the team you are already. Stay true to the new family you’re creating. Create a strong united front so she understands this is not up for negotiation.

She may try to play one of you against the other to weaken your resolve. Don’t let this happen. Remain a team. This is your wedding, your life, your choice. A church is irrelevant. A big wedding isn’t what you want. Focus on that when things get choppy.

Look at it this way – if you allow a precedent to be set now wherein she can dictate how you marry the person you love, she may very well take an inch as a mile and begin interfering down the road with how you two raise your family. That will be a much harder, more fraught battle to fight. I think draw a line in the sand now. Let her know you respect her feelings but have to plough your own furrow here. Dig deep for strength to resist whatever tactics she throws at you. 

Take her opinion, but just be honest. A big wedding would not suit you. “It’s just not what I want” is very hard to argue with. “It would upset me and make me really unhappy to do it this way” is harder still. “We’ve made up our minds, we love you, your opinion is important to us, but we are going to do it our way this time.”

If she won’t listen to reason from you and your partner, just change the conversation. Eventually, she’ll get the message.

(And I’d suspect when her grandchildren come along, she’ll be so dotey about them, the wedding will seem like ancient history anyway. Many good wishes for your big and bright future together.)

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 Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

Last week’s column – I hate my sister’s new fella>

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