Welcome to our latest installment of "Ask the Experts," where our contributor team of wedding planners solves readers' most pressing wedding-planning dilemmas! This week, Regina Cialone from Cloud Nove Events and Amber Moltimore from Liz & Lex Events weigh in on a less-than-ideal in-laws situation. Do you have a question that you'd like to submit? Email [email protected] and we'll do our best to respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.
Q: "My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have never accepted me. They spoke badly about me and tore me down for three years, all the way up to the wedding day. Now that we're married, they still won't accept me. I am tired of the depression and having to prove that I'm a good person to them. They have never gotten to know me and they probably never will. How do I cope with my feelings of rejection, pain and a broken heart? I just want them to like me." — BG reader Corinne
"Corinne, you are not alone! Out of all the brides who come to me for advice, over half have a situation similar to yours. The first thing I always say to them is that you truly can’t make everyone happy all of the time. It would be nice, but you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to make that happen. The only people whose happiness you can control are yourself and your husband.
Your in-laws are no doubt very important to your husband, and I can see that if everyone just got along, things would be easier. Unfortunately marriage, like life, isn’t easy. I suggest talking to your spouse honestly and openly about your concerns. He may be able to provide some clarity on the situation from their perspective. It may not make them right but if you can understand where they're coming from, then this may help you alter your actions or words accordingly. It may even help to alleviate your feelings of anger or depression.
Also, realize that your family dynamic and the way your parents show you love may not be the same way that your husband’s family shows love. Your family may constantly give words of affirmation while your spouse’s family may shower each other with gifts. Both are OK; one isn’t more "right" than the other.
As long as you and your husband are on the same page, and you have his full support, you do not need to prove anything at all to his family. Love yourself for who you are (your husband does!) and be proud of your strengths. Do not try to change yourself or your behavior to please them. Most of the time in this situation, no matter what you do, it won’t make them happy. So don’t waste the energy — be beautiful and be you. You’ve made a commitment to your husband, not his entire family. Be kind and be the best wife you can be for him, and if they still don’t accept you, remind yourself that your husband does, and that’s what is truly important."
"Hi Corinne. The first thing that I would suggest you do is to have a serious conversation with your husband. Clearly express your feelings and concerns about this situation. Consider writing down your key points beforehand so that you won’t come off as whiny or simply complaining. Jot down exact occurrences and how the incidents made you feel. This situation is not just your problem. He will have issues as long as you have them with his family.
The second thing I suggest would be to seek out some counseling, either marital or individual. You mentioned depression in your submission, and this is a serious matter. It is very hard not to feel overwhelmed by this situation and these feelings can easily lead to worse ones and a damaged self-esteem. Nobody should ever be allowed to make you feel as though you are not a good person or an important part of everyday life. You ARE special, and you ARE important and you DO matter.
You and your husband will have to stand together as a united front in order to effectively tackle this situation. Some people are just mean and take joy in putting others down or intimidating them because they are so miserable or jealous. It is your husband’s responsibility to ensure that you're not verbally or emotionally abused by the people who love him. He needs to take the situation very seriously and support you 100%. Bring it up to him in private first; perhaps you can both arrange to speak with his family to express your concerns at a later point in time. Communication is key. If they still don’t change their attitudes, then unfortunately you and your husband will need to separate yourselves from an unhealthy situation for a while. Their negativity should not be allowed to hurt you or your new marriage."
P.S. Have a pressing wedding dilemma or question? Submit it here and we'll answer it in an upcoming blog post!
— Stefania Sainato
Regina Cialone is the owner of Cloud Nove Events. She has planned everything from small, intimate events for 10 to large-scale corporate and nonprofit events for 400 guests. She has executed affairs at many notable venues including Midtown Loft & Terrace, Central Park Boathouse, The Foundry, The Metropolitan Building, NYIT de Seversky Mansion, Kontokosta Winery, Bedell Vineyards, Martha Clara Vineyards, and Oheka Castle. Regina has a Masters of Management from Regis University, and a diverse background in production, fine dining and the arts.
Amber Moltimore is the co-owner of Liz & Lex Events. They aren't your typical wedding planners! Couples hire them when they are serious about having an unforgettable, well-managed wedding day. They work with chic couples who see themselves as super-busy professionals and want their wedding dreams to be easily executed without all of the stress.