For the Groom: How to Handle Your Mother-In-Law

Written by    Last updated: March 26, 2012

Editor of I Am Staggered, Andrew Shanahan, shares his wisdom with Confetti’s grooms and advises how to handle the Mother-in-Law!

Elizabeth Messina

Image by Elizabeth Messina

I’m not trying to cause a fuss, but recently when we have been attending wedding fairs, we’ve had more than a few brushes with the bride’s mother and it’s plain to see that the notion of an interfering mother-in-law is a huge issue for many grooms (and brides). So we thought we’d put together a few tips for grooms experiencing their own moments.

Present a United Front

One of the biggest threats that an interfering mother-in-law presents is that it causes a rift in the relationship between the bride and groom. The groom is getting hacked off because his MIL is actively stopping him from getting involved, but if his bride is close to her mum he might not want to cause a rift by telling her. That’s why it’s important that you discuss the issue with your wife-to-be and tell her exactly what’s annoying you, so you can both reach an agreement on the issue before it gets out of hand.

Be Tactful

For many mothers-in-law it seems that their daughter’s wedding is the chance she’s been waiting for to create her own dream day. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s wrong. The wedding is about the couple and their relationship. If the MIL wants to help them to create their dream day then that’s great, but she shouldn’t have a final say in how their relationship is celebrated.

That’s still true even if it is her husband that’s paying for the wedding, which is increasingly rare. If that’s held over you as a means to let her have her way, then you need to have a serious conversation about whether the cost of the financial support is too great. Again though it’s all about you and your wife-to-be discussing it and agreeing what you want.

Set Tasks

Weddings are essentially long, long lists of tasks that need to be researched, completed and paid for. That might be stripping away the romance a bit, but you get the point. If you are blessed with a mother-in-law who is desperate to participate, then focus her energies. Do not give her carte blanche to meddle with.

Be enthusiastic about her help, thank her warmly and then set her a list of tasks. Explain that you are covering tasks A to W and it would be great if she could research (or even do if you trust her) tasks X, Y and Z. This way she knows she’s being helpful (and that you’re grateful) but most importantly of all it tells her exactly where the boundaries are.

Ultimately, in our reader’s experience the majority of people loved their mother-in-law (53% loved, compared to 47% who loathed) but there was enough who had problems to suggest that there’s a reason the groom/mother-in-law relationship is such a staple of sitcoms. Good luck…

Find more great advice on our Wedding Planning pages!

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