I don’t even know how to write this without sounding harsh, but here goes: My mother and my boyfriend’s mother don’t like each other. And I know that my boyfriend is going to propose soon.
The times that both of our mothers spent together were challenging and full of tension. The two of them have very different personalities, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But it’s not good either. My mother is a more laid back and a roll-with-the-punches type of woman, and my bf’s mother is very Type A. She takes control of every situation but not in a bad way. She’s a do-er, gets things done right away. Things never even got off on the right foot; when they first met each other, my bf’s mother shortened my mother’s first name to give it kind of a cute nickname. My mother hated it and told her that she didn’t like it. But every now and then the cute nickname is used. After that initial meeting, my mother told me, “She’s too bossy. Can’t she relax? She was giving me a migraine.” It hasn’t gotten better since. Every time they are together in a room, I can read my mother’s mind and I’m right because she would end up saying exactly what I thought she was thinking afterwards. It took me a while to get used to my bf’s mother, but I don’t really spend a lot of time with her, and I don’t think about her when we aren’t together. My bf’s mother picked up on my mother’s feelings and she doesn’t like my mother too much either. She said that she wouldn’t choose my mother as a friend because they are too different, and she doesn’t understand how my mother cares about some things and voices her opinion about them but is silent regarding things that she feels strongly about.
Now with a wedding to plan, I can only imagine what will happen. I’m the only daughter of my parents. My mom has told me about wanting to go gown shopping and to all other bridal appointments with me because as the mother of the groom with my brothers, she missed out on those opportunities. My bf’s mom is already telling me she can get us an appointment at a certain high-end bridal store, but the appointment must be made “now” because of the wait list. She’s also talking about helping me register for China – and do what she has done for her daughters – all things that my mother wants to do and didn’t have the chance with her sons. And I know for a fact that my mother did not envision it being an experience for three people – just for her and me. I want to have these special memories with my mom, too. I would prefer if it was just the two of us, but if my soon-to-be mother-in-law tagged along, I wouldn’t be angry. And how can I not ask her to come to an appointment that she is setting up?
Stuck in the Middle
Stucky, thank you for your letter.
First thing: This is not a dating question. This should go to someone who specializes in family dynamics, but let me take a shot. Personalities are personalities. No one will change. The two mothers do not have to like each other, but they should both be civil when in the presence of the other. I think it’s wrong that your bf’s mother essentially badmouthed your own mother to you. She may be saying, “I can’t understand how your mom...” But by that (I’ll be Rashi here – for once), she’s really saying, “That’s a stupid way to think or do something. I would never do it like that) I’m human. Yes, people speak about each other. Fact. But as my mother a”h advised my sister and me, “Never talk negatively about your mother-in-law to your husband, no matter what it’s about, because she is still his mother.” Same can be said about this situation. I’m curious to know if you “defended” your mother and her opinion or let it go because it would be easier to let it go than to start an argument. And if that’s the case, your bf’s mother may think you agree with her and may continue to give a little jab or throw a little shade on your mother – better get a handle on that situation now!
Yes, it does sound like you have been stuck in the middle. But from how I understand your writing, you make it seem as though your mother’s heart will break if your bf’s mother accompanies you to any of your bridal appointments. And in some ways, I can understand why: You’re her only daughter. She’s been thinking about these moments probably since you were born. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if your bf’s mom accompanied the both of you to an appointment or two, but being that it appears as if your mother has a negative reaction to her, it wouldn’t be as special a moment. If the two mothers liked each other, it may be a different story.
If you allow your bf’s mom to schedule an appointment, it’s only right if she is there. I’m sure your mother would even agree with me here. If you don’t want her to accompany you anywhere else for wedding/marriage preparation, then let her know. But be gentle about it. In this situation, I admit that I would be a coward and ask my chasan to have this conversation with his mother: “Her mother didn’t do any of this with the other wedding. She’s her only daughter.” I wouldn’t want to disappoint his mother, but I wouldn’t want to ignore my mother’s feelings. If your bf’s mother is a reasonable woman, she may understand. You mentioned she has been the mother of the bride before. She may remember the specialty of those moments and not want to take your mother’s moment away from her.
I will state here that there is nothing wrong with thinking about you and what you want. It will be your wedding, after all. I’m sure you have visions of the way you’d like things to go and that’s fine. Forget about your mother here for a moment; if you don’t want that third party tagging along, nothing is wrong with that. You wrote that you looked forward to doing all these special things with your mother, and your mother was denied them when your brother got married. You need to do what will make you feel good at the end of the day, so it won’t keep looping around in your head that “I should’ve...”
You may not like my answer, Stucky, but it’s what I have. If you want to ask the opinion or start seeing a therapist regarding family dynamics, go ahead. But I think it may be too early for that, if at all.
Hatzlachah to you all.