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Marriage and Family Stress


Getting Married Cold feet to pre-marital stressors--the place to discuss all the issues that come with saying "I do."

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Old 8th April 2019, 2:21 PM   #1
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Marriage and Family Stress

Hey guys,

I've been engaged to my fiance for the last 6 months and we're really excited to get married and one day buy a house, have a family, etc, but I've been dealing with a lot of stress from her family, mostly about the whole process/transition (she still lives at home, I'm 30 and she's 25). Her family and I, mostly her dad, don't see eye to eye on a lot of things and it's been causing a lot of turmoil with wedding planning and now moving in together (which we we're planning on doing soon). She comes from an Italian family and shares everything with them about what's going on in her life (something she stresses is important to her).

The first big issue was I didn't ask permission to marry her (had no idea that they were expecting me too). Her father was pretty upset when we walked in to surprise them. On top of that, when we were starting to plan the wedding, they were upset we weren't going to invite more people and that we were having it at a mostly outdoor venue. Her dad starting getting really demeaning saying I don't care about my guests because of the possibility of rain during the reception (tents were the backup). I ended up fighting back by saying it's her big day, we're paying for it so it's our choice, and of course we care etc. Afterwards my fiance just said let's do it at a winery instead to make them happy and to not start anything with them. She was also a little upset that I got a bit aggressive back at them (I was pretty mad)...

The next issue is her moving into my apartment. We want to live together a bit first before the wedding and start planning our future together etc. We've been scheduling job interviews in my area (she lives about 45 minutes away), but her dad says 'That's too far' and I keep reminding him that she's moving, and his response is 'No she's not' and that's final kind of attitude. Sometimes she calls me at night crying that her family were calling her an idiot saying she can't take care of herself and she should live with them until she's married to save money etc. Very frustrating.

Has anyone dealt with this kind of stuff before? I love her to death, she's my best friend. But this is just insane, I've never met any family like this before. They are certainly good people and they are kind to me outside of these issues, but it's like we're being treated like children. I don't know why they make such a huge fuss about these things.

Any advise on how to approach/handle this? Thanks.
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Old 8th April 2019, 2:43 PM   #2
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If her father feels slighted that you did not ask for her hand in marriage (although this is 2019), perhaps just tell him you did not realize it was an expectation, apologize, and then hopefully you can all move on. Your soon-to-be-wife is 25 years old - a grown woman (and she needs to remind her parents of that fact.) I am very supportive of living together for a little while before the wedding to get to know each others' idiosyncrasies (better now than later....)

Just remember that, though you are marrying her and not them, you ARE marrying into her family. You said they are very close. You'll have a much easier time if you can navigate that in-law relationship without any tension. Remember, happy wife, happy life.
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Old 8th April 2019, 3:11 PM   #3
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Ha, sounds exactly like my parents!

Transitioning out of a family like that is always hard, especially if she lives with them and has never had to stand her ground against them before. It's understandable that she's upset about them being upset, but what is she going to actually do about it? Will she still move to you? If she is, I'd just try and help smooth things over. If, on the other hand, she's going to cave to them about literally everything (not just the wedding venue), I'd be concerned.

Generally traditional parents get a lot less smothering once you're actually married, IME. They tend to get a bit worse just before you marry, because they're having trouble coping with the change and the impending "loss" of a daughter... but usually once you get there they'll be okay.
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Old 8th April 2019, 4:17 PM   #4
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Weddings bring out the worst in people.

Dads also want to be asked no matter how lame that tradition is. You were wrong not to ask & you hurt his feelings. He feels like you are taking his daughter away. You have to show him he's gaining a son.

Call up dad. Ask him to go get a beer with you. Then sincerely apologize to him for not asking. Then ask him what you can do to make this transition easier for him. Do not promise to do everything he wants but hear the guy out.
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Old 8th April 2019, 4:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by d0nnivain View Post
Weddings bring out the worst in people.

Dads also want to be asked no matter how lame that tradition is. You were wrong not to ask & you hurt his feelings. He feels like you are taking his daughter away. You have to show him he's gaining a son.

Call up dad. Ask him to go get a beer with you. Then sincerely apologize to him for not asking. Then ask him what you can do to make this transition easier for him. Do not promise to do everything he wants but hear the guy out.

I don't think there's anything wrong with a couple deciding not to do the whole "ask for permission" thing out of principle. H and I decided together to not do it, because we loathe the implications involved. I am my own person and I am not chattel - my father's permission should not need to be sought just because I am female. I personally think that caving into something like that just enables the parent's smothering.



I do agree that the OP should not have gotten aggressive during the discussion about the wedding venue, and that he could do better in his interactions with the father.
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Old 8th April 2019, 4:58 PM   #6
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Dads also want to be asked no matter how lame that tradition is. You were wrong not to ask & you hurt his feelings. He feels like you are taking his daughter away. You have to show him he's gaining a son.
Amen. True 50 years ago, true now and I'm guessing will be true 50 years in the future, even if the "ask" is in a different form.

I went through something similar with my wife, from a devout Catholic family (her Aunt's a nun!). And I decided early on to go with the flow during the wedding planning, the details really weren't that important to me anyway.

OP, choose the hill you'll die on. For me, it wasn't going to be tablecloth colors or wedding venues...

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Old 8th April 2019, 5:05 PM   #7
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Just take note how much she lets her parents dictate her decisions for her before you move in and remember that's not going to change if she, at 25, still lets them call the shots. It's up to her to tell her parents what she's doing, not you. You should also ask her, If we get married and one of your parents dies, are you going to be expected to have the surviving widow move in with us? Because it's an Italian family. They have some traditions they still keep alive.
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Old 8th April 2019, 5:06 PM   #8
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at ages 30 & 25 you two are almost like children
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Old 8th April 2019, 6:56 PM   #9
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Wait - I'm confused.

So, her parents want to stand on tradition and feel you should have done the "proper thing" and asked dear old daddy for his 'blessing' before proposing to his little princess.

But then they do a complete about-face and suddenly, tradition goes right out the window because they have no problem with YOU and your fiancee paying for the wedding instead of them paying for it.

So....it would appear daddy dearest is picking and choosing WHICH 'traditions' he wants to follow and which ones he doesn't want to follow - as long as they benefit HIMSELF and his wife. Got it.

Yeah, he's some prince, this guy.

I think you're going to regret the day you marry this girl-child because she's still a baby whose never even lived on her own. She has NO idea what it's like to be a grownup. She's going from daddy's house right to yours. Not good, my man. Not good.
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Old 8th April 2019, 7:39 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advise guys. I think I'll just kind of have to see how things go and try to smooth things over as we make the transition the best I can. I did already talk to her Dad about the not asking for permission thing, and he hasn't really said anything since... I think it was more of a disappointment because I think he was really looking forward to it. It kind of just set the stage for the drama that followed unfortunately.

Just a note: they are not a rich family and can't afford the expensive weddings we have here in Toronto, I understand that and wouldn't make them pay for it (they paid for their own as well). However, they are pitching in for a few small things here and there to help. In Italian weddings, it's tradition that the guests give large cash gifts that end up paying for most of the costs anyway.

Also, I do agree that she needs to break this attachment a bit and do what she wants instead of what her parents tell her. I don't want to be jumping into her family drama it's not really my place and it won't help things long term.

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at ages 30 & 25 you two are almost like children
What do you mean? Because we're young?

Last edited by King_Crimson; 8th April 2019 at 7:44 PM..
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Old 8th April 2019, 7:48 PM   #11
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^ I've always felt that someone isn't an adult until they've lived supporting themselves on their own and not with anyone for a year or two. Has she ever been independent at all from them? If not, you are going to be getting a woman-child and it will be frustrating, I promise. Honestly, the wisest move here would be if she moved out and got her own place and paid her own bills and didn't have someone living with her influencing her so she had to stand on her own two feet and grow up. You know, if you've not been on your own, you miss a lot of personal development. You'd be wise to let that happen so you know what you're getting and don't have to go through that transition because I'm guessing it's going to be no more fun than dating someone who's divorcing but not out of the house yet.
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Old 8th April 2019, 8:07 PM   #12
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What do you mean? Because we're young?
very few people your age have their act together...
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Old 9th April 2019, 4:10 AM   #13
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^ I've always felt that someone isn't an adult until they've lived supporting themselves on their own and not with anyone for a year or two. Has she ever been independent at all from them? If not, you are going to be getting a woman-child and it will be frustrating, I promise. Honestly, the wisest move here would be if she moved out and got her own place and paid her own bills and didn't have someone living with her influencing her so she had to stand on her own two feet and grow up. You know, if you've not been on your own, you miss a lot of personal development. You'd be wise to let that happen so you know what you're getting and don't have to go through that transition because I'm guessing it's going to be no more fun than dating someone who's divorcing but not out of the house yet.

In some cultures it's expected that women live with their parents until they get married, even if she earns more than enough for her own apartment. Some of my friends are in managerial/executive/professional jobs where they run companies and lead departments - not "women-children" at all, and certainly more mature than some of the "independent" people who spend their rent money on drinks and then ask for more on gofundme. They just live with their parents because that's what's expected in their culture. In some cases they actually BOUGHT the house that they and their parents are living in.

Granted, that sort of thing isn't everyone's cup of tea (it isn't mine at all), but presumably the OP is attracted to something in her personality, and her being a traditional woman could be part of that. The living-with-parents bit comes with the territory. I think it's unfair to project her level of maturity solely from the living situation.
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Old 9th April 2019, 1:58 PM   #14
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Well, how about we deduce it by the way she's already letting her parents steamroll her and change her plans?
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Old 15th April 2019, 5:59 AM   #15
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Well, how about we deduce it by the way she's already letting her parents steamroll her and change her plans?

The only thing she has allowed them to "steamroll" her into is changing the venue of the wedding, though? I dunno, to me details like that is not a huge deal, I would much rather have a different venue than have to deal with all that family drama. It's the marriage that really matters, not where you hold the wedding. Gotta pick your battles.


Living together (or other permanent choices like where they live after they get married, whether parents are allowed to live with them, etc) is a much bigger deal IMO. If she capitulates on that too, then I agree that would be a warning flag.
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