Getting Remarried- In-law Family Issues!

Updated on January 10, 2010
E.R. asks from Oak Park, IL
8 answers

I apologize in advance for this being so long!!

My fiance has never been married and is in his mid-30s. His family is pretty old-fashioned, and he was brought up Catholic, although his family doesn't go to church regularly now. When we started dating, his mom did not seem very comfortable with me. I think she might have been that way about anyone, but a divorced mom made it particularly difficult for her to warm up to the idea. They are just a very reserved family- not outwardly emotional, etc. They are Polish/German and very 'old-school' in a lot of ways, and I am outgoing and fairly direct about things.

However- when it became clear that we were getting more serious and I wasn't going anywhere, our relationship definitely got better. My finace's parents really seem to enjoy seeing my son and we now all have what I think is a good relationship. They've met my parents and all got along well. When we bought our house, they seemed happy about it.

Because his mother is more religious, we thought that she would be happy we were getting married. However, we are not getting married in the Catholic Church. I was not raised Catholic and my fiance does not agree with a lot of current Church doctrine, so it was just not something we wanted. We knew his mom wouldn't like it, but that is how we both feel about it. Also, we cannot afford a large wedding, just friends and family and cake.

Anyway, we are having a very small wedding at a bed and breakfast with a non-denominational Christian minister that we both know and like. When we told his mom about the wedding, the date, etc. there was just... a total lack of response. She didn't get mad or ask us to do anything different- just a 'Oh' and it has literally NEVER been mentioned again.

We've seen them several times since then, including over the holidays and there is just NOTHING- lol, its almost funny. It is as if we weren't getting married at all.

When we spoke to his parents the first time, we made it very clear that we did not expect them to help pay for anything or to DO anything they did not want to do (although he is the only son out of 3 to get married so far, AND their niece got married last year in a huge wedding that his mother helped with for months). All I asked was could she please email me a list of relatives that she and her husband would like to have come, along with addresses. She has never done it.

So- I am just not sure where to go with this! My Matron of Honor says we need to just make out our own list with my fiance to help with his side of the family and tell him he has to get the addresses and move on. I agree with her- but it just feels so weird! I feel like when we see them, I should not even mention my own upcoming wedding to their son at all!

I know I have my own family (out of state, but they are totally happy about the wedding), and it isn't even that I think his parents don't like me or my son- but I have to admit that my feelings are hurt by this TOTAL lack of... anything about our wedding. Even her getting mad about it not being Catholic and trying to talk us into something would have been interaction about it, you know? So i just don't know if I should talk about plans, or not? I feel sort of like if I do, I am being pushy and if I don't I am leaving them out!

So, does anyone have any thoughts or insight on this?

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answers from Chicago on

I would just go and talk to her. Both of you should have a conversation with her, give her all the dates and facts, ask her for the list of people again and just tell her this is what's happening like it or not.

I'm one of those people that doesn't like it when people especially my parents or in-laws try to tell me what to do or how to do it. It's my way or the highway... just be nice about it, explain what's going to happen in a way she understands she has no choice in the matter.
We're also Polish and we got married on a beach in the Bahamas.... because this was my second marriage...

My parents and in-laws eventually learned to leave me alone and do not offer unsolicited advice....

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answers from Chicago on


I have been married before to a great guy who came from a strict Catholic Czech family. I am of German heritage, and the NEVER accepted me. I converted to the Catholic faith so we could be married in a Catholic churh. Nope, not good enough. By the time we actually walked down the aisle, I was so bitter about the fighting, I just wanted out. He never stood up and said ENOUGH. So, for my second marriage, we eloped. We had one person at our wedding (my husbands best friend). I invited no one. point is if they don't want to participate, then so be it. Get your list on your own, and move forward. If it comes up again, I would say "well we asked and didn't get a response". If you worry too much about them, I think it will cast a cloud on your special day. I have been married 13 years now to my second husband, and could not be happier. I always feel like the wedding is one day, and it is the rest of you life that really matters. Do what makes you happy!! Best wishes.




answers from Chicago on

I could almost guess some of the details before you got to them! I am married to a Catholic from a Polish family--a couple of generations here. He had been married before and had it annulled, so they didn't push for a Catholic wedding. Maybe that's part of it for your in-laws; since you were married before, it may seem like this wedding doesn't quite count. We got married in a small ceremony at my Presbyterian church, but we also went to the Catholic church for a dispensation(?), permission to get married elsewhere. This might have been good for you if your in-laws were pushing it, but we ended up signing something saying we'd do our best to raise our children Catholic (we haven't), so it's not ideal. I think between the divorce and living together and being married by a non-denomonational pastor, they probably just don't feel that it's the same as their niece's wedding. Go ahead with your plans, update them as necessary, and be glad they're not openly being negative! Have a wonderful wedding, and more importantly, a wonderful marriage!



answers from Chicago on

Not sure if this is the issue but maybe she isn't sure how to respond. Sometimes, you only know of one way to do something and when someone tells you they are doing it a different way, you kind of drop out. Any chance you could invite her to lunch one day, just the 2 of you and talk to her about the plans? Tell her you would like to get together with her without everyone else there or something along those lines. Pick some part of your planning that you would like to get her opinion on and ask her. Let her know what your plans are. Maybe she will open up then--one on one might help things out. If she still doesn't respond to the wedding plans themselves but is fine with you and your son still, don't take it personally unless of course she says something against your actual marriage. Then it will be a whole other story. Good Luck.



answers from Chicago on

Hi E.,

Congratulations on a beautiful new beginning! Try to encourage your fiance to talk with his family about the wedding and who will be coming. Just keep preparing for the big day and stay prayerful. I believe that as long as you all love each other and are official about getting married, everything else will work out. Some times it takes time for families to get use to certain changes amongst relatives. If you have shown and given your best, then don't worry about it. Also, if you have made the effort to make everyone feel welcomed and apart, then you have planted the seed. Some people will warm up before the wedding and others after, it all takes time, but it's also a matter of trust. Everyone is hoping for someone loving and trustworthy for a dearly loved relative. A new family will be your family for the next decade or more of your lives, so you must expect that it will take time for some family members to get adjusted.

Happy New Year!

All the Best



answers from Chicago on

My thought is that your future MIL's discomfort is not really about the wedding itself, but that by not marrying in the Catholic Church her son is showing that he does not adhere to his Catholic Faith any longer. It is not a reflection on you, and should not be something that you should have to address with her. Your fiance should have the discussion with his mother, as it is his actions that are his mother's concern. She might even be blaming herself, as if his family has not been regular church-goers, she might now be thinking that she should have made sure that they were there every Sunday.

Weddings have a way of being a public declaration of where one stands with their religious views. My own family are very strict Catholics, so much so that when my sister married (in a Catholic church) and didn't have the particular service which my mother wished, she spent 1/2 the day with a scowl on her face. She was so hurt that my sister chose another service and it was just ridiculous!

(Sorry if this doesn't come out all that well, I'm a bit sleepy but wanted to try to reply.)



answers from Chicago on

Congratulations on your upcoming Wedding!! As I was reading your post, the beginning of it sounded like it could have been my life! :) I was divorced, met a wonderful guy who was brought up strict Catholic & his family is polish/german as well. :)The difference is we did get married in a Catholic Church & my MIL was VERY thrilled to see her first child get married in the Church. I decided to become Catholic as well as we were planning to have a child & wanted to bring her up in this faith. Your MIL could be feeling like this is a let down to her. She brought her son up this way & probably assumed he would be married in the Catholic Church. She could also be thinking if you have a child together, the child would not be brought up Catholic. I know from my own MIL (whom has since passed away), that this was VERY important to her & I can't even imagine how she would have felt had we not had our wedding the way we did. I would approach this very delicately and not take it personally the way she's acting. As a pp said, she may not know how to react, she may just be very hurt. I would sit down with her one on one & try and discuss things. Try and get a feel for if she had hoped for the Catholic wedding & find ways to include her in the wedding planning even if in a small way, make her a part of it. Good luck to you both!!!



answers from Chicago on

Have your fiance deal with his mother. Have him get the list of people from his side. I would also ask him to talk to his mother & let her know that it was his wish to not get married in a Catholic church. Just plan your weddding the way you want it & don't concern yourself with them. If she never gives him the list of people than that is her loss & should not concern you.

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