Certified Imago Therapist Norene Gonsiewski had advice for brides on how not to alienate their groom's family before the big day.
1. One of the greatest myths about weddings is that it is all about you. Weddings are about two families uniting. The wedding culture seems to feel that if you can only shove everyone else away and blaze your own trail, you will have the perfect wedding. The reality is we need our families throughout our lives. Our wedding is in fact one of the highlight moments for many families. It's the moment where everyone in the family tree rearranges work schedules, saves money, doesn't take a vacation to save up for your wedding, and will even postpone surgeries to be sure they are in good health for your big day. We like to say if the wedding is all about you, elope! So the fact that everyone is working to be there means they have a stake in your big day, the date, perhaps who is or isn't part of the wedding party, who is or isn't invited, so on and so forth. Each family brings its own wedding culture and expectations, leaving you feeling like you're at the United Nations of diverse family cultures. This is especially true of relating to the family that you are joining.
2. Although the wedding isn't all about you, it's your behavior toward your new family that will be helpful or harmful to your connection. Do not plant seeds that will grow into weeds in the future! Include your mother-in-law in your plans. She is your husband's mom. If you think he is terrific, she deserves much of the credit. She isn't like your mom, but guess whatyou are marrying someone different than you.
3. You are joining your future husband's family as much as he is joining yours. His family is adopting you as their daughter and they will hope that you also adopt them and their traditions and values. That is only to be expected. In addition, these are people who will have your back in the future. It may seem a remote possibility now, but you may be ill in the future, have a special needs child, your husband may lose his job or have health issues, or you might just want a babysitter for a week! These are half of the tribe that will be looking out for you both. Begin to invest your loyalty toward them right now.
4. For the sake of your future marriage, show your prospective in-laws respect and appreciation. Let your fiance know that you are grateful for all of the helpful things his family have done, and always be respectful when talking about them, even when bringing up the negative. Accentuate the positive. When you need something more, or less, from his family, make the request to him in a manner free of complaint or criticism. This perspective and good habits during your wedding preparation will help your future husband to be all the more excited about the bride he chose. It will go far in forging your bond as newly weds.