Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

March 2012

Dealing with the Mother-in-law

So you’ve found The One. You’ve even got him to get down on one knee, with a glittering diamond in a robin-egg-blue box in hand. But what hasn’t exactly crossed your mind is the fact that the love-of-your-life comes packaged with, well, a mother. And now that the wedding planning is in full swing, you’re worried that she might have second thoughts about letting go of her son. Now breathe, as SingaporeBrides shows you how to cope.

When Lisa* was planning her wedding in late 2011, she was mentally prepared. “I knew that I had to deal with many things at the same time, like comparing bridal packages and sorting out the guest list,” says the 20-something administrator. “But these turned out to be the least of my troubles.” Instead, dealing with her mother-in-law (and her many demands) turned out to be most frustrating for Lisa.

“She basically bulldozed her way through the traditional aspects of the wedding planning. My husband and I wanted an intimate wedding, but she insisted on a full-blown Chinese banquet,” says Lisa. “We ended up inviting a lot of guests we didn’t know, like a distant granduncle from Hong Kong.”

To make matters worse, Lisa’s husband couldn’t bring himself to curb his mother’s enthusiasm for the wedding. “He was the first-born so everyone in the family was really excited. The fact that we wanted to keep things simple and sweet didn’t even cross my mother-in-law’s mind. So I ended up having to coordinate with the hotel manager over endless decisions for a banquet I didn’t want in the first place.” Needless to say, the stress and unhappiness got to the bridal couple. “We quarrelled a lot during those months because of all those expectations.”

The couple is happily married now, but Lisa was definitely not the only bride-to-be out there with this problem. If you are afraid you might find yourself in such situations, read on for our stay-sane tips to pacify the future mother-in-law while pulling off that perfect wedding!

The White Rabbit wedding Amanda and Dennis Naiise 22 Amanda and Dennis’ Elegant Wedding at The White Rabbit by Valentine Ross Photography

1. Listen… then stand firm

It is oh-so-common for parents to have plenty of opinions about what to do for the wedding – and exactly how to do it. Like how you must make your sister a bridesmaid. Or how you shouldn’t spend too much on flowers. Sometimes, they feel the right to call the shots because they are the ones writing the cheque. But most times, it’s because they are simply too excited and happy for you. Mothers, especially, tend to fall into this trap. So, listen to your future mother-in-law’s suggestions, and make her feel that they are welcomed. But if you really feel uncomfortable about certain ideas (like screening her old homemade video of your fiancé’s growing-up years at the banquet), speak up respectfully and stand firm. You owe it to yourself to create that dream wedding.

2. Involve the mother-in-law

Most mothers can’t wait for their children to grow up and get married. So it’s absolutely natural for your future mother-in-law to want to be in the thick of the action. In fact, the worst thing you can do is to shut her out while you joyfully skip to Orchard Road to set up a wedding registry with her son. Actually, this is the best time to get on her good side – so involve her wherever possible. Think about which aspects of the wedding she might like to take charge of. Then, make her feel good by asking her to help you with that. For instance, she could do the legwork of choosing the restaurant for the Chinese banquet (her group of tai-tai friends might be able to offer some good recommendations). Or, if she’s a skilled seamstress, ask if she could help to tailor-make dresses for your bridesmaids.

3. Be generous with compliments

Chances are that your future mother-in-law has already done a lot for your wedding – even before you and your fiancé have asked her to. She could already have quietly bought a 24K gold necklace to give you during the tea ceremony. Or maybe, she has personally called relatives to gather RSVPs (yes, even before the invitation cards are ready). It’s important to acknowledge these efforts. Smile, say thank you and compliment her for her good thinking. You can even buy her a nice present to show that you’re grateful for all that she has done for the both of you.

4. Doll her up

When the wedding draws near, you can go a step further to seal that mother-in-law and daughter-in-law bond. Take some time out to accompany her to shop for the dress she can wear at your wedding (after all, sons are not very useful at this task). If you and your fiancé have been running around clearing errands, this will show her that the both of you still care about her and want her to look her best on your wedding day. You can even book her a nice spa or manicure session to pamper her, or hire a professional makeup artist for her.

Dawn and Ming's Sweet Wedding at The Singapore Thomson Road Baptist Church 5 Dawn and Ming’s Bright and Modern Church Wedding by Smittenpixels Photography

5. Remember: You love the same man

The mother-in-law versus daughter-in-law relationship can be a rollercoaster ride. There may be times when you feel like stabbing imaginary knives into your thighs (like when she says: “Don’t you know my Ah Boy prefers Crispy Roasted Chicken to Salted Egg-Yolk Prawns?” at the banquet food-tasting session). But there will also be times when she shows she really does care, like when she painstakingly prepares porridge after she hears you’ve come down with flu from all that pre-wedding stress. So no matter how difficult things get, remember one thing: You love the same man. So you wouldn’t want silly domestic squabbles to stress yourselves out. And, don’t ever make him choose between his mother and you. Understand that both of you hold a special place in his heart!

Of course, we have also heard stories of wonderful mothers-in-law who are more than happy that their sons have finally found someone to share their lives with. Horror stories about monster-in-laws and pre-wedding family squabbles are too common. But think about it: Is the flavour of the wedding cake really worth the fight? Just remember that planning a wedding should be a joyous event – for everyone involved.

*Not her real name.

Credits: Feature image from Jesreen and Karan’s Cultural Wedding in India by Ramit Batra.