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Author Topic: Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" UPDATE #84  (Read 19074 times)

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Celany

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AUUUUUUUGH

It's been a while since I posted. Life has been busy, and weird.

One of the weird(ish) things that happened is that my partner and I decided to get married. It's a long story that I don't want to get into, but we're both anti-marriage personally. Not anti anybody else getting married, but we have a lot of problems with the way marriage currently is viewed and the way legalities tie into it in the US, especially since we're p0lyamorous. We exchanged rings that we designed ourselves at Burning Man last year. We've been saying we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together for at least two years, and when we started saying that, we started planning for it. You know, doing stuff like including each other on major decisions, talking about buying a home together maybe, or where we'd want to retire, etc.

So the main thing that changed is...ok...I work a corporate job, and my partner doesn't (and I bet most (if not all) of ya'll see where this is going). Which has been true since he and I started dating. But about a month ago, when he got his health insurance bill, and I blanched when I saw it, I commented that he pays about 15x what I do for health insurance that is markedly crappier than mine. And said "if you ever change your mind about getting health insurance married, lemme know" (we'd had that conversation before).

He thought it over a few days, and changed his mind.

So we're getting health insurance married. And while we're kinda happy about it, in a lot of ways, it's not going to change our situation. We were already treating each other like spouses. We were already planning our life together. Getting married will make that easier financially. And if one of us kills someone and tells the other, we won't be compelled by the courts to admit that.  ;)

We decided that we pretty much didn't want to tell anybody right now, and that we want to have the smallest ceremony possible. As in, we're going to the courthouse with two friends each, getting hitched, then going to lunch. I'm debating if I want to tell my family at all. He knew that he definitely wanted to tell his parents, and then the rest of his family, but wasn't sure when.

We set a date for the end of the month, which has to be that date, because one of my partner's besties is flying in to be his witness.

This past weekend, he told his parents (they also know we're p0ly; my partner has been p0ly his whole life). They were delighted about the idea of me joining the family "officially", but like...sigh...they handled it in all the ways that we were both secretly hoping wouldn't happen, like clearly thinking of me as more of a part of the family now that it'll be "official".  So that wasn't thrilling to either of us, but it wasn't terrible.

They also came back yesterday with a really heartfelt email asking us to either wait until they get back into the US in the fall to get married so they can attend, OR, if we don't do that, having an actual wedding ceremony in the fall, to invite friends and family to. Because even though we don't want to do that, "the wedding is for the family, not the couple".

They actually wrote that.  :-[

My partner woke me up last night, super-upset and crying when he read the email. He wrote them back a very passionate email about how we don't WANT a wedding, and how we don't view this wedding as changing our relationship greatly, and that to us, it's not a huge deal. We don't want to make any bigger of a deal about it than we already are, just by telling them it's happening. We'll be happy to tell his family (he was planning on doing that after he got married), and we're happy to record the civil ceremony that we're having. We'd also be willing to have a medium-sized party to celebrate, inviting his family/a few more friends of his (and my family, if I tell them). But by "a party", we mean like, food and music and hanging out at our apartment, not a "rent a hall and dress up and have speeches" kind of party.

So, now that I've written all that, does anybody have any advice on how to handle his parents (and mine, if I tell them), with a polite spine? In regards to the whole "this is what we want, we actively DO NOT WANT the traditional wedding stuff, so please respect that and back off" aspect of things.

FTR, I'm in my late 30s and he's in his mid 30s. We're both fully adults, who adult well, pay our taxes, handle our own lives well, and are generally very happy with those lives.

I really wish we'd have just eloped and not told a single person 'til after that.  :-\

« Last Edit: August 04, 2016, 12:52:40 PM by Celany »
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

Mustard

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2016, 02:11:45 PM »
AUUUUUUUGH

It's been a while since I posted. Life has been busy, and weird.

One of the weird(ish) things that happened is that my partner and I decided to get married. It's a long story that I don't want to get into, but we're both anti-marriage personally. Not anti anybody else getting married, but we have a lot of problems with the way marriage currently is viewed and the way legalities tie into it in the US, especially since we're p0lyamorous. We exchanged rings that we designed ourselves at Burning Man last year. We've been saying we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together for at least two years, and when we started saying that, we started planning for it. You know, doing stuff like including each other on major decisions, talking about buying a home together maybe, or where we'd want to retire, etc.

So the main thing that changed is...ok...I work a corporate job, and my partner doesn't (and I bet most (if not all) of ya'll see where this is going). Which has been true since he and I started dating. But about a month ago, when he got his health insurance bill, and I blanched when I saw it, I commented that he pays about 15x what I do for health insurance that is markedly crappier than mine. And said "if you ever change your mind about getting health insurance married, lemme know" (we'd had that conversation before).

He thought it over a few days, and changed his mind.

So we're getting health insurance married. And while we're kinda happy about it, in a lot of ways, it's not going to change our situation. We were already treating each other like spouses. We were already planning our life together. Getting married will make that easier financially. And if one of us kills someone and tells the other, we won't be compelled by the courts to admit that.  ;)

We decided that we pretty much didn't want to tell anybody right now, and that we want to have the smallest ceremony possible. As in, we're going to the courthouse with two friends each, getting hitched, then going to lunch. I'm debating if I want to tell my family at all. He knew that he definitely wanted to tell his parents, and then the rest of his family, but wasn't sure when.

We set a date for the end of the month, which has to be that date, because one of my partner's besties is flying in to be his witness.

This past weekend, he told his parents (they also know we're p0ly; my partner has been p0ly his whole life). They were delighted about the idea of me joining the family "officially", but like...sigh...they handled it in all the ways that we were both secretly hoping wouldn't happen, like clearly thinking of me as more of a part of the family now that it'll be "official".  So that wasn't thrilling to either of us, but it wasn't terrible.

They also came back yesterday with a really heartfelt email asking us to either wait until they get back into the US in the fall to get married so they can attend, OR, if we don't do that, having an actual wedding ceremony in the fall, to invite friends and family to. Because even though we don't want to do that, "the wedding is for the family, not the couple".

They actually wrote that.  :-[

My partner woke me up last night, super-upset and crying when he read the email. He wrote them back a very passionate email about how we don't WANT a wedding, and how we don't view this wedding as changing our relationship greatly, and that to us, it's not a huge deal. We don't want to make any bigger of a deal about it than we already are, just by telling them it's happening. We'll be happy to tell his family (he was planning on doing that after he got married), and we're happy to record the civil ceremony that we're having. We'd also be willing to have a medium-sized party to celebrate, inviting his family/a few more friends of his (and my family, if I tell them). But by "a party", we mean like, food and music and hanging out at our apartment, not a "rent a hall and dress up and have speeches" kind of party.

So, now that I've written all that, does anybody have any advice on how to handle his parents (and mine, if I tell them), with a polite spine? In regards to the whole "this is what we want, we actively DO NOT WANT the traditional wedding stuff, so please respect that and back off" aspect of things.

FTR, I'm in my late 30s and he's in his mid 30s. We're both fully adults, who adult well, pay our taxes, handle our own lives well, and are generally very happy with those lives.

I really wish we'd have just eloped and not told a single person 'til after that.  :-\


Hindsight is a wonderful thing!  I have never heard that weddings are for the family, not the couple.  That seems like nonsense to me.  Just do what you want to do;  'please respect our wishes and back off' seems to be the way to go.  They will get over it, or not, but you will have been honest and up-front about it.

Celany

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2016, 02:16:52 PM »
I am specifically planning on ONLY telling my family after the wedding afterwards (if I tell them at all), because then there's only so much that they can do after.

I think that my partner thought that his family would be the saner of the two (which I generally agree with), and wouldn't try to guilt trip him. Especially since he has a sibling that did a big ol' wedding a few years ago. They *did* get to have a wedding to enjoy, just not his.
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

shortstuff

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2016, 02:30:44 PM »
They also came back yesterday with a really heartfelt email asking us to either wait until they get back into the US in the fall to get married so they can attend, OR, if we don't do that, having an actual wedding ceremony in the fall, to invite friends and family to. Because even though we don't want to do that, "the wedding is for the family, not the couple".

They actually wrote that.  :-[

I've heard of things similar to that, but never in ways that I thought were fair.  I tried to please / impress my parents, and let them invite distant relatives to my wedding for the "family reunion" aspect.  MIL has a large social circle, so we 'let' her invite and pay for 20 friends, because the wedding is important to her. 

Mostly, though, I've heard from friends who had large families, so large that they weren't allowed to invite many or any friends to their own wedding.  The parents paid, they filled up the guest list with relatives, and whatever was "left over" went to the head couple. 

I think it's nice and inclusive to involve the parents in a wedding, if that's what the couple chooses to do, because it is a big moment for the families.  But no matter how "inner circle" they are, they are still essentially spectators. 

Celany, I noticed that neither option the in-laws gave in the email was what you wanted to do.  There's not really a compromise between having nobody but witnesses, and having families present. 

If the in-laws are generally reasonable, I'd try a heart to heart about respecting wishes, and you both as people. 

If they're not reasonable, just bean-dip them (I think it's just otherwise abrupt for a good re|ationship).  You have the advantage of the wedding happening soon.  You can always resort to "Don't make me regret having told you.  We wanted to share this important news with you, but we weren't giving you the chance to plan an event for us.  Please just accept our wishes." 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2016, 02:35:50 PM »
I'd just write back, 'We are getting married on X date with A, B, C and D in attendance, as we'd planned.  This really isn't a change in our status; it is only so Partner can get decent medical insurance!  However, we are willing to throw a party, for you, in the fall to celebrate.  It won't be a reception; it will be a party.  If you'd like us to do this for the family, please let us know and give us a guest list with a maximum of Y names (30?) so we can send out invitations.'

Would that work?
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ladyknight1

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2016, 02:46:32 PM »
I would not disclose any ceremony details except to the people you want to come.

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TootsNYC

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2016, 03:09:20 PM »
Don't expect them to agree with your definition of all this. They're not required to.

But at the same time, don't think that YOU need to agree with THEIR definition of all this.

It's OK if they have one POV and you have another--you're not required to agree.

And, that means YOU have all the power, because it's your marriage, your wedding, your party, your life.

You've stated your piece. They're his parents, they deserve that consideration and explanation from him. (and "consideration and explanation" is all they're owed)


Now blow them off.

Think of it as something they've deluded themselves about (the idea that this is some universal definition, and the idea that they can make you agree with them). Their little quirk.


So don't communicate with them about it. Let them say whatever they want. Think of this as them being the grownups in Charlie Brown cartoons (wah-wah wah-wah-wah...). Don't respond. Or, say, "yes, you've said. Thanks for sharing. Gotta go."

You have all the power here.

Don't try to make other people agree with your boundaries. Simply *live* your boundaries.


Hmmmmm

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2016, 03:29:16 PM »
Don't expect them to agree with your definition of all this. They're not required to.

But at the same time, don't think that YOU need to agree with THEIR definition of all this.

It's OK if they have one POV and you have another--you're not required to agree.

And, that means YOU have all the power, because it's your marriage, your wedding, your party, your life.

You've stated your piece. They're his parents, they deserve that consideration and explanation from him. (and "consideration and explanation" is all they're owed)


Now blow them off.

Think of it as something they've deluded themselves about (the idea that this is some universal definition, and the idea that they can make you agree with them). Their little quirk.


So don't communicate with them about it. Let them say whatever they want. Think of this as them being the grownups in Charlie Brown cartoons (wah-wah wah-wah-wah...). Don't respond. Or, say, "yes, you've said. Thanks for sharing. Gotta go."

You have all the power here.

Don't try to make other people agree with your boundaries. Simply *live* your boundaries.

I so agree with this. They are entitled to their feelings on traditional legal marriages and how these marriages change the way they view people entering into one with a family member. Just as you have the right to view that the legal document will not impact your relationship.

I can sort of understand their being slightly hurt that the date of the wedding is being determined based on when your DH's friend is available to attend as a witness but not their being available.

If I were your partner I would let them know that neither of you are interested in a reenactment of the civil ceremony. However, if they want to host a small at home party in honor of your  union, you'd be fine with that. 

Luci

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2016, 04:01:25 PM »
For us, the big wedding would have been for the family. We managed to get away with a small church wedding with one attendant each, parents, siblings and a couple of friends. (Eighteen, including the minister.) it was tough at first. You dont even want that.

You have explained it once. That's enough. I would caution you to tell your parents very immediately after the fact. They will find out and be extraordinarily hurt if you wait long, although I certainly see your avoidance of drama before the fact.

Best wishes. Hope your arrangements work out.

Celany

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2016, 04:12:32 PM »
I'm going to run all these thoughts by partner when I get home. Thank you for the great ideas.

The thing is, we wanted to get married as soon as possible, so that he's no longer paying for insurance as soon as possible. And we don't consider this a big deal. BUT, as we do HAVE to have witnesses (technically one, but we did want to have one for each of us), then he wanted his best friend for childhood (who he is still very close to) to be the witness. And that person is a doctor, and can't get here until later this month.

If we waited for his parents, we'd be waiting until October at the earliest, and now that we've decided to do this, we don't want to wait that long. Also, opening it up to his parents, he thought (and he was right) would possibly open it up to them saying "well, if we're coming, then our siblings really ought to come". And between the two of them, that's 7 siblings, plus their spouses. And now we're into serious wedding territory, which we have no interest in.

(and at that point, do we still not tell my family? And if we DO tell them, then do we invite them? And my parent's siblings? Not to mention the part where my family lives 9 hours away, and his mostly lives about 2 1/2 hours away, soooooo ???)

His parents did write in the email about how *if*we wait for them, then we DO definitely need to invite their siblings. Which makes it more and more obvious why I wish we'd just eloped without telling ANYBODY until afterward.

As for their feelings about me being more a part of the family if we get married, while I get what you're saying, being p0ly, this is incredibly complicated and loaded and difficult, moreso than if we weren't p0ly. For instance, we both agree that we would cheerfully get divorced if one of us had another partner who had crap health insurance and got terminally ill (and if that actually ever happens, I can see heads possibly exploding over it, sigh). We both didn't want to get married because we both have huge fears about falling in love with someone else, and our respective families never taking the non-married partner as seriously. We both also have these fears that once we're married, if/when we date other people, our parents are going to be judgemental and do some kind of "I thought you were done with that phase" kind of crap, in regards to being p0ly. I mean, I have a girlfriend right now, of many years (longer than Partner and I have been dating, in fact), who is actually the person who is going to be MY witness. The dress I'm wearing is the dress I've been working on since February to wear at Burning Man this year. She's going to help me finish it next weekend.

(also we both considered getting married and telling absolutely no one about it except for our witnesses, so there would be none of these issues. I kinda regret us now not going with that plan. When partner was upset last night, he said he thought for a second about telling them that we changed our minds, this was too much BS, but then getting married anyways in total secret. He doesn't want to do that, but that's how upset he was about the email).

I totally get that they have the right to their feelings on the subject, and they can have all the feelings they want, but honestly, I don't want them expressed at/to me. Neither does partner.

Anyways, like I said in the original post, he wrote back a very passionate email about why he feels the way he does, and how a lot of what they're asking for is directly contradicting what he and I actually want.

So we can see how they answer that, and decide where we want to go from there.

I'm pretty sure that "where we go from there" is continuing with the plan we already have, offering to have a party at our place in the fall when they get back, and tailoring our language to be more or less harsh, depending on how they react.
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

Celany

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2016, 04:16:39 PM »
I would caution you to tell your parents very immediately after the fact. They will find out and be extraordinarily hurt if you wait long, although I certainly see your avoidance of drama before the fact.

That's the plan. I was explaining that I figure there's something like a one month window after an elopement where you can say something without there being some ADDED hurt feeling from waiting for months or years to tell someone.

My entire family lives 9 hours away, and I see most of them once every few years. I see my dad maybe once a year, and my mom once or twice a year, though I see them even less than that since they've gotten into their mid-70s. I think the only way they'd find out is if I had some kind of medical emergency and then partner had the right to be involved, as my husband. They wouldn't find out on facebook, or through my friends, or anything like that.

At the same time, I would feel badly about not telling them. But OTOH, the part where my (probably borderline personality disorder) mom has a krakatoa level freak out...sigh.
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

LadyL

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2016, 04:43:15 PM »

This past weekend, he told his parents (they also know we're p0ly; my partner has been p0ly his whole life). They were delighted about the idea of me joining the family "officially", but like...sigh...they handled it in all the ways that we were both secretly hoping wouldn't happen, like clearly thinking of me as more of a part of the family now that it'll be "official".  So that wasn't thrilling to either of us, but it wasn't terrible.


My in-laws reacted the same way when LordL and I got married. All of a sudden we could share the guest bedroom together, they started buying me much more generous holiday gifts equivalent to LordL's, wanted me to call them "mom" and "dad," etc. Since we were together 9 years before the wedding, this sudden shift post-wedding actually felt somewhat hurtful, as if the personal relationship we developed over nearly a decade meant less to them than a change in legal status. However, for them they see the wedding as having a religious significance that we don't so to them it was a bigger change in some ways than it was to us.  As others have said, you don't have to let their beliefs dictate your actions. They can think that relationship are only really permanent if people are married, and you can live a different truth.

The one grain of truth in what they're saying is that some couples treat getting married as "their day" to an extent that is inconsiderate to guests, e.g. hikers who want to marry on a mountaintop and are put out that people with mobility issues can't/won't attend, or couples who expect 100+ family and friends to attend a destination wedding. However that's clearly not applicable in your case.

mandycorn

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2016, 04:45:30 PM »
I wonder... (this could be dangerous,  bear with me)

What if you email them back and say, "Never mind, we've decided not to do anything right now," and then continue on with your original plans and announce it after the fact as an elopement and be vague on the details of when and who so they won't necessarily know with any certainty whether you followed through on the original plans or just did something different.

This may not be totally on the up and up, but it may, depending on the personalities involved, possibly dial down the drama? Once you get into family relationships, it becomes less about the pure etiquette and more about maintaining the relationships, so if this would be the path of least resistance, I personally might be willing to try it.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2016, 04:47:25 PM by mandycorn »
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Celany

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2016, 05:00:29 PM »
so I'll definitely have more to update tomorrow. I'm headed home now to talk to partner.

But before I go, a couple things I wanted to mention.

Partner's dad wrote us two kind of sweetish (clearly concerned, and I don't think being ridiculous) emails yesterday early morning (they are in Asia, so for them, it was probably Monday, not Tuesday, when they wrote). Basically saying they're really happy for us, but also kinda confused about out strong anti-wedding celebration plans and asking for clarification, pointing out that this could be "our day" to make some great memories to look back on and be...all about us? I guess? I mean, he wrote something like "this is a day when you can make everything be exactly the way that you want" which for me, I guess I kinda of get what he's saying, but I truly do NOT get it, when it comes to weddings. But whatever.

He also wrote something like "I don't want to be nosy, but you did talk about kids and religion and stuff, right?". and I read that & thought "oh honey, I have a whole google doc with a checklist of conversations that I have with anybody I'm considering dating seriously/spending a large fraction of my life with that includes that and soooooo much more".

But mostly, it was a kind of "we want to understand more why you feel the way you do" and the second email just had a couple of additional points that he forgot to address in the first.

So, I saw he sent them yesterday, but yesterday was a nuts day for me at work, plus I'm having horrible PMS, PLUS (and maybe I should have mentioned this earlier) my aunt died last Tuesday. Unexpected in the swiftness, but a blessing. She was getting treatment for cancer for the past year and it was going great (she was totally mobile and caring for herself) until about 3 weeks ago, when she started doing poorly. The weekend of the 4th, we made it an extra-long weekend and partner and I went home and did in-home hospice for her, at my other aunt's place. Other Aunt is a nurse, and all her nurse friends helped out, which is part of what made this possible, because Auntie's last week of life was being extremely drugged, in a lot of pain when she wasn't extremely drugged, only conscious for about 10-15 seconds at a time, mostly, and completely unable to care for herself.

So we did all that, and then we left, and she died about an hour after we got home, and there is a story there that I will tell later.

Suffice to say, I've just been dealing with some Big Stuff. I am unaware of whether or not partner's parents know all this.

Anyways, I saw he wrote, but didn't look, because I'm wiped. Partner looked, but didn't answer.

After we didn't answer for about 24 hrs, partner's mom & dad got antsy, and then that's when the more demanding email (which started with "hey, answer the other emails") came.

So Partner is going to show me the other email, the one that upset him, when I get home. And his response. And then we'll talk.

Said talk (I hope) will involve gently letting his parents know that we're sticking to our plan, happy to have a party, and looking forward to seeing them when they get home.

My brain, it hurts.

Oh, and LadyL, I totally know what you mean. And I am glad we're doing this sooner rather than later (if we're doing it at all), out of fears that something like that would have happened. I understand that it can be a generational thing, but at the same time...I really don't get it. I know I don't have to, and we all live our own truths, it's just...I don't get it.

To your point about how they can view the only really permanent relationships as those where people are married, this is where things could get ugly, because of being p0ly. I generally think his parents are lovely people, but if either of us had a partner who was treated as lesser because we literally CANNOT marry them (and stay married), I would reeeeaaaaally have a hard time with that.

Now on to home, and emails!



edited for some unclear words
« Last Edit: July 13, 2016, 05:02:09 PM by Celany »
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

PastryGoddess

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2016, 08:20:28 PM »
I think every time you answer their questions, you're telling them that they have a right to question you about your decisions.  And really they don't.  Stop trying to justify your actions and beliefs to his parents. Every time you respond you're giving them hope that they can change your mind. 

You and partner are adults.  You've let them know your plans.  You've heard what they had to say and are considering it.  However, at the end of the day what you two do is up to you.  That doesn't mean there won't be hurt feelings.   

I do think that you may want to take ownership of planning something to allow his side of the family to at least celebrate you in some way.  Maybe it's a BBQ, or it's taking his parents out to lunch. But you know that they want to be involved in some way, so try and meet them halfway.