The “Upstaging the Bride” Edition

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S1: Dear Prudence Dear Prudence Gifford here prudence dear putting the approval here pretty.

S2: Do you think that I should contact him again. Oh thanks thanks. Thank you.

S3: Hello and welcome to another mini episode of Dear Prudence. I’m your host Daniel Mallory or Burke and this show is for you are plus subscribers. This week my guest is Molly pretty. A writer and editor living in Minnesota who likes Diet Coke. Her dog and talking about feelings. And now here’s our first letter.

S4: Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.

S5: So we’re going to upgrade I think from like a slightly low impact problem to a slightly higher impact problem higher impact and the subject line is just heirloom engagement ring drama. Oh yeah. And I agree with that assessment. See the dramatic situation. Yes. It didn’t have to be but it is. Dear Prudence following the death of my grandmother’s my mother took possession of each one’s engagement ring. They were similar although one was more valuable than the other. After many many years my younger sister long married asked to have the less valuable one and suggested that our mother give the more valuable one to me. My mother said that she would give us the rings on the condition that if one of our two single then middle aged brothers wanted one to give to a fiancee. The ring or rings would be relinquished. My sister and I readily agreed. I wore the ring with great joy for many years. Then one brother called to say that he was going to propose to a lovely woman and he wanted my ring. He had called my sister first but she suggested that he get mine because mine was bigger. So just you know suck it the other brother. Yes I agreed. I was very happy for him and a little sad to lose the ring and asked if he would take the diamonds and leave the setting but no luck. I gave him the ring. His proposal was accepted and a wedding date was set a few months before he and they called off the wedding. The ring was returned to him but the two stayed living together. After a suitable period of time from the weddings cancellation I asked for the ring back. My brother replied that he still hoped to marry this lovely woman. I begged him to at least put it in the safe deposit box. To my knowledge he is not wearing that ring connected me to my grandmother and my brother isn’t in fact engaged. So I want it back. If they do really go ahead with this marriage I’ll give up the ring again. My darling husband points out that I have a happy marriage children a substantial home while my brother doesn’t have any of that. My darling husband says that I shouldn’t even mention the ring again just let my brother have it. Let it go. I can’t stop thinking about quote my ring although I haven’t mentioned it to my brother again.

S6: Your advice to oh goodness. Yeah.

S3: So you’re family in general I think everyone seems to be making the more complicated choice whenever it’s available to them.

S5: Yes and I encourage all of you to try to simplify whenever possible. Like the idea that your mom was said Okay I’m going to give my daughters the rings but they are like second string ring owners you are ring stewards. The man of this family have the true and the more ancient claim the claim of gone door to these rings. I’m sure someday the call. Yeah. Should somebody the call come through you the ring stewards must hand the rings on to the tree ring wielders. I think that that was a little let’s say thoughtless of your mother. That was an unnecessarily complicated scenario. I tend to be of the opinion that if you give someone a gift it should not come with a lot of conditions. So you know if I could go back in the past if you had written to me at that point I would have either advised your mother to just either give the guys the rings or give the girls the rings and whoever gets it gets it.

S7: With no like you know second string wrapped it can’t be these conditional things put on heirlooms people write or Liam’s already so emotionally charged anyway.

S8: Yeah. Yeah. To say you can have it but only until your brother meet someone he wants to marry and that might happen in five months or five years or 20 years and yeah that’s just creating a situation where you’ll grow more and more attached to it until you have to give it up.

S5: And so yeah farming resentment. Yeah yeah yeah. So again. Had it. Had I been in your position at that point I probably would have said thank you but I rather not. Just like hold onto the ring until someone has it like you just give it to him whenever he’s ready.

S7: That said yeah we’re here now. Right. I don’t know. I think I feel like there’s no harm as long as she’s made all of her. The letter writer as long as they’ve made all of their intentions known about the ring and they want it safe and they don’t want to lose it because they feel very connected to their grandmother I think time is essentially on their side. I mean they can just wait it out see what happens.

S8: I don’t I don’t really feel like there’s this pressing clock unless there’s one I’m not aware of yet to me given that you are still in this position of if and when he ever gets engaged I’m going to give the ring back. I do not think it’s going to make you happy to like pursue your brother to try to persuade him to give you this ring back until he gets engaged either again to her or to somebody else you will just be prolonging the inevitable. I would say at this point it’s been a weird situation but just go with the ring is his to use as he wants to. If he makes decisions that I think are dumb that’s his problem. He gets to figure it out maybe go find a ring save up for one that means a lot to you that you get to keep and you know no one else can demand from you right. Because I just think whatever his situation is with this woman it sounds complicated. You’re lucky not to be in the middle of it. You know you gave it to him not on the understanding that he was going to hand it back if they broke up like just at this point. The more ring handoffs you two have back and forth the more you’re both going to grow to resent each other. I think at this point right.

S7: I think yeah you’re exactly right I think you’ve either got to wait it out and see if he comes to the conclusion that he just doesn’t want the ring at all and will start over with a family heirloom or just accept that he has the ring and will use it or not in the future. I think that’s really the only way you can do this without losing your mind.

S8: Yeah and I do understand. I get why you kind of can’t stop thinking about it and the other good things in your life don’t really take that place because I think probably part of what you’re frustrated about is that your mom gave you a gift with like a set of conditions and now you’re thinking about boy when I had the ring I wore it. I enjoyed it. Things were pretty straightforward and now ever since my brother got it he’s been sort of fumbling it so I get it. You’re like these conditions didn’t really do either of us any good so I get it. But again I just think at this point you can just say this was sort of not beautifully handled from the beginning but I agreed to it. I gave it to him trying to get it back and then handing it over again is just a weird thing to do that is more work than necessary and go save up for a piece of jewelry that you like and you get to keep. Absolutely. And if you ever want to hand stuff down to your kids just pick who you’re going to give it to.

S9: Just do a stick to it. Right. It’s weird to say this is your ring. This is your grandmother’s ring until a strange woman wants it.

S10: So I realize too We’re gonna be moving into another exciting yet complicated heterosexual wedding. This is a dynamic one. Yeah. You get to read this one actually.

S9: Oh yes. OK dear Prudence I’m getting married in a month and I’m worried that my soon to be mother in law is trying to upstage my bride at our own wedding. I’m not sure what to do or whether I should even get involved. She means well and has been sweet to me but her self-centered ness drives her daughters crazy when she and my fiance a talk show is monopolizes the conversation and never asks about my fiance’s life when we’re in town to visit score of the number of times we see her versus my fiance’s father. They’re divorced or my own parents two years ago my fiance’s sister at my fiance’s sister’s wedding she wanted to be the one walking her down the aisle and threw a fit until she got her way. She has a way of always making things about her. We’re fine with the fact that she wants to bring her new boyfriend to our wedding a man I’ve only met once or twice but my bride is beyond irritated that her mother insists on wearing a white gown to the wedding. This strikes me as either a shocking lack of social awareness or a deliberate attempt to court controversy. You can’t wear a white dress to someone else’s wedding much less your daughter’s right. My fiancee says she’s tired of arguing with her but I worry that her frustration will boil over and spoil what would otherwise be an amazing day. Is there anything I can do.

S5: Yeah. It’s deliberate. This is not she doesn’t know or she forgot. This is super deliberate.

S7: Oh she absolutely knows. I think she’s waiting to see if she’ll be challenged about it to be honest. That’s like Pooja pretty far to say I’m the mother of the bride. I’m going to wear white too.

S5: Yeah.

S8: I mean the good news is that if you decide if you two decide we’re just tired We’re not gonna deal with it. The person who’s going to look like a fool is her like. You think that people will be talking about it. I guess it’s going to ruin anyone’s wedding experience. No one’s gonna get confused to be like Oh my God are you the real bride of the bride. Right. So like it in terms of like it’s shitty in the sense that it definitely signals I don’t consider this to be your day right. I’m going to demand attention and possibly behave unreasonably in other ways and that’s genuinely unpleasant but like in terms of it’s not going to reflect badly on you people are gonna be like holy shit did you see the mother of the bride. A white fucking gown. Can you believe it. And I’m thinking boy these poor to like having to deal with this woman I wish them luck.

S7: So yeah absolutely I don’t think it reflects poorly on the couple at all though it is interesting for the fiancee to wonder if there’s anything they can do. Letter writer.

S5: Yeah that’s you know that’s kind of you. I think that that’s meaningful that you want to try to help your fiancee out especially because you sort of have notice that she’s like reaching a point where she just feels like whatever I am and let her do whatever she wants because it’s just not worth the hassle. What would you do if you were the fiancee in this situation.

S1: I think it’s tough because I think parents and child relationships are so complicated and so intricate you know you can say from the fiancee it looks so simple from the outside you know to us it’s like oh yeah the mom’s gonna wear a white dress that’s bonkers we can’t let that happen. But on the inside of course you know there’s just a whole life of interaction and so I can understand the fiancee saying listen I don’t I don’t know what to do here but I want to do something I want to support my person we’re getting married you know I love her and I want her to feel great. So I think if I were in that situation and I knew that this was going to come to a head regardless because it sounds like with this woman maybe it will.

S7: I would say be open with your bride to be and say listen I see that this is happening. I see it I see what you’re dealing with and I want to help you the best I can but I also don’t want to make it worse for you. So how best can I work with you. And I say having that conversation just lets her know that you know she’s not alone and not just seeing this. This issue is something maybe she has to deal with by herself but also knows that you know she still doesn’t worry about you getting out of pocket. Oh yeah.

S8: And I like the idea I like the idea of like making it clear to your fiance say like whatever you need I will back you up but not necessarily pushing for something that she doesn’t want to do with her own mom right.

S7: She might feel like there’s nothing like you know Teflon. You know it could just slide right off there so she might feel there’s no reason and then but I think it’s just that open communication about well what do you actually want me to do about this. Because I see it and I want to help you.

S3: Yeah so I do think too by the way that that bit about like when we visit she keeps score of the number of times we see her again checking in with your fiancee first. But I think you have grounds to lightly push back against that even if it’s only something as simple as we’re really glad to be able to see you today. I don’t want to keep score of how awful we as a people. Absolutely. That’s absolutely not something that you would need to feel like overstepping your boundaries as as a partner. No absolutely lightly chide her not child.

S1: Exactly what kind of man she really is ticking off visits to your house to you and sort of making that your fault I guess or I don’t know just that whole competitive parenting thing.

S9: I think once you are an adult and you can see outside of your relationship with your parents it’s like it goes back to the whole wedding thing. It just makes them look worse. It doesn’t make you look bad right. It just you can see it more when you grow up. And so I think you have more choices when you can see it more clearly for what it is you have more choices of how to respond.

S3: Yeah. So yeah I think too it will be good to encourage your partner at least to consider Hey outside of wedding stuff. Do you want to occasionally like end phone calls early or say like I told you Mom we’ve been talking about you for a little while. Can I tell you something that’s going on with me. Let’s talk about boundaries here. Yeah and ask her like kind of like what sort of a relationship she can envision with her mother in the future. Those might be worthwhile conversations but when it comes to wedding day itself like I think there are ways that you can act to try to limit how your mother in law’s behavior will affect the two of you. But like yeah she’s probably going to be as hard to deal with on your wedding day as she is on every other day. She will probably do at least one or two things that are irritating and self-centered and you should prepare for that. Don’t be surprised. Don’t hope that she’s going to change offer. You know if your fiance a feels like she doesn’t have the energy offer to say like happy to tell your mom like you cannot wear white to our wedding here is a list of colors that are right. Let me know when you find one. Yeah. Although I’m happy to be the politely bad cop here. Yep. Or if she just says I just don’t care. She can wear whatever she wants. You know I would encourage her to like sit with that one and think about it because that might be something she wants to push back on but you know encourage her to take her time and then follow her lead. Whatever she decides there Yeah I think.

S7: I think allowing her to ruminate on it really really helps. And because I think your automatic responses. Oh no I don’t want to. I don’t want to rock the boat anymore. She’s already making it such a big deal but there are ways to deal with it that maybe she just hasn’t considered and as her partner you know her and you know her tendencies and you know her skill set and maybe you can show her a pathway outside of the one that she’s been you know trotting for however old you are.

S3: Yeah. And then I think you two should talk about who are you going to assign to your mother in law on the day of the wedding. Who do you trust whether that be maybe one of your parents or a close friend or a sibling somebody who gets it and somebody whose wedding day it isn’t who will have the time to be the sort of first line of defense and whether that means like you know catching your eye like gives you catch their eye when you’re trapped in conversation with her and they come in and say like Oh Mindy I’ve been meaning to like introduce you to such and such a person and then just kind of taking her away from somebody who’s just gonna be there to help take some of that energy off so that the two of you don’t feel like we’re mom wrangling all day.

S7: Yeah. Oh totally. That should be if not a wedding party job somebody somebody could do that outside. Yeah. Bryden whomever else the letter writer is.

S3: I was talking to a friend of mine recently who got married a couple of years ago and they were saying that their partner had parents who were kind of being especially challenging at the time and again no set of parents was like so challenging thing that they want is not invite them but they were just being kind of relentless about a number of things that were not especially important. And my friend said So what I did with my partners permission was I kind of asked my parents who can be difficult sometimes on their own like hey my partner’s parents are being really tough for us to deal with right now. You guys by comparison are just so remarkably together. Would you mind. You know I don’t feel like you have to babysit them but do you mind just kind of taking a special interest in them tomorrow and take you know talking to them asking them questions because I really think that they will follow your lead and be sort of likely to do what you do and that had the added bonus of making their parents feel like oh how we’re that together parents let’s live up to that without realizing that they were being handled.

S7: Yeah. Oh that’s beautiful. That is beautiful.

S5: It was masterful and I hadn’t even realized that that’s what my friend had done I was like That’s truly truly brilliant Slick. Yeah it was very slick. So good luck.

S7: Yeah. Good luck. Congratulations. I hope it works out I hope she chooses to wear something else.

S10: Seriously and again. Worst case scenario is everyone will think she is being silly ugly no one’s going to watch the mother in law of the mother of the bride wearing white and think boy the bride must have done something really wacky right. This is nobody’s fault but that woman.

S11: That’s our mini episode of Dear Prudence for this week. Our producers is Phil circus. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton as always if you want me to answer your question call me and leave a message at 4 0 1 3 7 1. Dear That’s 3 3 2 7 and you might hear your answer on that episode of the show. You don’t have to use your real name or location and at your request we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short 30 seconds a minute tops. Thanks for listening.