A Bride’s Tough Call Over a Turn of Phrase

By Wendy Belzberg

Published November 21, 2003, issue of November 21, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

My fiance and I both are the products of divorce. Our mothers are each contributing to our wedding, but we are paying 75% of the cost on our own. We decided that the invitation should read “together with our families” we invite you to join us at our wedding. My future mother-in-law was outraged by our choice of language, saying that it was hurtful and made it sound like we don’t have parents. She wants her name included on the invitation. Even though my mother does not care, if I change the copy I will do so to include both of our mothers. How should we phrase the invitation?

— Inviting disaster?

If your mother-in-law feels that her contribution entitles her to full billing, I suggest you return her deposit. This is your wedding, not hers. Moreover, this may well be a sign of what is to come: A mother-in-law who likes to object will be very happy with a daughter-in-law who is happy to accommodate. If you don’t set the right tone now, you and your husband may be sliding down a slippery slope. What about a calm talk about how you certainly don’t mean to hurt your mother-in-law’s feelings but must go with the language you like best? Besides, unless both of your fathers are dead, you will no sooner have rewritten the invitation before you hear from the other halves of your families.

* * *

I usually wash the dishes after dinner. Two nights ago I was doing homework with our daughter, and I fell asleep. My wife, who doesn’t work, called me at work the following day to say the four dishes from dinner would be waiting for me when I got home. Sure enough, four dishes with scraps were sitting on the kitchen table when I returned from work.

— In a scrap over kitchen scraps

I don’t know what the question is, but here’s my answer: Get a divorce. But perhaps I’m being too harsh. First, put your foot down. Hard. If your wife didn’t believe she could get away with such idiotic and abusive behavior, she wouldn’t think of trying. Did you do the dishes or are they still sitting there? (I rest my case.) This kind of dynamic doesn’t work for anyone, but it’s most unattractive in front of a child, who presumably has something to learn about relationships. Get counseling. Get tough. Or get out.

* * *

I feel like my mother-in-law favors her other daughter-in-law over me. Every exchange between my sister-in-law and me feels like a competition for our mother-in-law’s attention. I admit it: I want to “outdo” her — even though I know it’s wrong. Am I just jealous, or is my sister-in-law just mean?

— Stuck on sibling-in-law rivalry

There is a key player missing from the field: your husband. Does he like your sister-in-law more than he likes you? Does he like his mother more than he likes you?

If the answer to the above questions is a categorical no, I urge you to remove yourself from this lose-lose equation. And you might want to give a thought to why you are investing so much in your in-laws. If this is some unfinished piece of business having to do with your own family, go directly to the source and work it out with the real players. Otherwise, there is no explanation for being sucked into the demeaning dynamics of a second family, whose approval you don’t need. If you want to earn someone’s approval, why not expend the extra effort on your husband. He’s the one you married. By the way, you don’t mention where you live. But if you live in the same community as your various in-laws, now is a good time to move.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.