There is no question that when your adult children tell you they are going to get married it is supposed to be a time of celebrations, toasts, and exciting plans for the upcoming wedding. But what do you do if you think your kids are making a mistake and you don't like who they've chosen to marry? When we wrote our book, "Love for Grown-ups," we interviewed countless women who had faced just this situation. Here are some tips on how to handle this with as much grace and wisdom as possible.
Remember why "Romeo and Juliet" is a classic: If any of us know anything about raising kids (and we do) we know that it's important to be careful when you give your opinions on boyfriends and girlfriends because often, the more you object, the more they want to show you why you're wrong. One Garter Bride told us, "I didn't like the way my daughter's boyfriend treated her and I told her so. Of course, she decided to marry him anyway. I almost tripped him as he walked down the aisle, but one of my friends told me to stop bad-mouthing him, that all it was doing was making my daughter miserable, so I gave in and gave her my blessing."
People (and feelings) change over time: One of the many true things about life is that things change as time goes on. People mature, mellow (even us!) and circumstances change too. Some brides who were convinced their children were marrying the wrong people were able to see over time that the relationship between the two of them was working and they seemed happy. One bride told us, "My mother told me once that no one truly knows what goes on in another person's marriage and that's true for me of my son and his wife. Who knows why they get along? But they seem really happy."
Be careful not to be put out of the loop: Today's young families are REALLY busy with school, work, sports, clubs, the list goes on and sometimes finding time to visit relatives can be hard to come by. If your adult child thinks you disapprove of their spouse -- hey, they're human -- they may not put visiting you on the top of their list. This is another reason to vent your feelings to your girlfriends (or write us!) but not your kids.
Try not to put your child in the middle: One of the most important (and not necessarily easy) things to remember is your children may be stuck trying to choose between their loyalty and love for you and their loyalty and love for their spouses and that is not a wonderful place to be. Remember that you may not be high on their spouses' lists either. So, anything you can do to make things go as smoothly as possible is a good thing. In our book we write about times when you need to take a "Grown-up pill" and be the grown-up in the room. This is one of those times.
Do we wish everyone loved everyone right from the start? Sure, but we mature brides know that is not always going to happen. What we also know is that staying close to your children (and some day grandchildren) is very important and by taking a deep breath and not letting some of your feelings show, that can happen.
Have you known of any marriages where the parents disapproved of the child's choice in a mate?
Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Lampl and Tish Rabe are the authors of "Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life," a relationship guide for women over 35 on how to find Mr. Right, marry and find life-long happiness. The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women who got married later in life and wore the same garter at their weddings! They offer tried and true advice on how to have the love and life you want. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.