December 6, 2022

Mariedelices

Taking The Lead For Fashion Quality

My MIL made me cancel the coolest part of my wedding weekend.

Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Dear Prudence,

I’m planning a wedding and trying very hard not to be a bridezilla or lose perspective—but I’m afraid I have. My future MIL is hosting a rehearsal dinner for which we are very appreciative. I also want to host a welcome event in the evening (at my expense) and had found a fun venue I was excited about hosting guests. Logistically, this would mean ending the dinner no later than 8 p.m.

Prudie, this is apparently a grave insult! After I spent several weeks trying to find a way to make it work, future MIL has made it clear that there is no compromise that will not insult her, and I have canceled the event at Exciting Venue so we can have it somewhere acceptable to future MIL. I’m doing this for my fiancé, who just wants everyone to get along—if it were up to me, I’d cancel the rehearsal dinner! To be clear, I’ve remained calm and kind, just very politely made it clear that hosting the welcome event at that location is important to me.

At this point, his entire family thinks I am stubborn and ungrateful, and I am wildly resentful and angry at them (and trying not to be mad at him). I want an apology, and I know I won’t get one. I’m not asking if I should give up on my plan for the welcome event—I already have. But we’ve got to move on, and I am at loss for how to smooth things over with them for the sake of my fiancé, and so that I am not sitting at the (very nice) rehearsal dinner stewing with rage at the people hosting it for us

—MIL-zilla

Dear MIL-zilla,

I actually think your future MIL was right here. When you said she could host a rehearsal dinner, it was fair for her to assume that you would make the guests available to be at that dinner until a reasonable time of night. 8:00 pm, if the guests aren’t kindergarteners or senior citizens, is pretty inconveniently early—norms vary, but many people wouldn’t expect to even start a formal dinner until then. So your planning a welcome event that would have forced her to rush the part of the plan that was meaningful to her was a little bit rude. Not unforgivable, but not the best or most gracious.

(By the way, I think this is why welcome events are typically the night before the rehearsal dinner. Now, if you’d said “No thanks, we don’t need a rehearsal dinner, I’m hosting a welcome event at a cool location that night” that would have been totally fine. But you didn’t do that.)

There will be other times your MIL is wrong, but try to let this one go. You didn’t handle the situation as well as you could have, and the people who noticed that don’t deserve your rage. More importantly, you don’t deserve to spend your pre-wedding festivities in a bad mood.

Dear Prudence,

I’m 19 years old and graduated high school last spring. Rather than start college in the uncertainty of the pandemic, I took deferred enrollment and am basically just enjoying myself. I’m not working—my parents are wealthy so I don’t need the money, and I really don’t want a service sector job where I’m going to have to be fighting with people over masks and vaccines. I’m doing a lot of reading and some social media/communications work for a non-profit I volunteered with.

My parents are OK with this, but my brother is going berserk. He thinks I should take a job—any job—to “learn responsibility” and start building wealth of my own. I’ve never had a job, but he’s worked since he was 16, first at a grocery store and later as a server in restaurants. During college, he held down a full-time job and carried a full course load and thinks I am lazy for not being similarly committed. He’s always been kind of bossy, and when we were younger, I accepted it since he was my big brother. But we are both adults now, and I don’t like it when he tells our parents they need to stop coddling me and make me carry my own weight. They just smile and nod (that’s always been their approach to sibling disagreements) but it still bothers me. I don’t want to be confrontational, but what can I do to make this stop?

— Let Me Be

Dear Let Me Be,

You can ask your brother to stop bringing this up with you, but you’re not in charge of the conversations he has with your parents. It’s great that you’re enjoying not working this year and have the ability to do so. Knowing that your brother takes issue with it seems like a small price to pay for a pretty great setup. Assuming his comments bother you less than going to work every day would, you may just need to learn to live with them.

Dear Prudence,

After years of infertility, my husband and I are two weeks away from birthing our first child. A friend of mine who used to be a close friend asked me a few months ago if I’d like the baptismal gown she used for both of her sons when they were born. I was their babysitter, so I went back with this family and the offer wasn’t that odd. That said, neither of us are Christians anymore. When she offered the gown, I didn’t want to outright say “no” because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, as this was obviously a really special offer from her. I ended up telling her that we’re not planning on baptizing our daughter and so I wouldn’t need it.

I just had my baby shower, and lo and behold, the gift from this friend was the baptismal gown along with her son’s baptismal blanket and napkin, used for dabbing the head after the water is sprinkled on. She knows we’re planning on a more Pagan naming ceremony, and I think she expects us to use the gown for that rite. It’s a lovely gown, but I would very much prefer to choose attire that means more to my husband and I than something so symbolic of a Christian sacrament.

I don’t think this is a gift I can just give back, and obviously I can’t return it with a gift receipt. I’m pretty certain that her feelings would be hurt if I don’t use it for our ceremony. To make matters more complicated, we’re slowly healing from a very deep rift that happened nearly five years ago. I’m worried this could damage the healing we’ve managed so far. How do I navigate this? Do I suck it up and dress our daughter in an outfit that has no meaning to us and is even a symbol of what we specifically don’t want? Do I hurt her feelings and potentially ruin our fledgling return to friendship by telling her the truth? Help!

— Say No to The Dress

Dear Say No,

You told her you didn’t need this stuff, and she gave it to you anyway. Your job is done. Well, after you send a nice thank-you card. Do that and then stick the gown and blanket in a closet and forget about them. If she sees pictures from your ceremony and complains that your baby isn’t wearing the outfit she provided, you can say “We appreciated the special gift, but it wasn’t appropriate for our Pagan ceremony. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clearer about that when you first made the offer. If you want it back, I completely understand.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the rift you had with her five years ago may have had something to do with her pushiness, or her lack of respect for your decisions. Whether or not that’s the case, you don’t repair a friendship by sucking things up and prioritizing other people’s wants and needs over your own. If your relationship can’t survive your choice about your own child’s clothing for this special occasion, the rift may not be quite as healed as you thought it was.

Catch up on this week’s Prudie.

More Advice From Pay Dirt

Recently, several members of my family have become suspicious that my sister is manipulating our mother to try to move back into their home. It’s a long story that reads like a villain from a novel, but the gist of it is that my sister has previously threatened to put our mom into a nursing home against her wishes and to sue to get control of their house. (Our parents are elderly and disabled now.) I’ve found my sister is badmouthing relatives to Mom and encouraging her to remove them from the will, in addition to trying to move back in. My mother is very superstitious, so she absolutely will not discuss death-related things with us in detail. Mom will not listen to us about our worries about my sister. My father may, but my mother rules the roost, so what she says goes. How can we help protect them from my conniving sister?