YOU CAN HEAL YOUR FAMILY
“There are two Masters in this world: Love and Fear. You can serve only one.”
“Love accomplishes in five minutes what labor takes fifteen years to achieve.”
dealing with challenging or critical family issues that have recently arisen, or ones that you have had for a few months, a few years, or a long time? Problems that are significant enough, you are worried about their impact on your wedding day?
Has your mother throughout the wedding planning process become your worst enemy?
Have your parents become demanding and seemingly focused on what they want, not what you want?
Have your siblings become emotionally reactive and now uncooperative?
Are you facing the hard news of your parents divorcing?
Are your parents already divorced and not getting along such that that it’s causing you anxiety and real concern over their possible behavior at your wedding? Are you wondering how to handle them?
TAKE IT ON BEFORE THE BIG DAY
Whatever your situation, you’re going to want to handle these issues early in your planning as much as possible before they effect your wedding day. Directly or indirectly, day of your wedding, you will feel whatever is going on, both positive and negative, no matter how involved you are with the festivities. So set yourself up sooner than later for the best possible outcomes.
The good news is, you can make a positive difference in any situation in a short period of time. You don’t want or need to become the family therapist, you just want to be a transformer who makes good things happen faster than we can imagine.
There is a saying I live by, and use with my couples, and am glad I do:
“There are two Masters in this world: Love and Fear. You can serve only one”.
At the base of all human problems is fear. With the problems listed above, many of them stem from the fear of loosing you, and the fear of not being included by you.
Often, not always, a mother who is obsessed with your wedding, never had the one she wanted. So through you she is trying desperately to experience what she lost as a bride. She can come across as controlling, demanding, pouty, guilt-tripping, resistant, aggressive and passive/aggressive. These are all faces of fear. Hard to get that, but that’s all they are.
If she is taking the reins from you to make an impression on her social position, there is really something else deeper she is seeking but doesn’t know it.
So you as the bride, you who at the moment is getting “all the attention”, can put yourself in the power seat by being compassionate and clear with your mother. Sometimes if a mom is a little off mentally/emotionally, you will have to have equal clarity along with your compassion.
For the mother who is afraid of loosing you, let her know you love her, that you will always be there for her no matter where you are, that though you are getting married, you are not abandoning nor leaving her forever. She will always be your mother, you will always be her daughter and that can never change. Explain to her why you are envisioning your marriage the way you are. Include her in your ideas, let her in and at the same time, let her know that this is your marriage, you are embarking on a life with your soon-to-be-husband, and that from now on, you and he will be making decisions together, and the wedding is the place where all of that begins. Promise her you will make her important that day, that she is important now and that you are grateful for everything that she has ever done for you. Essentially, love her up. If you have to repeat some of it at other times, do so, but keep the message going. You’ll be surprised and happy at how responsive she will become. All she wants is to be loved and cherished by you, and even though she’s your parent, she has a little girl inside her too that will come out when least expected who needs to be reassured.
For the mom who is taking over, inviting all her important friends whom you don’t really care about, and who is taking decisions out of your hands, she is running on fear. She believes she lacks something and is reaching for externals to prove herself worthy. You can provide the real need for her. What she is seeking is her self worth and a level of recognition and with your extending your love to her in the form of how much you value her and what she’s contributed to you, a large part of her driven behavior will calm down and then you can work together as a team.
These same principles will work with your father. Dads never want to “give their daughter away”. It’s a terrible thought for them. I let my brides father know that he was the first man she ever loved and nothing can replace him. He will always have a specialplace in her heart.
If dad is getting disgruntled about the cost of your wedding, or how your mother is feeling, sit down with him. Tell him you are extremely grateful for what he is doing for you and for what he has always done for you. Let him know you will always be a loyal daughter and will be there for him, for your mother, and the family no matter where you are. Have a frank discussion about the expenses, and be willing to give up some non-essentials for the sake of generosity. Show him you’re not being selfish and acting entitled. Love and gratitude will melt down barriers quicker than anything on earth. Forgiveness happens in an instant, and the return to love and closeness is certain and forever.
Sibs are no exception. They don’t want to become “lesser than”, they want to feel important to you, important to the family, part of your life. Jealousy and fear can occur dramatically, but always, the hand of love and kindness reaching out to them successfully brings them back. If it doesn’t work right away, there are underlying issues that have not been resolved. They may involve you, they may not. If they do, have a little talk and let them know, that even if there are differences between you, that’s ok. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them and you don’t have to be alike anyway. If the issues don’t involve you, extend a little compassion and lend a listening ear. It won’t take long to diffuse the tension.
Stop any tendency to judge them. Judgment is a terribly unkind act though it is knee- jerk to humans. It hurts the judger as much as the judged. I love this one saying, finding myself having to apply and reapply it every day: “Judgment is drinking the poison yourself expecting the other person to die”. So give yourself and your sib to love. What happens will be miraculous.
NEWLY DIVORCING PARENTS
If your parents are divorcing in the middle of your planning, let each of them know individually that though it hurts to see them in such pain, that since they feel this is their best decision, you will respect it and do your best to understand. Often we can’t, we simply cannot walk in their shoes, but we have to accept that they know more than we do about their situation. Let them know you are going to focus on the loving bonds of family that exist whether the parents stay together or not, and ask them to join you in that endeavor, even if it’s just for the duration of your wedding. But it’s a great practice for the whole of life, and they’ll be happy they put forth the energy.
ALREADY DIVORCED, ADVERSARIAL PARENTS
If your parents are already divorced and don’t get along, then if possible, speak to them individually or write them separately. Let them know that in the days when they were first married, when you were a child and the family was whole, a love flowed through everyone. That love never dies. It can get buried under hurt and angry feelings, but it never dies. Let them know you feel sad for them that so much painful material has built up between them, but would they be willing to join you in a safe place of caring for this new marriage and family you will be creating. Invite them to meet you in this intention and support, that you would love and appreciate it and are needing peaceful relations for your start. Given the opportunity to become committed and to focus on something more positive, parents who care enough will step up. If they do not, ask them to try to be on their best behavior just for your wedding, and take other steps that are merely logistical such as seating them apart from each other both at the wedding and at the reception and that often handles the problems effectively.
CHANGE IS SCARY, LOVE IS THE ANSWER
So remember, change is scary for most humans, and your getting married is a huge change. Some families are over-joyed with the expansion, some families suffer from fear. If yours is feeling fear, then the antidote is love. Serve love, serve it up, and everyone will heal, including yourself. It gets the intended and desired results at lightening speed.