Loading...
BYH to the Marines, who have a saying: 'It's God's job to judge the terrorists. It's our job to arrange the meeting'....

Stepmother worries husband’s daughter feels entitled to full cost of her wedding

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Loading…

Carolyn Hax

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Q My husband’s daughter just announced she and her boyfriend are getting married, and we are very happy for them. They are planning a wedding that is not out of line with the kinds of weddings their friends have been having, but that we consider over the top. The cost will likely exceed her annual salary.

My husband has been blunt about his intention to not pay for the wedding, but my impression is that my stepdaughter and her husband-to-be think he’s not serious and can be brought around.

My husband and I are on the same page that we would like to give them a no-strings “gift,” which will cover about half of what we think their wedding is likely to cost. We’d prefer they spend the money on something more practical, but recognize they are free to spend it however they like.

My fear is they will not see this (considerable) sum as a good thing, but as an insult.

My husband lost virtually everything he owned in the divorce, but still managed to pay for his daughter’s schooling. Thanks to my savings, we are comfortable now, which his daughter is no doubt aware of, but we are approaching retirement.

As they share their wedding plans with us, I plan to steer clear of any discussion of money, lest I be cast as the evil stepmother, but I’m worried about how the conversation might go. Any suggestions on how to best navigate this mess? — Stepmother

A For starters, please note there isn’t a “mess.”

I went mining for speculation in your letter and hit a (step)mother lode: “will likely exceed”; “my impression is”; “what we think”; “is likely to”; “my fear is”; “is no doubt aware of”; “I’m worried about.”

Nothing has happened yet, besides their planning a wedding and your planning a gift.

Both of which sound lovely.

So, do what is appropriate under any circumstances, but especially lovely ones: Let them handle their business, and you handle yours in as kind and principled a way as you can.

Here, that means: (1) Trust your no-strings gift is the best way to support your stepdaughter within your budget and values; and (2) Recognize you can control only how a gift is given, not how it is received.

None of the contingencies you’re fretting about affects this basic transaction. It’s messproof: You give your gift with full respect and zero guile, and they do with it as they choose.

If they choose to be ungrateful, then that’s terrible — as entitlement always is — but still not a mess for you to navigate. This response to any complaints or pushback is all you need: “I’m sorry to hear that. This is all we’re prepared to give, however, so if you would rather not have it, then we’ll understand.” Again, in as kind a way as you can.

By “you,” though, I mean your husband. It’s essentially your money (generously parted with), but, since you’re a unified front, her father is the much better agent of “no” — or, I should say, agent of “that’s enough.” Kindly not budging is your only play, no matter how she responds.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

April 21, 2019

During my middle school years, my parents always used to invite my mother’s eccentric Uncle Bill to our house for Sunday dinner on Easter and other holidays. I don’t remember much of anything about Uncle Bill — except that he somehow managed to find ways to embarrass me in front…

Bob Garner

April 21, 2019

The refrigerator beeps if I accidentally leave the door open, which I do a lot, but it's a different beep than the one the dishwasher makes to tell me it has finished putting spots on my glasses.

Do I really have to know when the dishwasher is finished with its spotting cycle? Besides, when the…

JimMullen

April 21, 2019

It’s a one-way journey for helium, but a round trip for the ant-watchers.

Every day, a worldwide fleet of 1,800 balloons launches into the atmosphere for the sake of weather science and data reliance.

It’s a daily space race.

In this era of drones and rocket ships, balloons filled with…

joy moses-Hall.jpg

April 21, 2019

I surrender.

In wartime these words admit defeat and put the speaker in the custody of an adversary. They do not usually gain admiration.

Instead, we celebrate the advice popularly attributed to Winston Churchill: “Never give up. Never, never, never give up.”

We admire the single word…

DGMartin.jpg

April 20, 2019

Maybe we should have had this Mystery Plant back at Thanksgiving: some people think that the leaves of this little tree resemble a turkey’s foot, which for me would require a good bit of imagination.

I suppose that the middle lobes look a bit like the turkey’s toes on the sides, and of…

042019mysteryplant.JPG

April 19, 2019

Cap­sules of movies play­ing lo­cally. New re­leases are in­di­cated with an as­ter­isk.

AFTER — After follows Tessa - armed with grand ambitions for her future, her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysterious Hardin Scott, a magnetic,…

shazam-levi-glazer.jpg

April 19, 2019

Best of Enemies is the recent release based on the true story of an unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater, an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, a local Ku Klux Klan leader.

Set in Durham, N.C., during the racially charged summer of 1971, Atwater and Ellis come together to co-…

enemies

April 17, 2019

 

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am nervous about the idea of going to therapy. I was invited to go in order to build a stronger relationship with a family member, but I cannot imagine how talking to a stranger will help.

Whenever my relative and I are around each other for more than a couple of hours, we…

Harriette Cole

April 17, 2019

 

If "Unplanned" was an ordinary movie, its creators would be busy right now studying second-week box office numbers while starting negotiations with the digital giants that stream products to the masses.

But this has never been an ordinary movie, which is why it's an important test case for…

Terry Mattingly

April 17, 2019

Not those kind of mushrooms, silly. You want these mushrooms — namely, dried porcini mushrooms — in your kitchen. They keep indefinitely in your pantry and can easily be reconstituted for use with pasta, risotto, soups and sauces. Or you can simply blitz the heck out of them and turn…

Porcini Lamb Chops
172 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»