Q: How do we keep my divorced parents from spoiling our wedding? I’m engaged, but as the wedding approaches my fiancé and I are beginning to fear that our big day may become an occasion for major family strife.
A: Sadly, you’re not the first couple to face this difficult situation. This does, however, present you with an opportunity to grow together as you work through this challenge, and can equip you in dealing with similar conflicts your marriage may encounter in the future.
Our recommendation is to first find a good marriage counsellor and set up a series of pre-marital counselling sessions (call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a referral). Key to this process is to define and establish your identity as a couple which will place you in a better position to set appropriate boundaries with your parents.
At some point, of course, you’ll need to confront them. When you do, be honest about your fears and frustrations. At the same time, make it clear that your wedding day can be a positive experience if all are willing to cooperate and keep the focus on the significance of the occasion. Take pro-active control of the situation. Tell each parent precisely how you’d like them to participate in the wedding ceremony. Don’t leave this open-ended, or you may open the door to further conflict.
If they are resistant, consider revisiting the conversation with the support of a trusted family member, religious leaders or counsellor. If they’re still uncooperative, you may need to respectfully invite them not to participate in the wedding. This can be especially difficult if they’re footing the bill, and it may dictate making some drastic changes in your plans. Harsh as that sounds, it will be best in the long run if it helps you preserve your integrity as a couple.
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