The Sweet Christian Bride

Mother of the Groom

by admin on June 6, 2013 in Family with No Comments

My mother-in-law is a very wise woman.  One thing she told me that has stuck with me is that after the wedding, the groom will likely keep connecting with his dad in ways that males do, but the wedding is sort of the official last time that he will connect with his mom as her son. 

I thought about this for a long time.  He will always technically be her son, but not having any brothers or grown sons of my own, I had never considered the dynamic of grieving the relationship change of a son while simultaneously celebrating the relationship gain of a daughter-in-law.

People often think of weddings as being the bride’s day, so the emotions of a bride are easily anticipated.  Additionally, Americans also understand the sensitivity of the father-daughter dynamic because of iconic wedding movies like Father of the Bride, so even though that simultaneous loss and gain exists there too, people are generally more sensitive to it. 

Even mother to bride and father to groom relationship dynamics are somewhat familiar because of obvious opportunity for passing down legacy and tradition between same-gender parents and children.

But the more I thought about what she had said, the more I realized that I had never heard anything about how to tend to the dynamic of my fiancé and his mother, only horror stories of smothering mother-in-laws who can’t let go of their sons.  If you think of the process of leaving and cleaving, the very nature of having a wife demotes the position of a groom’s mother as the leading lady in his life.  This is good and healthy, but it can also be confusing, complicated, and heartbreaking. 

My mother-in-law and I love spending time together or catching up over the phone, but that has come at a cost to her.  Generally, I am the one who chats with her now to tell her how we are doing, not Chris.  She was right.  Her dynamic with Chris changed when we got married. 

She, of course, knew that this was a healthy change, but it certainly didn’t mean that it was easy.  During the wedding planning, having such a relational loss in the midst of the familial gain can make details that might seem trivial to the bride and groom—like being included in certain decisions of the planning—agonizing, like one giant shutout.

As the bride, the one who will by nature and definition make your fiancé’s mother the “second” woman in his life, you have the responsibility and privilege to tend to your future mother-in-law’s heart. 

Ask her how she is doing.  Ask for her opinions about the wedding planning.  If she has no daughters, ask her what traditions she had in her wedding and see how you might be able to incorporate those into your own so she has a chance to pass down her wedding legacy.  This is a way to honor your parents, as the Lord commands us all to do, even if you do not get along with your fiancé’s mother.

And after the wedding, continue to cultivate a thoughtful and loving relationship with her.  As far as I can see, this is the best way to re-create positive relational dynamics between your husband and his mom and between you and your mother-in-law.

Article originally published on April 13, 2011.

Photo by Rachael Siebenaler, RSPix, featuring Lindsay and Chris’ wedding

By Lindsay

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