How to Deal with a Toxic Mother of the Bride
How to get an out-of-control mom to chill out.
It's amazing how the most fun and exciting times in our lives can make even the best of people a little crazy. Planning a wedding is no exception. At the top of this list of people who might start to lose their grip before the big day? Your mother. Here, we break down the four toxic mother of the bride types, and how to handle each one.
The controlling mom.
She's controlled every aspect of your childhood-your friends, your activities, and sometimes even your relationships. So why would a wedding be any different? This type of mom has a wedding-day vision, and she'll trample right over your wants in order to get it. Therapist and relationship expert Rachel Sussman recommends getting right to the point with this personality type. "Go to her from the beginning, tell her your vision, and let her know what you need from her," she says. By giving her an assignment, you'll ensure that your mom feels like she's an important part of the process; the worst thing to do with this type of MOB is to say you don't need anything. "She needs to feel important, so let her handle the cake, the music, the linens, or something else you're OK handing over," she says.
The MIA mom.
Every daughter's fantasy is to have her mother help her with the wedding, but the MIA mama just isn't the involved type. She's either too wrapped up in her own day-to-day life or finds the stress of wedding planning overwhelming. If this is your mom, then it's probably nothing new, but it doesn't make it any less hurtful. "If your mother doesn't seem interested, it's going to feel very abandoning and hurtful," says Sussman. First, ask her if she wants to be involved. If she's made it clear that she has other priorities, you'll have to take care of yourself. "The strategy here is to work through the abandonment and disappointment," she says. "Accept her for who she is, and don't let it ruin things"
The overly emotional mom.
When you're dealing with a mom who easily gets her feelings hurt, every conversation can feel like a roller coaster ride. Sussman's advice: Be aware that this is who she is and what she does. Take deep breaths and set solid boundaries. Still struggling? "You can have a talk if she's doing something unacceptable, like yelling or crying at inappropriate times, and let her know that if she can't pull it together she can't be involved," she says. The key here is setting limits and sticking to them.
The overly attached mom.
"I can't believe my baby is getting married." If you've heard this phrase a hundred times and you've only been engaged one week, you may have an overly attached mom on your hands. Sussman says this type of MOB is often insecure, dramatic, wants to be involved in everything, and wants to talk about the wedding 24/7. The catch is that she's not controlling, and you know she's coming from a good place. But that doesn't mean it's not overwhelming. "Let her know that you're so lucky to have so much love and excitement, but that you have other things going on in your life," says Sussman. "Tell her you'll call her once a week to discuss wedding stuff so it's not a daily thing."
What to do if all else fails.
Not having any luck with the strategies above? You might be at the point where you have to see how this is affecting your fiancé, too. If your mom is sapping the joy out of your big day for him, Sussman recommends taking a step back. "You need confidence, strength, power, and a fiancé who's on board," she says. "This may mean creating some distance between you and your mom." The key is to set boundaries now. If you don't, you could find yourself in a dysfunctional parent-child relationship down the road, which can ruin a marriage.