How to Deal with a Future Mother-in-Law Who's Trying to Plan Your Wedding

Remember that she just wants to help.

Women Arguing
Photo: Getty Images

Ah, your future mother-in-law. Maybe you normally have a great relationship, or maybe you don't-but when it comes to wedding planning, there's a good chance she'll want to be involved either way. But what happens if she wants to be way more involved than you're comfortable with? Remeber that weddings can be a high-stress time for everyone-you, your family, your partner's family-and a little help crossing things off your checklist would definitely be a plus. Here's how to get your mother-in-law involved without letting her completely take over.


Tend to your self-care.

First thing's first: If you're not taking care of yourself, you're probably not going to handle problems in the best way. (Yelling at your future mother-in-law or sending a snarky text isn't going to help in the least bit!) Instead, focus on you, thendeal with the issues. "Be good to yourself. Eat well, sleep enough, get a massage, and make time for exercise and yoga and to be in nature," says Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist, director of My Dating and Relationship School, and author of Dating from the Inside Out. "You can only control your own energy and mood, so do your best to be in a state of peace and well-being. And when you feel especially triggered, remember to breathe deeply. You can even get a meditation app to do to get back your zen."

Talk to your partner-and stick together.

The first person you should talk to about issues with your mother-in-law isn't your girls over wine-it's your partner. It's their mom, after all. "Getting married symbolizes creating your new life together so you both need to be on the same page and to have each other's back," Sherman says. "Don't gang up on your mother-in-law, but sit down together and kindly and gently inform her of your plan. This way she doesn't come between you."

Involve her in ways that are a win-win.

Your mother-in-law loves you and probably doesn't meanto be overbearing, so try giving her some duties that help you instead of interfering with your plans. Sherman says, "Maybe she wants to call on the RSVPs or go to food or cake tasting with you."

Don't only focus on the wedding when you're together.

Instead of only talking about the wedding whenever you and your mother-in-law are together, take the attention away by spending time doing other fun things. That way she'll still feel involved in your life-just with a little more space. "Maybe you don't want her along for the big wedding decisions, but you can do other fun things together," Sherman says. "Have a girl's day, invite her to dinner, or go with her to try on her dress. Try and shift the energy from tense to positive and remember your relationship extends beyond this one day."

Set boundaries and learn to say no.

Setting boundaries is hard, but if your mother-in-law is trying to plan your entire day and is driving you nuts in the process, learning to say no is the only way to ensure more stress doesn't pile onto your shoulders. You just need to do so in a way that doesn't damage your relationship. "You can be kind and polite while still doing things differently, and you can appreciate her advice, but make other choices," Sherman says. "Practice saying no in nice ways and also learn how to politely set boundaries on whom is handling what."

Get a wedding planner.

A wedding planner not only helps you create the perfect day for yourself, but is also the perfect buffer between you and an overbearing mother-in-law. "Get help from a third party and let her handle the big decisions while consulting you," Sherman says. "Just warn her that your mother-in-law has different taste and let her handle it."

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