Bridging Denial (so my family can get over it)

Allow me to blow off some steam with a long, weak Friday night rant.

My GF and I have been together for over seven years now. Uncertainty about the future and lack of funds for the wedding we want have precluded our getting married thus far, but it has been apparent to both of us for some time that we’re in it for the long haul. As such, the plan has always been for her to go with me when I move away for my residency.

The obvious move, then, would have been for us to get married after I graduate. (It’s apparently the obvious move, as about 20% of my class is getting married in the next month and change.) However, we want to have a cool wedding in New Orleans, and we don’t have the funds right now. Also, I’m finishing up med school and graduating, we’re moving to a new state and buying a house for the first time, she’s finding a new job, and I’m getting used to life as an intern; we thought that would be plenty of major life events over six weeks without throwing a wedding into the mix.

Thus, we put off our wedding until December, when our friends and family will be free to join us in New Orleans for a few days to celebrate. We will be living together up until then.

I come from a long line of Southern Baptists. Not that most of the people in my family are exactly devout, aside from my grandmother. What they are devout about is keeping up appearances, largely for the sake of my grandmother. It’s all about plausible deniability.

For instance, Tamara and I have maintained separate residences up to this point, for a variety of reasons. Still, she stays over here probably four nights out of five, and has for some time. Yes, we have sex. My parents are not idiots, and are well aware of this. However, since her stuff isn’t here when she and my grandmother come for an occasional visit, it’s all deniable. Other relatives have outright shacked up, but it has all happened in such a way that it could stay under my grandmother’s radar.

Tam and I, however, are moving a few states away, something no one in my immediate family has done for a while. It’s hard to discuss it without bringing her into it; “We found a house,” etc. My grandmother finally caught on, and suggested to my mother that she might be moving with me. “Uh, yeah,” said my mother, who also dared her to say anything to me about it. “He’s 26 years old, and we can’t do anything about it,” she said.

Then, in every phone conversation I’ve had with her since, she has recounted this to me. “Of course, none of us are happy about it,” she says, “but you can do what you want.” She says the same thing whenever I bring up the actual wedding plans; “you can do whatever you want.” You can almost hear her wringing her hands, wondering what the people at church will think about her son shacking up with some girl and then running off to a hotbed of sin like New Orleans to get married.

Thus, my rant, to my mother and grandmother:
I’m about to start a totally new life. I’m moving to a new city in a new state, getting a new house, a new car, a new job, and I’m even adding a couple of letters to my name. Most importantly, I have a wonderful woman to share my new life with, the same one I’ve shared my old life with, the one I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life without.

I’m really excited about all this. I can’t believe I’ve reached this stage of my life. Even the mundane tasks like chugging through mortgage details make me happy, because I know where it’s heading.

That’s why it’s a real fucking downer for you to clam up and get that little tremble in your voice every time we talk on the phone. Is it too much to ask for you to share in my joy, and keep from getting hung up on this one detail?

I know you don’t like it, but you’re just going to have to deal with it. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to say that in 26 years, but this is one of them.

So you can keep this up, or you can build yourselves a bridge so you can get the hell over it and be happy for us.

I feel better now.

Dr. J

Spot on.

Congratulations on your impending happiness. :slight_smile:

Just tell her that the sooner you’re married, the sooner she’ll have grandchildren.

Oh, and thank her for caring.

A non-supportive family is quite the burden to bear, especially when it seems like it would be so easy for them to just be happy for you that things are going great and you’re happy. I have a sister who, for some unknown reason, manages to poop on anything I get excited about. She’s a great person in all other respects. My solution to this is to not tell her about things I’m excited about, so she doesn’t have a chance to poop on them. If your mother and grandmother can’t be happy for you, talk to other people about your (wonderful) plans instead. You can’t change them, but you can change how you deal with them. (Although it still sucks.)

Congratulations on, well, everything.

Man, those umbilical chords can stretch…even through generations, can’t they?

I just wanted to say congratulations on your new life as well as your impending doctorhood.

Heh. I wonder if your mother will be conflicted when she says, “My son, the doctor, is shacking up.”

That really sucks.

I vaguely understand where you’re coming from, as I also have to hide from my grandmother the fact that my boyfriend and I do more than hold hands. As we are planning to move out together eventually, I will be in the same boat.

Good luck, and I (if not your mother or grandmother) think you’ll be very happy. :slight_smile:

I know how you feel. I just got a rather melodramatic lecture from my mother about how she refuses to bond with the baby because I’m just moving anyway, and it’s my baby and my wedding and my life, and she hopes I can understand when she excuses herself from it. Cue the organ.


Sincere congratulations on your new life.

Fuck 'em if they don’t support you.


My sympathies on the family thing, DoctorJ, and congrats on the upcoming new life.

If you really, really want to fix their little red wagon - call your mom and tell her that you and your SO gave the situation a great deal of thought and decided that, in order to avoid sin and further family embarrassment, you should get married before moving in together. Since you don’t have the time and money right now to have the large wedding you both want, the two of you just ran down to the courthouse yesterday and had a JP tie the eternal knot. Sorry you didn’t get to invite any family members or anything . . . :stuck_out_tongue:

You could really do that, you know - save the big family get-together/wedding for your fifth anniversary, and do a re-affirmation of your vows. You’ll be more secure and better able to afford it, and I’ve always thought the re-affirmation thing was more meaningful, in a way, than the original wedding. I mean, you’ve spent 5 years together and still want to be together for the ‘long haul’.

And you’re how old? Fourteen? Sixteen? Seventeen?
You’re twenty-six?

Time for Mommy to grow up, I’m thinkin’. :smiley:

I mean, all due respect, an’ all…but sheesh, woman, you haven’t wiped his bottom for 25 years now, he’s not your “little boy” anymore, get over it…

…and I’ll betcha a nickel that after all’s said and done, you’ll find that it’s Grandma who manages to roll with the punch first and accept the New Reality

Ack, I hear you. I’d love for my boyfriend and I to get married when he graduates, but since he’ll be in school for an extra semester, I’m seriously considering taking a year off and gasp! moving in with him. At that point he’ll be almost-23 and I’ll be 21.

My mother will throw a shit fit and compain that when my brother started renting a house a few weeks before he got married, his fiancee STILL didn’t move in until after the wedding, because they’re the perfect children, after all! However, I dread even more to think what my boyfriend’s conservative Indian parents would say, and their opinion matters a lot more to me than my parents’ does.

Maybe we should get married. sigh Off to look at Indian wedding outfits… :slight_smile:

BTW, what do your fiancee’s parents think about this? Are they at least supportive?

Her parents don’t necessarily like it, but they aren’t saying much. (Her brother has shacked up more than once before, so it isn’t such new territory to them.) Some of her aunts have thrown in snide comments.

I certainly wouldn’t be the first person in my immediate family to cohabitate without benefit of marriage, but I am the first one to be up front and open about it, and that’s the problem. It reminds me of the old joke: if you’re going to take Southern Baptists fishing, be sure to take at least two, because if you just take one, he’ll drink all your beer.

Dr. J

I really think this is a good idea.

I mean, it’s obvious that you’re in for the long haul, so just make it official. Marriage is inevitable for you, right? So just elope. It’ll shut them up.

After taking a peek at featherlou’s wedding thread, elopment looks better and better all the time.

Point out to them that when Adam and Eve tied the knot, there was no clergyman present. The ingredients for contracting a marriage are a man and a woman* with the intent to commit to each other, and God as witness and blesser of the covenant. Everything else is simply rules made by man for formalizing it and instituting it as a legal transaction.

*[sub] Please, let’s don’t hijack this rant with a quite different one. I speak of marriage in a broad sense with reference to the circumstances in which Dr. J and his beloved find themselves, not of limitations on marriage[/sub]

Poly, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve said for a long time that if marriage is a commitment between two people to share their lives together, then she and I have been married for years.

However, my family is not going to see it that way. My grandmother is far too set in her ways to go along with any such progressive interpretation–you just don’t live together before you get married, period. My mother, on the other hand, is not so much concerned with the sinful aspect of it–she’s concerned with what people will think, largely my grandmother. Most people, in her opinion, are not going to make the fine distinction, and will simply look down on us for shacking up.

(By the way, Poly, I am moving to your state; we really should grab some dinner sometime, or something. Maybe I’ll host a Housewarming Dopefest.)

Dr. J

I agree with yosemitebabe. Just elope. Weddings are highly overrated. Have a big reception later, so that the family can share your joy, but don’t bother with the gown and tux and Jordan almonds…Grandma just hoped you were different from all the “modern” kids who shun her values. She thought that her family had been raised right. She’s just disappointed. She’s allowed to be. Cut her some slack. She’s entitled to her feelings, and her opinions. She doesn’t want you to hurt this girl…she’s afraid you may dump her, since you’re getting everything you want without having to make a legal and binding commitment. She’s seen men do this before, and she wants you to be different, and better, than everyone else. Try to understand, not change her. She just might have learned a thing or two in her time on Earth.

kittenblue will now stop channelling her inner Grandma.

Or tell her that you knew that she wanted grandchildren but you couldn’t work a marriage into your schedules right now… :eek:

More importantly, congratulations on your accomplishments, and best wishes on the rest of your lives.

Guess I’m lucky then. Just this weekend my grandmother suggested that a few friends and I go to a strip joint and pay for a few lap dances.

I was rummaging through some old family photographs the other day and I came across a letter from my (now deceased) paternal grandmother to my mother, the subject of which was my parents’ divorce.

My dad had always tried to insulate his mother from the reality of the situation, telling us all that the shock of hearing about our mother’s wanton behavious would probably kill her; we had to construct all kind of elaborate stories (it truly is difficult to maintain a lie), but I never knew until recently that my gran was aware of the truth and was just humouring us in all of our posturing.

Essentially, the letter said “oh well, things don’t always work out as you expect; be happy”, but in the nicest and most understanding way you can imagine.

Funny really, all the time we thought it was her that wasn’t clued up…

Just because you’re related to someone is no reason to maintain any sort of contact with them.