Guest List Wedding Pains

SCENARIO

Your son or daughter has gotten engaged and you adore their choice in a future spouse. As you’ve always been invited to your friend’s children’s weddings, you’ve jumped the gun and told your closest friends to put aside that date. Then your son or daughter informs you that there is not enough room for you to invite your friends to the wedding. What do you do now?

CONSIDER THIS:

JILL:
One of the great things about being a little older is we are able to have the hindsight to be a wiser. So I am going to have you use your imagination for a minute and pretend it’s your son getting married.

It is May 2009 and you have sat down with a cup of tea to look at some photo albums from your son’s wedding. You come to the picture of you and your son. The two of you are standing side by side, he looks so handsome but he is a bit stiff and his smile is forced. You look a little tense but if you think back you feel that you were right, you told them everything that was bothering you and they let you invite your friends. Your son was caught in the middle, between his love for you and wanting to please his bride. It was a difficult time but they re-arranged things and you made your point.

Or………….

You come to the picture of your son and you. You are beaming and he has a happy grin on his face and his arm is lovingly around your shoulders. It had worked out alright in the long run; you had met quietly with the two of them. You didn’t make them feel guilty but instead asked if you could invite two friends to share the event with you. A month later you had invited your other friends over for wine and appetizers and bored them silly with the videos from the wedding; it had been a fun evening.

VICKI:
I have to admit that I am of two minds on this. I do believe that a parent being asked for their list would be the right thing to do, if it is affordable, However, I am aware that that is my idea of what’s right and no one else is obligated to live up to what I feel is right or wrong. On the other hand I also believe that it’s a mistake making an assumption and approaching friends as though they were invited. I’ve been in a different but similar situation and I was thoroughly embarrassed when I had to let my friends know that I erred.

This is a time to let right and wrong go. This is meant to a happy and joyous time. Don’t allow any idea of “shoulds” to ruin this. After all the groom or bride-to-be may be doing nothing more than carrying out her parent’s wishes or doing this the way they are traditionally done in his or her family. One thing is sure – that they are not doing anything with the intention of being hurtful.

In this situation sit down with your child and their fiancé and let them know how much your friends mean to you and that you would be very happy to pay them. Even if there will only be enough seating for two accept that and follow Jill’s advice in having your close friends over to your home for an evening. As the time draws nearer you may discover that there are enough people declining that there is room for all of your friends.

Two Religions, One Wedding Ceremony

SCENARIO

We received this as a question from a young bride-to-be. She and her fiancé are from two different religious backgrounds. Neither of their families want a blended religious ceremony, yet this young couple is paying for their own wedding and cannot afford two ceremonies. They would like to make this a happy occasion for both their families and wonder how they can do it.

What would you do in this situation? We’d love to hear your comments.

CONSIDER THIS

JILL:
Perhaps the parents are worried that a blended ceremony will disrespect the meaning and traditions of their faiths. Possibly by outlining for them how the two religions would be represented, this could change their minds. In today’s world interfaith ceremonies are done in a very respectful and tasteful manner. Do some research and speak to planner who specializes in these types of marriages. With the details on paper the bride, groom and both sets of parents should come together to discuss this style of ceremony.

If that doesn’t work look at having a civil, non-denominational or spiritual marriage. No one can afford two ceremonies and one of those choices may be the only way to keep both families happy. Write your own vows. Keep everything simple but meaningful. Taking religion out of a service no longer means that the event has to be cold or impersonal. Another option is a destination wedding and not necessarily to another country. It could be held in another state or province or a pretty little town that is only a few hours away. Afterwards the reception could be a blend of both family’s traditions and backgrounds.

It is important to remember that the very essence of a marriage is the joining of two people who love one another. If however the couple is feeling somewhat incomplete they can meet with religious person who has guided them each through the years and ask for their blessing on the union.

VICKI:
My first thought is what does the couple wish to do? I certainly understand that family pressure can be a huge issue and that we all wish to please the ones we love. However there comes a time where, no matter how challenging, everyone needs to put their family’s values behind them and live by their own value system.

If the couple wish to make the situation work all around then…in order to make this economical the only suggestion I have is to have the ceremony take place in a hall, etc. and literally have one religious ceremony after the other; without an official pronouncing this couple married until after the second ceremony.

Pressure To Have Children

SCENARIO

You and your partner have decided not have children; you’re happy with your life as it is. However Mom, Aunt Sally and your best friend just aren’t listening and are pressuring you to start that family. How do you tell them to mind their own business without hurting their feelings?

CONSIDER THIS

JILL:
Life decisions such as not to have children come from a deep and private place. I want to emphasize ‘private’. You have to make a decision that is right for you and your partner and at the end of the day that is all that matters.

One of the quickest ways to bring this to an end would be to have the family together for dinner. You need to tell them ‘we know that you love us and want the best for us but we have made a decision to not have children. We are asking you to respect this by not pressuring us anymore. Now we want to get on with our lives.” The words will come to you.
While it feels a little overwhelming to do this en masse, having to deal with each person one on one is difficult and besides you want to get on with your lives. For those that didn’t come to the dinner the words that you used there will work with them. Confront these people together where possible, it will help.
For the really persistent use the ultimate words ‘this is really none of your business.” If certain people still don’t get it and respect your choice then they are a negative voice and you have to decide if you really want them in your lives as you move forward.

VICKI:
Believe it or not most people don’t realize that their probing is either uncomfortable or hurtful. It really isn’t their intention to be that way, they may actually believe that they’re helping because if you listen to them they believe you’ll be happier. It can be a big case of misguided love.

Respond by letting them know how their comments honestly make you feel. An example would be: “My husband and I have decided not to have children, please don’t ask me again as it makes feel very uncomfortable and judged.” When they understand they are upsetting you they will be more apt to stop.

Talking To Elderly Parents

QUESTION

My sister and I are trying to get our elderly parents to sit down and discuss their future. They’re presently in their eighties and can’t keep up with their large house. Mom no longer cooks proper meals for them. Dad is diabetic and we’re not sure if he’s taking his medication regularly. We also don’t think that Dad should have a driver’s license. How can we get them to talk about these things without hurting their feelings?

ANSWER

JILL:
Judging by some of your concerns, you are no longer and the point of ‘if’ you should have a conversation with them but it is more of ‘when’. Take heart though, there are ways of doing it so that feelings are not hurt.
At this stage in their life your parents are probably experiencing many emotions such as fear, sadness, anger even depression. You need to lay the groundwork to help elevate some of these feelings, so I suggest that you both meet to discuss the best plan before talking to your parents. Write down the issues that are concerning you both, and then look for ways to work though those problems. Research what is available in your community, talk to their doctors and find resources on the internet. If you go to your parents with some suggestions they will not be as fearful.

When you have everything organized ask to meet with them at their home; that will feel like a safe place for them. Make it the four of you so that there are no distractions and you have some privacy. Speak honestly and with love, treat them with respect and listen to their concerns. Stay in the here and now & avoid laying blame.

Time is important but they will need to process your suggestions. Let them know when you want to meet again to set things in motion.

This is a difficult and emotional time for all of you so take it step by step. Get them the help that they need by creating a support team; experts such as doctors, home care professionals, financial planners, and pharmacists are available to help you at this time.

VICKI:

It’s really about the way you approach your parents. Please keep in mind that there isn’t a person on this planet that wants to hear that their family no longer feels they can take care of themselves. It can leave them feeling vulnerable and without dignity.

If you were thinking they should go into a retirement home and tell them that you will most likely get resistance, especially if they’ve been in their home long term. Since many of these retirement facilities are quite expensive it may be more economical and feel safer to your parents if they had help come to their home.

Get together a list (with prices) of services that could help them such as a cleaning service or a out of house companion that comes daily and does the driving.

Then approach your parents offering help so they can live a more leisurely lifestyle. At their age leisure sounds much better than dependence. Should your parents refuse you have no choice but to listen to their wishes.

Being A Mom Entrepreneur

QUESTION
My youngest started grade one in September, I am a 36 years old & have a home based business. My business is doing OK but I feel lonely and kinda isolated. My friends are moms too but don’t have businesses so we don’t have a lot in common anymore. When the kids get home I feel guilty that I didn’t get more done with my day. Got any suggestions?

ANSWER

JILL:
When your youngest was at home you probably stuck to a routine, what you need to do is to create a schedule for yourself; that gives your day structure. Be in your home office at the same time every morning and get your day of to a positive start by taking care of your clients or customers first thing.

If your office is bleak that can make you feel isolated. Play some music in the background, decorate so that it represents your tastes and invest in flowers or plants. Keep it uncluttered and clean.

There are a few ways to conquer the loneliness.

1. Look for business women’s groups in your town so that you can network and connect.
2. When appropriate arrange to meet colleagues or clients for coffee, breakfast or lunch; that gets you out.
3. Google what you do ie accountant, virtual assistant, graphic design etc…. and look for an association that you can join. They may have events or meetings that you can attend.
4. Here are some examples of some virtual business women’s groups that will have you feeling less alone
> Women in a Home Office
> Women Can Do Anything
> Company of Women
> eWomen Network

Even with all that there will still be the odd lonely day but overall working for yourself can be very rewarding. For one thing, you have no boss to tell you that you have to stay late so at the end of the day you can usually close up and enjoy your family.

VICKI:
This is one of those times that it’s about changing your thinking. Your guilt is about what you believe that you should be able to get done during the day and the pressure you put on yourself to do those things. The irony is that the more pressure you put on yourself the less you’ll be able to get done due to the stress you’re self-inflicting.

It’s time to relax and take a deep breath or five. You need to center yourself and start slow.
1. Make a list of what you have to accomplish this week; know that you may need to add or remove things as your week goes by.
2. Every morning look at the list and choose three things that you will get done that day. Then go ahead and complete them. Be realistic, don’t choose three large things that each take two hours to do. Choose one large task and two small or if you have one task that will take five hours only do the one task. Be honest with yourself when making the daily list.
3. Leave room for incoming and outgoing business phone calls and should you have extra time once you have done your daily list you can decide if you want to do anything else from your weekly list.
4. It is perfectly all right if you your weekly and daily lists consist of business items and household things to be done as this is the life of a mom entrepreneur.
5. If you haven’t already done so buy a crock pot / slow-cooker and some recipe books on slow-cooking. There is nothing like throwing everything into one pot in the morning and letting it cook all day to have a delicious and nutritious family meal and to free up some of your time.

Now here’s the real trick – know that you may not accomplish everything on your weekly list and become OK with it. One thing is for sure; when each of us dies we will still have things undone on our to-do list. Prioritize and take the pressure off of you. What you don’t get done move to the following week’s list. Put your thoughts and feeling towards being proud of what you do accomplish. In time the positive feelings and thoughts over take the negative and you will find that you have renewed energy to take on more with your day. Add to your daily list as this happens.

A Foster Parent’s Surprise

Scenario

Three years ago my husband and I had just become foster parents. We didn’t know what to expect until we got the phone call. We were asked if we would take in a crack baby, short term, who was 4 weeks old and ready to be released from the hospital. We agreed because it was short term; we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into and how much it would change our lives.

The social worker rang our doorbell and delivered to us a little girl with biggest brown eyes I had ever seen. I had never heard a baby cry with such desperation. It was explained that she was still going with withdrawal and would be for a while longer. This child instantly touched my heart.

Two sleepless weeks later my husband and I were starting to wonder exactly what short term meant. It was difficult hearing her cries knowing there was nothing I could do to comfort her. At times I wanted nothing more than to give her back.

The third week she started to settle down just a little more. It got better week after week. Before we knew it three months had passed and she had become part of the family. At this point we decided that we would keep fostering her. It took a full year until she developed enough to a point where she acted like most children her age. That was a year of many ups and downs, numerous medical appointments and more sleepless nights.

My daughter recently celebrated her third birthday. We have now started the adoption process. I couldn’t imagine a day without her in my life. I’ve learned so much about life and myself through her. Watching her in the playground no one would know all the turmoil that she and our family went through together. She taught me what it truly means to love.

VICKI:
What courage you have to take in a child with difficulties that early on in life. Congratulations and I hope the adoption process goes along easily for your family. God bless.

JILL:
The best things in life are usually the unexpected ones.

Age Difference In A Relationship & The Holidays

QUESTION

I have been in a wonderful relationship with a much older man for over a year now. I am in my late 20’s and he is in his early 50’s and although we both were reluctant at first to start a relationship we have found ourselves to be very happy together. With the holidays approaching we are wondering how to introduce each other to our families. I am very close in age to one of his children and he is close in age to my parents. We want to make this as easy on everyone as possible and would love any suggestions you have on breaking the news of our relationship and the age difference to our families.

ANSWER

JILL:
The only important fact is that you are ‘very happy together’. Those who want the best for you both and who love you unconditionally will accept the relationship for that reason. In the first initial moments ‘yes’ the age difference will be a surprise but the more you both make an issue of it the more of an issue it will be.

At one of the family gatherings there may be someone who makes a comment about the two of you, which will probably be followed by an awkward silence. Don’t be defensive, that indicates that on some level the person has struck a cord with you. Just smile and respond quietly.Good replies are: “I’m sorry that you feel that way”.“This really isn’t the time or place”.“___________ & I care for one another and we feel that is all that matters”.

You should each introduce yourself before hand to the person who is giving each respective family gathering. This will break the ice and establish you as an individual and as a courteous person.A phone call to say, “Hello, my name is _________ I will be ________’s guest on _______. I was wondering if there was anything that I could bring.” Whether the answer is yes or no be sure to take a thoughtful gift for the hostess (es). It is not only polite but an indication that all you want is to spend a pleasant time with the family.

So relax, be yourself and enjoy your special relationship.

VICKI:

Do tell your respective families’ before the holidays. To just walk in with your partner may be a shock. Start out by telling them how happy you are in your relationship; let them know the ways you have enriched each other’s lives. Your happiness will be the key to your family opening their minds up, whether a little or a lot.

Then let them know about the age difference. If you have had any concerns about how the age difference may affect your relationship be honest and let your families’ know. This will demonstrate to them that you have indeed thought things out and are acting with a level head.

Before you each talk to your families make sure you are in a positive state of mind. Whatever you do guard yourself from being defensive. Remember that when we expect the worst from other that’s generally what we get; instead be in a positive state of mind and expect the best of them. Then do follow through, as Jill said, and make those introduction phone calls.

Congratulations on finding a relationship that brings you both true joy.