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Carolyn Hax: Wedding plans hit snag in choice of church

By Carolyn Hax
Monday, September 13, 2010; C05

Adapted from a recent online discussion:

Dear Carolyn:

My fiance and I are planning a low-key wedding. To both of our surprise, his parents expressed a lot of concern about my family's religion and the possibility of a wedding held in that faith -- which is related to his family's religion. For what it's worth, one of my parents attends services, his parents do not, he and I do not.

I know it's defensive, but I can't help but feel personally criticized/rejected by his parents, and that they are making uninformed judgments about my family's (very mainstream) religion.

I'm also wary of his parents having veto power on our decisions. To choose a church of his parents' faith was always on the table, but now would feel like we're letting them make decisions for us and endorsing their prejudices. What is the right way to approach this? Vegas?? Thanks!

Atlanta

You and your fiance need to sit down and hear his parents out -- with your fiance taking the lead, stating plainly that you were both taken aback by their objections.

I think it's also important to say that you and your fiance are going to choose the church that suits the two of you, but you want the decision to be a fully informed one, which is why you're asking for details.

Maybe they'll just dig themselves deeper into a hole with you -- say, by refusing to elaborate on their position, or by attacking you, or by spewing stereotypes. That's always the risk with something like this.

But since you're already feeling hurt and defensive, you're not likely to come out with dramatically worse feelings than you already have, especially since face-to-face conversations tend to force people into being more agreeable in their choices of words. For these reasons, I think talking it out presents a fairly low risk, as long as you go into it with a sincere desire to understand your future in-laws.

The risk you take by not talking to them, on the other hand, is significant, since silence will allow your hard feelings to grow and fester.

Again -- you and your fiance are going to choose the church that suits the two of you. Make sure that's clear to all involved, you two especially.

Dear Carolyn:

This is going to sound like a stupid question, but how does one know if one is in love? The gaga feeling seems missing some of the time, BUT the last 10 years of my relationship history have been fraught with emotionally unavailable people. So, in the absence of the emotional roller coaster, I feel like something is missing. Yes, I know it's the drama aspect, but I can't seem to get past feeling like my new relationship is lacking. Aiiieeee!

Baltimoron

Are you always happy to see the person? Are you happier in the person's company than you are in the company of others? Are you as comfortable with yourself in this person's presence as you are when you're alone? If you imagine this person suddenly weren't in your life, do you feel genuinely sad?

"Yes" to these would suggest strong feelings. The gaga feeling is often more about suspense than any real attachment.

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