Rhode Island Wedding Guide

Wedding Planning

Mothers & Daughters

RI Bride - Wedding Planning
Photo by George Street Photo & Video

By Allison Moir-Smith, MA, Emotionally Engaged

Who's driving you the craziest?
If it's Mom, you're not alone. 100% of brides who responded to this question on my website said "my mother."

Brides report that some mothers are obsessive and controlling about their weddings. Others are not interested enough. A few are downright mean.

Why, during this happy time of life, do mothers cause such pain?

You're separating from each other.

Years ago, you came from her body. The first few months of life, you were so entwined you didn't know where you ended, and she began.

Your entire life has been a process of separating from her. By getting married, you're leaving her to become entwined with your husband, and your wedding marks the end of that process.

The end of an era
Separating from your mother is essential for a healthy marriage. But it's hard.

It's normal and natural to be sad that it's the end of this formative era. Feeling the sadness that it's over is necessary. To be fully present for the new era with your husband, you need to acknowledge this ending and feel the grief accompanying it.

Mom needs to acknowledge the ending and feel the grief, too.

Channeled into the wedding
Weddings are stressful because most brides and their families try desperately not to feel the raw, deeper feelings of grief. The sadness gets channeled into weird behavior about the wedding - obsessive focus, active uninterest, irrational anger, or too much generosity.

Why? Most people are far more comfortable obsessing about bridesmaid dresses or being angry about the size of the guest list than feeling sad.

This may explain why Mom's driving you nuts: she's doing everything she can not to feel the sadness.

Steps you can take

First, be compassionate with Mom and with yourself. On a deep level, you're both sad and hurting, but you may not be aware of it.

Second, understand that Mom's crazy-making behavior is her attempt to not feel the sadness that she's losing you to your husband-to-be.

Third, realize that the difficulties ultimately serve your marriage. These conflicts are helping you separate from her so that you can make a new family with your husband. Strange, but true.

Fourth, talk with her. Share that you're feeling sad that it's an end of an era. Ask her if she's sad. Getting things on the table clears the way for more closeness. And less craziness.

Fifth, remember these are growing pains. You're separating from your mother - and she from you - and this is an uncomfortable, in-between time. Things will settle between you after the wedding - settle into something new and potentially, more loving and more equal.

About the Author Allison Moir-Smith, MA is a psychotherapist, bridal counselor and author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Her Life. She's been featured on Today and Good Morning America and in Cosmopolitan and Elle. She offers individual bridal counseling and supportive group workshops. For more info: www.emotionallyengaged.com