Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My family thinks my fiancé has anger issues....

Dear ESB:

My fiancé and I are supposed to get married this July, but recently some family drama has happened. I am very close with my family (mom and two sisters), and always have been. About a week ago, my fiancé and I invited my sisters and my brother in law over to drink/hang out. To make a long story short, my fiancé ended up getting into a fight (very physical) with my brother in law’s best friend, which he (the friend) started. My family now thinks that my fiancé has anger issues, and that he is violent. He isn’t. My mom told me that marrying him would be a mistake, and they want me to postpone the wedding. They don’t know him as well as I do (duh), and he is one of the kindest people I have ever known. He would never hurt me, and regardless of what they think I am still going to marry him. They have this misconstrued idea of what kind of person he is, and are completely wrong about him.

This has completely torn my family and I apart (or torn me apart from them), not to mention devastated the fiancé. So now here we stand, with a wedding date set for two months from now, not knowing what to do. I have never been the type of girl to daydream about what my wedding would be like, but I have put so much of myself into this wedding that the thought of not having it makes me want to hurl. On the other hand, the thought of carrying on the planning (with my mom) for the next two months and walking down the aisle with my family pretending they are happy for me makes me want to run away and say “screw you”.

So…. Do we elope, or do we carry on like nothing ever happened and have the wedding as planned?



Well, you can't carry on like nothing ever happened. But I think (I hope) that if you and your fiancé calmly proceed with your plans to get married in July, your family will come around.

Are you the youngest? It sounds like your mom is having some issues with letting you go.

(Photo by Christina Richards)


  1. Wow is right. Your mom is just good lookin out, but you know him best. I'd stay on track & have him talk to your mom asap to slow down the deadly gossip train (that I know too well) before your whole family hates him. They'll get over it.

    I feel bad for your guy, I would give him some extra attention. #1 it sucked for him to be put in the situation of physical confrontation IN FRONT of your family. #2 having to (again) defend himself... and your wedding

  2. has he had the opportunity to discuss the incident with your mom directly/personally? or is this just all party gossip from a bunch of folks who were drinking/hanging out?

    that conversation may be needed.....before you proceed and make any decisions.

  3. Super awkward situation. And I understand where your family is coming from, because I think I would react exactly the same way if I were in their shoes. I mean, it's scary. And whether or not the other guy was to blame, he isn't marrying into the family, so they don't really have to worry about him.

    Since it sounds like you are really close to your family and you want them on board for the wedding, simply dismissing their concerns probably isn't the best option for you. (which is actually what I would recommend if you weren't super close or if they were just plain crazy)

    So, family meeting time, I think. It is probably going to suck. A lot. But if they have a chance to air their concerns and he can calmly and rationally respond to them and reassure them and explain his position, hopefully they'll see what you see.

  4. i don't know, esb. sometimes family have a way of objectively seeing the guys we love.

    there's the obvious HUGE possibility that mom is just siding with family. but the other possibility is that you're ignoring a problem- is this incident the only thing she's basing her claims on?

  5. I agree with anon. Sounds like you guys all need to talk this out. It's uncomfortable, but at the same time, so is ignoring the elephant in the room and feeling awkward around each other.

  6. Liz, I had the same thought.

    I think he needs to apologize to your family and take responsiblity for his part in the fight. If he does he`s showing a lot of maturity and character. If he doesn`t... well, I would be very wary of marrying a man who isn`t accountable for his (violent) actions. And by "wary" I mean there's no fucking way I'd let that slide.

  7. yep. both options (eloping & pretending like everything is fine) is ignoring the issue. this isn't just about the wedding day. it is about your lives together as family. you really need to get everyone together and talk this shit out, one way or another. otherwise, whats the point of eloping when you still have the rest of your lives to deal with them thinking he is an a hole?

  8. I think it's important to realize that your mom (and family) are coming from a place of love and concern. It's pretty drastic of them to ask you to call of the wedding, but put yourself in their shoes: wouldn't such a situation cause concern?

    I think it's going to be really important for your mom and fianace to have a heart to heart. This isn't the sort of thing that goes away if you don't address it. If you carry on like this didn't happen/elope then there is likely to remain an underlying tension in your family, and that would totally SUCK. Even though that might feel like a justified response to the situation, would that be worth it in the long run?

    I say, as awkward and unpleasant as it may be, sit down with the fiance and your mom, and have a heart to heart. You and your fiance love each other, you and your mom love each other. That is enough to make this smooth over, if you are open and honest with each other, and everyone makes a pact not to get defensive.

  9. Wow. This is rough. I agree about sitting everyone down and talking it out. Even if you elope, it will be hanging over your head, and your fiance will be stuck in this weird relationship with your family. Give everyone the chance to be good people before resorting to that.

  10. Thanks so much for all the advice, its nice to hear from a non-biased point of view. We have made a plan for the three of us to sit down tomorrow night and discuss everythitng.

    I understand their concern for him having a temper, but the problem is my family has taken it too far, telling me that they are worried for my safety. Making horrible accusations toward him and blowing everything way out of proportion.

    Thanks again for the helpful comments!

    Oh, and no I am not the youngest, I am the middle child. But I am the last one to get married (at 25). We dont waste any time apparently!

  11. That really sucks :( I hope sitting down together will help him calmly explain to your mom that he's not scary. At this point, he's probably the only one who can convince her.

  12. A few of my close girlfriends from high school recently came out and told me they dislike my boyfriend of 2 years and that they think he has an anger problem, and "dont know what I see in him". He is not even close to having an anger problem. So I completely understand what your going through. Its hard trying to convince people to side with your decision to be with the person you love.

  13. Super awkward, I agree. But talking about it is definitely the way to go.

  14. Wowzerz. This is not an easy one. If I were you I would do as ESB says and continue to calmly plan your wedding. Remember, you're choosing to start a life with your partner, which means you'll need to be strong and firm with your own needs. (Trust me, our families are constantly up in our shit all the time and we have to keep remembering that if we want to start our own family, we need to back up each other and our decisions as a couple.) I think a conversation between you, your fiance and your family is important to have. Even if they are against your wedding, they need to understand that you are 1.) an adult who is able to make her own choices and 2.) that it's not just you anymore it's you and your partner. I would start the conversation by letting them know how you and your partner feel, rather than how wrong they may be. Hopefully this offers some help.

    I think it's also important to have a conversation with your fiance to see how and why the aggressive behavior occurred. Maybe understanding what triggered the anger may help you and your family understand them.

  15. You know, a big group talk may well be needed (and I'm glad you're doing it) but I'd talk to your mom privately before. Because Liz is right. In my life my family and friends have always seen the guys I dated much more objectively than I did. And when you look a few generations back in my family, there were couples that eloped to escape family disapproval... and... turns out the family was seeing some things the couple wasn't. They had lots of happy years together but also some very serious problems. So! That may not be the case here, and your mom may just be acting crazy... but hear her out... she's your mamma. Hear her out and really really listen, and then ask yourself some hard questions. Hopefully you'll do that, and your mom will come around, and you'll pass the little test you give yourself with flying colors... but I'd really suggest you do it.

    In my book anyone I was with, getting violent with anyone for any reason? Not ok. Who started it wouldn't even figure into the picture.

    So. Be careful with yourself, ok?

  16. I completely agree with Meg on this one....and I'll put one more question on the table. Is this the first time he's ever gotten into a physical fight (regardless of who started it?). It seems that if it's the first time, a genuine apology and conversation with your family will help smooth things out...but usually when a family starts throwing around "anger problem" it's because it's not the first time things have happened. Again, regardless of who started it. I think open lines of communication will really help...and like Meg said, "be careful with yourself.".

  17. Yes, it was the first time he has ever been in a fight. And the guy who started the fight pushed him (literally) and called him things I wont mention for about twenty minutes before my fiance even reacted. He actually walked away from him twice, and the guy persisted and followed him.

    The funny thing is, a similar situation happened in one of my previous relationships. My family hated this guy I was dating. One day they sat me down and told me that he was bad news, and that he wasnt right for me. I broke up with him because I knew they were right. He wasnt right for me, and I saw that, so I listened.

    That's not the case this time, however. I know that they think they are looking out for me, but in reality they are pushing me away because they wont listen to what I have to say, or believe a word of it. They are wrong about my fiance, and they wont even budge on their opinions of him.

  18. Ugh, such a tough call. I feel like she should try to find a way to talk to her family again and explain that it was a crazy situation and he's really not like that. I think she'll be sad if her family isn't there when she gets married, since they're so close.

  19. Rachel - geeez, this is a tough one. You are doing the right thing having a conversation about it, this isn't going away and I think ignoring it in any way will just make it worse. Family and friends opinions are important, and they do love you and want the best for you. But in the end, you know him best and you are in this relationship with him. If you know that this was an isolated incident and he is not a violent person, then that's all I need to hear, and that's what your family will have to come to accept. From what you described in your last comment he tried to avoid the fight before it got physical. Obviously we weren't there but I think every one of us has a point at which we will strike back, and it sounds like this guy got your fiance to that point.
    With that in mind do ask your mom privately what exactly makes her worry, there might be more to it than just this one incident and if that is the case you need to find out what it is, and really soul search. Best of luck to you!

  20. i agree with the sit-down idea. don't just act like nothing're super close with your family. it's not that easy to say screw you. if your fiance is truly upset about this, the first thing he should think about doing is setting things straight with your mom. they should have a talk, and then you should all have a talk so you get things out on the table before this big event in your life.
    also, i wouldn't dismiss what liz said. when he fought with your brother-in-law's friend, even if he didn't start it, did it really warrant a physical confrontation and just how angry did he get? even if it wasn't my boyfriend's fault, it would probably still make me mad that he didn't just let shit go, especially if my family was there.

  21. some heavy stuff. I just wanted to wish you luck and say that I hope it all works out in the end.

  22. You know I was going to write a comment about how I agree with Meg (and I do) but I stopped for a second to think about what my Mother In Law told my husband before we got married.

    She told him to not marry me cause I'm 'too liberal', 'too sarcastic' and trying to 'pulling him down' - the latter being the most serious.
    And I wasn't and am not (I also disagree with the term 'too liberal', it doesn't make any sense to me). But that all said. You can't always go on listening to your parents forever. At some point you have to say "No, this is the person I love and I will marry them forever" and that's that. You shouldn't have to explain any more than that. That's what my husband did.

    Marriage is as much about severing some ties as it is about binding others.

  23. From one Rachel to Another:

    I have a situation too, with my mom and brother not liking my fiance. Well, actually, my mom is the only one that is vocal about it. My brother hasn't said anything and seems to get along with my fiance fine, but my mom claims he doesn't like him either.

    In either case, she she's never taken the time to get to know him and she based her dislike on the fact that his birthday is close to my father's, a man who she also very much dislikes.

    My wedding is going to be a huge struggle. She isn't happy for me, she's miserable about coming and seeing my dad/his family. I don't think her and my fiance would have a heart to heart if I sat them down for one though. He's hurt because she never gave him a chance and he knows how cruel she can be to me as of late and she always thinks she's right and feels like her "intuition" about people is more accurate than years of living with someone. I've been in some bad, awful, rotten relationships and I think I can at least tell the difference!

  24. @Brigitta Ryan (Duo) - BRAVO! Well said.

    Side note: Communication is always the answer.

  25. Don't know if it's too late but I gotta weigh in on this.

    Though I like the idea of sitting down with everyone all together and hashing it out, I wouldn't do that just yet. Even though this is between your fiancé and you family, YOU are the glue.

    Talk to your fiancé. Even though it sounds like this guy was a major douche, there is a time and place for these things and it is not in front of family. Ask him to walk away next time, then everyone can hate the other guy.

    Then talk to your mom. Hear her side of things and appreciate her concern. Let her know you are addressing the issue within your relationship. You are becoming a united front with your fiancé and it's important that she understands that.

    Have your fiancé personally apologize to your mother in whatever way he is comfortable.

    THEN have a sit down with everyone and try to make it as loving and light as possible.

    Good luck! Your confidence in your decision is your most valuable asset.

  26. That's said but i hope that the talk went well.

  27. Lily is a smart one. co-signing :)

  28. Thanks so much for all the advice!! You guys are awesome.

    The talk with my mom actually went better than we anticipated. The two of them actually did most of the talking while I listened, and my mom actually apologized for acting on impulse/emotion, and admitted that she overreacted, and said we should have just sat down and talked from the very beginning. It ended with hugs and more wedding planning, so we both feel much better about it.

    Now we just have to talk to the rest of the family!

    Thanks for all the support, everyone. My fiance felt much better about continuing on with the wedding as planned after reading all the advice from you guys, as do I. :)