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Advice from our counselor.... not sure what to make of it.

Started by isitme?, January 21, 2010, 02:17:40 pm

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Our counselor has suggested that BF and I go ahead and get engaged but not tell anyone about it for now (well, I"m telling you all  ;)).  I don't know if I understand her reason.  We are going to start talking about things this week but I feel weird that we're supposed to be keeping it a "secret" for now.  Is it because she thinks we need to decide on our details before dealing with FMIL and avoid interference/drama?  I"m not sure how I feel about this. 

Is it better for us to decide things like dates and places etc. before informing our families?  For all intents and purposes, we have been told that we ARE engaged already... but  I just don't feel like I would really be "engaged" if my family wasn't a part of it, as distant as they may be - it's such a huge part of life - I would want them to know.  But if I talk to them about it, they WILL want details like when and where etc. etc.  We also have to think about things like vacation time etc. and plan ahead with work/impending move etc. etc..   So in that sense maybe our counselor means that we need to decide on the practical details and then inform our families?  I think I would be okay with that and my family would be too,  but I'm not sure about FMIL's reaction or the rest of BF's family.  His brother and SIL just had a baby last week and I woulnd't want them to think we were trying to steal their thunder or anything either.  Should I just let BF worry about how to inform/deal with his family?  When your sons got engaged, did THEY tell you right away or did they wait or did you expect to hear it from your FDIL?

BF and I are really committed and really want to move ahead soon - the counseling has helped with this as has all the great advice I've received from the ladies here....  So I"m ready to start having these discussions about getting married  but not sure how I feel about it being "secret" - won't that just lead to more trouble down the road with FMIL?   Should I just go along with it?  I don't think we could be "engaged" for very long without me telling my sister/godmother/extended family/best friends etc. etc.  They would be really hurt that I didn't tell them.  Should I just work on deciding details with BF and not really consider myself engaged until I can tell my family?  I'm just not sure how to interpret our counselor's advice on this one... I think she is just trying to get us moving because both of us feel like the other is dragging their feet.  I think she's right on this one.

Getting married is scary and confusing but I love my BF and I knowwe will be very happy together.  But it's hard to know what the "right" thing to do is.  It wouldn't seem like such a big deal because I know my family will be supportive and understanding.  But I have no idea what to expect from BF's family  - especially FMIL...

any thoughts?


Off the top of my head, Isitme, the first thought I had was that you are going to the counselor and following her advice.  There must be some reason why she is suggesting this....so maybe it's good to just do what she says??


I think you need to ask her why?  I feel like the devil's advocate here...but it seems deceitful not to share your news. Aren't you giving away your power and/or won't that possibly declare war when that's the last thing you want to do? You *are* engaged. Why pretend you aren't?

Some counselors aren't a good fit...like some ministers and some doctors.

When my husband and I got engaged, his very materialistic, adult children saw our age difference (16 years) as a red flag. "Warning! Warning! Gold digger afoot!" (Before they ever met me.) So, we immediately got a license and married three days later before anyone could catch up with us. LOL! That could also be seen as giving away our power, I know, but it sure worked for us. When the storm hit, we presented a united front and it was simply a done deal.

20 years later I'm still not their choice. (I'm not rich, Italian or Catholic) but they tolerate me because I obviously didn't take the money and run. (What money?) And they don't have to deal with his "end of life issues" on a first-hand basis. In that area, they have let me know how much I am appreciated, which is nice...since I don't see it that way at all.

I know a first marriage and a late-in-life pairing are not the same thing...just thought I'd share that on general principles.)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I haven't read anyone else's reply, so that I am not influenced by anyone else....
and I'm also going to be brutally honest and it may not be what you want to hear.

Personally, I don't think you've been counseling long enough to make a life time committment as such...

I'm glad your going to counseling, but I have not agreed with some of her advice...however, I am not a counselor...

When your dating someone things are much easier then when you get married.
You've already had some very serious problems, which will be brought into the marriage and it is already contaminated....

Why should you have to worry about how others are going to take the engagement...getting engaged is a paramount time in anyone's life...and to me, this counselor is telling you to be dishonest?  I don't get that...and your right to want to shout it to the world and share this joy with everyone.  Indeed, there are those who will not be happy....especially MIL...

I have said to you before, that I'm very worried about your spending the rest of your life married to someone whose Mother doesn't like the idea...and that bothers me...b/c what you read here in this forum...about the pain we have experienced, the loss the loss of confidence, the doubts, darlin, if you go ahead with this so soon, you mightlive a nightmare your not prepared to deal with.

I would like to see you go to another counselor, one who is going to be able to observe your boyfriend, and evaluate his ability to be the husband you deserve...
I don't believe you are aware of the problelms this woman can cause you both, not to mention the heartache...and things shouldn't be happening this fast...you should both be taking your time...and he should be doing a lot of self evaluation....I don't know, and I'm so sorry to be so blunt, but, I believe in my heart, it's just to soon...what is the hurry? 

I'm not very tactful, and must say what I feel, and apologize for sounding cold or stern, I don't mean to, but I do fear for you...and your heart.  Life is hard, relationships are even harder...they shouldn't be, but they are, and they are a constant work in progress...will he be able to go the distance, if she really starts getting bad, and believe me, if she is like this now, you hve not seen anything yet...
and all the more reason, not to hide the engagement...

Just know that I care....and whatever you decide to do, your happiness is most important....how do you feel about it?


I would be devastated if one of my kids got engaged and didn't share the news with us. I've always felt that honesty is the best policy.


Did I blink and the customs change? Where is YOUR joy in the announcement being given?

Yes, you do know your future in-laws are not going to be thrilled with your official news, but you haven't had your head in the sand over their feelings.  Neither should you hide your happiness, like you are doing something naughty or guilty.  You aren't, so you shouldn't be made to feel that way.

I think the counselor is off the point, if you keep it "secret" until you have your plans ironed out and present the whole package as a done deal...it would really cause a firestorm, like you want to stir the pot....and all of us KNOW you don't want to do that.  Go back and have the counselor give you her/his reasons for this suggestion. 


Isitme - I can see both sides of this.

My first thought was that you shouldn't wait to tell anyone, that you should "begin as you mean to go on".   You're not doing anything wrong, or anything to be ashamed of, I'm sure you want to shout it from the rooftops.

But on the other hand, I can see where your counselor is coming from, that you need to make decisions as a couple.  That as soon as you tell people, they will have opinions and if your ideas aren't "set", and those people have considerable influence (like Family), then you're getting yourself set up for a tug-of-war, and it won't be pretty.

I think that the important part of what your counselor said is that you should get your ducks in a row before you tell anyone.  So ... get your ducks in a row!  And practice this line "That sounds like a good idea, I'll talk to FDH about it and we'll let you know OUR decision."

In the same spirit of "begin as you mean to go on", I can see that if you start by telling all of your family and friends ALL of your business, it's harder to draw the line later on.   For example, you tell people "we put an offer on a house!" not "we're thinking of moving!" and "we're pregnant!" not "we're trying!", because otherwise you're opening it up for discussion, and it can put a lot of pressure on you (and DH, and your marriage).  I really believe that some things and some decisions have to stay WITHIN the marriage.  However, I think that the engagement announcement is not one of those, I think that if you have no doubts, then you SHOULD be shouting it from the rooftops.

Just my little opinion.


PS - I'm troubled that you wrote that this is scary and confusing to you.  When I got married, it just felt RIGHT.  And all the choices we made felt right for US.  Are you SURE you're ready to get married to this guy, and his family, FOREVER?


If you have questions for your counselor, do ask her.  You're her client, you've hired her for her insight, so you should ask her to clarify it, if you don't understand what you're buying.

Part of me imagines your F-DH might like to shop for a ring, plan a romantic outing and get down on one knee, proclaim his eternal love for you, and ask for your hand in wedded bliss.  Rather than following doctor's orders, or just considering yourself "engaged" because it's been determined in an office.

Perhaps the counselor means more like "private" rather than "secret."  For the two of you to be a unit, enjoy the plan of your bond togther, then reach out and invite others to share in your joy. 

Most people I know tend to announce their engagement, and no one expects them to have the date/time/place until later. Or much detail beyond "we're hoping for June 2011".  The hall you want may not be available on a Saturday the month you want, there's so many variables that can take weeks or months to work through.  Family can be helpful in planning.  Your sister might know or think of a great location that's right up your alley.

Maybe the counselor's concerned that telling F-MIL without a plan in place, will be inviting her to do the "well you can't until ...daughter gives birth/other son graduates/aunt millie recovers from hip surgery" delay dance.   Maybe she's thinking F-MIL will become a real obstacle.  (Which could be a sign that F-DH is not ready to go against his mother's wishes when it comes to that.  Or that you may not be ready to "push back" against MIL's resistance.)  So having a plan in place would help solidify you two as a couple, on the front end?  Like "here we are, this is the plan, and there will be no negotiations on our marriage."

Modified post to include:
Counselors often talk about "tools."  Maybe she thinks having your ducks in a row (as scoop put it) will be a useful "tool" for you both, when announcing an engagement that appears likely not to be well-received by F-MIL.   Yet, by keeping the initial joy private, both sides of your new families will be treated equally.


Thanks Ladies,
I love all of you.  I think many of you have said a lot of things that rang true with me.  Crème - I can always count on you for the tough love and hard questions.  You've asked me to take a really hard and honest look at my relationship and feelings about my boyfriend and marrying him and being a part of his family - FMIL and all.  I'm really glad to have that because when I face those types of questions, I realize that I really am ready for this and my boyfriend is too.  I think the counselor has helped both of us work on our issues and helped us realize that yes, dealing with his mother is going to be a challenge for us, but it's not insurmountable and it's something we can work on together as a team.  It's been short term counseling for sure, but all three of us (BF, me, counselor) seemed to be in agreement that we don't have SO many problems that we need extensive therapy.  That's actually quite reassuring to me.   In fact, she seems to think we have a really strong, healthy relationship and I think that's true.  It DOES feel right.  It's felt right since the moment we met.  But maybe that hasn't always come out in my posts here because I've been focusing on the issues with FMIL here.  The truth is, you've all helped me realize what an unhealthy person she is and if/when it isn't me she was behaving badly with, it would be someone else - including her own son.  And I've begun to recognize how much my boyfriend has done to deal with his own issues - and I have WAY more faith in his ability to do that now.  I  also feel a lot better about dealing with FMIL in the future then I did when I first joined this site - and if it's alright, I"ll probably keep on asking you ladies for advice because it's been really good!

I'm definitely going to ask the counselor next time what she meant by us keeping things "secret".  It's possible I misinterpreted what she was saying.  But I think Scoop's suggestion about getting our ducks in a row might be part of it.  My boyfriend's opinion is that she thinks it will make ME feel "safer" or more secure in our relationship.  Trust me, I am heeding everyone's advice about whether or not I really love BF and want to marry him and all the family baggage that comes along with it.  The answer is yes.  I am really happy and excited about the idea of being married to him but I'm just not someone who really expresses a lot of romantic/emotional feelings all the time.  I've never been one of those girls that dreamed of my wedding and being a bride and the center of attention etc. etc..  That's just not me.  Actually, it's also not really the way my family does things either - we're not really into the social display. 

BF and I had a long talk about the logistics of getting engaged/married yesterday which I think was very good for the both of us - we've been able to decide the when and where (June/India).  One reason for the "hurry" is that he is moving for his fellowship in Chicago in July and we would like to be able to go together and start a new life there together as a married couple.  Career-wise, this is actually the best thing for me too so I wouldn't be sacrificing - I would actually be gaining A LOT.  June is a good option because he has the whole month off and would be able to go and spend some time meeting my family.  It doesn't really feel like we're rushing because we've been together for more than a year and half and actually have been talking about getting married for almost a year.  And I think we've finally reached a point where we both have a realistic view of the "problems" his mother may create and where some of these behaviors come from and how we're going to deal with it as a united front.  But like I said, I might also check in with the MILs (and DILs) here too!

So now the plan is for him to run the "when/where" by his parents in the next week or so (I think this is important because it would involve them travelling) and THEN the two of us can move ahead openly about getting engaged - and tell both sides of our family, get a ring etc. etc..  I like this strategy because it doesn't make it a secret then - I'm with all of you on the idea that hiding something like an engagement is not good. 

Let's see how things go - but as always, I appreciate everyone's input.  I think what I meant when I said this was scary and confusing is that I realize that getting married is a big deal and even though it's my decision, it's typically the kind of thing I would look to my parents/family for guidance, support and advice.  But my parents passed away when I was younger and the rest of my family hasn't been around that much since they live in another country.  My godmother has spent time with him and now my sister has too.  So I'm getting there with the family involvement.  But this is something I'm happy about and it does feel right.  And I think talking to the MILs here helped me realized a lot of things that my own mother might have helped me out with if she had been around.  I've been able to be honest with everyone here about my feelings in a way that I can't with my friends and other family - but I think I would have been able to be this open with my mom.  And she probably would have told me a lot of the things you have all told me.  So thanks. 


January 22, 2010, 07:21:19 am #9 Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 07:25:32 am by cremebrulee
well then, I'm so relieved to hear, you do have your ducks in a row, and yes, Sassy's advice & post was clearly benefical, and perhaps right on...(I love her posts!) so, yes, always, always ask your counselor what she means...and Good Luck....you know, at least I hope you know, you have my best wishes...for a long and wonderfully happy life.

and thank you so much...(hugs) for understanding my bluntness....

Your surrogate MIL...LOL

Love ya...


creme, thanks FOR your bluntness!   ;)

when are we going to have those margaritas??


Best wishes, Isitme. Exciting times ahead, for sure. You and F-DH are amazing to have overcome what seemed to be horrendous hurdles not too long ago. Good for you!
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


I think I owe a lot to all of you for helping me with this.  Thanks and I'll keep you all posted!


We owe a lot to you, Isitme....a view from the other side is really good to have.  By the way, your FMIL has no earthly reason not to like you.  None.

I don't get it.....what is the deal with her?  You're not a smart aleck (sp); you are kind hearted, love her son...I don't get it.  What is wrong with her?


thanks chickie,
my FMIL has the same problems as your DILs I think - insecurity insecurity insecurity.  And add emotional instability to the mix.  that's what's wrong.  We can never fix these people but we can "fix" the way we deal with them.

BF went on a long rant about his parents yesterday and why they coudln't just be happy and enjoy their life.  Their only "hobby" is watching TV.  I didn't know what to tell him except that we have to accpet them as they are and that while he might have obligations to them, he shoulnd't feel guilty or responsible for their happiness.  This is something he's going to have to work on and I'm going to do my best in the future - maybe this is where I will need advice from all of you  - when it comes up....