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She doesn’t tell me about her family conflicts

‘The first time I noticed the red flag was when she went shopping for her wedding dress’

Love Letters

Love Letters

Q. I met my fiancée last July. She lives with her mom, dad, and younger sister. She’s 43 and I’m 50. By the end of August we became, as we say in Spanish, “novios” — stable and seriously dating.

About a week before Christmas, we became engaged and set the date for July 25 of this year. For the last month or so, we have disagreed about trust. I say she seems to not trust me, but she disagrees. The first time I noticed the red flag was when she went shopping for her wedding dress. For whatever reason, her mom and sister couldn’t accompany her, so her aunts ended up going with her. When she informed her mom about it, a dispute happened at her household. She made me aware of it, telling me that she would fill me in later — but she didn’t.


In March, her younger sister revealed that she was getting married sometime in June to her on-and-off partner of seven years. About a week before her sister’s wedding, a dispute took place in their house — my fiancée said she’d explain later but didn’t, not even after the wedding. At one point she told me the cause of a conflict, but it didn’t match what she’d implied at first.

There have been about four such incidents in her household, and all of those times she has told me that she would fill me in later ... and then she doesn’t. At this point I’m starting to believe that somehow my name pops up in those conversations and not in a favorable way, but of course I have no confirmation.

This coming weekend, her aunts, her mom, and her sister are getting together to go out to eat. Also during the weekend she wants me to drive her to pick up her wedding dress. I asked her, since she’ll be tagging along, if she would like to go and pick up her dress along with mom, to which she just answered a lonely and dry “no.”


I don’t know if it’s relevant, but I’m paying for about 85 percent of the wedding.

Am I overreacting about not being told what’s happening? Is it just stress because we’re closer to the wedding date?


A. It might help to ask about her boundaries.

If she doesn’t like to talk about her family’s conflicts, that’s OK, right? Not everything is everyone’s business. She doesn’t have to promise she’ll “tell you later” if she has no interest in following through. Maybe it would be better to know that in most cases, there won’t be a later. It would set better expectations.

If you’re really concerned that these conflicts are being kept from you because they’re about you, ask her — on a good, nice, happy day — whether there’s anything to worry about when it comes to your relationship with her family. If the answer is that it’s OK, that’s great. If you spend time with these people and they’re kind to you, even better. I can’t tell if you see them a lot or whether you’re always kept out of plans. Think about whether they’ve shown they accept you.

It’s very possible their conflicts are about old stuff. They’re also probably dealing with a lot of change because the wedding means she’ll move out of their house and in with you, right? That’s a big transition.


When I say have these conversations on a “nice, happy day,” I mean it. When someone is in the middle of a conflict with family, they might not have the bandwidth for someone else’s concerns. The best time to talk is when it’s all good.

A reminder that weddings are really stressful. Fun, but stressful. I’m not sure the last few months have involved much normalcy, and you’ve only been together for a year. It’s going to take some time to find a comfortable routine. Based on timing, you’re not going to be able to figure this out until after the big day. That’s when real life will kick in.



Stop being paranoid that the conflict is about you — unless you are doing something to make her family dislike you. Your fiancée doesn’t have to tell you everything. In this case, she’ll either tell you when she wants to, or she won’t tell you at all. Forcing the issue won’t do anyone any good.


That is not paranoia — it is giant second thoughts about what you are getting into. Here is a quick breakdown: You are marrying a 43-year old-woman who lives with her parents and adult sister, and that situation generates drama like a crowded middle school lunch table — only it is 24/7. She does not fill you in because it would make no sense to you — every grudge, every disagreement is part of a 40-year tapestry they have been weaving together. As an outsider, understanding a single thread of it will make no sense. Do yourself a favor and just stay out of it. You don’t want to discover mom got cut off from going to shop for the wedding dress because it all started when little sister got a nicer first communion dress and that set off a pattern of betrayal and grudges through Sweet 16 gowns, prom dresses, etc. Ignorance is bliss — enjoy.



So you got engaged after about four months and are getting married a year after meeting her. You’re middle-aged so maybe you’re both sure, but it sounds like you have some things to still work out and I’m not sure why you are in such a rush to get married. Start with asking her to tell you if she would rather keep these family dramas private, and not to tell you she’ll tell you later if she’d rather not tell you at all. And if there are trust issues, or you think there are trust issues, do not get married until you figure all of this out.


“I don’t know if it’s relevant, but I’m paying for about 85 percent of the wedding.” It’s only relevant if you have a grudge about it. Do you?


Send your own relationship and dating questions to loveletters@globe.com or use this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.


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