By Steven Petrow
Can we charge our friends to come to our shower?
Q: My girlfriend and I are planning what we jokingly call a “lesbian couples shower.” Right now, we’re up to about 40 friends and family members on our guest list and we can’t really afford to throw such a big event. A couple of our friends suggested we ask our guests to help us cover the costs. Would that be bad lesbian manners?
A: It would be bad manners, period. You simply have too many guests, in two ways: You can’t afford to host them all, and showers need to be small enough for guests to get to know each other. Instead of thinking of your shower as one big meet-and-greet, consider it a cozy, intimate gathering of your nearest and dearest.
As soon you get over the crazy idea of charging people admission, cut your list way down and sketch out a reasonable budget. Or consider asking those friends who made the original suggestion to host your little party.
My mother opposes gay marriage, but loves my husband
Q: My husband and I have been together for over 20 years and were married last October. My mother has said she’s very happy and loves my husband. This week at dinner my mother said she was thrilled that “gay marriage was not legal everywhere.” Here’s the problem: My mother, and especially my stepfather, are rabid Republicans. I know they will continue to follow the Republicans again on this issue. Do I make a big deal about it? Do I point out that they want to deny my husband and me a fundamental right?
A: Now, you understand that age-old adage cautioning people not to discuss politics (or religion) at dinner; it can give you indigestion (or worse)! Since you say your mother loves your husband, I think there’s a strong disconnect for her between the personal and the political. What I suggest doing is sitting down with your mother (leave your stepdad out of this) the next time you’re together and explain how same-sex couples are discriminated against because we can’t marry. Use concrete examples and make comparisons to their marriage. For instance, if your partner dies, explain that you’re not eligible for his Social Security benefits, but that your mother is when your stepfather passes. Sadly, you have about 1,100 federal benefits that are denied to gays and lesbians to choose from as your examples. A lot of straight folks have never thought of these inequities, but once pointed out, the inherent unfairness is often quite persuasive. If this doesn’t change your mom’s mind, then either agree to disagree or ask her to put a lid on it (but nicely because it’s your mother).
This mother-in-law is a Bridezilla!
Q: My boyfriend and I will be holding a civil partnership ceremony at the end of this year and have decided it will be a simple affair. Neither of us wants a big “traditional” wedding and we are limited to a strict budget in any case. We have gotten the ball rolling and have started organizing everything that needs doing – registry office, hotel, suits, a photographer, etc. My main problem is my future mother-in-law. Up to now I’ve always had a great relationship with her, but now she’s suddenly become a Bridezilla. She insists on being kept up to date on every little detail and wants regular briefings on our progress. She finds fault in everything we do too. (The hotel isn’t nice enough and the menu sounds awful for starters.) She keeps asking us to give her jobs to do. I have tried appeasing her by giving her small tasks, but I’m running out of jobs to invent. I have spoken to my boyfriend about her but he doesn’t see it as a big deal. He thinks we should just ignore her. But, I can’t!
A: If this weren’t so difficult for you, I’d have a big laugh about it, because Bridezilla mothers-in-law are such a classic by now – straight brides (and grooms) have had to tolerate them since the beginning of time. Gay couples tend to encounter less of the kind of interference you’re describing if only because we usually cover the costs of our own nuptials (when our parents aren’t paying, they don’t get as much of vote) and we often partner later in life (when our folks have gotten used to us making our own decisions).
But I now see that a mother-in-law is a mother-in-law is a mother-in-law! Hello equality.
You’ve done everything that you can do; the idea of small tasks is brilliant. It’s now up to your boyfriend to take on his mother and set some limits – even if he doesn’t see her meddling as a big deal. He needs to do it for you – both for the wedding and also to establish the right boundaries with your MIL for the years to come. You can tell him I said so!