Managing Expectations:

  The one thing that is certain is that 'traditions' can be 

  started with just one event. The other is that expectations 

  are progressive. The old saying of 'give an inch...take a

  mile'.. has some truth to it! It should be a reminder to you 

  and your intended/spouse/significant  other to manage

  expectations before they manage you.

  • December dilemma! Chanukah? Christmas? Both? 
          Neither? Your parents? The in-laws? And if you go to
          one, will the other side be hurt?

  • What about getting a tree? Lights?  Menorah? Easter? Passover? Is an Easter egg hunt OK, but going to church is not? Do you do Passover Seder together?

  • We managed everyone's feelings through the  wedding, but what happens with a new baby?

  • Will the same expectations around Brit Milah/Brit Bat or Christening/Baptism  surface?

Getting Started with the Folks:

Families come in all configurations: families or origin or adoption, families of marriage, and families of choice are some that come to mind. When we begin thinking of extended family that can mean all of the above as well as our congregational families and our network of friends who have become family if we live a great distance from our traditional families. Start adding all of those people up and you may have a huge extended family. The question becomes—with whom do you want to share this news of your upcoming marriage and how do you want to approach them?

If your family is structured along specific patriarchal or matriarchal lines, you may want to carefully craft who you will see first and how you will share your news. If your parents are on board and welcoming of your future spouse, introducing her/him to the rest of the family will be much easier. However, if your parents are resistant to the idea, you may want to strategize and come up with a plan to introduce your intended to the rest of your family.

Sometimes people discover that a grandparent or aunt or uncle is more amenable to an interfaith marriage than a parent and is able to intervene; sometimes a member of the clergy or a sibling is able to serve in this capacity. Every situation is different and you need to give it some thought and be sensitive instead of just blurting out—this is John and he's a pagan, or this is Sarah and she's atheist, so don't expect us to get married in the church or synagogue or by the rabbi, priest or minister. If you do that, you just set yourselves up for a battle and gave your family a reason not to love your future spouse.


Sharing With The Extended Family

Mazel Tov! Congratulations! We are so thrilled for you! This is great! Welcome to the family! 

These are the words everyone hopes to hear when
they introduce their intended to the rest of the family.
Frequently these scenes play out at holiday
gatherings— Thanksgiving seems to be a popular
time to bring someone special home for the first time.
There is the usual round of trying to figure out who
goes with whom, forgetting names a number of times,
having tricks played on you, and, in my case, being
voted on by my husband’s siblings (for the record they
all voted yes).
Ultimately you get to decide with whom, how and
when you wish to share news of your upcoming
marriage. However, be aware that if you do this without any advanced planning you may open yourselves to a lot of heartache and headaches. There are two phases to this process: when you make your initial announcement and later on when you think it is too late for anyone to object—after all you are married and have the expectation that your marriage is old news. You may be surprised when you encounter more resistance. Some of it may come around life cycle events and occur because people simply don’t understand the significance of events. You are going to have to teach them what you need and why.