DEAR AMY: Ever since my fiance proposed to me, my mother has let it be known that if she had it her way, I wouldn't be marrying him. We both work in the nonprofit field. We will not be wealthy, but I feel that we will be able to have a financially stable life. My mother, however, worries about me marrying him. My parents have been adamant about what they want for our wedding, and have never prioritized what my fiance wants, or respected our wishes. Unfortunately, I haven't stood up for my fiance. My fiance has stopped talking to my parents. He tells me that I should threaten to cut off relations with them unless they apologize and become much kinder to him. My mother is very controlling, unsympathetic and unkind. How can I gain courage to stand up for myself when I am basically afraid of her? Is my fiance being too hard on me by telling me that I should stop talking to my parents, when I am an only child? I don't know how to fix this situation.


DEAR SCARED: Do not switch your controlling parents for a controlling husband. Given how frightened you are of your mother, you are vulnerable. Do not turn yourself over to someone else's firm grip.

You should consider postponing the wedding to give yourself time and to sort out these competing relationships. You might choose an inexpensive elopement that you can plan and finance yourselves.

If your fiance must have an apology in order to start over, HE (not you) should communicate this. Given the dynamic in your family, you two should approach this as a team. Write down what you want to express and sit down together with your folks in an effort to clear the air.

Threats don't work unless there are clear consequences attached. The basic message to your mother should be, "We would like to have a better relationship with you, but we are adults and need to make our own decisions." It is unlikely that your mother will cut you off -- because you are her only child and she needs someone to control -- but unless you can find a way to cope, less contact with her might be best for you.

DEAR AMY: I was invited to a bridal shower. The invitation stated that the couple (who have been living together) have everything they need, so this was a "personal" shower for the bride. We were told names of stores where the bride likes to shop to get gift cards for her -- these are clothing stores! I've heard of some couples asking for donations for their honeymoon (which I think is even worse), but I found this pretty presumptuous. Should guests really be asked to buy gift cards so the bride can have a new wardrobe? Am I being unreasonable for questioning why they are even having this shower?


DEAR PERPLEXED: This seems to be an offshoot of the "trousseau" or "lingerie" shower, where a bride would be given gifts to build her honeymoon wardrobe.

But yes, giving J.Crew gift cards to a bride so she can buy cute shoes for work does not seem in the spirit of the shower concept. (I'd rather pitch in for a couple's honeymoon than toss a cash card to the bride.) If you don't need to be showered in gifts, either don't hold a shower or direct gifts to a worthy cause.

DEAR AMY: I believe that "Discouraged Wife" is in danger. Her husband's jealous behavior will only escalate. The signs are all there. She should prepare to leave, get a lawyer, do something about finances and get help. Get the h--l out!


DEAR DM: I agree that this relationship presented red flags -- I hope she pays attention.

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