As an old saying goes, "When you marry a man, you marry his mother, as well."
But what if a family also holds a tradition for future husbands to take their future mother-in-laws on a date, including sharing a hotel room with them?
One fiancé found himself pressured to observe this unexpected tradition by his fiancée and her family. Conflicted at what he should do, he refused to observe the requirement to take his future mother-in-law out on a "date."
Since stirring up drama within the extended family, the fiancé, OP (Original Poster) "throwratonypan" wrote into the "Am I the A**hole?" (AITA) subReddit, wondering if he was in the wrong for refusing a family tradition.
The OP asked the thread:
"AITA (Am I the A**hole) for refusing to follow my girlfriend's weird family tradition?"
The OP explained that not long after starting to date, he and his girlfriend began to talk about family traditions.
"My girlfriend and I have been dating for four years and engaged for one."
"Not too long after we had been dating she told me about her family tradition for marriages."
His girlfriend shared one in particular that was hard to believe.
"She said that the boy must take the mother of the bride out on a date night, buy her a dress and something to sleep in, pay for everything and buy them a hotel to stay in. She said that it's nothing to be worried or freaked out about and that getting the hotel doesn't mean you have to sleep together (although a long time ago it did)."
"I laughed a little bit and asked if she was serious. She said that she was. I had a hard time believing it but I didn't care to discuss it anymore."
Though they didn't discuss it anymore that night, the subject came up again shortly before their wedding.
"We never really talked about it, until this past week. I had honestly pretty much forgot about it. My girlfriend and I have our wedding in less than a month."
"We were taking about wedding stuff and she asked me if I had picked out what her mom and I were going to do for our date night. I laughed it off and waited for her to move on. She didn't, she looked confused as to why I was laughing. She insisted again that this was 100% serious and that she expected me to do it."
The couple couldn't see eye-to-eye throughout their discussion of the "date night" tradition.
"I told her that I didn't feel comfortable with doing that. I didn't want to spend a night alone in a hotel with someone who wasn't my girlfriend or wife."
"I asked her why we would have to get a hotel. She explained that a long time ago the mother of the bride would actually sleep with the boy and that it was viewed as a way to kick off the marriage. I asked if she expected me to do that. She laughed and said of course not, but that she couldn't be upset with me if it did happen."
"She then said that her mother doesn't plan to actually do anything sexual. Still kinda freaked out by the whole concept, I asked if I could just buy the mom dinner."
"My girlfriend got more upset and asked me why I was refusing to follow a fun tradition. I simply said that I just don't feel comfortable with it. She said that I'm acting like a stubborn kid and that I should just have fun. I insisted that I wouldn't do the hotel part."
It reached the point where the OP's girlfriend left angry and informed the family.
"She left and went on to tell her family. They have all reached out to me and asked me what is wrong with me and why I'm being such a jerk about it."
"The mom called me and she actually was nice about it. She said that she thinks I'm a great guy and that while she would love to have a night together, she understands that I have a right to say no. She even said that she spoke to my girlfriend about it and told her that I have that right."
"Nonetheless my girlfriend is still upset with me."
The OP wonders if this is simply a cultural difference, or if he's wrong for his rejection of it.
"I will mention as well that my girlfriend and her family are from a different culture so that is probably why I'm not accustomed to this."
"Am I the a**hole for being stubborn about continuing this tradition?"
Redditors commented on the tradition and the OP's reaction, using the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You're the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some pointed out that a marriage involves compromise, and the OP's discomfort should be considered.
"NTA. If you're uncomfortable with taking a person on a date, you don't have to do it. And that right here should be the end of this story." - WoodlandofWeir
"NTA. If you're not comfortable doing something, it ends there. Getting married is a two way street and it's really rough that your fiancée isn't willing to acknowledge that you're uncomfortable."
"Your FMIL sounds pretty reasonable. I'd say the best option is to just meet halfway. I think taking your FMIL out for a dinner would be a good middle road and then each of you would go home. I'd view it as getting the maternal blessing (similar how a father would sit down and talk to the fiancé)."
"I hope your wedding goes well. Trust your gut and don't do anything you're not comfortable with." - chrysanthemum-noise
"This, OP. The compromise can change the tradition to something more acceptable to the current generations. That's how this weird tradition eventually lost the requirement to sleep with the MIL (WTF?!). One-on-one dinner would be a struggle for many husbands, but awkwardly tolerable as a tradition." - Sparkle__M0tion
Others had more questions about how far this tradition will reach into the OP's marriage.
"And what happens if/when they have a daughter who gets married to a man? 'Oh, I'm not going to have sex with him. But if I do, you can't get upset.'" - QualifiedApathetic
"Yeah, that whole thing is very off-putting. I think OP and his fiance need to discuss this further and come to an understanding before the wedding. I think a compromise of taking the MIL out for dinner is sweet, but not adding on the hotel part. I hope his fiance comes to her senses since the MIL is being MUCH more reasonable and understanding about compromising on the tradition then she is." - muh-guy-Sedai
"I'm also usually pretty wary of how quick this sub is to say re-evaluate your whole relationship, but you may need to re-evaluate where this relationship is going before you get married. And not to pry too much, but do you expect to start a family with her?"
"This may be a time to start discussing what other traditions and more importantly, what kind of environment and values and culture your fiancee intends to raise that family with, before getting married. This is obviously a big cultural mismatch and I would say a prompting to consider that it will likely not be the last." - PhiloPhocion
A few questioned the tradition's validity as a "cultural tradition" at all.
"I have never heard of anything like that."
"Bride price you hear of. Arranged marriages you hear of. There's even silly traditions like paying the bride to dance with her during her wedding. But nothing like this."
"Roma parents view DILs (daughters-in-law) and SILs (sons-in-law) as their children. Couple's are referred to as children by both sets of parents. There is a very strong focus on family and family relationships in Roma culture - not this stuff."
"Its not a Roma culture thing. It's weird. And the fact they can't accept that you have your own upbringing and morals different to theirs is a red flag. If you have children what other traditions will they force them into?" - hiregar
"Thank you for weighing in with your experiences of your culture! I know a couple of people with strong ties to the Roma culture and I was wondering if I'd just never heard of this because they didn't want to share, but it sounds like this family just has some dodgy traditions." - BigBunnyButt
"I was wondering why I couldn't find a d**n thing on it. Sounds like a family kink and they have probably been passing it down for generations, h**l the younger people may not even realize since they've probably been told it's normal. That's probably why she says only 10-15% still practice it, because that's what she thinks and why she's never heard of anyone else doing it." - Kriss1986
"My theory is that somewhere down the line a conniving MIL cooked up this 'tradition' to sleep with her daughter's fiancé and never owned up to lying." - hypnodrew
This is unquestionably a strange tradition to be faced with, and more than a few Redditors stressed the importance of discussing this and other potential traditions before moving forward with the marriage.
If this much is expected prior to the wedding, who knows what might be asked after the wedding night.