Dear Dategirl,Just before Christmas, my boyfriend of two years proposed. We've been living together for a while, so I figured it would happen someday, but when he whipped out the ring and dropped to his knee I was thrilled.That was the last time I was happy. I've been out of work for six months. I'm living on unemployment and dog-walking. My dad has been unemployed for a year. My parents are getting by, but just barely. Yet my boyfriend and his family are insisting on a giant wedding, and they expect my parents to foot the bill!At first I thought he was joking. He knows my family's situation! His family is loaded, yet he and his mother are adamant that the bride's family always pays. She even called my dad, who was utterly humiliated because there's no way he can afford what she has in mind. Nor do I want him to pay! We're adults! I've never dreamed of being a princess bride—City Hall and hot dogs is fine by me! The thing that's really bothering me (and makes me want to hurl the ring at his head) is that he refuses to see any side except his mother's. He's furious and sleeping on the sofa. I don't want a big wedding; I just want him to be my husband. Or I did, anyway. How can I make him see that he's being an idiot?—Baffled Bride
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I'm with you, sister. The idea of stuffing myself into a fluffy white ball gown and feeding prime rib or chicken to 500 drunken guests while my second cousin's friend's band knocks out the Klezmer version of "How Deep Is Your Love" has about as much appeal as a ball gag fashioned out of dirty sweat socks.The fact that the above "celebration" will run you upward of $20,000 (the average cost of a U.S. wedding these days) is just brain-boggling. Wouldn't you rather have a down payment for a house, or even a room packed with dollar bills?But I'm preaching to the choir. You sound sensible. Your boyfriend and his mother, however, are nuts. Maybe back in the '50s, when people got married right out of high school and candy bars cost a nickel, the bride's parents picked up the bill. But most of the married couples I know financed their weddings themselves, maybe with a little help from their parents—both sets.By refusing to face reality and latching onto the apron strings instead of onto you, your man is giving you a glimpse of your future. You two should be a united front, working toward a happy solution. Instead you're saddled with a petulant brat who went running to Mommy at the first disagreement. What happens if you have kids? Or wonder what color to paint the bathroom? Is she going to be butting in there too? My guess is yes.It sounds as if his mom is pretty overbearing—do you think she decided it was time for him to tie the knot and pressured him into it? I know this is a big step, and maybe it's just textbook cold feet, but he sure doesn't sound like a guy who wants to get married.Before you entertain even one more ridiculous discussion about floral arrangements or cheesy reception halls, I want you to make an appointment with a therapist who specializes in premarital counseling. You should also read a piece The New York Times ran a few years ago: "Questions Couples Should Ask (or Wish They Had) Before Marrying."He needs to put it in perspective. A wedding is one day out of your lives. A marriage is supposed to last firstname.lastname@example.org