How will the “in-laws” react to a religious commitment ceremony?

Q:

My partner of six years and I are planning to go to Vermont for a civil union ceremony. We are very close to all the members of his family, and they have always been very welcoming to me.

His parents are very strong Catholics, while Steve long ago rebelled against anything the Catholic Church stood for. I am a very strong Presbyterian. I would like to have the civil union ceremony in Vermont, and then come back here and have my minister and another friend who is also a Presbyterian minister conduct a separate union service, with immediate family and friends present.

I don’t want to harm the relationship we have with his parents, but I am not sure how to approach telling them what we plan to do. My partner thinks we should wait to tell them after we come back from Vermont, and then skip any ceremony here.

As for my family, my parents are both dead. My two sisters are very supportive and both have said they will attend a ceremony here. My brother is not accepting at all, and is out of the picture, although I am certain my sisters will tell him. He does surprise me sometimes, and might just show up.

What do you recommend?

A:

Ultimately, a union ceremony — civil or religious — is for you and your partner. Do what makes the most sense for you two as a couple.

I’m not really sure why there is a hesitation to tell his parents. Considering that his parents have been supportive of you, I think they might be disappointed to find out about the civil union ceremony after the fact. Tell them about your plans in Vermont. If they react negatively, then you don’t have to mention the religious ceremony.

It sounds like the religious ceremony is more important to you than it is to your non-religious partner. I suggest having a conversation about what that ceremony would mean to each of you. If he is uncomfortable with the religious aspect of it, yet both of you would still like to celebrate with friends and family in your home town, perhaps a small, classy post-Vermont dinner party would be more appropriate.

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Related links:

Dignity USA: United States’ largest and most progressive organization of GLBT Catholics, serving as a proactive voice for reform in the Church and society, including same-sex marriages.
More Light Presbyterians: Working for the full participation of LGBT people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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