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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Feuding families add pressure to marriage


I think it is fair to say that over the course of your life you will go to a fair few weddings. Many, if not most, will be fantastic occasions for all the right reasons. Others will be a bit of a bore. If I was a betting man, I would put money on the marriage of Freddie Bourne and Heidi Withers not falling into the latter category. It should be interesting, shouldn’t it?

This, of course, is the couple who have hit the headlines in the last week or so after Freddie’s mother Carolyn sent an email to Freddie’s fiancée criticising many aspects of her character, including branding her desire to get wed in a castle chavvy and suggesting that her manners left a lot to be desired. She even added that she would be a perfect candidate for the Ladette to Lady TV show that takes, well, perhaps non-traditional, party-loving young women and “transforms” them into proper little ladies.

She forwarded these thoughts to her potential daughter in law several times just to make sure they got through. As is the all too familiar story in this day and age, stunned Heidi forwarded the email to a select group of close friends – and a few hours later it was popping up in inboxes across the globe.

We could debate all day what is wrong about a potential mother-in-law doing such a thing with so little tact and diplomacy. There are better and much more subtle ways of delivering these types of message if they are necessary! After all, a mother shouldn’t be obliged to say nothing to her son if there are a few issues she has with his potential life partner. It is a tricky topic, but it can be done. We could also talk about the naivety at best shown by Heidi in forwarding this to a small group of friends and expecting it to remain private. Or maybe that was her plan all along.

However, the bigger issue that this demonstrates to me, yet again, is the pressure some relationships can be put under by other family members. In an ideal world, families would be there to support relationships but this is not the case. Families – or specific family members – can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We always advise around Christmas and Easter – any holiday actually where extended families spend more time together than normal – that couples should bear in mind these are not normal situations and not to take any life-changing decisions about their relationship in the heat of the moment. It looks like, on this occasion, that’s advice that both Heidi and Freddie took.

Andrew Woolley
Family Solicitor


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Oh you are so right about this Andrew.  And it does come down to how we express ourselves in conflicts - using an assertive clean way to show our anger or using underhand passive - aggressive styles of communication.  Learning a new way to communicate in a relationship can make a marriage.  Just spent a lunchtime yesterday with a client couple who, after 11 years of fighting, have attended our courses and are enjoying their new relationship.  It was a joy to hear!  Marriage is definitely not easy, and we need all the help we can get….

By Paula Backen, Beating Anger on Thursday July 21, 2011

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