If I've Told You Once...

By Susan Irvine


As a daughter tries on her wedding dress, she confesses to her mother her doubts about marriage. Her mother, who has always been painfully sacrificial to her husband and family, counsels her daughter on the duty of sacrifice in a happy marriage.


Mother - a martyr who enjoys complaining about her sacrifices for her family
Daughter - confused and unsure about her upcoming wedding

Mother - dressed elegantly with hat, looking 40ish
Daughter - in wedding dress

Afull-length mirror propped on a chair. 2 chairs, one with 2 veils on it


(Lights up. Mother comes on stage. Daughter still off stage trying wedding dress on)

Mother:       Have you got it on yet?
Daughter:    No Ė there are a lot of buttons you know - and itís a bit of a problem doing them up and trying to breathe at the same time.

Mother:        I told you not to eat that extra slice of cake this morning Ė but would you listen to your mother? Noooo Ė what do mothers know? Not a thing according to their daughters! But thatís all right Ė Iím used to being treated like Iím stupid. You wonít hear me complaining about it.

Daughter:     OK, itís on.

Mother:        Well come out and let me see it.

Daughter:     Only if you promise to like it and say how beautiful I look.

Mother:        (martyred tone) I promise  - Iím quite used to hiding my true feelings for the sake of others. Thatís just the way I am.

Daughter:     (sarcastically) Great Ė thanks for the reassurance (Walks on to stage in wedding dress) Well what do you think?

Mother:        (Flat tone) I like it. I think you look beautiful.

Daughter:      Really??

Mother:          I promised Iíd like it, didnít I? I wish I could have afforded an expensive wedding dress like this when I was your age, but I had responsibilities. My parents were just scraping by; I had a good job. I couldnít see them go wanting. So I never managed to save very much  and when your father and I wanted to get married there wasnít a lot of  money to be spent on fineries. Not that I regret that, of course. If I told my parents once, I told them a thousand times, ĎI donít mind doing without so you can be a little bit more comfortable.í
(Daughter has lost interest during this speech Ė an often-told story and is looking in the mirror. Mum hasnít noticed and is trying the 2 veils on daughter)

Daughter:       Mum Ė I donít know how to say this Ė but Iím having second doubts.

Mother:           No dear Ė I really do like the dress.

Daughter:        Not about the dress Ė about marrying Tom. I love him but Iím scared what being married will mean Ė all the changes, all the compromises.

Mother:           Well dear Iím not going to lie to you; marriage is a series of sacrifices.

Daughter:         I know there will be times when I will have to put Tom and the good of our relationship ahead of what I wantÖ

Mother:           Exactly dear Ė Oh, the things Iíve done for your father. I could give you a huge list of the sacrifices Iíve made for him. If Iíve told him once, Iíve told him a thousand times. ĎIím quite prepared to sacrifice the plans Iíve made to indulge your latest whim.í But, does he appreciate my sacrifice? Is he grateful? Ė not a bitÖ  (Shakes her head mournfully)

Daughter:       (sarcastically) Yes mother, youíve always emphasised the importance of sacrifice and how good you are at it.

Mother:  Well dear, itís the foundation of a good marriage.  Iíve always put  your father first. Remember when your father wanted to invest in that scheme Ė oh, what was it called..- (Remembering) superannuation! Look at what I sacrificed then.

Daughter:        You sacrificed your gym membership.

Mother:    Thatís right. And if I told your father once, I told him a thousand times, I can go without the gymÖÖeven if studies do show regular exercise helps you live a long, healthy life. Never mind, I let your father have his own way Ė even though Iíll probably drop dead before my time through lack of exercise, and then I wonít even need his silly superannuation.

Daughter:   But Dad makes sacrifices too. I mean he helped me with my University fees rather than upgrading his car.

Mother:    Thatís right dear Ė and believe me, I donít mind if the car breaks down in the middle of a lonely road on a cold wet night. Iíd do anything for you dear. If Iíve said that once, Iíve said it a thousand times.

Daughter:    Well, if marriage is all about making a long list of sacrifices, why should I bother?

Mother:   Because you love Tom. And take my advice dear, the way to show you really care, is to let him know just how much you sacrifice for his sake.

Daughter:   You really think that will work?
Mother:    Of course it will. If Iíve said it once, Iíve said it a thousand times, sacrifice is the key to a good relationship. You may have to work at it, dear. Fortunately, Iím naturally selfless, submissive, and sacrificial Ė thatís just the way I am.

Daughter:        Yes mother. If Iíve heard that once, Iíve heard it a thousand times!

(Freeze. Lights down)


© Susan Irvine (Dunedin City Baptist) August 2000
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. Our drama group can be contacted at the following address: Caradii@xtra.co.nz