Scoff at third weddings, and you might find yourself uninvited

Making judgy, sexist and ageist assumptions about what constitutes an appropriate amount of wedding fuss for a middle-aged bride, results in family being excluded from wedding.



November 20, 2023 - 1:56 PM

Dear Carolyn: My brother, “Tim,” got married for the third time last month. When he and “Abby” were discussing their wedding, I advised them to do what my husband and I did: Go to the courthouse and then throw a party to celebrate. My husband even joked that he’d already been Tim’s best man twice and that was enough. And even though Abby was a first-time bride, she’s 45 and past the pretty-pretty-princess stage.
Later they announced that Abby’s uncle, who’s a judge, would be marrying them when they visited Abby’s family, and Abby’s sister was throwing a small party for them. Our family could celebrate at Thanksgiving. That sounded like a great plan.
This week, we saw pictures of the wedding and it was a much bigger deal than Tim had let on. There were at least 30 or 40 guests, all from Abby’s side, I guess; Abby wore a wedding dress; there was a big cake and dozens of roses; yet no one from our side of the family was invited.
I’m really hurt we were excluded, I guess as punishment for speaking our minds. Tim and Abby could have admitted they wanted to do the wedding their way instead of sneaking around behind our backs. Can I ask Tim why he hid their wedding from us, or do I just need to let this go? — Anonymous

Anonymous: You weren’t “speaking our minds.” You were, by your own description, talking more than you listened, ridiculing your brother in front of his fiancée, diminishing her by extension, and making judgy, sexist and ageist assumptions about what constitutes an appropriate amount of wedding fuss for a middle-aged bride — and all this when the number and type of weddings either of them has is neither your business nor of significant consequence to you.
I’m not sure if the smugness was worse or the buzzkill, but the proportions of both might make the cut for “epic.”
So, no, you do not ask Tim to spell out what you already know.
Instead, you congratulate Tim and Abby for what looks to have been a beautiful wedding, and apologize for getting so caught up in having opinions at their expense that you forgot your only job was to shut up and be happy for them.
And buy them a serious gift. One that’s princess as [all get-out].

Dear Carolyn: I started a gift tradition that now causes everyone stress, and I don’t know what to do. When my kids were little and the only grandchildren, I started making a calendar for my mother-in-law. As the extended family grew, I would ask for pics to include all the grandchildren. “C” and her husband would require multiple reminders, and finally submit pictures late or in the wrong format to make more work for me.
Finally, I had had enough and asked “E” to take it on. He is only willing to engage so far with what we all see as crazy behavior by C. One year, I asked her to just send the damn pictures to him. She blew up at me and said just do the calendar without her family.
E is now asking for someone else to take a turn with the calendar “because I need a break.” If the calendar doesn’t get done, then my mother-in-law is sad that we “can’t all get along.”
The constant refrain is, “Just don’t make C mad.” We take a family vacation every summer, and, without fail, someone does something that makes her mad and she has a blowup. Every. Year. Any ideas how to deal with this Christmas present? — About to Blow Up

About to Blow Up: Either stop making the calendar, or stop asking each parent for photo submissions and just use whatever pics you (and your immediate family) take of all the grandkids during the family summer vacation. Snap-snap-snap, upload, tweak, send.
Or pick some other solution that you like better. Because the specifics don’t matter: What does matter is that you stop treating anyone’s difficult personality as a ransom demand you must pay to get your life back.
C is who C is. If you behave in ways you believe are thoughtful and fair — whatever the behavior, not just calendars — then you will have the raw material for enough confidence to ride out any resulting emotional punishment. Whether the backlash is from C or from the mom who appears to have taught her how to use the threat of negative emotions to get her way. Ahem.
But I digress — once you have the raw material (of behaving with decency), shape it into this: “I know it’s not perfect for everyone, but I did what I thought was best.” No guilt for acts of good faith.

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