Adapted from a recent online discussion.
E-mail invitations have good qualities, but greed doesn't
Ebenezer the Bridesmaid: Are e-invitations for weddings becoming typical? What about if the people marrying have made no effort to keep in touch for more than a year? And what if the invitation is followed by another e-mail containing three expensive registries with an added note that gift certificates and cash are good, too? Normally, I'm thrilled about weddings, but I'm less than thrilled about this one.
Carolyn: I'll defend e-invitations because (1) trees love them, and (2) I can't oppose wedding-expense bloat while also ruling out one harmless way for a lovely couple who is paying for their own wedding to cut costs.
The couple's not keeping in touch doesn't rile me up, either, unless they abruptly stopped calling, live on your street, or only check in when they want something. Friendships aren't linear, and it's possible both to care and to fall out of touch.
As for the gift-grubbing e-mail, that's so foul that it makes the e-mailed invitations tacky versus tree-friendly, and their scarcity a snub versus an accident of busy lives. Declining the invitation is the best recourse for a guest, but a bridesmaid needs a better reason than that. Smile at the hubris and go.
No regrets: Make an effort to reach out to husband's family
Anonymous: My husband is not close to his family, who live 30 minutes away. In the 14 years I have known him, we have seen/talked to them periodically, but we usually have to initiate things. A few months ago, my mother-in-law declined an invitation to one of our kids' milestone events because she was "tired." I think that was the straw that broke my husband's back, and he hasn't contacted her since.
I've encouraged my husband to call her because she is his mother, but he has procrastinated. She won't live forever, and I don't want him to have regrets. On the other hand, she hasn't reached out to us, either, and hasn't seen our kids in a year. Should I keep encouraging him to call her?
Carolyn: How sad.
Have you specifically addressed it as a matter of regrets? If you're just saying, "She's your mother, you should call," then you're not making a very forceful argument for calling.
If you've said your piece clearly and your husband's unmoved, then keep in touch with Mom on you own. But if he's just ignoring Mom because that's easier than dealing with her, then I think a good spouse will warn him of possible regrets when she dies. It's about having his back emotionally — especially apt here since that's a skill his family apparently lacked.
Anonymous2: Re: Parental indifference: But sometimes you are better having no contact at all. My father excoriated me all my life, and I finally cut off all contact with him. These years since have been wonderful. I will have no regrets when he dies.
Carolyn: No argument here — but yours is a very different story. And no matter what the story, estrangement is a choice best made thoughtfully, carefully, and as a last resort, not by default through procrastination.