Prewedding family drama isn't crisis, just bummer, but beware
Q: I am marrying a wonderful man this fall. His sister has had a falling-out with all of her brothers. She did not accept a few invitations that have been offered to her (Thanksgiving, birthday parties, our engagement party).
The groom's mom has refused to go to our wedding if his sister does not attend. If his mom does not attend his father has stated he will not be attending.
I am sad for my fiance, but also concerned the wedding may be all of my family and our friends, but no relatives on his side. (By the way, this is his second marriage.)
Future in-laws Wedding Crisis
A: Three thoughts:
(1) A crisis is when someone or something is at risk of permanent damage. Your husband is a grown man; the possibility of familial no-shows is not a crisis, it's a bummer.
(2) When faced with a crisis, bummer or even minor annoyance, the sanest move is to step back far enough to discern what you can and can't control about the situation. You can't make your fiance's family show up or be reasonable. You can, however, invite them, say their presence is important to you, and then not lose your mind when it doesn't all go as you'd hoped.
(3) When you're about to create a family with someone who comes from a family whose signature move is the showy no-show, it's a good idea to take a careful look at the way he communicates and handles conflict. You have a whole season between now and your vows. Make sure the apple fell into a cart that took him far away from this tree.
Let jerky in-laws know cheerful greeting would be a great gift
Q: I am the one who hosts holidays for my husband's family. I also share a birthday with one of the kids. I completely realize the gift-giving on these occasions is all about the kids. I honestly do not want a gift. The in-laws have very different tastes from mine, and pitch a fit if any object they give is not prominently displayed. Nor am I longing for a card.
Nonetheless, it is always embarrassing to me and uncomfortable for other guests when the in-laws arrive with packing crates of gifts for my husband and the kids, then look at me and say, "We would have gotten you a card, but we didn't feel like going all the way to the drugstore."
Really, a cheerful, "Happy (whatever) to you, too!" would be all I could ask for, and no comment at all would be fine by me, but it stings to be told in front of others, over and over, that I am not worth the bother.
I have handled the problem for years by just telling them it's fine, handing them their gift (they do not see it as just about the kids) and excusing myself to the kitchen. I have had enough, though. Any suggestions?
A: They sound perfectly awful. And because it sounds as if any gifts/cards they'd give would also be perfectly awful, you're right to embrace being the target of their neglect. To address the humiliation angle, consider expressing that gratitude — with gentle instructions for next time. "Thank you, warm wishes are the perfect gift."
Speaking of — where's your husband as you play this thankless role?