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Sister's wedding guests are her business, not yours

Sister's wedding guests are her business, not yours

Q: How does one draw the line between "doing the right thing" toward family, versus treating them like any other person? My sister is having a wedding and from our side she's only inviting my parents and me. She says she isn't inviting our grandmother, cousins, etc., because she doesn't know them very well.

I think she should invite some of them, but she's sticking to her principles. I should mention that she has serious financial constraints and has 40 friends and co-workers she's planning to invite. I can understand that she would rather celebrate with loved ones than strangers who happen to be related. But still, I feel really bad about the situation.

Big Fight Up Ahead

A: Why? You've said your piece. It's not your wedding, it's hers. It's not your relationship with your relatives, it's hers. The right place to draw the line is on your own turf, not hers.

By the way — judging her for prioritizing the people closest to her isn't going to score any points for you or those excluded relatives. Except in cases of clear, imminent harm, judging people puts them on the defensive, which rarely helps, and often hurts, your case.

Respond to harsh comments with a cheerful 'Thanks!'

How do I handle a "frenemy"? We are in the same group of stay-at-home moms, and I thought she was a genuine friend, but I am slowly learning I was wrong. She is nice to me some of the time, but more and more I am getting "pecked" at, and her comments upset me: "Oooooh, you need to get your hair done, I can see all your grays and your split ends," or, "Of course you don't have time to lose weight, cook or go shopping, with four kids to take care of." The negative comments about other moms are much harsher.

How do I break up with her? We have many of the same friends and children the same age. We will probably see each other for years to come.


A: What do you say when she points out your gray hair? Nothing, or a defensive "I have an appointment next week"? Or, "Thank you! That's the look I was going for." Your being upset, even legitimately, still means you're half of this unhappy transaction.

Besides, "breaking up" only calls attention to you, when it can be so much more productive (and gratifying) to call attention to her.

As lightly as you can, remind her whose split ends are showing, metaphorically speaking. Snappy comebacks are tantalizing, but if they're planned, they're duds. "Thanks!" on the other hand, is a modest marvel — no memorization needed, so no canned aftertaste.

It's also the answer to an appropriate comment, thereby underscoring that hers wasn't one. All the confrontation, none of the mess.

You're less obligated to be a good sport when she's pecking someone else: "That helps Naomi how, exactly?" Frame any protests in question form, which bounces everything back to Frenemia.

Just do it, I repeat, lightly. It is possible she's trying to be helpful (the gray) or sympathetic (the weight), and just trips over herself. It's possible, too, that she enjoys getting a rise. Either way, cheerful resistance sends the exact message you want: "Nice try, but, no."

Sister's wedding guests are her business, not yours 01/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 3:31am]
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