Dear Harry and Louise:
After a two-year courtship, my boyfriend has asked me to marry him. I am ecstatic. It’s the first wedding for both of us, and we are busy planning the event. Every one of my friends and family members is excited—except for my father’s girlfriend. My parents split up about six years ago. My mother has made a life for herself as a single woman, and she seems fine with that. My father has had a number of girlfriends, the most recent for the past two years.
When I showed up at my dad’s apartment with a ring on my finger and announced the happy news, his girlfriend glared at me—no smile, no hug, no congratulations. Granted, my mother is handling most of the wedding plans, along with my two sisters. My father has been warm and welcoming to my nuptials and to my fiancé. His girlfriend has never mentioned either the event or my beau.
Should I mention the disconnect to my father? To his girlfriend? Bottom line: Do I have to invite her to the wedding? As is, I would prefer to leave her out.
Miffed in Maryland
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You have a happy and healthy mom. You have two happy and healthy sisters. You are one of the most fortunate brides with whom I am familiar. They are happy for you and, of course, they are the ones who will help you with the wedding plans. Even if your dad were married, his new wife would not necessarily have anything to do with the wedding. If you two shared a congenial relationship, or if she expressed interest in helping with a particular part of the planning, then you would likely open your mind to including her.
You are surrounded by supportive and generous people. Bask in their support. Planning a wedding can be stressful and can create unforeseen tension, even in the kindest of families. You cannot waste a moment of time contemplating how to appease someone who has shown no interest in the event or at worst is actually put off by the event. But While you are not wasting time trying to appease the girlfriend, you should also not waste time trying to punish her. Of course she will receive a lovely invitation—her own, with her name on the envelope. Don’t try the subtle you’ve-brought-me-down tactic of sending your dad an “and guest” envelope. Respecting your dad’s girlfriend is respecting your dad and this important relationship in his life. Beyond that, you owe her nothing.
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You have the upper hand in this matter, seeing as it’s your wedding. With that in mind, why not be the bigger man—ahem, woman—and take this directly to your father’s girlfriend? You are adults. Cut out the middleman, as in your dad. Talk to her.
Keep in mind that your father’s paramour is in a precarious position. You getting engaged highlights the fact that she hasn’t. Your dad apparently has not popped the question; if he has, she hasn’t accepted. Either way, your upcoming nuptials put pressure on their relationship.
So extend an offer to meet. Hopefully, the discussion will clear the air and lead to an understanding, and you can continue to plan the wedding with the girlfriend problem solved. But even if you don’t come away feeling great, or if she won’t meet with you, invite her to the wedding anyway. Your father will walk you down the aisle and give you away. You want him to be happy, his smile to be genuine, the focus to be on you. Avoid all drama and distractions.
Be an adult.
• • •
Boo-hoo. So what if her nuptials put pressure on Daddy’s relationship? Not the bride’s problem. Talking to the girlfriend would stir up tsuris where there were placid waters. The bride’s focus is on her own damn wedding—not daddy’s hypothetical one.
• • •
Why be pinched and small-minded? The bride can begin her new life with a big heart, to everyone’s benefit.