Posted by fxckfeelings on August 10, 2015Share This Post
Despite all of our attempts to make our lives secure—wearing protective gear, creating a savings account, building a Y2K+X shelter—we’re all subject to nature’s whims. Most of the time, we’re just scrambling to maintain life’s delicate balance between order and chaos. Of course, there are certain, non-weather related natural disasters that can create disorder; namely, those we’re naturally related to. That’s why, in particularly unstable families, any interaction must be planned with a map of the likely fallout and that Y2K+X shelter stocked to the gills. Later this week, we’ll see how shaking things up can sometimes make the family balance stronger.
Even though most of my family are crazy and a pain in the ass to be around, I still love them and have found a way to keep them in my life without letting their bullshit make me miserable. I’m worried though that, if they come to my wedding, then our relationship is going to fall apart. I can’t not invite them, because they know it’s happening and will show up with or without an invitation, but if they do show up, it’s going to be a shitshow. My father is a nice guy but a mean drunk, and there’s no way he’ll be sober. My oldest sister is a compulsive klepto who would probably disappear the wedding gifts, and another sister is well along in following our father’s staggering footsteps (my brother moved far away to get away from them, and I can’t blame him). I’ve told my fiancée I don’t want to spoil the event for her parents, who are very nice, but I’m afraid of what my family will do to create chaos and ruin what we’ve paid for. My goal is to have a wedding that doesn’t blow up on me and hurt innocent bystanders like my wife and her family.
Whatever you decide to do about inviting your family to your wedding, it’s clear that you accept them for who they are, but that acceptance is dependent on certain factors, i.e., where they are, and for how long. When it comes to family, especially awful relatives, better living through boundaries is often the rule.
Even if you’re not interested in punishing, hiding, or changing them, and you can talk about them honestly with your wife-to-be (who is not asking you to disown them), you’re also not interested in inflicting them on the public or your new in-laws.
Of course, you would like them to enjoy your wedding if they could keep their behavior under control, but you seem fairly sure that’s impossible, even with the assistance of friends and other family. It’s your job, then, to consider how to protect yourselves and your other guests from what the overstimulation of a wedding would do to your nearest and dearest drunks and thieves.
If your unconventional family is dead set on coming, then perhaps it’s worth considering an unconventional wedding. You and your fiancée should ask yourselves what you most wish your wedding to accomplish; if it’s to bring certain people together, in addition to getting you and your wife hitched, then you can always have a quiet, civil ceremony followed by a party or parties at a place and time that’s not universally publicized.
If your father or sisters complain about being excluded, tell them you want to share your happiness with them, but that you think a wedding would bring out the worst of their problems, like an allergic reaction to civility. You’d like to celebrate with them, but quietly and with no alcohol. Don’t feel obliged to explain or continue the conversation.
It’s too bad that you can’t include all your family in a wedding event, but there’s nothing to stop you from getting married, having a party, and loving your family at the same time. If you can keep setting limits on their behavior without anger or defensiveness, you can keep your family dynamic alive.
“I wish I didn’t have to tip-toe around the crazy behavior of my closest relatives, but I’ve got a good partner and it’s time I found ways to say ‘no’ without being drawn into a fight or allowing myself to be intimidated by guilt.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname