New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. Read some of the most popular Dear Wendy posts here. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), do a search in the search bar, or submit a question for advice at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
I injured my back 15 years ago so traveling is very painful (my family knows this) and we don’t do a lot anymore except going to FL for the winter. Kerri’s having her wedding out of state this summer and has invited us. Years ago I was forced to disconnect from her mother and my mother because they were always trying to create drama even if something I was doing was considerate and thoughtful. I think a lot of it stemmed from me allowing myself to be a doormat for many years and their resisting once I quit allowing that behavior. My mom gossips about everyone and I can’t stand that! The last time I saw my entire family was five years ago when we flew home for my parents’ anniversary party and we tried to put on a happy face, but it was a terrible night for my husband and me. Several family members tried to bring up past issues and there were a lot of sarcastic remarks being flung our way. We stayed a good amount of time and left before it could get any worse. I burst into tears on our way back to the hotel because I’d never felt so alienated by my own family. My husband says my parents know nothing about leadership and encourage family conflict, and sadly I think he’s right. I love my family and, if they ever need me, I will be there for them, but I cannot engage in their constant drama and games.
Honestly, there is a part of me dreading the idea of going to the wedding and having to endure my family, yet I realize this is about my niece and her fiancé (whom I’ve never met) and their special day. I’ve always sent my Kerri Christmas and birthday cards/gifts yet rarely ever hear from her. She truly is not that busy, but that’s her excuse. However, I’m concerned that if I don’t attend her wedding, I will hurt her feelings and have even more family drama. BTW, if we attend, we will need to bring our dog on the trip with us and it will be pretty pricey because of the location, etc. (Even though we have two homes, we have them because of years of saving and frugal living).
This is my dilemma. Any thoughts? — Repeatedly Rejected By Niece
I wouldn’t go to Kerri’s wedding. Unlike yesterday’s LW who was thinking about skipping her SIL’s baby shower (which she hadn’t yet been invited to as the pregnancy hadn’t even been confirmed yet), you actually have good reasons not to go. For one thing, it would be a long distance commute, which is expensive and inconvenient, especially when you have a bad back and a dog you’d have to tote along with you. If you felt like your presence would be appreciated, either by your niece or her mother or other family members, then I’d suggest making the sacrifice. If you had a relationship with your sister whom you wanted to support by attending her daughter’s wedding, I’d suggest going. If you actually had a relationship with your niece, instead of the ignored invitations and being blown off while visiting the town where she lives, I’d suggest making the sacrifice and going to the wedding. If you felt like the wedding was a good excuse to connect with other family members you enjoy seeing, I would suggest going. But none of these things seem to apply. In fact, it seems you have good reason to AVOID a family get-together, even if it would be easy to get to, because the family drama is so draining and disappointing.
So, don’t go. And don’t feel guilty about it either. Send a gift and your regrets and spend the time and money you’d invest in attending the wedding on something nice for you and your husband instead. And from here on out, quit extending invitations to Kerri to come visit you and quit sending birthday gifts, too. You moved to another state when she was a baby and, as hard as you have tried to maintain a close relationship with her, she has made it clear that she’s not interested in having one. Try not to take it personally or to blame her either. At 30, she probably just has a full life at this point with closer relationships she’s had more face-to-face time to build and invest in. Instead of focusing on blood relatives who have proven to not live up to your expectations for familial closeness, look into programs in your area that would allow you to invest in children who need and would welcome someone in their lives who is as caring and loving as you seem to be.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.