After that incident I had not talked with my father for three months. Neither he nor his wife ever called to apologize for that incident. Well, my wedding was three months away at that point and I was hesitant on inviting my father’s wife because of how she treated me and because of her drinking. I did not want her at our wedding because I was afraid she would act out again and cause a huge spectacle at our wedding. So, I met with my father and I told him I was not going to invite his wife because of how she treated me and because she never even called to apologize. I told him I would still like him to come because he is my father (even though he never acts like a father).
My father proceeded to tell me he would not come if I did not invite his wife. So, I told him he didn’t have to stay for the whole wedding — he could just come and walk me down the aisle and then leave. But he refused that as well. He would not come without his abusive wife. So, my wedding day came and he never showed up. And now my question to you is: Was it wrong of me to not invite his wife? My brother said I was absolutely wrong in not inviting her, even though she is an abusive person and a drunk. He told me that if I were to ask any “etiquette persons,” that they would agree with him that I am wrong.
It’s been three years since my wedding and I have not spoken to my father. He chose to support his drunk, abusive wife over coming to his only daughter’s wedding and, for that, I am deeply hurt. Is it wrong that I haven’t spoken to him and was it wrong of me to expect my father to come to my wedding even though his wife was not invited for what I believe was a valid reason? — Hurt Daughter
Your brother is wrong. You did the right thing protecting your peace at your own wedding by not extending an invitation to a woman who had proven to be a loose cannon and had verbally abused you the last time you saw her. And while I don’t think you were “wrong” to ask your father to come, and it’s certainly understandable that you’d want on your wedding day for your father to finally act like a father, I’m not sure it was wise to expect him to come. He had never, in forty years, acted like a father to you, so why would he suddenly start on your wedding day — an occasion that is often so emotionally-loaded as it is, and one in which he wouldn’t have his crutch by his side to help ease any guilt or awkwardness he might (rightfully) feel over posing as the dad he never was?
Your dad sucks as a dad. You know this. It doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t love him. It doesn’t mean you can’t continue being disappointed by his gross indifference and limitations as a “father.” But it does mean that, if you want to have peace in your heart, you have to accept that your dad sucks, that this is the card you were dealt in life, and that you won’t let that define you or ruin any of your other relationships by keeping you angry or bitter. Your dad sucks. But I bet you have a life full of people who don’t suck — who value you and show up for you and appreciate you and make you feel like a better person. So continue nurturing your relationships with those people and release the ones that breed toxicity.
As for your brother, tell him that he’s wrong and that an “etiquette person” (and the commenters below) said so. Tell him this isn’t even about him. This is about you and about nurturing and protecting the good in your life from the toxic, and that you hope very much that he will fall in the former category and stop berating you for doing what was absolutely best for you and your now-husband.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.