Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Quickies: “My Boyfriend’s Daughter Didn’t Give Him a Plus-One to Her Wedding”

Three quickies-in-one today:

The daughter of my boyfriend of three years is getting married soon. I had assumed that I would accompany him to the wedding even though I knew it would be awkward with his ex (daughter’s mother), and his father-of-the-bride role. I received an invitation in the mail today for myself, which specifically indicated one guest (me), with a reply requested. Am I wrong to feel hurt/offended? I never expected to receive a formal invitation; I thought I was included with him as his plus-one. — Not a Plus-One

You’re offended that you got your own invitation instead of being counted as your boyfriend’s plus one? Talk about really looking for something to be offended by! You should feel so relieved and flattered to have been personally invited, by name, especially since you know that your presence could potentially shift the social dynamic. That means that your presence is worth enough to risk that potential. And you’re offended that you weren’t, instead, extended an impersonal invitation as your boyfriend’s plus-one? Pick your battles in life; this is most definitely NOT one of them!

I have been dating this guy for eight months and we love each other very much. I even want to spend my life with him, but recently I found out from his sister that he has a child which he never wanted me to find out about. His excuse was that he didn’t want to hurt me. I really don’t know what to do at this point. Should I stay or leave? I never dreamt of getting married to someone who has a child. — No Kidding

 
You know what’s a bigger deal than marrying someone with a child? Marrying someone who never said a peep about that child for eight months (and maybe never would have if his sister hadn’t spilled the beans). I was watching the reboot of the class dating show, Love Connection, last night and one of the contestants was a little hurt that her date didn’t mention on their first date that he had a daughter. Because normal people mention that kind of thing very early on. Someone who keeps his own child a secret for eight months is not husband-material. Move on.

Recently my sister and I had a conference call about our late mother’s estate. I asked why bank accounts and her safety deposit were not on the inventory assets. She said there were none in probate. So I asked why that was because I thought bank accounts were estate assets. Then she explained that Mama gave her joint ownership, to which I asked whether she meant POD (payable-on-death) or survivorship. First she said POD, then she said survivorship. So I asked what about the safety deposit box and she said mMm didn’t have one. I reminded her she did when we both went to the bank to add my name as signer. She said there was nothing in it, so she closed it as independent executor. Fast forward, and I call Sister about something else and that’s when she told me she felt I had attacked her about the bank accounts and that she had had to convince Mom to add me in the first place because Mom had been mad that I owed her a debt from 43 years ago and it took me a long time to pay it back. I never knew until yesterday that Mom resented me. Was I wrong for asking about estate inventory and bank accounts or was it my tone? — Unaccounted

 
If you have to ask whether it was your tone that pissed off your sister, it was probably your tone. Was it accusatory? Were you suspicious of any wrong-doing on your sister’s part? If so, that suspicion probably came through your tone. But maybe you have a right to be suspicious of wrong-doing, I don’t know. What would help is whether you discussed your mother’s will and final wishes with her before she died. What was her reason for making your sister an executor and not you? If you have reason to believe your sister is hiding something from you or not being entirely forthcoming, consider what it is you might have to gain against what you have to lose (potentially, your relationship with your sister). It is worth it to you to continue pressing? Regardless, a genuine apology to your sister about your tone — if you feel it was accusatory — could help smooth ruffled feathers and defuse the situation moving forward.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

42 comments… add one
  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix May 26, 2017, 8:31 am

    #1: You’re mad that you bf’s daughter gave you a PERSONAL invitation, meaning your name is officially on the guest list? jfc. I get that you irrationally feel like you want your bf’s daughter (and lbr her mother) to count you and your bf as a unit, but it’s far more important that your bf’s daughter want YOU, individually, there. If you’re going to read some type of meaning into this, and her mother’s involved in the wedding, she’s telling her mother she likes you regardless of whether her dad does. Take the W, god.

    #2: WWS. Also that reasoning makes little sense. And it’s really irritating when people lie to you and then say they were doing it for your benefit. They aren’t.

    #3: You presumably wrote this dispassionately, and I thought your sister was being accused, so…consider. And I’ll also say that I’ve never seen a single good thing except embarrassment and anger come out of estate disputes. Ignore what your sister said. Even if you mom might have thought you were irresponsible with money, but that doesn’t mean she resented you, but you sound kinda desperate either that you get something from the estate or that your sister and you have the same power over it. That’s not going to lead to anywhere good.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie May 26, 2017, 8:36 am

    LW1 – you are way off base. The bride and groom put your name down on the list of invites. You were specifically invited to the wedding. You – not some random person. They spent money having an invite addressed and sent to your home. Of course you are your bf’s date; if you were not dating your bf, you would not be invited. What the hell are you complaining about?

    LW2 – anyone who hides their kids – not shields their kid but actively hides their kids is not someone you want to date. That means for 8 months your bf hid something significant. Very significant. Earth shattering significant. Why would you want to stay with someone who will happily compartmentalize his life like that?

    LW3 – are you afraid that you’re not getting your share of the estate? Is that why you’re worried that certain accounts aren’t showing up? Do you think your mother may have instructed in her will that your unpaid debt is to be debited from your part of the estate? Are you worried that your mother was pissed that you never repaid your debt and so decided that you didn’t deserve any inheritance? Do you trust your sister to be fair with your mother’s estate? It just sounds like you are very accusatory and very focused on your inheritance.

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  • Just Max

    Anon(for a day) May 26, 2017, 8:58 am

    re: LW3 – This is the type of thing I worry about happening with the number of full and half siblings (baseball team!) I have.
    I would really like for my parents to 1) get their affairs in order and settled before they get older/die, and 2) to leave me out of everything! As of right now, the siblings get along well among ourselves. Each sib’s relationship with their own set of parents is another story; so I don’t know who could potentially go batshit crazy when my parents pass away. What I worry about the most is messing up the siblings connections over the discord and grievances that seem to come attached to the death of parents (that have some assets).
    My mom never wants to talk about these things, and my dad is just… on denial about death and open conversations about it. :-/

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie May 26, 2017, 9:54 am

      BTDT – when my dad died his will left everything to my stepmother, but it said if she predeceased him, the estate was to be split between me and my stepbrother and stepsister. I think she changed her will because when she died a few years later I never received a copy of a will and heard nothing from them. I didn’t really care though – they are awful people and was happy to be left alone.

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  • Copa

    Copa May 26, 2017, 9:07 am

    Am I the only one who feels like I MUST’VE read LW1’s letter wrong? Like I literally do not understand what the issue is. She was expecting to be her boyfriend’s date, and she’s going to be her boyfriend’s date. I’m so confused?

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    • avatar

      MMR May 26, 2017, 9:31 am

      I read it as she received an invitation addressed to only herself, for one seat at the wedding. And presumably the boyfriend got his own invitation for one seat.

      So she’s hurt/offended that they got separate invitations.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray May 26, 2017, 11:38 am

      Agreed! We must be missing something. Or else she really is offended by this…. Which I guess, shouldn’t be too, too surprising. Weddings, exes, etc. can all drive the sanest of us a little cray cray. It’s ok, LW! Go, have a good time. But be worried if your boyfriend got a plus one after all of this, hahaha.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros May 26, 2017, 8:02 pm

      Well, I assume the boyfriend didn’t get a paper invitation because he’s the dad. I guess LW wanted to be considered family and not get an invitation either.

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    • avatar

      LT May 27, 2017, 7:02 am

      I think it’s the “plus one” that was galling, because she feels like she’s. ring told to bring a non-dad date or something. Unless the daughter really wants drama at her wedding, that is obviously not the case… I’m guessing it’s standard invite format or they thought she could bring a friend since dad will be busy and she might not know that many people.

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  • avatar

    MoeP May 26, 2017, 9:22 am

    #2: People are saying what a huge deal it is to the guy to have a kid. Perhaps he hasn’t seen the kid(s) in a long time, had any contact or paid any child support and doesn’t think about the kid at all. This seems just as bad as if he DOES and is hiding the child support payments and time spent being a responsible daddy.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover May 26, 2017, 10:14 am

      Either way it’s a red flag, so Wendy’s advice to MOA stands.

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    • avatar

      carolann May 26, 2017, 11:14 am

      He may have a child that he agreed from the beginning not to be involved with. Maybe the mother was married and she and her husband decided to raise the child or some similar scenario where it was agreed he wouldn’t be involved. These things do happen. Sometimes a father isn’t involved and not because he is a deadbeat.
      Whatever the situation, he may not feel the relationship is as serious as the writer does. Maybe he doesn’t feel like he needs to tell her unless he feels the relationship is leading to marriage.
      I agree with Wendy, she should MOA, because this guy probably does not take the relationship very seriously.

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  • avatar

    MMR May 26, 2017, 9:27 am

    LW1: You sound exhausting. I’m surprised the bride didn’t decide she’d rather not have to manage your precious feelings at her wedding. Here are some other things that you should NOT be hurt/offended by:
    – The bride doesn’t want you linked to her father’s other arm while he walks her down the aisle.
    – The portion of fish you are served is 2% smaller than the one served to the guest beside you.
    – The bride doesn’t compliment you on the cream (totally not white) dress that you are definitely planning to wear to the wedding.
    If you are hurt/offended by this response, try some introspection on the unspoken and unreasonable expectations you’re placing on a woman you’re not related to, who is planning a wedding. Consideration for your feelings about the specific way you were graciously asked to attend her wedding are down about 10,000 on her list with good reason.

    LW2: You should be appalled that he ever even considered the existence of his daughter anything other than a important part of his life that any partner would have to be completely accepting of. Do not have children with this man – he is clearly a terrible father. Probably don’t waste any more time with him either.

    LW3: You’re both stressed from dealing with the death of your mother. Assume your tone was off. Assume your sister was especially sensitive. Try to focus on using your relationship to support each other, rather than as another source of stress. Ask (don’t demand) to help with the estate to make things easier on her. This assumes that she’s not secretly trying to pocket money – you’ll have to decide if that’s the case because there’s not enough information here to know. You know your sister well enough to decide if she has malicious intent. You also know if you’d prefer to have a sister, or an extra $2000.

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    • avatar

      carolann May 26, 2017, 11:16 am

      I think she should be happy/flattered she was invited at all.

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    • avatar

      Stillrunning May 26, 2017, 6:51 pm

      “The bride doesn’t compliment you on the cream (totally not white) dress that you are definitely planning to wear to the wedding.” Haha, this brings back memories of my mother acting all innocent while wearing a cream (not white) short lace dress to my wedding.

      LW3- I’d say watch your tone and ask if you can help. It was unfair for your sister to bring up something hurtful your mother may or may not have said since you can’t talk to your mother about it, but take into account that divving up the estate may bring out the worst in anyone and let it go.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star May 26, 2017, 10:02 am

    LW 1, you got a PERSONAL INVITATION to a wedding, and that’s not good enough for you? Don’t breathe a word of your completely unreasonable hurt feelings to ANYONE, and don’t make the bride regret your presence at her wedding.

    LW 2, dump the guy immediately. You can do better than a total liar.

    LW 3, you definitely are presenting your sister as a thief. Is that what you believe? Are you willing to throw away your relationship over this issue? You are perilously close.

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  • avatar

    FannyBrice May 26, 2017, 10:24 am

    LW 1 – a personal invitation is actually an upgrade from being someone’s “plus one.” A plus one means that your bf could bring any guest of his own choosing – it’s the kind of thing you do for single invitees who might want to bring a date. A personal invitation means that the bride & groom want you, specifically, to be there.

    If you and your bf live together, the more common thing would be for your household to receive one invitation with both your names on it. But if you live separately they absolutely folowed the proper invitation etiquette. Really, you should be honored and touched. It was a loving, inclusive gesture.

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    • avatar

      ktfran May 26, 2017, 10:38 am

      Yep. This 100%.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 May 26, 2017, 10:41 am

    LW1: She invited you separately so you know you are invited, and to avoid you making some sort of big deal if she just includes you informally through her father. Her probably didn’t get an invite because he is the father of the bride, he know’s he’s going. Turns out her trying to avoid an confusion, and hurt feelings, turned into you making up a story so you could be confused and have hurt feelings.

    LW2: if this man that you have dated for 8 months and love so much can hide a kid from you for that time, he’s an asshole, and probably a terrible dad. Don’t make shitty excuses to stay with him please, just leave.

    LW3: You sounded to me like you were accusing your sister of hiding the bank and safety deposit box info, so I assume it was much worse in person. I’m guessing that is actually what happened too. God forbid people don’t get free things from their dead parents.

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  • avatar

    ele4phant May 26, 2017, 11:12 am

    My God, I feel sorry for the bride in LW1’s scenerio.

    My guess is that she sent you your own invitation because she thought you might feel slighted if she just extended her father a plus-one.

    What more did you want from this poor girl? She explicitly extended an invitation *to you*. You know you are welcome, I’m sure everyone understands your relationship with her father, your couplehood will not be in doubt. You’re going out of your way to be offended here. Stop it, there is no slight.

    Were you wanting one invitation that addressed both you or something? That’s just petty, and assuming you don’t live together or aren’t married, I think that’s technically against etiquette (although I don’t know nor do I care about the official rules).

    Bottom-line – you received an invitation to the wedding and everybody knows you’re with the father of the bride. Don’t make this about you.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray May 26, 2017, 11:30 am

    I’m confused by LW1 – is she really upset about receiving her own invitation? I feel like we must be missing something, because that seems… odd/silly.
    *
    Speaking of weddings, guess what I learned is the norm in France? By “the norm,” I mean 3 French friends of mine said so…. so it’s entirely possible that they’re off. But here goes: it’s normal to have different tiers of invitees. One set that’s only invited to the ceremony but not the dinner; a set that is invited to the dinner, but not the ceremony; a set that is invited to the cocktail hour but not the dinner that starts immediately after, etc. I just went to a wedding where there were about 300 at the cocktail hour from 6 to 8 pm, after which about half the people left and the other half went into the dining area to be seated for dinner. Isn’t that odd? I thought that was odd. But then I ran in past 2 other French friends who said it’s common. I think if we did that here, we’d have a lot of people invited to the cocktail only who would feel slighted. But, I guess they don’t feel slighted.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant May 26, 2017, 11:43 am

      I only find it odd that it goes broader to smaller as the night progresses. That makes it super obvious you weren’t invited to the whole she-bang. And you can clearly see who is in a tier you’re not by who gets to stay when you leave. Whereas if more people progressively come, you couldn’t immediately tell if someone is in a “better” tier or they just got there a couple minutes before you.

      If it went ceremony with small number of guests, dinner with some additional guests, then nightcaps with everybody, that seems less, obvious I guess.

      But, if everybody is already accustomed to this in France, and if treated their own wedding the same way, I guess it wouldn’t seem as hurtful if the expectation is already established.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray May 26, 2017, 2:54 pm

        Oh it’s obvious; I mean, they’re not trying to hide it. I think maybe they’re not as fragile us we Americans. But man, think of how busy Wendy would be; those invited to just the cocktail hour would write in asking if they should be offended! Haha.

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    • avatar

      MMR May 26, 2017, 12:03 pm

      I can’t even imagine the total nightmare this would cause. :S So many people are just looking for ways to be self-righteous about anything, and when you throw in family politics there’s almost no way NOT to “offend” someone. Imagine the disgusting satisfaction some people would get if they could float around cocktail hour with their carefully arranged stoicism while saying things like “well I hope ~you~ enjoy dinner, we ~apparently~, aren’t close enough to the bride. I guess basically raising her just wasn’t enough…”

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover May 26, 2017, 12:59 pm

      I would guess they’ve already established etiquette rules for who goes in which tier, so everyone knows what to expect. Like, I could see the cocktail hour being for work friends (that you don’t hang with outside of work), people you know from the gym, maybe like your hairdresser, that kind of thing. And they would never expect to be invited to anything more. It actually sounds kind of awesome, because there’s definitely a tier of people that I would have liked to invite, but couldn’t, because it would have been just too big/expensive.

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    • avatar

      Emmy May 26, 2017, 1:32 pm

      I think the idea is, originally, a religious ceremony (including therefore, a marriage ceremony) is a public event, so you couldn’t prevent anyone from coming to that, if they felt so inclined.

      The tradition evolved so you invited people to the wedding ceremony, and a subset thereof to various later parties, as far as you could afford to. It’s definitely the norm there. And while I’m sure there are lots of crazy people who do go out of their way to be offended by stuff, most people know it’s basically a budget thing. My parents even ended up letting some distant family members who they’d invited to the ceremony but not dinner know that they did have space for them at dinner (with a few weeks warning obviously): reasonable people don’t even get offended about being explicitly “upgraded”.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph in May 28, 2017, 9:14 pm

      I wish this was the norm here. And I wish we weren’t so fragile about weddings.
      It’s just not possible to afford a sit down dinner for your 500 closest friends. If we could have done a larger cocktail hour, that would have been a great way to include all the people we like but had to be cut for great aunt Millie who we maybe don’t even like but had to invite.

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  • avatar

    Essie May 26, 2017, 12:26 pm

    OK, LW1, I’m completely confused.

    I get along really well with my longtime BF’s kids and ex-wife. No awkwardness anywhere. When his daughter got married I got my own invitation. When his son got married, I got my own invitation. I never for a moment thought there was anything strange about this.

    Do parents of the bride or groom even get sent an invitation, typically? I mean, your BF is part of the ceremony. He’s giving the bride away. Why would he get an invitation?

    IMO, his daughter is honoring you by inviting you personally. It’s a hell of a reach to find something hurtful or offensive in something that was so clearly meant to be kind and inclusive.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros May 27, 2017, 10:40 am

      Yeah. It makes me wonder what the LW is normally like when interacting with the daughter. If she takes offense at something as silly as this, how often does she get outraged over nonexistent offenses?

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover May 27, 2017, 11:32 am

      I don’t know if parents always get invites, but I did send invites to everyone including my own parents. I thought they’d like one as a keepsake, plus it contained hotel info and directions. They don’t live in my city so they needed that stuff, and while I did tell them which hotel, it’s nice to have hardcopies to refer to.

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  • Guy Friday

    Guy Friday May 26, 2017, 1:06 pm

    I try to have a lot of patience for the letters Wendy gets. I really try to. But LW1 . . . I just can’t. I want to shake the sense back into her.

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  • avatar

    va-in-ny May 26, 2017, 2:24 pm

    LW1 – you and your address were likely on the master guest list. If someone else was doing the invitations for the couple, they wouldn’t know the situation.

    LET IT GO

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  • avatar

    TheHizzy May 26, 2017, 3:14 pm

    LW 1 is just creating her own issue. She might be insecure in the relationship.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros May 26, 2017, 7:58 pm

    LW1: You sound insufferable. You got specifically invited to a wedding and you are complaining about it? I think it was a nice gesture to make sure you knew you were welcome.

    LW2: So, he’s a crappy dad and a liar. Cool. Of course you should move on.

    LW3: Based on your tone here, it sounds like you were accusing your sister of lying and stealing, correct? If that came across to her, then obviously she’d be offended.

    I don’t know you two, so while I can make inferences based on your description, they may not be accurate. But I’m going to be blunt — if I had a sister who owed a lot of money to our mom for a long time was this aggressive over our mom’s accounts, to the point of treating me like a thief, it would come across as sort of money-grubbing to me. But I don’t know the full situation. I just speculate that it’s your tone, content and context of your line of questioning.

    Unless you’re talking about a ton of money and you know your sister objectively to be untrustworthy, then just chill out. No one is guaranteed a windfall when their parent dies. And siblings are not guaranteed equal shares — things like financial state and previously monetary help do factor into it.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover May 27, 2017, 11:34 am

      My brother stuck my parents with a 60k student loan which they’re now responsible for paying off. If he called me up after they died and demanded account info, I’d be extremely pissed.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros May 27, 2017, 12:20 pm

        Exactly. If your parent is kind enough to loan you money, you don’t get to be demanding about getting your hands on their money when they die.

        And I’m not sure the LW realizes that loans are not just loans. It’s not like once you pay it back, you’re even. The longer you were in debt, the more is costs the lender. She could have been earning interest or perhaps spending it on herself or other things she wanted to spend money on (other family members, charity, etc.).

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  • avatar

    d2 May 27, 2017, 9:07 am

    LW1
    The difference between having a separate invite and being the plus-one of the BF (father of the bride), could be that LW1 would not be included in the private wedding party events (rehearsals, dinners, breakfasts, etc.) and would not be seated with her BF during the ceremony or reception. If this is the case and the bride felt that having LW1 accompany the father as his significant other would cause tension with her mother, I would take it as an honor to be invited as an independent guest. The wedding, after all, is about the bride and groom, not the social status of LW1 or any other guest.

    If LW1 will be accompanying her BF and participating in wedding events as her BF’s significant other, then the concern about having a plus-one or an independent invitation is baffling.

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    • avatar

      Ron May 27, 2017, 2:48 pm

      Drama queens gotta have drama. It’s what they live for. The routine of a relationship and family is just the necessary backdrop to support the drama.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous May 27, 2017, 4:03 pm

    I say this in every wedding post. This wedding is not about you!!

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    • avatar

      Ron May 28, 2017, 11:39 am

      You totally miss her point. Everything is about her.

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  • avatar

    Sue May 28, 2017, 10:38 am

    #1 You have this 100% backwards. Be happy. And please DO NOT be one of those miserable people who take offense at every real or imagined slight. It’s a terrible way to live and makes you very prickly and unlikable.
    #2 Character matters! Don’t even think of staying with someone who lies (by omission) about BIG stuff, doesn’t take responsibility for a life he created by being a great Dad and blames you for his failing. Not just red flags, drop dead deal breakers. Would you even think of having children with someone like this?
    #3 It happens often, a close relative gets added to accounts for convenience and they then pass automatically, not through probate. This may have been intentional or by misunderstanding the results. Sometimes, the person benefiting feels it isn’t really fair and evens things out but often, not. It’s their money. And in some estates, it’s a lot of money and can create great animosity. Try to think long term, how you want your sibling relationship to be going forward. It’s tough to lose a parent, emotions can be raw. Speak kindly and appreciate your sibling has a lot of work to do administering the estate. Good luck.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph in May 28, 2017, 9:20 pm

    LW3 it’s honestly sad how often families fall apart over matters of inheritance, exactly at the time when you need each other as you’re all feeling the same major loss.
    Recommend you do whatever it takes to patch stuff up with your sister. You should lean on each other and grieve together, not battle for mom’s last possessions.

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