Behind a cut for parental bigotry & abuse.
Dear Captain Awkward,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my question! Here’s the situation: I got married nearly two years ago. For our wedding, we tried to keep things very simple and planned for two toasts, one from each side. I asked my best friend to give the toast on my side. Two days before the wedding, my Mom insisted that my brother give a toast too, since he gave a heartfelt and funny one at my sister’s wedding. I agreed, albeit just to appease her, because I love my brother and he’s a great speaker. I explained to him that I would be honored for him to speak and that Mom really wanted him to as well, and he agreed with a note that it might not be great with such short notice.
It wasn’t great. In fact, it hurt my feelings. The other toasts were sweet and funny with some loving jabs. My brother was okay at first, just some silly marriage advice. But at the end he was like “I know I’m supposed to roast my little sister: growing up, she was a poor sport and a tattletale”. The end. Nothing to blunt the jab, nothing about caring for me or that he’s happy that I found such a good match. We have never spoken about it.
If this matters, my husband agrees that it was harsh and maybe awkward. His brother roasted him HARD but did it in a way that showed how much he adores him and nothing had a sting to it.
Generally my brother and I have a good relationship. We live a few hours apart, text a little bit most weeks and see each other a few times a year. Typically we’re trying to make each other laugh or just catch up on life, but I think we could eventually be truly close.
For some reason I just can’t let this toast go. I know I’m being sensitive, but am I just being a “poor sport”? Also, I don’t know if I should talk to him about this. I mean, he DID warn me that it might not be great with such short notice. Maybe I should re-write the narrative in my mind that he tried to make a joke (based in truth) that just fell flat?
I’m dealing with something that is new to me and I’m kind of seeking someone who can tell me whether or not my expectations are way out of line, or if I need to compromise them; my concern is that it’s a problem where any compromise I can think of leaves everyone miserable.
My longtime boyfriend and I (pronouns = she, her, hers) are getting married. He proposed with my own key ring because the moment was so right and the location so deeply meaningful for us that he went for it sans ring. He also knows I’m not a super girly person and have said many times that I don’t need a ring. When he proposed, however, he fell over himself apologizing for not “doing it right” and having a ring. I said whatever, we can discuss that later, right now all I’m focused on is this commitment I cannot wait to make official with the person who matters most in my world. I put the key ring on a necklace and proceeded to wear it nonstop, because I was damn proud of his ingenious substitute and loved what it symbolized.
A few weeks later, the key ring disintegrated in a mineral hot spring. (Pro tip: when they tell you silver will tarnish and you should remove all jewelry, believe them.) I balked at the loss of my symbol and he said we would go out and get a real one together. At this point I became very excited at the prospect of going out as a couple and hunting for something special from an antique store. I’m not a big “real jewelry with real rocks and metals” kind of person, but that has made me excited by the prospect of my one “real” piece being the most meaningful thing I will ever wear.
I found a jeweler in our city who specializes in antique rings and found a beautiful art deco one from the 1930’s for $1k — according to Google this is a bargain basement price for an engagement ring today. People spending money on me makes me a little queasy, so I was really excited to have found a place that had beautiful, unique rings that were ‘affordable’. I guess it may help to point out we live in the Bay Area so our work takehome is higher than other regions. Price expectations across all money-related things are skewed and insane here by default.
He did not see it this way. “That’s so much!” “Well I have no idea how much they cost.””I didn’t realize we were actually going to go get one.” All of these responses have me in flames. My problems as I see them:
– He has said several times now over several months that he has no idea how much they cost. Why then hasn’t he done any research in between saying this? In between saying we will get one?
– His attempt to say he didn’t know we’d actually get one is bullshit, per this letter so far.
– It’s NOT too much in my research. What makes this worse is that I make more than him but this entire time I was under the impression he has a lot of money in savings and is a good saver, barely spends. As of our fight last night, apparently none of this is true! In defense of his “too costly” assertion he stated he doesn’t have enough saved up; my eyes almost fell out of my mouth.
Clearly we have a bigger financial discussion looming on the near horizon. What really irks me is that now I feel like I’m forced to insist he be a man of his word, which means him spending money on me he apparently doesn’t have. And now I feel like even if he had the money, every time I looked at my ring I’d be reminded of the reminding and the nagging and the pushing to get him to even get one. I’d rather not have one at all, but I’m still really pissed off that he apparently doesn’t do any follow-through on what he says or promises.
He’s an idea guy, and always comes up with great vacation plans. He does zero follow-through, so I’m the one who always has to do all the reservations and pay upfront, even though I work 9-5 M-F and he doesn’t have to be at work until 4pm each day. It’s been the same with the wedding at large: we want it this year so I’ve been doing shit tons of venue research and sending him tons of emails filled with links to ones for him to vet. I asked him to start doing the same and you’d think I asked him to grow a uterus and give birth.
I feel like I have to do all the emotional labor and literal actions to see things through. I’m sick and tired of having to make an adult understand that you can’t just say something like “i want you to have a ring” and then not follow through or attempt to change my mind. True I’ve always been fairly indifferent about having one, but now that we’re engaged and he has time and again SAID he wants to get one, I’m super excited and really want one! But now I’ll feel like a greedy nag if I push for it.
He’s the kind of person who tries to change what I want by pointing out things he disagrees with or thinks could be done differently (his way), because he doesn’t like change and doesn’t want to confront having to do something he doesn’t want to. I’m sick to death of this, it’s insulting and I’m not an idiot and will NOT be gaslit.
This is probably insanely long and I’m not even sure anymore what my question is. I guess I am hoping for advice as to whether or not my expectations for a ring are worthy of pursuing, or if I need to just drop it. I’m prepared for anyone to tell me I’m being stubborn and selfish — if this were a letter from someone else I’d probably say as much myself, but now it’s me and it’s just how I feel. The not keeping his word is the core frustration here — it’s like I can’t trust what he says and that he’ll do it without me reminding him or him changing his mind and reacting like I’m insane for bringing it up again.
Anyway, feel free to tell me this is all par for the marriage course and that communication is key as well as compromise. I already asked him to come straight home tonight so we can talk more and try to get to the heart of it. This whole letter makes him sound like a trash monster but I hope the internet can trust that I love him and he is more than just this debacle. Debacles, plural? Probably.
Between A Rock And A Hard Place
Dear Captain Awkward,
My wedding is in a month. There is new parental drama that makes me wish we were eloping. How do I still enjoy my wedding?
Fiancée and I are introverts and did not want a huge wedding. My parents do not understand why we would not want 300 guests (despite numerous attempts to explain). We compromised and invited almost everyone they wanted. We will have 100 guests (a lot!).
A few days ago, amidst a calm discussion about wedding logistics, my dad got unexpectedly angry and bitter and said (I quote) “You have made a lot of choices about this wedding that your mom and I would not have made and you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.” He said it in a way that clearly indicated he was bitter and resentful and unhappy. It was out of the blue and really upsetting, very much the “you are a child and I am not going to engage with or respect you” tone of voice. I am about to be 30.
I tried to engage in calm, thoughtful conversation (through tears) about his concerns, but to no avail. He does not communicate about feelings, apologize or have discussions about his behavior. My mom did not get why I was upset (???), but when I talked to her later she did commiserate that he does not apologize for things. I assume he is still upset about invitations, which pisses me off because we invited all of his family (except for some adult children, which caused other drama, long story). I may never know.
My primary concern is how to still enjoy my wedding next month. My mom is confident he will behave and be gracious, and she is probably right, but this outburst was unexpected so I am worried (A++ at anxiety). I also know that any conversation with my dad about this will a) not go anywhere, and b) make it take longer for things to cool down, making day-of wedding drama more likely. But I am both a strong communicator and a strong woman and it is hard to feel like letting it go is letting him win. Wedding planning has been a large source of stress for me (we had a variety of other family/friend invitation drama despite our best attempts), and this is just the icing on the cake. Right now I feel like I am going to burst into tears from one unkind word at the wedding.
I talked about this with my therapist and we are working on practicing being okay with people I care about being upset at/angry with me. I care about my parents very much, but my dad has been the largest source of wedding-related stress, and telling him that will only make things worse. I have a good Team Me in my fiancée and close friends, but it is hard to know what to do so that I can enjoy my wedding while also feeling angry.
Maybe I Should Have Eloped
Dear Captain Awkward,
I got married 2 years ago, and since then Older Sister & I haven’t spoken. What prompted the silence was that she wasn’t a Maid of Honor at my wedding.
Let me preface this by saying I come from a Southern family where weddings are a big deal, but if it had been solely my choice, I would’ve happily eloped at city hall. But we did have a traditional Southern wedding, which my mom planned.
My husband wanted his brother to be his best man, so knowing that I needed a MOH, I picked my younger sister. I figured that Older Sister, who’s 11 years older than me, would’ve been relieved that she didn’t have to stand in front of everyone and buy a dress she’d only wear once.
Welp, when I called to update her on the wedding plans, she was very upset and ended the call abruptly. I felt terrible and called back later, apologizing, asking to talk. She didn’t return my call for three months and only did after my mom drove down and convinced her to reconcile. We had a nasty conversation of “how could you not know this would hurt me,” etc.
I thought about having 2 MOHs, but that would mean my husband’s sister would be left out, and I wasn’t eager to include her because we haven’t always been on best of terms. So I sent Older Sister an email asking her to do a reading, and she said fine and that she wasn’t upset anymore. Then she sent a hurtful email to my mom, which was about a lot of other things, but also said how mom should’ve “made” me have two MOHs.
Anyway, the wedding day wasn’t fun. Older Sister ended up crying in the bathroom while I was getting ready, and I had to be the liaison between her & mom the entire weekend. It was terrible. I didn’t even want this damn wedding, and I spent the entire time on edge and nauseous. Afterwards, I wrote Older Sister an email explaining how angry I was, and she said not to contact her anymore.
Captain, I still feel so guilty about the MOH thing. Maybe I should’ve had 2 MOHs, my husband’s sister as a bridesmaid, and gotten two groomsmen to even things out. I was trying to protect myself against more drama and stress by not doing those things, but that clearly backfired.
I don’t have a plan of how reconcile with Older Sister, and that’s fine for now. But I need an honest answer to this question: Did I really mess up? Did I wrong Older Sister?
Thanks for reading,
Captain Awkward et al,
A few years ago now, my parents informed me that they have been swingers since I was 11 years old (over 15 years ago). I feel I should mention: while I am only able to sustain one romantic/sexual relationship at a time, I embrace any lifestyle that involves informed, consenting adults. What threw me for a loop was that the family narrative that I had been telling everyone (including myself) was altered irrevocably. I’ve been in therapy, working on my feelings of anger and anxiety that have been busted loose by this revelation. While my parents love me, I don’t think they really understand how troubling this has been for me.
Since the time of my parents’ coming out, they have been involved with a woman named Myrtle. Myrtle is an otherwise single woman, who has recently adopted a baby, and about a year after that, gave birth to my half-sister. My parents have been very involved with both children, and have built and moved into a house across the street from Myrtle.
Periodically, I have sat my parents down to ask them questions, like: “What relationship do you expect me to have with these children?” and “How formal is the relationship between you guys and Myrtle?” They insist that they are not and will not be entering into anything formal with her, that if she finds someone to be monogamous with, they’ll just go back to being neighbors. Yet, it seems whenever I call they are at her house, or at swimming lessons with the kids, or just coming back from a trip together. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve lost my parents.
Last week my father informed me that I must invite Myrtle to my upcoming wedding. To be fair, I did tell him that given their financial contributions, they are entitled to a limited number of “I insist” cards, to be used judiciously. He claims she is unlikely to come. I don’t understand why they want me to invite her. I don’t really want her to be there. The space is limited, the guest list is small and only includes family and the dearest of friends.
Captain, do I play the good daughter (something I excel at) and invite her? Should I just recruit some friends to play “keep Myrtle away from me” on the big day? Should I call my parents and find out why they want me to invite someone that they deny a having a formal relationship with? Should I just say no and cope with any resulting tension? I just don’t know what to do.
Trying to Get Over It
Hello Captain and Friends,
I come from the type of broken home that looks shiny on the outside. The one bright spot in growing up with my neglectful (but not abusive towards me) parents was/is my big brother. We’ve always been very close and have essentially been each other’s best friends since some rather cruel fallings-out we had with our respective friends groups in high school. I wouldn’t say we tell each other everything, but definitely the important things.
My brother finished his Master’s last spring and decided to spend the six months after that traveling. He was doing the student-backpacker thing, so we didn’t keep as closely in touch as we normally do, mostly postcards and brief calls and the occasional email. So imagine my surprise when he came home at the end of December with a fiancé I’d never even heard of.
I’m pretty hurt by this and I think I’m justified. I’m sure that his boyfriend is a great guy, but our parents’ New Years’ party was the first place I met him and also the first time I’d seen my brother in six months. My parents went through the roof, my dad (his step-dad) especially, who has never really accepted that my brother was bi and who used to occasionally express that non-acceptance with his fists when we were younger. There was a huge fight at the party. My brother and his boyfriend left early. Ever since, whenever I talk to my brother, all he does is complain about how he knew mom and dad would react that way and tell me all the horrible things they’ve said to him since. (Apparently they’ve bombarded him with voicemails and even roped other family members into it.)
Obviously I mostly nod and tell him they’re jerks (because they are), but I also want to make it clear to him that they’re not the only ones upset and that I’m hurt too. I’m afraid that anything I say will be seen as taking their side or come across as homophobic or petty. (For the record, I’m totally fine with his bisexuality and have met and approved of past boyfriends. It’s the speed and being kept in the dark that are upsetting me here.) I mean, I know things happen on long trips that seem awesome and then you come home and things change. I don’t want him to get hurt, but also, yeah, I’m pissed he didn’t tell me he’s marrying a stranger.
How can I tell him all this without turning it into him accusing me of siding with my parents? I want to support him, but he’s been through a lot and I’m really worried.