Wedding 911

Advice about not inviting Dad.

hi everyone, I'm new to this site and wondered if I could ask your opinions on this. I'm finding this really hard at the moment and I'd really appreciate your thoughts. My fiance and I are getting married in about 9 months, and since he proposed I haven't stopped worrying about what I'm going to do about my dad. 

My parents divorced about 7 years ago because my dad was an abusive alcoholic and my mum had no choice but to leave. She is now with someone else and very happy. It's difficult to explain why, but for a number of reasons (I suppose mostly fear and guilt), my mum and I have stayed in contact with my dad and I speak to him on the phone about once a week. I haven't seen him in person for about three years. He is not a well man, he has liver disease and is still an alcoholic, although he doesn't drink as much as before. He is in and out of hospital and otherwise just sits at home. He is very sad and has no friends and no other family. My dad knows that my mum has a partner but he doesn't know that they live together.

My dad has struggled with suicidal thoughts and has said in the past that the only thing he is living for is to give me away when I get married. We did tell him when we got engaged but he hasn't mentioend it since then. I wonder if he has forgotten!?

I really don't know what to do about the wedding. If I invite him, I will spend the entire day dreading his potential behaviour and worrying about my mum. It would be the first time she has seen him since she left. So I dont really think he can be invited.

My partner does not like my dad but feels sorry for him. If I don't invite him then I think he will react extremely badly and I still feel like I am responsible for him. What if he tries to hurt himself? I feel like I'm never going to be able to make the right decision and I'm not enjoying planning the weddding as a result. 

Some of my friends have suggested that I should just not tell him and hope he never mentions it. This feels like more of a risk as it is possible he would find out from other people and then he might be even more hurt. 

Any advice would be very appreciated. Thanks for reading xx

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Re: Advice about not inviting Dad.

  • It sounds simply like you're making YOUR decision based on protecting your Mom instead of realizing that you do have a relationship with your Dad, however dysfunctional, you still have one, which you should accept it for what it is and not have regrets about the way your relationship is. 

    I had a long background typed out, but not my Dad, but my Grandfather was the one I didn't have contact with, and also a friend with a TBI who committed suicide shortly after discovering he hadn't been invited to our wedding (DH had it as a "hill to die on" that he not be invited even though I wanted him invited as we were coworkers and other members of that group were invited).. 

    At the end of the day, are you going to regret not at minimum extending the invitation to your Dad independent of anyone else's thoughts/feelings on the matter?  Given what you've said, it's entirely possible he forgot you told him you were getting married.  Short of having a "dry" reception, think about your options that way.  Obviously talk to your Mom and ask what her feelings are on the matter, not what you project her feelings to be out of wanting to protect your Mom.  Open a dialog together and play out the "what if" - "what if - his health is in the final descent and "this is it".  "what if - this is the turning point in his life to clean up to be there should you decide to have children..."..  "what if - he needs to be escorted out - by security personnel"..  "what if - you don't invite him and he decides to end it all"..   "What if - you invite him and everything happens that day without incident and you realized how much time you spent worrying about everything and nothing happened because everything was discussed by all parties involved ahead of time.

    Good luck with your decision, it's yours and yours alone to make.  There are no easy answers and all of us here aren't there in your situation to tell you what to do, you have to make that call yourself given all that you know of the personalities involved.  Above all else, you need to do so with no regrets.

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  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    OP, this is a very personal decision.  I don't think any one here can tell you the answer.  I do have a few comments though.

    1.  I get the sense that you feel responsible for his actions (okay, you actually straight out said you do).  You mentioned suicidal thoughts.  He does need help, but I want to emphasize that it is not your responsibility.  If he tries to pressure you at all, it is emotional manipulation, which alcoholics are superb at.  Don't let him manipulate you, and don't give him that power.  Contacting social services about a suicide threat, as London Lisa mentioned, might also be something you should keep in mind.  

    2.  Do you want a relationship with your dad?  What does having a relationship with him mean to you?  Be realistic about what a relationship with your dad looks like.  It will never be perfect, or most likely, even good.  Is the relationship beneficial to you at all?  Or is it toxic?  Is this a major source of stress in your life?  Has it been going on your whole life?  You don't have to put up with abusive, absent, or toxic relationships just because it is a blood relative.  It's okay to protect yourself first.  

    3.  Get to al-anon.  Seriously.  Being the child of an alcoholic is no joke.  It helps to talk to other people who have either experienced the same things, or who can truly sympathize with what you are going through.  I know you probably feel like all of this weight is on your shoulders right now, but you're not alone, and you don't have to feel like you're the only one dealing with something like this.  Your FI can only understand so much.  My brother is an alcoholic.  The last ten years have been awful.  I had enough autonomy to avoid some of it, but it was still extremely rough on me. My parents lived in alcoholic hell 24/7.  Going to al-anon helped my mom immensely.  I really suggest trying it out. 


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  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    OP, are you British? (Just because I noticed some of your phrasing).

    You are entitled to at least 6 free sessions with a counselor on the NHS which I think would really help you. Also, contact the charities Mind or The Samaritans- they are great about helping navigate social services with regards to suicide prevention of a family member. 

    Your GP will also have information about helpful groups for family of alcoholics. 
  • My heart goes out to you.  My father was not the nicest person, and my parents went through a horrible divorce when I was a teenager.  I was very protective of my Mom, and didn't speak to my father for about a year after they got divorced.  When I started talking to him again, it was very difficult as he was also emotionally abusive, but for some reason I kept talking to him (sounds very similar to your situation).

    A few years (okay about 10 years ago) I was graduating college, and my father wanted more than anything to come.  My Mom was already remarried at that time, and I did not want a huge argument to occur at my graduation.  My father insisted on coming, and I remember telling him that I will kick him out of the graduation and he will not talk to me for a very long time if he acts at all inappropriately.  We had a heated discussion, but he told me at the end of it that he didn't want to miss my graduation.  Not only did he show up with a suit and tie on, but he brought flowers and a card.  He was completely sober and did not even drink at the restaurant when everyone else was having wine.  He didn't talk to my Mom or her husband much, but when he did talk to them it was appropriate and nothing out of line.  I was very nervous at first when he showed up, but after about an hour I completely relaxed and was able to have a very good time.

    I love the other members suggestions of going to counseling, as I used to go and it was extremely helpful.  If you are up for having a frank discussion with your Dad, and telling him your fears, he may surprise you at your wedding by acting the perfect gentleman.  Unfortunately, my father passed away 6 years ago from a stroke, but honestly, if he was alive today, I wouldn't hesitate to have him at my wedding.

    I truly wish you the best of luck.

  • Thank you all for taking the time to reply and for your kind and thoughtful responses, I really appreciate it. Thank you for not judging me for still being in contact with my dad. When I think about the way he has hurt my mother and I, I have a hard time justifying my relationship with him.I suppose that says a lot too...?

    There have been some points in my life that I have seriously considered cutting contact with him but his ill health has usually been the precipitating factor in re-establishing the relationship (usually because the hospital or social services will contact me as NOK and I never know how to negotiate this). 

    I think the reason I worry about my mum so much is that growing up in a house where everyone was worried constantly about not making my dad angry, I have got used to feeling protective over her and in some way responsible for when my father was abusive. He ruined so many holidays and occasions over the years I suppose a part of me feels that my mother and I (and of course my fiance and everyone else at the wedding! ha ha!) deserve to have one day that isn't overshadowed by worry, anger and 'treading on eggshells' in order to negotiate my father's feelings/ rage/ sadness. That said, I also don't want to spend the whole time worrying if I have done the right thing and feeling bad about my dad. I don't want to cause him more sadness, but I also feel that inviting him would simply be too much of a risk - I'm trying really hard to think of an example of a time when he didn't let me down with his behaviour at an event/ occassion/ holiday - but I can't!

    Knottie9076833, thank you for your honesty. Your reply made me feel a bit tearful as it really resonated with how I'm feeling at the moment. I'm so glad that it worked out for you with your dad, you were very brave to take the risk and to offer your dad that opportunity before he passed away x. 

    I have taken on board all your comments and LondonLisa, thank you, I'm going to access the local wellbeing service to see if I can talk to a counsellor there about this. I will be mindful of your 'What If's', MesmrEwe, so thank you. They have given me a good starting point for considering each angle - rather than a whole mess of general worry! Levioosa, thank you for your advice, I am also going to go back to alanon as I went for a while a few years ago before I started shift work and I found it very helpful. 

    Thanks again for your time and advice - sharing this anxiety here has lessened its weight on my shoulders and for that I am very grateful. xxx
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  • My dad isn't going to be invited to my wedding. He disowned me years ago (although he claims he never did- right, so I cried about my dad saying "get out of my life, change your last name, I want nothing to do with you" just because it seemed fun at the time) and has since created a shit ton of drama in my family. It was better for my sanity to cut him off completely. I don't answer texts, I don't respond to anything, and continuously decline FB friend requests. Even if I had a good relationship with him, it would be so awkward on my wedding day with him there with my mom and her family because he physically abused her, and a few of her sisters, for years. If it would cause more discomfort or awkwardness than it would joy, I would say you can feel guilt-free about not inviting him. 
  • My dad isn't going to be invited to my wedding. He disowned me years ago (although he claims he never did- right, so I cried about my dad saying "get out of my life, change your last name, I want nothing to do with you" just because it seemed fun at the time) and has since created a shit ton of drama in my family. It was better for my sanity to cut him off completely. I don't answer texts, I don't respond to anything, and continuously decline FB friend requests. Even if I had a good relationship with him, it would be so awkward on my wedding day with him there with my mom and her family because he physically abused her, and a few of her sisters, for years. If it would cause more discomfort or awkwardness than it would joy, I would say you can feel guilt-free about not inviting him. 
    Your problem here is that you're Declining FB friend requests.  If you just let them sit out there in limbo (neither declining nor accepting), they can't re-ask.  It's amazing, and how I deal with all my PITA relatives.
  • You can also just block people on FB. That way they can't even search for you or find you. You won't exist to them on FB.
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