Wedding Etiquette Forum

Estranged FMIL and conflicts with FSIL, invites? Sorry, long.

Hi, everyone!  Let me start by saying, I am a refugee from WW.  lol.

I have a complicated situation with FH's family.  

My fiance and his mother have been estranged for more than 10 years.  She has severe mental illness and substance abuse problems; and they have not spoken, until recently.  FH recently added her as a friend on FB.  He has very strong feelings about not inviting her to the wedding, after we have discussed it a few times.  I have never met the woman, and I friended her too, but she has restricted access to my account.  She can't see any of my posts unless they are tagged.  My caution to him on reconnecting with his mom is, she now knows we're engaged.  And she may very well ask him if she is invited to the wedding.  We don't post any details about the wedding on social media, of course.  I know it is his choice how much distance he needs from his mother; but I can't help but wonder if he is going to have a change of heart; and how this will play out.

Mental illness and substance abuse has lead his sister down a similar path.  We have custody of our niece because his sister has been in and out of rehab and an abusive relationship with her boyfriend.  She has put us through a tremendous amount of grief. We love her 8 yr old daughter as our own and have had custody for a year. She is going to be the flower girl in our wedding.  However, Our relationship with FH's sister is so strained--she hardly shows up for visitation and he is certain she won't show up for the wedding if we do invite her.  

I have a ton of resentment for FSIL because of how her daughter has been neglected by her.  That and FSIL said some really horrible things about me. The only time she ever contacts her brother is to ask for money; never asks how her child is. I really don't want to invite her, either.  But as it's her daughter who is FG, it seems like really bad etiquette to exclude her too.

Anyone with experience with estranged or toxic family (or in-law) members who can share their wisdom with me?

Re: Estranged FMIL and conflicts with FSIL, invites? Sorry, long.

  • I agree that you aren't required to invited FSIL to the wedding just because her bio daughter is in the wedding party. Your Fi really needs to decide if he wants a relationship with his sister beyond the legal obligation of allowing visitation. Does he want her at the wedding? Does his daughter want her there.

    Ditto with the mom. Your Fi does not have to invite her to the wedding. If and when she chooses recovery, she will have to accept responsibility for the damaged relationships. That will be a good time to consider including her in your lives. 

    In the meantime, it's okay to keep track of her on FB, keeping a safe distance between your own little family of three and his mother. You are smart to restrict access to info on your FB page.

  • First off, props to you both for caring for your FI's niece! I think you should ask her how she feels about her mother attending the wedding. At 8 years old, she can at least voice her feelings, and you can go from there. 

    I think you both need to talk about how you feel about having a relationship with his mom. If you do decide to step things back, he should be the one to have that conversation (blood talks to blood). You did open the door a little by adding her on social media. I know it's easy to feel like that's not realllly letting someone in since it's so prevalent these days, but it is often the start of a relationship. 

    Does your FI worry he may regret not having these family members there? Like, sometimes if someone even sees a glimmer of possibility the relationship may be mended, they worry they'll look back and feel guilty about not inviting them to a wedding. I would encourage him to be honest with you about his feelings, and follow his lead.
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