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Dealing with a divorced family...Help!!! (sorry-this is long)

My fiance and I decided to have a destination wedding in Jamaica next April.  We are extremely excited about it.  Most of my family is also very excited.  The ones who weren't have started to come around, but I am having a lot of stress about dealing with my blended family. 

My parents were divorced over 20 years ago.  The divorce was pretty messy and there have been many, many, many difficult situations over the years because my mother still feels a lot of resentment against my father and my step-mother.  Every family celebration, including all holidays, my mother and I usually fight about something.  For example, last Thanksgiving she screamed, cried, and even quit talking to me for several days because I intended on having Thanksgiving dinner at my house and inviting any family members who wanted to attend.  My father decided to come with my step-mother.  My mother apparently decided that since she felt uncomfortable, it was selfish of me to have Thanksgiving at my house.  After constantly calling and yelling at me, she decided to come to dinner-the day before Thanksgiving.  Then she was angry because I didn't tell her to bring enough food to dinner.  It's basically a vicious cycle that continues on every important occassion.  I continually "put my foot down" about what I want-and have continued to do this while planning my wedding.  I actually find it easier to do a lot of the planning alone because there are less fights and less family friction. 

My step-mother and I have a pretty good relationship.  She married my father when I was 5 and although our relationship was not always the best, I feel much closer to her now.  Most of the time we tend to get a long better than I get a long with my mother.  My step-mother has been really good about taking a step-back during the planning process.  We haven't talked about it, but I think she understands that this is something that I need to do with my mother.  

As I said before, there are a lot of things I have been doing alone or with my fiance because it's a lot less stressful for me.  Also, destination weddings require a lot less planning so stress and family friction have really been minimized.  The only thing I am really worried about is shopping for my wedding dress.  My mom has offered to pay for the wedding dress and I think that she would like to share this special time with me and my sister.  I have been thinking about it for awhile, and I think that this is really what I want also.  The only trouble is my step-sister and my step-mother.  My step-mother hasn't mentioned shopping for my dress but my step-sister has.  She really seems excited and wants to go shopping.  I haven't invited her, but she just seems to assume that she's going.  She is one of my bridesmaids also.  Although my mom drives me crazy, and I'm sure that we will have different ideas about what I should wear, this is something I just want to do with her and my one full-blooded sister.  I don't think that my step-mother intends to go shopping.  I think we are kind of at an understanding....but I don't know what to say to my step-sister.  Part of me really wants to talk to her and explain but I don't know how to do that without hurting her feelings.  I also feel that if I take her, I will have to ask my step-mother.  This would probably infuriate my mother and it's really not what I want.  I feel like this should be a moment between me, her, and my sister.  I feel like in order to have this happen, I will have to hurt someone and cause friction.  Part of the reason that we chose a destination wedding was to minimize the stress I feel when planning special occassions with my family.  I want to remember my wedding as a happy occassion-something that I really enjoyed with my family.  My fiance and I are not picky people and we want a very small and simple wedding.  We want people to just enjoy themselves and when we all look back at that day-just remember how in love we both were.  The rest of the details don't matter but the experience and the memory does.  I'm afraid that by not inviting me step-sister and step-mother I will create the one thing that I wanted to avoid. 

This is really hard for me because I feel like I have always been the one to worry about pleasing everyone in my family.  I've stopped doing that in recent years because I realized that it didn't ever make anyone happy, me in particular.  However, I still feel a lot of pressure from many family members (particularly my parents) to do what they want at all times.  Because I now do what makes me happy, I have made a lot of family members angry in the past.  I don't intend to hurt anyone, but it often seems that I can't have what makes me happy unless I do that once in awhile.  People in my family tend to see this as one of my "personality flaws"-particularly my dad and step-mom. 

I don't want to hurt my step-sister, but this is something I want to do with only my sister and my mom.  What do I say/do?  Quite frankly, I feel like above all this is one time where I should get to have what I want and other people should put aside their feelings and think of mine.  Women from traditional families don't have to share this event with anyone but their mother.  Why should I be forced to share it with someone other than my mother and my sister just because my family is different?  However, I don't think that will happen without a fight.  How can I avoid it or deal with it best?        

Re: Dealing with a divorced family...Help!!! (sorry-this is long)

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    MobKazMobKaz member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    If I understand this correctly, there is a reason your step-mom has not mentioned your dress shopping.....she understands that it is not her place to do so.  Your step-sister, however, in part, because of her age, may not understand that it was not her place to bring the subject up.

    I would NOT mention bride dress shopping to her at all.  You aren't obliged to.  I would make plans for you, your mom, and your sister to shop for the bridal dress.  If step-sister mentions it again, then simply tell her that plans for shopping  have been made and include only the three of you, because it is meant to be something a mother and daughter do together, and remind her that she will understand when she becomes engaged. Although I would recommend you limit the discussion, you may also want to add that you don't want a roomful of opinions to cloud your judgment, and that you want to limit the amount of people that see your dress prior to the wedding.  Remind her that you are excited to share time with her when you go shopping for bridesmaid dresses.

    If she contintues to balk, tell her that you are sorry she feels that way and then END THE CONVERSATION.
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    melissamc2melissamc2 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    To me, the easiest option is also the one that would make the most of your dress search.

    Plan a day to go with your step-sister and step-mother - look around, try on a few, get their opinions, and don't buy that day.

    Plan another day with your Mother and sister, don't mention the previous trip (because it's none of their business), and try on more.   This way you get the opinions of all the women closest to you, you haven't excluded anyone, and you are still doing the purchasing/final decisions with your Mother.

    Mothers and Fathers truly need to set their own issues aside if they choose to be involved in their child's wedding.  I'm sorry you're going through this, but I encourage you to continue to stand your ground.  Good luck!
    10-10-10
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    edited December 2011
    I think you are seeing conflict, where there is none. Your mom wants to go shopping with you and your sister for your wedding dress. You want the same thing. Your SM doesn't expect to be invited. She probably understands how important this is to your mom, since she has a daughter of her own.
    Let your step-sister know that you are shopping for your dress with your mom. Tell her you will invite her along for a fitting when your dress comes in.
                       
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    edited December 2011
    I bet your step sister will be more understanding than you think if you are just honest with her.  I also agree with the above suggestions that you can invite her to a fitting or maybe another dress shopping trip.  You will most likely go to more than one store anyway.  I may even suggest reversing the order - go with your mom and sister first as that will be the most special trip.  Narrow it down, then perhaps bring Step mom and sister back to the same store to see your top choices or scope out another store.  Then make final purchase with mom.  Any understanding and not-pushy bridal consultant will appreciate you wanting more than one appointment before you decide anyway - I was fortunate enough to have the girl encourage me to sleep on it before deciding.  Maybe you can feel out the step sister and find out what other details she may be exicted about - the florist or a cake tasting or something - and invite her along for that.  And of course it sounds like she would be involved in bridesmaid dress shopping too.

    I hope it works out for you!  Be happy that everyone wants to come and share in these special events with you!  I don't have sisters and wish my BMs were more eager to come along wth mom and I  :-)
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    edited December 2011
    I understand this completely.  I'm going through a very similar situation right now as I am gearing up to go dress shopping.  To avoid conflict and hurt feelings between both mom and step-mom, I'm going twice.  However, I'm actually closer with my step-mom than with bio-mother so my first day that I intend to look and potentially buy is with my step-mom and BM's, I'm going a different day just to a little shop to appease my mom so she can say we went.  If two days of dress shopping isn't conducive for you, I'd just be honest with your step-sister, she will understand completely once the big day comes for her and dealing with a blended and extended family Smile
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