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Wedding-related family tension, advice appreciated.

I have a feeling this is going to be long - I'll try to be as concise as possible.

When FI first got engaged, we and our families all worked on a preliminary guest list together. My extended family is very large, and on one side, we have many family members who don't like us very much or are estranged. We omitted them from our list and my parents were fine with it. We were at around 180 people, and we decided to look for a venue that hosted around 200 people. We found one, and put down the desposit (which was the full venue fee).

About a week later, my parents asked to review the guest list because they wanted to make some changes. Later that day, they added on another 30 people without their SOs and omitting certain children. They went well above their "share" (each set of parents got one third of the list, and FI/I share a third). I called them, very concerned about the drastic change and the fact that we weren't inviting SOs. We argued for several more days, but finally, I cut some of my list in order to accomodate their extras and their SOs. They also cut all of their friends, and I added 8 of their closest friends to FI/my list because I knew they'd regret their decision. During this argument, I told them that FI and I would rather not accept their money, and that we would pay them back for the venue and postpone the wedding to a later date when we could afford it. This upset them even more, as they saw it as passive-aggressive (which I did not mean for it to be) and said that such a move would sever our relationship. Not wanting to cut ties with my parents, after some deliberation, I re-accepted their money but asked them to calm down and please let FI/me do the planning alone. I stopped discussing the wedding with them.

About a month ago, my college-age brother called me very upset. My brother has bipolar disorder, and it's been an interesting learning experience for the whole family. I have not dealt well with it - I live far away from my family, and he goes home to see my parents every other weekend or so. I also spent a lot of time denying his issues, saying that they were typical growing up issues, I'd gone through similar things (which I had, but I couldn't see how much less controllable his emotions were than mine) but for the past year I've been reading more about it. I do not talk to him about his disorder, and it's possible he doesn't know that I know about it.

During this call, he told me that my mom was upset that I'm not inviting more of her friends to the wedding. It was her and my dad's decision to cut their friends, and they asked me to B-list them, but I told them I didn't feel comfortable doing that and we dropped it. But my brother goes on to tell me that they gave me the gift of having me and raising me and I owe it to them to let them invite whoever they want, citing partiular friends that I shouldn't be inviting before my parents' friends. He said that I was causing our parents health issues, that I had caused my dad to smoke again, and that I was tearing the family apart. I was shocked, because I had talked to my parents so little about the wedding in the past several months because of the guest list issues we had. I explained that our parents had removed their friends willingly to accomodate family (to which he said that their friends have been more like family than our actual family, which I agree with - but my parents chose their guests) and that I was still inviting a couple of their friends. However, I unwisely said (I shouldn't have said this...) that if our parents (only my mom seems to have an issue with the guest list as-is) wanted to invite so many of their loved ones to an event, that they should divorce and get re-married. He screamed at me to shut up and listen to him and called me some rude words and I asked him to stop, at which he'd scream at me again. I told him that if the wedding was causing the family so many issues, that I would rather turn down the money and elope, even if that caused us to break ties for a while. He yelled at me again, saying that would kill our parents, and I would become another black sheep to our family like our cousin who decided to have a private ceremony with just her parents and siblings. He then screamed at me again to listen, and when I asked him to calm down, he told me that if I didn't shut up, he would make me regret it forever. I hung up the phone.

He told my parents that he only called to ask me to add people to the guest list and that I then freaked out at him and said that he was ruining the family with his disorder. I said nothing about his disorder, but my parents don't want to get into the middle of this and say they believe neither of us and both of us at the same time. They say we have to resolve this ourselves.

My brother has not responded to my calls. I have apologized in voicemails and asked if we can move on. He is a groomsman, plus he's my brother and Iove him. I haven't reached out to him for several weeks now, and my dad is asking me to try again, but at this point, I'm so hurt because my dad brought up again that he thinks I called my brother out on his issues.

I just don't know what to do. I know my brother has very little control over his emotions, but I feel jerked around. What would you do? How would you feel?

And please do not quote - I will be taking this down later today, just in case. I don't want to violate anyone's privacy by keeping this up.

Re: Wedding-related family tension, advice appreciated.

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    rusngl2rusngl2 member
    5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment First Anniversary
    edited April 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_chit-chat_wedding-related-family-tension-advice-appreciated?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:14Discussion:936ad54b-a849-4eb9-9c00-6615fe91178fPost:8e7c82c9-481c-49ef-9e68-9a19c7fab8de">Wedding-related family tension, advice appreciated.</a>:
    [QUOTE]I have a feeling this is going to be long - 
    Posted by zoberg[/QUOTE]

    <div>Hi Zoberg, </div><div>
    </div><div>WOW, I'm sooo sorry that you are going through this. I have no real advice for you other than to try to stay calm when you deal with your brother. As a person diagnosed with bipolar, I know personally that if you feed into my drama when I'm losing it, the situation just escalates. I'm not sure how your brother reacts obviously. </div><div>
    </div><div>It's much easier said than done, but try to focus on what is a logical answer that you can live with.  I'd advise having a conversation with your parents to see if what he alleged is really going on then deal with the actual issues directly with them instead of through him.</div><div>
    </div><div>Also, if you've reached out to him and he's refusing contact give him some space. He may be feeling sheepish and not know how to face you. I know for me when I've gone off the deep end it takes a second for me to own up to my cray cray</div><div>
    </div><div>ETA: clarity </div>
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    I agree with the pp.  You need to try and understand that your brother has a serious issue.  It's not easy for him and certainly not easy for your family to deal with either.  Continue to reach out to him, but give him time in between to respond if he doesn't want to deal.  As for your parents, I would call them out to see if they're bluffing on the invite issue.  I would decline their money.  
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    Rusngl, I really appreciate the perspective. I'm having so much difficulty understanding his situation because he's always been sort of a jerky little brother to me and, as younger children often do, he;'s gotten away with a lot more than I did when growing up, even far before his diagnosis. I blame the big sister-little brother complex. I want to be closer with him and understand him better. I don't know how to get through right now, and I'm still so hurt that I'm afraid I'll say something I regret if he DOES answer the phone.

    I should also mention that my parents both deny complaining to my brother about the guest list, but my brother mentioned specific guests that are either on the list or were on the list at one point, and he never saw the list, so I'm quite certain that my mother was actually crying over it and is now denying it because she realizes it was a bad idea.

    I'm at a point where paying for the wedding ourselves is now out of the question and would seriously injure my family (emotionally).
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    I feel like what really gets me in your post is that your brother said because your parents gave you a life, that you owe them your entire wedding basically. I just feel like your parents are putting WAY too much stock in your wedding. I can understand they are helping fund, but why should this be their party? 

     I understand where you are coming from, being the oldest of 4 with two younger brothers from one of which I dont communicate with a lot. I recently got back in contact with him and found out he has asbergers which I know is not the same thing, but i find it also hard to communicate with him and make sense of exactly how he is feeling.

    Anniversary
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    I feel your pain.  My older brother has always been the most emotionally fragile of the five of us, but also physically the strongest and best looking.  I used to make excuses for him cutting school from the time I was 14, made his doctors appointments until he was into his early 20s, and took the last class he needed for his Associate's degree online for him.  He is very loving but so volatile, and breaks all of our hearts very often.  Please know that if he is anything like my brother, he loves you but probably isn't going to stop having painful conversations.   I'm not sure I'm helping, but I really really sympathize.  
    image

    Previously Alaynajuliana


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    I have had 2 bipolar boyfriends and my best friend is bipolar... it's a definite struggle to deal with the ups and downs. I lived with the second boyfriend for a few months and some days he became very verbally agressive and made threats towards me. It was chilling. Eventually I just felt unsafe and broke up with him.

    I think for your own relationship with your brother, it would definitely benefit you to understand his condition. I read a book and joined a message board that was a helpful start for me regarding how to react to him when he was having an episode. It was also helpful to learn more about what he's going through and to know that it wasn't about me....and that most of what he said during those episodes very exaggerated.

    As for your parents, is it possible at all to talk to them about what you're feeling without them getting upset?

    I'm sorry you're going through this!
    image   imageimage
    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.

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    Hi Zoberg, 

    I am sorry you are going through this.  This should be a happy time for you and your family. You have apologized again and again to your brother.  It is up to him now to make the decision to forgive you.  In time, I am guessing he will get over it.  You have to move on now and continue to be nice, loving and put it behind the both of you.  Some day, he may see that he over stepped his boundary.  

    In regards to your parents.  Are they paying for the entire wedding?  Frankly, I think you are right, if they want a party then they should get remarried and have their own party.  I think they are forgetting this day is about you and your FI commitment to one another.  This is YOUR and his celebration.  

    I hope this helps. Good luck. 

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    I did fight them on the guest list debacle for three days and after three days they finally whittled down their list to just above the required amount, and as a thankyou I added some of their friends to my list. Not many, just 8. Now it seems like my mom as least regrets adding so many family members instead of friends and insisting that I send everyone save the dates, but my dad says he's perfectly happy. If anyone set my brother up to it, it's my mom. But she denies it vehemently, although my brother had info on the guest list he only could have gotten from them. We're now past the list, but with this recent episode, they're telling me that I'M the one beating a dead horse. The argument over the guest list is done, and I added another pair of their friends to the list so my brother would calm down. What would you do? I guess I don't see anything else I can do now.
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    I really appreciate you jumping in and continuing to give great advice. I'm overwhelmed by it, because I think I'm already in too deep, but I really, really appreciate it.

    We're now at the point where several of FI's out of state relatives have booked flights for our wedding, and with the services we've reserved and number of people who have received STDs (150 for our parents and 50 for us), we are unable to pay for the wedding ourselves. I've let my parents make the calls on the wedding for too long and I'm now too far in to be able to turn around. How would I cancel this wedding or make this wedding work, especially since my parents have already gotten their way with the guests and the guests have received save the dates?
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    My FMIL has threatened to sever ties with us over a number of things. She is a very unhealthy individual and I had to set boundaries where she could no longer bully us into getting the responses she wants....and it worked.

    I think you have serious considerations about the cost of the wedding and the problem isn't between you and your fiance so at this point, I personally would not cancel the wedding, I would try to fix the situation to be at a point where I can be happy on my wedding day. I understand that your parents are being controlling and that they added people and that is a major source of the problem for you. I think if you cancel it and lose all of their deposits, you're going to have a bigger problem with your parents.

    I'm a solutions person. Let's look at this differently. Let's take your brother out of the equation. He isn't saying things to you in a clear state of mind.

    1)What is the biggest problem for you here ? Is it that you had to make cuts from your guest list?

    -You can go up to 200 people with your venue, so by your parents adding 30 more    people, you are up 10, right?

    - How many people did you have to cut from your guest list that you really want to be there?

    - Can you have a serious heart to heart and talk to your mother about reducing that amount of people? or can you talk to the venue to ask if they can accomodate 10 more?  I know we plan for 100% attendance but it likely that 10 people won't show... but just to be sure.

    2) Are your parents being controlling about anything else?
    3) Are there other reasons beyond the guest list that are making you wanting to cancel?


    image   imageimage
    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.

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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_chit-chat_wedding-related-family-tension-advice-appreciated?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:14Discussion:936ad54b-a849-4eb9-9c00-6615fe91178fPost:ddaa3a67-03c7-4e42-8c43-7b801e661977">Re: Wedding-related family tension, advice appreciated.</a>:
    [QUOTE]I really appreciate you jumping in and continuing to give great advice. I'm overwhelmed by it, because I think I'm already in too deep, but I really, really appreciate it. We're now at the point where several of FI's out of state relatives have booked flights for our wedding, and with the services we've reserved and number of people who have received STDs (150 for our parents and 50 for us), we are unable to pay for the wedding ourselves. I've let my parents make the calls on the wedding for too long and I'm now too far in to be able to turn around. <strong>How would I cancel this wedding or make this wedding work, especially since my parents have already gotten their way with the guests and the guests have received save the dates?</strong>
    Posted by zoberg[/QUOTE]

    <div>This is the easy part, not being snide. You send a card to the same addresses you sent the STDs and simply state  that the wedding will not be taking placed as planned. The question becomes do you want to pull the trigger or not. Yes people will be upset, the majority of them will get over it and those that dont can take a long walk off a short pier. This is the WORSE case scenario of course. Talk to FI to see how he feels about all of the drama and if he would be ok with a postponment. </div><div>
    </div><div>My concern is do you actually have the money from your parents in hand yet? If not, I'm worried that they will continue to pull the money string to make you dance all the way down the aisle. I'd personally start scaling back my plans any and every where I could and/or make Mommie & Daddy cough up the cash now.  </div><div>
    </div><div>
    </div>
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_chit-chat_wedding-related-family-tension-advice-appreciated?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:14Discussion:936ad54b-a849-4eb9-9c00-6615fe91178fPost:b04b25bb-3e30-45c7-b049-7511b6946083">Re: Wedding-related family tension, advice appreciated.</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Wedding-related family tension, advice appreciated. : That is absolutely minimizing the problem and rationalizing the continuation of her enabling her family.  If you don't think this is an issue about her and her FI, then I don't even know how to communicate anything else on a wavelength you will get.  
    Posted by StageManager14[/QUOTE]

    No I'm not. Firstly, she's only mentioned that the guest list is a problem here. She hasn't said anything about them doing this to any other aspects of the wedding or their lives, so I'm not making the assumption that they are. Instead, I asked if they are (and am awaiting her response). I'm also not making the assumption that this has made her and fiance not want to continue with their marriage, just that they've considered eloping.

    Second, She's already been taking steps to minimalize her family's access to their lives. She said she hasn't spoken to them about it for a long time, and hasn't made any statements saying that they have continued to impose or force anything else upon her since...It sounds like it's her brother that has stirred the pot recently.

    If they are not doing anything else to the couple, and this is an isolated incident, then I think it can be resolved within the context of the event, especially since investments have already been made and the couple doesn't have the funds to continue it. 

    If it is isolated, and she has a way to be happy with the event, it doesn't make sense to cancel it. It does make sense going forward, to clearly define the boundaries of her parents control....and to not let them make contributions financially to give them a say.
    image   imageimage
    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.

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    FI's take on the situation is that he likes my parents a lot, my dad especially. However, he doesn't know why my parents are so emotional about the wedding, and his advice has been to "get them to stop being so emotional" while still having them subsidize the wedding. On his end, though, his parents have gone over the limit of their list, too, with newly conceived babies, the designer of my engagement ring and her family, and far-flung extended family members (great aunts, grandparents' cousins) who will "definitely" not come. He has not been able to talk his parents out of these additions either and he thinks we should respect our families because this wedding is about them. But then he complains when he can't invite all of his coworkers because we're out of space on our guest list.

    Every conversation I have with my parents about the wedding ends with them yelling about something, be it about the guest list, prolonging cocktail hour to do staged photos with different combinations of our extended families (which I am so against, for the cocktail hour part and because our photographer is so fantastic at candid photos - and I won this small battle) and whether I will be seeing my fiance before the wedding (my dad is upset that I want to see fiance before I walk down the aisle). Honestly, if you left it to just fiance and me, this would be infinitely easier and so much more pleasant - but our families are important to us, and my parents have NEVER treated me this way before. I suppose I'm shocked and in disbelief that they're so emotionally invested in this event. They've never been this traditional before. My mom's parents treated my parents in a very very similar way when they got married, throwing very large fits over minor issues and demanding complete control over the guest list. Before we got engaged, my parents said they wouldn't put me through what they went through - but now they are, and when I mention it to them, they said I shouldn't complain because though they didn't get the wedding they wanted, they received lots of nice gifts.

    I'm just so lost right now. If I back out of this now, I'm going to take a very large financial hit and FI's family will be EXTREMELY distraught. Plus, many of his cousins and aunts/uncles have bought plane tickets to the wedding already. That, and FI doesn't want to cancel the wedding - he and I both agree, though, that we wish we had eloped at this point.

    Honestly, my parents have been a little nuts with worry over my brother and his newly diagnosed (two years ago) condition and have said over and over again that I'm the healthy and easy child, and that they want me to stay that way because my brother needs special care and attention. I know he needs special care and attention, but it's so frustrating to me that their idea of me being the "easy" child is letting them make this wedding theirs - not in decor or style, but in attendees and tradition.

    When I told them that we wouldn't be getting married in a church, they were so okay with it, so I thought it would be so simple from there on out - but since then, they've used it as ammunition - "well, we let you get married by a judge, so..."

    Sorry to overwhelm you with information and act so helpless. Right now, I don't see any happy way out except putting on a happy face and hoping the next six months fly by.
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