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Tricky invite problem

My FI and I are getting married next year, and we've decided on a very small, close friends and family wedding. Both of us have various family dramas (ie divorced parents who hate hate hate each other; aunt and uncle who don't speak; etc) but we're going to be inviting everyone and trusting that people will be respectful enough to not use our wedding as an opportunity to rehash old conflicts.

To make a long story short, my brother is in an abusive relationship and his wife has cut him off from most of his friends and family. As a result, my mom and I have never met my two nephews and we haven't seen my brother in over 2 years. The only person in his family he is allowed to have contact with is my dad. My brother's wife has an obsessive hatred for my mother and I, despite the fact that we tried really hard to make her feel welcome as part of the family. She has manipulated the fact that my mom and dad don't speak to further poison my dad and brother against my mom and to create a rift between my dad and I. Amongst her other hijinks, she has faked cancer for sympathy, and to top things off, she has a history with white supremacist organizations. Basically, she's a sociopath who has caused a crazy amount of suffering in my family. My brother and I have always been really close, as he was with my mom, and it's been absolutely horrible losing him - not to mention a relationship with his kids - this way.

After my daughter was born this year, my brother started to text me and we've been in a bit of contact. I want to invite him to the wedding, but I totally cannot deal with the thought of his wife being there. She's a loose cannon who's threatened physical violence in the past (and who's physically abusive with my brother) and I have doubts that she would be able to attend without causing major drama. I know that she might not even show up, but I'm scared to risk it. All the same, I really want my brother there. I know it's wrong not to invite both sides of a couple - and that she probably won't let my brother go whether I invite her or not - but I want my brother to know that he's wanted there without risking this evil cray cray showing up at my wedding. What do I do???

Re: Tricky invite problem

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    My FI and I are getting married next year, and we've decided on a very small, close friends and family wedding. Both of us have various family dramas (ie divorced parents who hate hate hate each other; aunt and uncle who don't speak; etc) but we're going to be inviting everyone and trusting that people will be respectful enough to not use our wedding as an opportunity to rehash old conflicts.

    To make a long story short, my brother is in an abusive relationship and his wife has cut him off from most of his friends and family. As a result, my mom and I have never met my two nephews and we haven't seen my brother in over 2 years. The only person in his family he is allowed to have contact with is my dad. My brother's wife has an obsessive hatred for my mother and I, despite the fact that we tried really hard to make her feel welcome as part of the family. She has manipulated the fact that my mom and dad don't speak to further poison my dad and brother against my mom and to create a rift between my dad and I. Amongst her other hijinks, she has faked cancer for sympathy, and to top things off, she has a history with white supremacist organizations. Basically, she's a sociopath who has caused a crazy amount of suffering in my family. My brother and I have always been really close, as he was with my mom, and it's been absolutely horrible losing him - not to mention a relationship with his kids - this way.

    After my daughter was born this year, my brother started to text me and we've been in a bit of contact. I want to invite him to the wedding, but I totally cannot deal with the thought of his wife being there. She's a loose cannon who's threatened physical violence in the past (and who's physically abusive with my brother) and I have doubts that she would be able to attend without causing major drama. I know that she might not even show up, but I'm scared to risk it. All the same, I really want my brother there. I know it's wrong not to invite both sides of a couple - and that she probably won't let my brother go whether I invite her or not - but I want my brother to know that he's wanted there without risking this evil cray cray showing up at my wedding. What do I do???
    You have to invite your brother's wife. To not invite her would give her ammunition and confirm everything she uses to manipulate your brother and demonize you and your family. I feel very sorry for your brother and your family that this woman has been allowed to cause so much pain. 
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    xcalygrl said:

    Physical abuse is where I draw the line. You may be married to my brother, but if you are physically abusive toward him or anyone else in my family, you aren't coming. I think this is one case where not inviting the social unit is ok.

    But, not inviting her could cause a further rift, which could ultimately lead to no relationship with your brother or his kids.

    I totally agree with this second part. While I think you would be justified in not inviting her because of the physical abuse, I think not inviting her will cause more problems (in addition to being against etiquette). This will give your brother's wife ammunition to say horrible things about you. She might convince him to not only skip the wedding but also cut off contact again.
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    fyrefly76 said:

    You posted this question on the etiquette board, but you know what the proper etiquette is.

    If this was me and the only communication I had with my brother was by text, I'd text my brother and tell him that he is invited.  Ask him if he thinks his wife would want to come, whether he thinks she can behave herself, and whether getting an invitation mailed to the house would be a good or a bad idea.  He might have many different answers; an invite from you will get me in trouble, please don't do it.  I'll attend for a quick minute and sneak back home without telling the wife.  She's growing up, I'll bring the boys, but she's not yet in a place to attend yet herself.  Basically, just tell your brother you'd like him there, and ask him his thoughts.

    I was going to suggest something similar.  talk to your brother; let him know he's wanted.  don't say his wife isn't wanted (if you really had to choose between him attending with his wife vs. him not attending - which would you pick?  I would want my brother there, regardless...).  Let him make the decision to tell his wife or not.
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    I am so sorry about the rift that she has caused. My brother stopped speaking to my parents and me a few years ago, and I can sympathize with how much it must hurt.

    Even though you may hate her to pieces, like PP says, I would still invite her to the wedding. Honestly, not inviting her but inviting your brother would give a manipulative person even more fodder, so I don't think it would, ultimately, be worth throwing in the etiquette-towel.

    If she comes and you have to interact with her, kill her with kindness. Your brother won't be able to fault you for that, and she can't lord it over you.

    Who knows? Maybe he's been hoping to reconnect with the family more actively, and this will give him a chance to do so. I hope so.

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    Thanks for your help, everyone! I think I know I'm stuck inviting her. I like the idea of asking my brother directly about how he'd like them to be invited - when he was invited to my mom and stepdad's wedding, it caused a lot of trouble for him and he might just prefer her not to know about it. As it is she doesn't know we've been in touch and I have to text him on his work blackberry. 

    I'm really sorry to those of you who have experienced similar situations in your own families. It seems sadly common and is such a massive loss for everyone involved.
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    I could be completely off-mark here but I wouldn't be worried about if she comes to the wedding or not. What I would be concerned about is if she abuses her children, if she abuses her husband I'm not sure the kids are safe either.
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    Thanks for your help, everyone! I think I know I'm stuck inviting her. I like the idea of asking my brother directly about how he'd like them to be invited - when he was invited to my mom and stepdad's wedding, it caused a lot of trouble for him and he might just prefer her not to know about it. As it is she doesn't know we've been in touch and I have to text him on his work blackberry. 

    I'm really sorry to those of you who have experienced similar situations in your own families. It seems sadly common and is such a massive loss for everyone involved.
    My heart truly goes out to you, OP. I hope you can find the strength to keep in touch with your brother, be patient with him, and support him. He need to feel strong if he's ever going to leave this woman.
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    This is awful.  I think I would do what PP have suggested.  I hope your brother comes to the wedding and that maybe your family can have some healing

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    Teddy917 said:
    I could be completely off-mark here but I wouldn't be worried about if she comes to the wedding or not. What I would be concerned about is if she abuses her children, if she abuses her husband I'm not sure the kids are safe either.

    OP may very well be concerned about that, it just wasn't the question she was posting here.
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    Jen4948Jen4948 member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    edited June 2013
    I'd invite them both, but have security ready to escort your SIL out if necessary.

    Hopefully your wedding will help close gaps between your brother and you and your family, but even if it doesn't, I think it's the right thing to do.  Maybe you can indicate to your brother that you will be there for him no matter what.
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     I would not invite the brother. You do not want his wife there, and since he gives her control over soooo many aspects of his life- do you really think there is even a remote possibility that he will suddenly grow balls and tell her, "I'm going to this wedding w/o you, for my sisters sake."

    No. That is never going to happen. If he does tell her, she will either get into a fight with him and neither one will come, or she will get into a fight with him and they both will come. If she is there, she will stare you down, sigh dramatically and roll her eyes a lot, try to tell complete bs  stories about you and everyone else in your family to anyone near her, and generally turn whatever spot she sits down at into a 10 foot radius of nastiness.

     This will do nothing to improve your relationship with your brother. If she comes or not- she will find some imaginary "slight" to use against you either way. Why subject your guests to the discomfort of having her there hating you on your wedding day?

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    daisey18 said:

     I would not invite the brother. You do not want his wife there, and since he gives her control over soooo many aspects of his life- do you really think there is even a remote possibility that he will suddenly grow balls and tell her, "I'm going to this wedding w/o you, for my sisters sake."

    No. That is never going to happen. If he does tell her, she will either get into a fight with him and neither one will come, or she will get into a fight with him and they both will come. If she is there, she will stare you down, sigh dramatically and roll her eyes a lot, try to tell complete bs  stories about you and everyone else in your family to anyone near her, and generally turn whatever spot she sits down at into a 10 foot radius of nastiness.

     This will do nothing to improve your relationship with your brother. If she comes or not- she will find some imaginary "slight" to use against you either way. Why subject your guests to the discomfort of having her there hating you on your wedding day?


    Cutting off contact and stopping efforts to show support to a family member in an abusive relationship is the worst thing you can do.  If they don't feel they have somewhere to turn to, they are far less likely to ever leave the relationship.  They need to know they are supported. Not inviting him is going to hurt him.  If he has made the effort to restore contact, that needs to be nurtured and maintained.

    I agree with others, let him know via text that you want him to be there, and then let him decide how to go forward from there. 

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    phiraphira member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    I would invite your brother. It must have taken a LOT of effort and time to rebuild your relationship up till this point, and not inviting him might destroy that. And OP, I can tell you really want to keep that relationship.

    I might do what other's have suggested and let him know by text, or some other non-official way that he's invited. Maybe even call him if you can--if his wife is this abusive, I wouldn't put it past her to have access to his email or check his texts.

    I know you do not want this woman at your wedding, and there's always the chance that your brother will come and his wife won't. There's also a chance that he will want to come, and she won't let him, although I hope that he would still appreciate the invitation and maybe hold things against his wife instead!

    If he comes and she does, too, have Team Abusive Wife ready to go. That means have some friends (not family) who are "in charge" of keeping an eye on her. Not in a stalker way--just if they can spot her, they should just check and make sure she's not doing something ridiculous. Have security present in some way and let them know they might have to escort someone out.
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