Friday, December 9, 2011

Did your mother boycott your wedding??

Dear ESB:

A friend of mine is marrying a really awful person. He's mentally abusive/controlling, uses my friend, and is possibly (probably) marrying her for her money. Joke's on him since her mother changed her will now that he is in the picture. But I digress! He's kind of turned my friend into this weirdo I don't recognise who now hates her mother b/c he's brainwashed her into thinking her mom's a bad person, which she really isn't. He gets angry on the rare occasion she talks with her mother, follows her movements, all kinds of stuff that she says she's okay with (it's b/c he loves her!). Basically she's marrying her father/mom's asshole ex-husband (don't get me started on him). 

I've known this girl since she was born, her mother is like a second mother to me, she is one of the only people outside my family who I can trust (and it's probably due to the fact she -is- like family to me!). Granted, she is rather conservative, and the girl rebelled quite a bit at university, but I didn't think she'd end up hating her mother like this. It's to the point where she has /no/ friends, doesn't speak to family, and this all started during her 2nd year of university when she met this knob-head. He's the only guy she's ever dated/been with, etc, I feel like he preyed on her because of that, like she was an easy target. I mean, 3 months into dating him we went out while she was in town and she said she can't tell him we're going out because he needs to be with her when she does. She accidentally answered her mobile and he chewed her out to the point where she stopped having fun and wanted to leave.

I've tried talking sense into my friend, but she's stuck on the idea that her mother is the problem and whatnot. She thinks she's all kinds of mature and ~worldly because she's 25, and a woman, but I've never met a more naive person in my life. She's smart and independent!!! :|||| 

Now they're engaged, and well, that's it for the most part. Her mother doesn't plan on attending the wedding because he is just that bad. My mother (who is the only person she trusts) tells her she's going to regret it, I tell her the same thing, but she refuses to go, and I know her, she will not go. It always feels so hopeless. I just look at divorce rates and pray to the almighty to make it happen, or make something happen before it's too late.

My question for you and your readers is: how many have been in the situation where your parent(s) didn't attend your wedding because of your choice of spouse (or anything, for that matter)? How is your relationship now, has it changed at all? I only wonder because I don't want my friend's mother to make a decision that will change everything forever with her daughter for good. I guess I'm kind of hoping that there's actually hope for their relationship in the future.

Any words of wisdom? Bittersweet experiences at all?

Not Naive Friend.


Throwing this one out to you guys....

Photo by Ilva Heitmann by Markus Pritzi for Sleek Magazine via Fashion Gone Rogue


  1. My maternal grandfather didn't attend my parents' wedding. My mom said it really hurt at the time, but that she basically got over it entirely within a year. My grandfather got over it too. Everyone was cool and no one held onto that stuff, as far as I know.

    The context was different (in the late 60s, not in the US), but I'm guessing (and hoping) the principle will still apply here. Actually, to be honest, what I'm really hoping is that your friend wakes up before she marries this abusive loser.

    Good luck - and you should take a moment to recognize what a great friend you are to this person and to her mother.

  2. My dad didn't attend my wedding (nothing to do with me, or my husband, but that he didn't want to see my stepfather - after my stepfather and mom have been married 25 years, seems stupid) and though our relationship hasn't changed too much, I will never forget that he didn't attend my wedding.

    Your friend's mom will regret it (my Dad does - I have heard from his parents and sister how sorry he is about his choice). And your friend will feel hurt about it (at least, I still am, two years later) and though it will be a small wedge - it is still a wedge.

    By not showing up the mom doesn't send a message to the future son-in-law (who sounds awful so I hope she doesn't marry him) the mom sends a message to her daughter: "I won't be there for you if I disagree with your decision"

    Wouldn't "I support you, even if I think you are making a mistake" be better?

    I think that not showing up would hurt them both, and damage the relationship.

  3. my grandmother's brother didn't go to her wedding because he didn't approve of who she was marrying. she had 5 brothers, and all went but 1. her marriage lasted about 50 years, and the fact that i even KNOW that her brother didn't attend shows that she never forgot about it.

    they did share holidays and such a few years after the wedding and through the rest of their lives, but she still talks about his absence that one day.

  4. If the mom doesn't attend, the groom will use that as powerful emotional leverage to try and get the daughter to cease all contact with her "horrible" mother. It doesn't sound like anybody supports this marriage (including anonymous internet posters), but the mother will risk losing her relationship with her daughter by not going.

  5. I think Kari makes the best point, if the mother doesn't go, she is saying she won't support her daughter based on this choice. Well let me tell you, if/when the shit hits the fan, that girl is going to need her mother.

  6. both my mother and I didn't approve of my sister's husband, we voiced our concern and when we realized it didn't make a difference and she was going to marry him anyway, we attended the wedding and supported her. We also supported her 2 years later when they got divorced.

    Not attending isn't going to change her mind, but if your friend comes to her senses and the relationship ends, I doubt she'll go running to her mom for support if their is already a wedge in their relationship because the mom didn't go to her wedding. honestly, she won't be able to help her if/when things get bad if she can't be there for her now.

  7. your friend is going to need all the support she can get. her mom might not support the relationship, but i bet she still wants to support her daughter. even if the boyfriend doesn't spin this into another "look how awful your mom is" jab, your friend is going to notice her mom isn't there, and that memory will last.

    then when this relationship eventually crumbles, the memory in the forefront of her mind won't be that her mother disapproved of the relationship, it will be that her mother didn't support HER. this could make all the difference between whether she suffers through the marriage because she feels she has no one to turn to, or whether she feels supported enough to get out and survive life on her own.

    please go to that wedding, and encourage her mother to go. this friend needs you both, even if she doesn't realize it yet.

  8. i was once un-bridesmaided from a wedding because the my friend's mom said she would boycott if i was part of the bridal party(!). seven or so years later, the couple's divorced, my friend and her mom are on the outs, and friend and i are...still friends. oh, man. i'm the Really Awful Person!

  9. I had to beg my dad to come to my wedding. He had disowned me because my to-be husband was Indian. He showed up and because we were recent college grads we had no money (and my parents weren't about to chip in, of course) we got married by the JP right in the court house. There was a lot of sighing, eye rolling and moaning (literally) until I stopped everything and turned around to him and said, "Dad, really? If you don't want to be here, just go." and turned back around to my husband. He stayed, didn't talk to me for a while but they turned out to love my husband. The problem was that they had stereotypes stuck in their heads and when they found he was nothing like what they thought, they welcomed him and me back into the family. I still harbor some resentment for the immaturity that my family showed but it's history. My dad is not an emotional man, but I'm sure that he is now happy that he was there that day.

    As for your friend, if her fiancee really IS that bad, it will be a lesson learned but her mother SHOULD go for supportive reasons. People come and go in our lives but your family is there forever. And when things go sour, your mother, most of the time, is the person you turn to for help.

  10. Ouch. This one hurts all around. My mother told me she wouldn't have attended mine, but she passed beforehand, so it was kind of a moot point. She loved my now-huz, but hated me. Honestly? My wedding would have been WAY more fucked up with her there. But that's tots different from this.

    He sounds like a cockmunch. She sounds beyond naive. Slap her and inform her that she's allowing said cockmunch to destroy a family connection and it's not OK.

  11. This is an abusive relationship. Dude is not just a dickhole, though he's that too -- he's using textbook abuser tactics to isolate your friend. Don't let it work. As many of you as possible should go to that wedding so he knows people are keeping an eye on the situation.

  12. Oh. On another note, if the mother goes and acts like a bitch, it's almost as bad if not maybe worse as not going at all. Something to think about.

  13. This is very tricky. I can see where the mom is coming from.
    My ENTIRE family did not attend my oldest sister's last wedding. It was a very complicated situation that I will try to explain as succinctly as possible:it was her 4th marriage and she left her 3rd husband under VERY hurtful circumstances. We had all been extremely close to him. My father (her stepfather) was his best man and he was the only decent father figure that my nephew from her first marriage had ever known. They had been together 6 years and married only six months (of which, we all assume that she must have been cheating on him almost the whole time).
    Fast forward to today-over 10 years later: She is still happily married to her 4th with two beautiful young children (although her now 22 yr old has only recently ceased to suffer emotionally and developmentally because of her decisions). We have had our trials, but we now have a great relationship with her and her new family.
    I think that through us stating our position by not going to her wedding, she affirmed to herself and her new husband that it is what she wanted... no matter what. It made them stronger and forced us to recognize their relationship in the long run.
    For us, it couldn't have happened any other way. I'm not saying there are never any hard feelings. There are emotional consequences on both sides, but it doesn't have to mean the end of a familial relationship forever.

  14. @lauren I am so curious why the mom hated you so much!

    @not naive friend - I totally dated the guy you're talking about for two years. He was manipulative and cheated a lot and even though I forgave him, everyone I loved hated his guts. Post-cheating, we were getting kind of serious again and my family had a sort of intervention and my BFF, brother and dad all told me point-blank they would not support this relationship, attend a wedding, or tolerate having him in their houses anymore. I think I was pissed at first, but once I realized they were serious I noticed it's kind of hard to have fun when everyone hates the guy you're with. Life's much easier when your partner fits into your life.

  15. My sister is kind of boycotting my wedding, and because of it, we are NOT on good terms. (My fiance, however, is not an abusive asshole.)

    Your friend's mom needs to attend this wedding. Not because she likes guy or supports the marriage (obviously she doesn't and she's probably in the right not to) but because she needs to keep the line of communication between her and her daughter open in case her daughter decides to extricate herself from this abusive and controlling relationship. Your friend going to need someone to be there for her when that does happen, so I hope both you and her mom will avoid burning bridges for her sake.

  16. My dad and his wife didn't like my boyfriend/fiance/now husband.

    Dad really tried to talk me out of it, but when he saw he couldn't change my mind, he fell in line. Gave us some money for the wedding, showed up, walked me down the aisle. He told me that he was supporting ME, not our relationship, and I appreciated that he was trying to be the bigger person. It still stung that he wasn't truly happy for me, but he showed up.

    His wife, on the other hand, decided NOT to come, and between that and her general attitude, I don't ever care to speak to her again. But it wasn't too important to me for her to attend in the first place.

    My husband's grandparents also boycotted on the basis that I am not Catholic. It really hurts when loved ones aren't there on such a big day. I would encourage your friend's mom to take the path that my dad did.

  17. Okay, does her mom realize that she has set her daughter up for this kind of relationship. From what you said she was raised in an abusive household and experienced her mom in multiple bad relationships. This taught your friend her "place" in relationships and is why she is so readily accepting this asshats' controlling ways.
    She needs to have a hard think about what might have helped her leave these relationships more quickly and apply that help for her daughter.
    I know, I've been there and it's VERY hard to see in the early stages of abuse if you have grown up accepting it. What I didn't see was that anyone was there for me and that I had anywhere to go if I left. Her mother not attending will tell your friend that her mother does not care about her and is not a safety net for her. Leaving your friend in a very precarious position. If she cares about her daughter she will suck it up and find ways of letting her daughter know she is worth more than this tool is giving her and that she is worthy of a healthy relationship.
    Even better if your friend gets in to a good therapist beforehand who might open her eyes before she gets married.

  18. For an abuser, isolation is his end-goal. If the mother doesn't attend he is getting exactly what he wants.

    Eventually he hopes she will be completely alone and therefore completely dependent on him. As hard as it is, your friend needs to know that NO MATTER WHAT someone (especially her mother) is by her side. Because someday, when she is ready to leave - and someday she WILL be ready, she will need to know she has an escape route and people to turn to.

  19. @nikki me too, man; i was queen of the nerds in high school, so all my other hometown friends' parents thought i was A Good Influence. maybe she thought i was a bad seed because i dyed my hair red?

    @Anon 3:15 EXACTLY.

  20. Dear ESB

    Thanks for posting a truly practical Dear ESB, not just another stupid dress drama!

  21. The weird thing is about abusive men, they fit a cookie-cutter type - send her this link. Have a look at charities and forums which offer support & information too, in the UK it's Women's Aid.

    I agree with those who have said it's a mistake to back away from your friend. I know it's flustrating but I agree you'd just be letting him win. I know it's traditional to be supportive of the marriage on a wedding day, but by not attending you'll isolate her more and giving him leverage.

    He's going to grind her down and crush her self-esteem, make her believe he's the only one who will have her. The only way to kill that is with nice (to her. He can go hang.)

  22. what Rhubarb said

    CLASSIC isolation manipulation. She needs to be there.

  23. @lila: her dad didn't show his true colours until the divorce came around. It was discovered he was cheating and it all went downhill from there around 9 or 10 years ago. He was always kind of quiet, but I wasn't privy to their home life. My mom never has said anything about their relationship before the divorce, so I can't say anything beyond that.

    Thank you everyone for the comments. I'm going to take this much needed advice and keep up the good fight wih my mom. Hopefully something positive will come around. We're all trying our best.

  24. @ anon 3:15 said it best.

    This is NOT the time to abandon your friend/daughter. Isolation of your friend is the abuser's goal. She needs you and her mom by her side more than ever. The more isolated she becomes the higher risk she is for staying in this abusive relationship.

  25. All you (and her mother) can do is inform her of your opinion, and strongly advise her not to make a mistake. Otherwise stand by her, because that's what friends (and mothers) do. To refuse to attend the wedding, I assume her mother is trying to make the statement that she's not only unsupportive, but that she's washed her hands of the whole problem. Yet, the practical effect of her refusal to attend is just the opposite. Her mother is not only being passive aggressive, but is potentially forfeiting the privilege of having any influence on the bride in the future (i.e., when the groom's true colors come to light) by turning her back on her daughter. Only time will tell what awaits her in the future, and the best way to ensure that she doesn't remain ignorant is to stick around so you can be there to influence her when she starts having doubts.

  26. @anon 3:15 for the win.

    I typed out three different comments yesterday then deleted them all because really, I had no idea what to say.

  27. Rhubarb nailed it. completely nailed it. be there for her, as much as you possibly can. even if it's tough love, or not emotional talk, whatever. be there for your friend, and tell the mother to be there too. even if the mother can't stand the abusive assmunch, her attending the wedding (which I pray won't even occur) will send a signal to said assmunch that he can't get rid of mom so easily.

    I had a friend who was not quite in this bad a situation, engaged at 21, never been in a long-term relationship, and our friendship ebbed and flowed as she was with this guy. we had a major reunion a few years later, and then I moved away but whenever I'd come back to visit we'd be joined at the hip, and her fiance hated that. he was controlling, he was possessive, he would fly back to Florida from a conference in Louisiana in the middle of the night because she didn't answer her phone - because she was asleep. after the official breakup, she and I were on a roadtrip where I had to go all teacher voice on her and demand she put down her phone and stop texting him because he was being emotionally abusive (and she slept almost the rest of the way home). and she's made a 180 since then - career going sky high, makes a lot of money, travels the world, lost some weight and looks like a is firing on all cylinders for her. I say this because it's one story of someone who came out of the shadow of a toxic relationship/engagement and hopefully much the same will happen for your friend.

    (and yes, much of that was made possible thanks to steadfast friendship and family support.) you are doing exactly the right thing by staying at her side - continue to do so and encourage, beg & plead with her mom to do the same.

  28. Whoa, I don't even think I can read all the comments, sorry if any of this is repetitive. And, judging by my brief skimming on the way down, this is also going to be lengthy like the rest!
    (1) Mom & my wedding. I think, no matter what you read in the comments, each situation is going to be different. My parents didn't attend my wedding -- I knew my mom wasn't going to attend my wedding, but my dad not going caught me off guard but I knew it was bc my mom pressured him into not going. But, I know my situation is different from your friend's, despite my mom boycotting bc she doesn't like my husband, because of my friends, from junior high through law school (when I got married), said my mom is crazy controlling. And sometimes crazy, period. I can't say enough without sounding like I'm crazy, too, that my husband is an amazing person, one of the most generous people I know who constantly pushes me (in a not-bossy way) & inspires me to be better person -- I'll stop that ramble-fest :D

    Anyway. Since it sounds like y'all are all sure she won't go and that her mind is made up... well, I don't know what else I can say on this, except to perhaps gently remind her that her attending the wedding will send a stronger message than not attending. Her daughter already gets it that her mom doesn't support their relationship, and the non-attendance may only reinforce her "rebellion" or at least defensiveness of their relationship. But if she attends, at least her daughter knows her mom loves her, if not her decision -- and that's the most important reminder of all.

    Domestic violence. I can't say enough how important it is for all of you to continue to remain there for your friend. I know it won't be pretty, and it certainly won't be easy. But that's how batterers work -- to isolate their victim from all of her support network, her friends and family. Please don't take no for an answer, if she declines invitations out or a stop by (I mean, not every single invite, but at least regularly try to keep in touch with her). I worked in the field of domestic violence for 3 years, and I know it is hard for someone to finally leave -- it can take something like 7 attempts to leave before the abused (physical or emotional) successfully leaves their batterer for good. It is sad and heartbreaking, and often difficult to understand -- but sometimes there really is love there, and that's the worst -- to try to help your friend understand that real love doesn't have two parts, a good part and a mean/bad part. That, sure, love isn't hunky dory all the time, but it sure as hell doesn't isolate and hurt purposefully.

    Good luck, to all of you. And please tell your friend to remember that there's a national hotline she can call at any time, just to talk to someone, if she's ever scared -- 1-800.799.SAFE.

  29. wow, this really puts my personal situation in perspective. all of these shared stories of adults making a conscious decision to boycott a union break my heart. my husbands parent didn't acknowledge, let alone attend, our wedding because he was too far gone on drink and pills. far different scenario, and though I can tell my husband still hurts years later, it pales in comparison to these stories of intentional hurt. My thoughts are with the writers friend, and I wholeheartedly agree with anon 3:15

  30. Anon 3.15 completely has my vote.

    I nearly married a manipulative (although not abusive) man, and my father (single parent) managed to balance things perfectly between being 100% honest regarding his opinion about my decision (I was too young, it was the wrong man etc), but also 100% supportive. His response when the engagement was then broken off was also 100% perfect too.

    It's an incredibly hard line to take: stating that you disagree, but also trying to be happy for someone when they need you to be. However, it is that action which means that if (and I'm hoping it's an "if" not a "when") she ever needs the kind of support that her mother can give, she'll actually turn to her.

  31. I feel that Mom must go. Let this fool of a man expose himself for the ass that he is in front of many witnesses. Mom must be as calm and regal as possible. It'll be heart-breaking and an expensive and painful lesson but Mom has to be there!
    My mother had great advice for me once....
    "Don't roll with the pigs in mud, you'll get dirty and the pigs will love it"
    i.e. don't stoop to their level cos then you are just like them.
    Good luck, She'll need friends like you.