Tuesday, February 26, 2013

AAAAARgh the Catholic guilt is killing me!!!!!

Dear ESB,

I'm a long time reader and lurker, and right now I need someone with lady balls to get some sense in my head...

My super boyfriend proposed to me last year in February and being the lazy asses that we are, we just enjoyed being engaged for almost a year without planning anything in particular.

Fast forward to July last year when I moved to switzerland for a new job and we started to think about planning everything so we could get married and he could come and meet me (he'd need a visa to stay here for more than 3 months, and I have one, so if we're married he gets one visa just like mine).

Ok, fast forward to Christmas, and still no concrete planing (did i mention we're lazyasses?). We decided that we'd want to get married either in June or August, depending on the dates the priest we  want to marry us have available. We talk to the guy and he tells us that he'll get back to us on the dates. So we waited for the super cool priest (yes, they are rare but they do exist) to get back to us, and when he finally did in the beginning of January we were so happy that he had one of the dates available in June (yay date set, check!).

That evening, after I skyped my mom to tell her the great news (the priest dude is the same one who officiated her wedding to dad) and after she was totally thrilled her sister (and my godmother) calls me... And here's where all the drama begins...

We were talking about normal things when she asked me what were the developments in the wedding department, and I told her "hey, great news! We spoke to the super cool priest dude and we have a date!" And she tells me "oh yes?" and I told her "yes, 29th of June, isn't that great?" And she just answered "oh, that's just fantastic. So you schedule those things without asking anybody else?" and hung up almost immediately.

I was completely struck by this, as I didn't even think that I was supposed to 'ask permission' to set my own wedding date, and suddenly started to feel like one of those bridezillas you see on tv.

So this was just a little over a month ago and we haven't talked since (apart from an email I sent her on the day that followed our skype conversation to which she hasn't responded).

And the drama ensued… All my family (except from my awesome parents) think that it is me who should call her and 'apologize' and ask her to be my wedding godmother (a catholic equivalent of a MOH, since we don't have the MOH/Best Man tradition).

The thing is, I don't really want her to be my wedding godmother just because she's supposed to be 'by tradition.' She *never* *ever* *ever* sounded minimally happy when we spoke wedding stuff (not even when I told her I was engaged). She asked me over and over again if I'm sure of what I'm doing because men are terrible hard work and boring as hell. She gave shit to my mom because we went (me and mom) check out wedding dresses and didn't give her a call or sent pictures (I found my dress for about $500 in the 1st store we entered but the clerk wouldn't let us take a picture). She kept saying that we're rushing into this (I'm 26, he's 29, we've been together for 4 and a half years, and this is not a rash decision).

All considering, I do not want this woman to be my witness at the wedding, because frankly she seems to be bothered by it.

As I said earlier, all my family think I should be the one to bury the hatchet and give her a call, because they think I owe her a lot. I lived with her for a few years during college and she was of great help when it came to find my first job. All of which I am very grateful for, and all of which I have thanked her during the course of our relationship. I just don't think that a wedding is a place to 'settle debts.'

Shit, what should I do, oh wise one? Everyone is f*cking pressuring me to do something I'm really not comfortable right now (and don't know if I'll ever be), and they're all Catholic guilting me! This is supposed to be a happy time, and has been, in a way but not totally because of this crap.

Sorry for the overly long e-mail, but I've been stewing in my own juices (does that sound dirty?) for a month and really need a perspective from somebody from the outside.


Ps- the rest of the planning is going really well, we already have a venue, photographers, wedding bands and the priest, yay!

Ps2 - I forgot to say that my mom is actually hurting with all this situation, because my aunt is her only sister, and i'm her only daughter. I guess in her head, the day of my wedding would include her sister as my 'godmother'. Still she's hurting but not pressuring, which is kind of sweet.

Ps3 - Again, sorry, this aunt of mine is an overbearing member of our family. If everything is not made to accommodate her desires she'll throw a tantrum (of silent treatment, but still a tantrum). I mean, she doesn't eat mammals or duck, and if we're all have dinner in grandma's house and there's roast beef for everybody and turkey for her or whatever, she'll give us all shit because we're eating 'smart animals.' That kind of thing.


First off, it IS good practice to run your date by the VIPs before you lock it (mom, dad, best man + maid of honor, wedding godmother?? anyone you have to have there on the day). Whether or not your godmother counts as a 'VIP' is clearly up for 'debate.'

I can't tell you what to do.

Basically, you have to decide which is worse: 1) sucking it up and asking the a*hole to be your witness, or 2) dealing with the Catholic guilt for the rest of your life.

Photo: Ben Toms for AnOther Magazine

I already have a catholic guilt tag!! I love me sometimes.


  1. I have never heard of a Wedding Godmother. Now I have Catholic Guilt. My Catholic wedding had a MOH and Best Man and a lot of cigarettes and booze.

    1. I think this is an international thing. Maybe the Philippines? Save your guilt for...I was gonna say the booze but that's the best part of being Catholic, right? We get a pass on that one.

  2. Is there a way to call her up and make amends (as ESB said, it is normal to clear the date with the VIPs) without having her as your wedding godmother (WTF)?

  3. I'm the queen of Catholic guilt, and I've never heard of a "Wedding Godmother," and in fact I think this might be your out.

    Here's the thing: difficult or no, this woman is still your godmother and aunt, which means cutting her out is going to cause a lot of drama. That being said, she's clearly a major pain in the ass, and if you don't set up some boundaries stat, you're going to be dealing with these tantrums for the rest of your life.

    Here's what you do: Call her and apologize for not checking with her on the date. This will keep the peace and dial down the damn drama. Do not grovel. Simply apologize for the oversight re: date and nothing else; chalk it up to the fact that you've never effing done this before. Once you've got her down from the drama cliff, I would probably mention that it hurt your feelings that she disappeared from communication for so long (Also known as throwing a giant temper tantrum like a 5 year old). Your call if you think she can handle this, though. If you do this, use I-statements and don't be bullied by her toxic manipulation. Try to set some boundaries: "If you are hurt by my actions in the future, I need you to tell me, so I can fix it sooner rather than later."

    This crazy-pants will be at your wedding, and she's your godmother, so I guess she gets to keep the damn "Wedding Godmother" title, but don't give this woman any special privileges because she will not appreciate them and she will make you feel shitty. That's what toxic people do.

    You and your partner pick a best man and a best lady and they get to be the witnesses. If anyone complains? Chalk it up to the tradition on his side of the family and tell them to stfu.

    1. Omg, that was long. Sorry, I just have no patience for manipulative shit heads.

    2. Yes. This!
      I was raised catholic and went to a fair share of catholic weddings, and I've never heard of wedding godmothers. I did a little googling and I found this: What do godmothers do for the bride? It looks like it's a Mexican/Hispanic thing? Now I know!

    3. In Spain usually the wedding Godfather is the bride's father and the wedding Godmother is the groom's mother.
      No one usually does this differently...
      Our birth Godparents do not coincide with our Wedding Godparents and they have different roles too.

  4. I think there needs to be a conversation between you and your Godmother wherein you explain that the priest was only available on that date, so you didn't have much choice, and in the same breath express to her that you realize now that it would have been considerate to make sure that your closest family members would be able to attend before nailing down the date and you're sorry if you made her feel like she's not important to you, because she is. I would hope that hearing that from you will change her whole attitude towards your wedding and she will morph into an encouraging and helpful angel of Godmotherness.

    BUT. But, loving someone/being respectful about the role they have played in your life does not mean you have to accept manipulation and abuse from them. Do not let people walk all over you in the name of tradition. Do not let anyone's bad behavior spoil this happy and sacred time for you. If your Godmother continues this selfish behavior, someone in the family (or maybe even you) needs to speak up and tell her that she is not acting in a helpful, supportive way and she should knock that shit off. Don't be an enabler for terrible behavior.

  5. Waiiiiittttt a freaking minute. Is there a conflict with the date? Otherwise, I don't realy understand what her problem is. Just because you didn't clear it with an aunt first? fuck that. I am really close to one of my aunt/uncle sets and I didn't "clear" my wedding date with them. Hell I didn't even ask our parents. It was 16 months out though, so duh..nobody had plans. I think it's asanine she's trying to make it about her, unless she had a genuine conflict with the date.

    1. I agree w/ this. If there's no (legit) conflict on her end, she is a 100% ridiculous crazy person. If she has something important going on (another wedding, childbirth, etc.) than it's more understandable. These details matter!

  6. I went to catholic school and have helped plan catholic weddings and have never heard of a wedding godmother?

  7. Another Catholic lady here (6 years at a girls school! Enormous Catholic family! Priests who show up to family gatherings! My grandfather hoped that I would be a nun!) and I've never heard of a wedding godmother. All my cousins had attendants, though my grandfather is very vocal about how he thinks there should only be a maid of honor and best man because anything more distracts from the couple.
    My family is crazy with the guilt and the temper tantrums, and any time I stand up for myself shit hits the fan. Since former generations have dealt with conflict by avoidance, they really don't know what to do when someone tries to openly discuss issues and not grovel/passive-aggressively deal with shit. If your family is anything like mine... for your wedding I'd do whatever your family expects you to do as far as apologizing, because stepping out of the norm will just make the wedding about THAT and not about love/your partner/you. BUT, that's me. I had a courthouse wedding, which is what I wanted but which my cousins saw as me avoiding the drama.
    That said? I'd check into the by-the-book traditions of the Catholic church if you don't want your godmother to be a part of your wedding, because as Ms. K says, that may be your out. Your priest should be able to help you out with that.

  8. i didn't have a catholic wedding, but i was baptized catholic and grew up in catholic school. i've also been to quite a few catholic ceremonies, and it sounds like a "wedding godmother" is something your family might have made up.

  9. Your Mom should deal with her difficult sister. Also a wedding Godmother is not a catholic thing or a thing at all. This is clearly something your family made up.

    1. Why do you assume that something you don't know about does not exist?...

  10. I'm wondering if the OP may be Filipino? There are varying traditions of sponsors or "godparents" who bless your wedding if I'm not mistaken. The role's importance seems to change depending on each individuals family traditions, whether the wedding is in the US or overseas, and how religious the family is - in my experience.

    I say you only have to clear the wedding date with whoever is paying for it. Everyone else can suck a dick. I second all the talk of not letting her manipulate you and sticking up for yourself. I come from the school of thought that says, blood doesn't mean I have to treat you special. Meaning I don't care what your relation is to me, you treat me with respect and kindness or I don't let you in my life - even if you pushed me out of your body. That mindset doesn't work for everyone but I think its important to remind ourselves that we don't HAVE to let people treat us badly. No matter what your mom told you.

  11. What the fuck is this lady's problem? Would it kill her to be a teeny bit happy for you?

    Look, I think maybe you should apologize. Tell you are sorry you offended her and that you hope she can make it to your wedding because it's so very important to you to have her there.

    But... you can extend the olive branch without letting her walk all over you. Just because you're apologizing doesn't mean you have to ask her to be your wedding godmother. You don't owe her that honor, and to be frank, she hasn't earned it.

    If your family gives you hell for it, tell them you are skipping some of those traditions because you want to simplify the wedding plans as much as possible. And if they give you hell for that, you can tell them (politely) to STFU because it's none of their beeswax. And if your aunt refuses to come to the wedding because of all this, well then, that's her problem and not yours.

    P.S. I've never heard of a wedding godmother either but I'm not Catholic, so who knows.

  12. don't mind me in the corner over here pondering the IQ tests this woman has apparently administered to ducks and turkeys. #omnivoresbecrazy

    1. I've just pretty much snorted a mouthful of coffee down my nose at this. Brilliant.

  13. I'm Hispanic and not Catholic but I do know there are Madrinos and Padrinos for weddings. Padrino de Pastel pays for the cake and so forth. It's a way of bringing the family together to pay for a very large wedding that will accmodate everyone.

    Anyhooo I want to really encourage the bride to grow a set of "lady balls" and stand up to this beast now. Because it will not end with the wedding and she will throw another tantrum when you get pregnant without her approval.

    I have a few of these strong-willed women in my family and it took me years to finally stand up for myself. Yes, you will be labelled the mean bully at first but previous posters have given you some really good ways on how to do this already.

    I'd rather have someone respect me than like me. Be strong. You can do this.

  14. I have a question about the aunt:

    Is she nice? Is she kind to you? Other than this little hissy fit is she a good aunt/godmother/person?

    If so, I say we're all allowed to be stupid once or twice. Forgive her, apologize and explain, get it done with.

    But is she a mean aunt prone to drama? Does she make disrespectful comments that make you feel bad? Is she rude or overbearing?

    If so, I say fuck the guilt and do what you want. Bitches be bitches and you have to ignore that drama.

  15. Not much to add, but you are so not a bridezilla. I would apologize to her to keep the peace, but don't let her get you down. Yay! You're getting married! Screw her!

    I'm Filipino and we have wedding godparents/sponsors and groomsmen and bridesmaids. I also have crazy mean aunts.

  16. Everyone stop saying wedding godmother isn't a thing. Obviously it is in this family, otherwise she wouldn't be writing in about it.

    Two thoughts: Catholic guilt is like this like this aunt. It's irrational and destructive and lame and you're probably stuck with it (years of therapy and atheism haven't cured mine). But like this aunt, it's your responsibility to manage it and push back and find some peace, not just roll over for it. If you decide to have her in your wedding, own that decision--don't chalk it up to guilt. The guilt gets stronger every time you give into it. At this point, I have mine wrestled down to role of a familiar traveling salesman. It knocks, I open the door, listen calmly while it says something terrible, and then say "thanks but no thanks," and add "dipshit" under my breath. I don't invite it in for coffee or let it tell me what to do (usually).

    Now the aunt. If you decide you are going to let be godmother to keep the peace, you need a GAME PLAN. Decide what her job is going to be, and then tell her from the first minute that it's super important and you couldn't possibly do it without her help (flowers? shower?). Get ready to say, "thanks, we have that all taken care of" or "cool idea, thanks" for anything she tries to do outside of her job. Then redirect her to her job: "now tell me all about the pricing for lilies you found! You're such a great bargain hunter, we'd be lost without you!"

    Also have a line ready for if she talks shit about your relationship or fiance. A cheerful "well, it's too late now!" repeated ad nauseam might take the fun out of it for her. DON'T argue with her or try to convince her of anything. Just pick your line and repeat it like a robot. Good luck!!

    1. i like you, pseudo frances.

    2. i bet the aunt would say she wouldn't eat pseudo frances.

    3. @lauren 's what i'm thinking

    4. @pseudo frances Genius response.
      @esb thanks for including the post. it was a tad eye opening for some that there might be other cultural traditions out there people may not have heard of and it is indeed a thing

  17. pseudo frances is completely spot on about everything, especially the "I need you to do his very specific job" and the "well, it's too late now."

    also, WHY HASN'T ANYONE BROUGHT UP the "She asked me over and over again if I'm sure of what I'm doing because men are terrible hard work and boring as hell. " because this might be my favorite naysaying marriage quote ever.

    1. THAT was what made my blood run cold. Yikes.