Q.My wedding is coming up in four weeks and I couldn't be less happy about it.
The problem is not with my fiance but with my family.
My parents divorced when I was 8, and though I am now almost 25, my father has never let go of the past. Although he had custody of me and my siblings, he still hates my mom and is angry that I take after her in some ways.
I now live near her and we have a wonderful relationship, but he is bitter about that, too, and my relationship with my dad and stepmom has slipped since I moved out here.
When I called my dad to discuss the wedding, he said he didn't like my idea for the service, especially the part where he gives me away. He then told me that he wouldn't come to my wedding and he hung up on me.
After that, he called my grandmother, aunt, uncle, sister and brother and persuaded everyone but my brother to stay home, too. Dad and I had another blowout fight over the phone and said terrible things to each other.
Even my sister called to berate me, without listening to a word I had to say.
There have always been tension and jealousy in my family, but this is extreme. I can't imagine apologizing until my father does, but I know he never will. And I don't really believe that I can forgive him for the things he said to me and about me to my family.
How do I go on with this "happy" occasion when half of my family is deserting me? It is much too late to cancel anything.
Do I swallow my pride and my pain and try to make up? Or do I just cut these people out of my life? I am torn apart.
A.A wedding can bring out the best -- and the worst -- in people, but don't let your wedding bring out the worst in you.
You can't undo a bitter divorce, but you can break the pattern of meanness and jealousy in your family.
You and your fiance are starting a new life together and your happiness will depend primarily on your ability to give each other the kindness and compassion you wish your relatives would give to you. They may be more likely to do that if you can be kind and compassionate to them.
You can't unsay the terrible words you shouted at your father, but try not to shout at him again, no matter how much he provokes you. Silence is the right response to anger.
Your words won't help anyway, since your dad won't be able to heed them until he finishes his tirade.
Instead, keep cool when he erupts and say, "I'll call back another day, when you're feeling better," and always add, "I love you," then hang up. If he calls right back, however, let the phone ring. One lecture a day is enough.
As for the wedding, stay calm and assume that at least some of your cranky relatives will come after all, but you'll probably have to call them first.
Begin with your grandmother, then your aunt, your uncle and your sister, and tell them that you're making a final head count and that you hope they will come, but don't make a big case of it. Simply say "We'll be delighted to see you" if they accept or "I'm so sorry, we'll miss you" if they regret. But keep your tears and your disappointment to yourself.
Once you've made these calls, check in with your dad and go through the same routine.
As long as you let him save face, he may come around. And if he doesn't? That will be his loss at least as much as yours.
Keep sending birthday presents and simple holiday cards to him and to your other relatives, even if they don't come to your wedding, and don't insist that they apologize. They may not be mature enough to do that.
To reach this level of maturity yourself, read "Forgive Your Parents, Heal Yourself," by Barry Grosskopf (Free Press, $25).
You'll find this book delivers just the advice you need.
Questions? Send them to email@example.com or to Box 15310, Washington, D.C. 20003.