I am planning a same-sex wedding in Massachusetts in November. Dozens of relatives from both families will be coming to the wedding.
My problem is with my 86-year-old widowed grandmother, who lives five states away. I have not seen or spoken to her in about nine years, since I was a teenager. She is very religious, and she does not know that I am a lesbian. My father told her that I will be getting married, but he did not tell her whom I would be marrying.
My parents say that I have a familial obligation to invite her because she went to all of her other grandchildren's weddings. I know she would be devastated if she was not invited to the wedding, and many other relatives would be angry.
Do you think it would be best to just let her show up and discover that I am a lesbian at the wedding ceremony? Or do you think I should tell her beforehand? If so, what's the best way to do this without giving her a stroke?
Mireille in Maine
Letting your elderly grandmother learn that you're a lesbian at your wedding ceremony is like a plot turn from a very bad episode of "Will & Grace."
Don't do it. Don't even think about it.
Please. Show some respect. Be a big girl and tell your grandmother the truth about your life.
Write your grandmother a letter. Craft it very carefully so that she can understand beyond a shadow of a doubt what you are talking about.
In the letter, express that you understand she has heard that you are getting married, and that you hope she can attend the ceremony. Tell her that you are a lesbian and that you are marrying (insert your partner's name here). Tell her a little bit about you and your partner, such as what you do for a living. Enclose a photo of the two of you.
Close with a paragraph saying that you hope this news doesn't upset her and that you are very happy. Say that the whole family will be at your wedding and that you think it will be a lovely and fun event that you hope she will choose to attend.
Recently we missed sending our daughter-in-law a birthday card.
Our son e-mailed me and reminded me that this was the second time in three years that we had missed her birthday. They were on vacation and I didn't think it was that big of a deal; apparently my son did, because he read the riot act to us -- his mother and father.
I didn't want to get into a family squabble over this thing so I sent a belated birthday with extra apologies. My wife read it and said, "I'm not signing that and don't sign my name to it."
To me this is such a small thing in the overall scheme of things. Now I think our relationship with our son and daughter-in-law is at jeopardy. I'm at a loss at who to try to appease -- my wife or my son?
It's time to have a father-son talk. The two of you need to discuss his expectations, his behavior -- and yours.
I agree that a missed birthday card seems like a fairly minor matter, but he may be telling you that he feels that you and his mother neglect his wife in all sorts of ways. This may surprise you, but you should hear him out. You should assure him that you understand his point of view and that you will pay more attention to your actions. Then you should explain to him that when he has a problem with you, he should express himself as an adult and not emotionally blackmail you like a petulant child.
Your son needs to realize that he can't force you to have a better relationship with his wife. He can, however, help you to have a better relationship with his wife. This is a process that you are all going to have to work on.
Apparently petulance runs in the family -- your wife isn't being helpful, either.
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