Hi Ms. Hax,

I'm getting married this fall. My brother is my best man, but we haven't been getting along. He got upset about my bachelor party -- or lack of one.

The wedding is in one city, my fiancee and I live in another, my brother lives in another, and my other groomsmen and friends are scattered throughout the country. Two groomsmen and their wives came recently to visit (my brother and his wife were invited but chose not to come). We called it a mini-bachelor party, since discussions I'd had with my brother led me to believe we agreed that a traditional bachelor party wasn't an option. The day my friends left, I got a phone call from my brother in which he accused me of circumventing his bachelor-party planning and not wanting his wife and 8-month-old child present at our wedding. He finished with, "[Bleep] you and [bleep] your wedding," and hung up.

We had a few heated phone calls after that, and I wrote him a letter explaining my frustrations at his failure to communicate his expectations to me, and my anger at some things he said about my fiancee. Our tiff has lingered for almost three weeks now. My brother's not a bad guy -- I'm not prepared to write him off over this. But my fiancee is starting to think I'm making repairs to my relationship with him more important than being there for her as our wedding day approaches. Any suggestions?

Bummed Brett

Two. "City" and "Hall."

Not really. If a non-bachelor party is enough to make your brother bleep himself, a non-wedding might incur medical bills.

It's just that weddings become proxies for so many high hopes and hard feelings -- often wholly unrelated to the marriage -- that it's tempting to call them all off.

In this case, it's clearly Something Else (or a lifetime of Somethings Else) chafing your brother, and he's not saying it. And he won't say it as long as you're after him to acknowledge his mistakes here -- despite his apparently having made many.

It's also clear that a marriage is more important than a brother but a brother is more important than a wedding. That's why, before you take this up, uhgain, with your brother, you need to take it up, uhgain, with your bride.

If her concern is that you've paid more attention to your brother's needs than to hers, then you owe her an apology -- especially if she's been his hate target. If it's that you've paid more attention to your brother than to centerpieces and doilies, then you two need to discuss priorities.

Either way, conclude by asking her support for one more brotherly gesture: dropping your dukes.

Tell your brother -- or write again, so you aren't sucked back into battle -- that you're sorry you blew his plans and that he's your best man and you want him beside you and no argument's going to change that. You mean it, so say it.

By giving him whatever ego cover he needs to make (temporary) peace, you make it his decision -- i.e., his problem -- whether he chooses to make it. He might, he might not, you might get satisfaction, you might not, and it'll be on your mind regardless, but it'll no longer be on your plate.

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