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Parental problems

Hi girls, such an upsetting situation and I need some advice please. Be warned, it's a long story!

My parents are genuinely making me want to cancel my whole wedding, with just six months to go.

I live at the other end of the country to my parents, so I don't see them very often, and I wouldn't say I have a great relationship with them sadly. This sometimes causes problems - about 18 months ago I told them that I was sad that they didn't seem to want to visit me or spend time with me and it erupted into a huge thing, with my dad screaming and swearing at me down the phone, saying horrible things about my fiance etc., who they'd never had an issue with before. My fiance very calmly brought it up with them when we next saw them about a month later (had to travel down urgently to visit a relative in hospital) and my dad apologised and said he never meant any of it, he'd flown off the handle, temper too hot to handle etc..

We got engaged about six weeks after that, and my parents seemed blindsided by the whole thing - we got engaged on our eight-year anniversary so it wasn't really a surprise to anybody else. My fiance had been planning to ask me for months and had actually wanted to give my dad the heads-up the weekend that we visited, but after the things my dad called him, he thought better of it and decided not to (it's not like anyone else was getting a heads-up! Equality and all that!). It would never have been a call to ask for permission as neither of us are into that, I personally find it a bit offensive but each to their own.

My dad didn't come to the phone when I called to tell them our news, and a couple of days later, my mum suggested that at the wedding, my fiance and I walk in together - which we'd spoken about prior to getting engaged anyway. We loved the idea and felt relieved that she'd suggested it as we presumed that it then wouldn't be an issue when we went ahead and did it. 

That was about 15 months ago now, and throughout our planning they've not been particularly excited or helpful with any of it. They're also not contributing anything and haven't offered to, even after paying a small amount towards my brother's wedding a couple of years ago, which they couldn't have gone on about more (they paid for his cake which was about £300, ours is half of that). I don't really mind, we can afford to do it without their help, but they always go on about fairness, so it seems a bit rich...

I've had my mum moaning about the venue, about the type of ceremony (a humanist ceremony), about the fact that it's in Scotland (where we live, all of our friends live, half of my family live and all of fiance's family live) instead of London where I'm from, she refused to travel to Scotland to come dress shopping but was funny with me for going without her. I'd also mentioned again in October that my fiance and I would be walking into the ceremony together and she ran off to tell my dad about it without letting me have a sensitive conversation with him, as I thought it might be something he might get a little funny about if I didn't explain it properly (he's very traditional in these kind of things and I'm not).

My dad has barely mentioned the wedding to me at all, when I visited them in November he didn't even say the word 'wedding' to me, he didn't say anything about it at all - which was especially weird given that I'd gone down to show my mum and granny my chosen dress at a local shop that also stocks it. I even said to a family member in front of him that I hoped he'd be giving a speech and he just left the room. I thought he still hated me and my fiance after him kicking off at us, nobody told me that he would be so upset, I thought he was just angry and being stroppy, and I didn't want to pander to it. I know I probably should have spoken to him then, but you can't comprehend how awkward it was to try and handle.

So we've just been getting on with things, trying to make the best of it and trying to make it lovely as much as we can. It's been really hard feeling like my parents aren't supportive or excited about it, but we've just tried to look on the bright side - my fiance's family are very excited and helping us where they can. We have six months to go and it should be a really lovely time, but my parents are ruining it for me.

I've had my mum on the phone this morning telling me that they'll be flying up and back on our wedding day because they don't want to put their dog into kennels for one night, which I got really upset about - I think understandably so? I told her that I felt upset about that and then she went full tilt ("I'll tell you who's upset!), telling me that my dad is 'devastated' about my decision to not be given away, that he's taken it as a personal slight and for him it's 'all or nothing', if he isn't giving me away then he's not making a speech, he's not wearing anything to match the bridal party, he's not being a part of it because 'I obviously don't want him there'.

She's basically told me that I'm doing the wrong thing and have made the wrong decision by having an otherwise  normal wedding and a white dress, but not being given away by him - even though she suggested it (and is now wildly backtracking on!). I know it's what she always wanted for herself and couldn't have, but she doesn't seem to appreciate that my dad and I really don't have a close relationship anymore, he's really pushed me out of his life and hugely damaged what bond we had left by being so insulting to me and to my partner and continuing to leave us out of their lives (recent example - he booked a surprise weekend for my mum's birthday, and invited my brother and sister-in-law, and some friends of theirs, but not us). 

I don't want to worsen the situation but I also don't want to be held to ransom on a decision that we have made together because it feels like the right thing for us to do, for our wedding, for our marriage. My mum then told me that if I changed my mind and asked him to walk me down the aisle after all, it would actually make things worse because I hadn't wanted him to do it initially. So I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't.

How do I fix this? I don't want such a cloud hanging over my wedding day and knowing that they're there, disapproving of everything, but I also don't want to feel like I've been backed into a corner and having to sacrifice an element of the day that felt really important to us as a couple, because it will upset someone else who doesn't seem that bothered about upsetting me. It makes me wish that we'd done what we originally wanted to do and eloped, instead of having what now feels like a big, expensive mess.

I feel so sad and empty about this, it's not how I pictured the run-up to my wedding at all - I just wanted everyone to be happy. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance x


  • I'm so sorry, it sounds like they're just impossible. Personally i would try and explain to them in a very simple way why you have made the choices you have made, and how their actions have made you feel about it. I would lean to writing it as a letter or something, because then you have time to think about how its put forward, and they have time to digest it and hopefully really think about it before responding. 

    That being said, some people will never be happy and things will never be enough, so you cant really do anything. I wouldn't change a simple element of your day to suit them, it isn't for them its for you. 

    Hopefully if they can at least try to comprehend how their actions have hurt you they might at least stop being rude an offensive and allow you top enjoy the rest of the lead up without making it worse. 

    Don't make yourself small for them, don't pander to them, you have done nothing wrong!
  • Thank you @CoffeeDogAddict - I really appreciate that. It's making me doubt whether I want to go ahead with the wedding as it is now, this is just the latest thing in a long line from them and I almost feel like I'd rather lose our deposits for certain things and just go off with our celebrant, photographer and videographer, and just do it ourselves. Much less hassle! I'd just hate to disappoint everyone who's looking forward to the wedding - my bridesmaids! - even though I know they'd understand. Such a mess!! Six months to go on Thursday and planning to send invites soon so I guess I'd better decide what I want to do soon...
  • I know how that feels, i always wanted an elopement because i knew my family would be hard work, but think of it this way, if that's the day you REALLY want, don't let 2 people ruin it for you. Think instead of allll the people that will be there supporting you and enjoying celebrating with you. It isn't worth cancelling and regretting it if you imagine yourself enjoying the day if they were removed from the situation. 

    I know you can hardly uninvite them, i'm just saying two people shouldn't take away the idea of what you really want. Tell your bridesmaids how you feel, and ask them to be a buffer in the day. they can keep an eye on things and make sure your parents aren't around you long enough to say anything to upset you, or they can just act as that go between so your parents are going to them instead of you for things. 

    Whatever you decide to do just make sure it will make you happy, and it isn't just to get them out of the way!
  • So this is still an ongoing saga sadly... I called my dad to speak about everything and try to fix it, and he basically just blocked my every concern, refused to take responsibility for how I feel and refused to accept that they've been incredibly negative throughout the whole process so far - whilst managing to slag off the venue, the fact we're having a humanist wedding (apparently that's me 'pretending to be Scottish'), having bridesmaids, the fact that the wedding is in Scotland... basically he told me that the wedding is all about me and to just get on with it, he doesn't want to be a part of it. I told him that I wanted to make things better and if it would make things better, then I would want to walk down the aisle with him, but he said it was too late. He definitely isn't going to make a speech, he won't wear anything to match the bridal party, he has also refused to sit on the front row of the ceremony. But he still wants to be there, 'one way or another'. Bizarre. They're still planning to only attend the ceremony and the meal and then leave.

    There's also so much hypocrisy at play that he refuses to acknowledge, which is making things really hard for me to accept, it's like arguing with a brick wall, there's just no give. My older brother got married two years ago and there were a few similarities between our weddings so far, but of course mine is all wrong where his was perfect, unbeatable, the best day ever and never to be touched. 

    He mentioned that my brother asked him for permission to get married (I know right) but doesn't seem to understand that he was already engaged at this point and probably was asking out of fear or nerves, as they've always been amazingly rude to my now-SIL. My FH and I don't really believe in the asking-permission thing and in any case, he didn't deserve that extra attention in my eyes after being so awful to my FH, so FH didn't do it, he didn't tell anyone he was going to ask me, so when he did it was just our secret, very romantic. My FH's family and all of our friends can't believe that he is still insisting that he should have been asked, as it is quite old-fashioned (and also our personal decision - we wouldn't knock someone else for asking! You just do you). 

    My dad had a go at me about having an adults-only wedding (the same as my brother had - the only difference is that they announced they were pregnant nine months into our planning, when the adults-only venue had already been booked for months!). I've spoken to my brother about it - the baby isn't even born yet - and even bought her a dress to match the bridesmaids if they do bring her, because they're currently undecided. 

    He's also moaned that the wedding being on a (regional) bank holiday weekend is making it impossible for them - it's a Glasgow bank holiday which only the local schools acknowledge, it's not by any stretch a national holiday, so it makes no sense that the hotels in Glasgow would be booked up or more expensive that weekend. But my brother had his on the May Day bank holiday weekend and that was absolutely fine.

    To top it all, he's accused me of being selfish for picking a location that means my grandparents are unlikely to be able to come. This is a really upsetting thing for me; basically a year ago, my grandparents would have probably been able to make the trip if someone drove them (my parents did not want to offer that help themselves), so I was relying on my uncle to do it. But since then, my grandad has developed a heart condition and is on a list for major surgery - a very recent development that nobody could have predicted. They're currently struggling to travel more than 10-15 minutes from their house, so for us to get married somewhere they could attend would basically mean having it in the common room of their sheltered housing. I also lost my other granny very unexpectedly in November last year, so it's all been very tough for me - my worst nightmare was out of four grandparents, only one being able to attend, and now that is the case and they're basically making out that it's my fault and my own selfishness that's caused it. I'm devastated that my nan won't be able to come but I went to London in the winter and took her out to show her my dress in a shop local to her, so that we would have that experience together. I know that was so special to her but he's made me feel terrible. I also feel that it's probably fairly common for grandparents to be too old/unwell to attend a wedding - my SIL's grandad lives 10 mins from my brother's wedding venue but even he couldn't make it, which is just another point where I feel like I'm being treated unfairly. These things happen and it's awfully sad - for me more so than anyone! - but he's making out that I don't care and it's my own fault anyway.

    It was the worst conversation and I think our relationship is probably past the point of being properly fixed sadly, I think it's gone too far. I never wanted this kind of issue with my parents but it seems like it's inevitable. We thought very carefully over the weekend about changing our plans and eloping instead, but as @CoffeeDogAddict said so kindly, it feels such a shame to abandon the plans that we've made with such love and care, for two people who basically are only going to be there for three hours and then leave anyway. 

    I just don't know how to make myself feel better and get over all of this, I really don't want it hanging over the last few months of our engagement and marring what should be such a special time. It makes me feel so sad, even when my friends and in-laws are being so amazing and supportive about it - it's almost like grieving! I'd really appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks so much x
  • I'm so so sorry that has happened. There really are no words, as you say its like arguing with a brick wall and nothing you can ever do or say will change their opinion. 

    I don't really have any advice, i think i would be feeling exactly the same and id probably spend a long time on the sofa with a bottle of gin crying, BUT i think the best thing you can do is distract yourself with something really fun! Just try and draw your attention back to all the brilliant and fun things you have going forward. Maybe if you still have bits you need for the day like bridesmaids accessories you could arrange a shopping trip with them, go to a department store and get a free make over so you can get excited about the sort of look you might go for, and just have a day of not thinking about it at all. 

    I know thats so much easier said than done, but you deserve happiness and joy and fun, and your dad isnt important enough actually to take that away anymore. 

    Good luck! sending you lots of strength and chill vibes <3

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,957 New bride
    I'm so sorry you're going through this - you've done nothing wrong! I would strongly suggest you google narcissistic parents and how one child is the 'golden child' and another is the 'scapegoat' - this sounds like a classic case.
  • Thank you both @CoffeeDogAddict and @MrsCToBee - that's so kind. It just all feels like a huge mess at the moment, and it's exacerbated by something which is lovely but has also upset me more. My bridesmaid phoned me last night to tell me she's engaged which is just the most gorgeous news, but I can't help but feel sorry for myself that she has such a loving, supportive family and is unlikely to experience any of this kind of drama with them. I know everyone has their own personal traumas and troubles, but it's just hit me that even though I'm so, so happy for her, I am so sad for myself. Hate self-pity at the best of times but it feels like my only mode at the moment!!
  • I would stop involving your parents in your plans at all and just treat them like any other guest from now on.

    Give them the minimum information required and don't allow them to have input when they're complaining at everything you do.

    You'll only make yourself unhappy if you try to force a relationship that isn't there.

  • Beatrice25Beatrice25 Posts: 248 New bride
    So sorry to hear what you’re going through. You’re definitely not doing anything wrong! I’m getting married in June and had similar with different family members after a while I stopped caring and trying to please them and I feel a lot better and they’ve actually got a lot better and seem to be actually coming to the weekend. Please don’t let them ruin your special day or the build up. It’s meant to be exciting time for you and your partner and as long as you’re both happy with your plans then don’t let anyone else ruin it for you x
  • MrsA-NToBeMrsA-NToBe Posts: 206 New bride
    I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this... we all want our parents to be 'on our side' but I think for your own sake, you're going to have to put aside how your parents are behaving and try to (as hard as it is) ignore the fact that they're very clearly treating yours and your brothers weddings very differently. 
    At the end of the day, you want to marry your FH, it is your day and they will have to be on board or not. Don't let them ruin something amazing for you because you'd be likely to regret if you do! 
  • I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this and that it's somewhat irreparably damaged your relationship with at least your dad.

    As harsh as it sounds, I'd be very tempted to put it to them that if they can't be there and support you in the way that any loving parent should, then maybe they're just better off not coming. Especially since it's going to be such a 'hassle' for them. Who knows, it might just be the wake up call they need.

    Look after yourself xx
  • Thank you all for being so kind and supportive. It is so comforting and helping me to feel better, I just need to try and focus on the positives as you have all advised and not let them take away from this time, as we won't get to do it again. I'm really hoping that there'll be no more drama but I just can't be sure of it, I just need to remember why we're doing this and hope that they'll either get on board or just shut up. Thank you for helping me to feel stronger about the whole situation! Spending this weekend with my very lovely in laws (who know about it all) so hoping I will feel better soon x
  • MrsMidtobeMrsMidtobe Posts: 149 New bride
    I am going through something similar only my parents are separated but it’s my Dad with the issue. Long story short because I won’t give in to his demands (which would literally cause detriment to my other family members feelings) he threatened not to come to my wedding. His exact words were “if you continue to be like this you’ll be getting married on your own”. 

    I thought long and hard about our heated conversation and once I had cooled down and was not as angry i went to see him, face to face. It wasn’t to make up, it was to explain that a father who would cause me such heart over my wedding was not a father I wanted to have at my wedding. I told him I WOULD NOT be getting married alone, I would be getting married surrounded by the people that truly love and support myself and my OH. He was stunned into silence and we have t spoken since (last month). 

    Whilst I am absolutely heartbroken at how he has behaved, and I sometimes feel like I’m mourning that dad I though I had, I know life is too short to settle for the sake of making other people happy. Slowly I am coming to terms with my decision and know it is right for me. I haven’t cut him out of my life and will always be there should he need me, but I can’t allow him to cause me such hurt (maybe it’s a self preservation mechanism who knows)

    I am by by no means suggesting you do the same, but the top and bottom of it is our parents are human, and sometimes they turn out not to be the people we always thought they were. They are not the flawless gaurdians we often grow up believing in. They may be your parents, but that does not give them the right to ruin this for you.

    I sincerely hope you find a good outcome for you all but I just wanted you to know you are not alone with this kind of family issue 
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