Carolyn Hax: Petulance over plus-one threatens family friendship

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Dear Carolyn: My daughter, her boyfriend, and our entire family are struggling to move on after other close family members hurt us. We need help, especially me, mom!

Background: My husband and I have three children, and my husband’s brother’s family has two. While the five children were growing up, we enjoyed dinners together every Sunday night, shared every holiday, celebrated every birthday / exam, went on holiday together and much more. The two sets of parents retired in the same community and are often seen. My husband and his brother are very close.

Our youngest daughter was in a year-long relationship, destined for marriage (or so we thought), which ended abruptly just before the pandemic. She was crushed, alone in her apartment, city closed, fired from her job and more. A very dark time for her (and us), which both families were worried about.

Two years later she fell in love and is now radiantly happy for a wonderful man!

Fast forward to last month. Our niece in the immediate family is getting married in late July. Our daughter and her boyfriend, who almost live together and are on their way to marriage, will have been together for 8 months. The e-invitations came: The boyfriend was not invited to the wedding by name (bad enough), and my daughter did not get a “plus one” (unfathomable).

My other daughter (very proud of her) immediately called her cousin, “the bride”, and it’s resolved. The bride said it was a computer error. Crisis averted. But the damage has been done.

My problem is, if it was a mistake, then it was negligently cruel. My daughter’s feelings were not important enough for them to get it right. If it was on purpose, it was intentionally cruel. My daughter’s feelings were not important to them at all.

Either way, the feelings of our daughter and her boyfriend were deadly in the world of arbitrary “plus-one” wedding rules.

That they wanted their cousin / niece to sit alone for the wedding without anyone dancing with her boyfriend sitting in their apartment alone escapes me totally and completely. We would never in a million years behave towards our nieces this way.

Disclaimer: I said at the beginning that my daughter and the whole family are struggling to move on from the insult and the hurt. More precisely, they have busy lives all over the country and are just happy that it is resolved. I am the only one who has trouble figuring out how to deal with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law that I see almost daily. My husband just wants it over with no more family disputes.

Mother bear: Find a paper bag to breathe in, and then find more to do.

You wrote this answer into your question. I’m just the crazy messenger: You say your whole family “has busy lives all over the country and is just happy it’s solved”? Then the busy people are not angry. You are.

Moreover, this is not just about finding something better to do than enduring an exclusion that will not actually happen. There is also the question of acting in bad faith – but they are not the ones to blame. You are.

1. All that backstory is irrelevant to an invitation.

2. No “harm done” unless you take your niece for a liar and / or redefine “error” to include only malice and ignorance. Although your niece’s explanation was a white lie, it was an inclusive, peacemaking one.

You exaggerate and obscure at the expense of this other family, enough to throw your own loyalty to them under the kind of suspicion you throw their way. You say the new couple “will have been together for eight months.” That means, five months when you got the invitation, yes? But presumably it did not make the “bride’s” actions (why the snare marks?) Sound bad enough. Which is actually true: Many five-month partners do not get plus-one.

Plus, “virtually living together, “my emphasis, turns over the sections into” their apartment. “Hm.

Plus you attribute the worst possible motives for their exclusion of “and the guest”, but the best possible – hello “Momma Bear”! to your handling of this situation without any kind of mercy or forgiveness.

Plus evvvvv everyone is fighting! Just for fun! I am! Everyone else is fine! You are actively doing [stuff] up to make your loved ones sound bad.

4. The picture you paint of your cruelly uneducated-with daughter and her beloved boyfriend all alone! at home! all day! (no friends, no hop to Lowe’s for some bulbs?) is sympathy-canceling in itself. The suggestion that unmarried people are objects of pity is simply offensive. Deer at a wedding is not Cersei’s walk of shame.

Please. Do not exaggerate, point with your finger, assume the worst and one-shaming this one, quickly directed omission for a “Momma Bear” anger party. Also see what role vacancy plays and find more productive things to engage you.

As I have said before, even friendly and generous people make mistakes on guest lists. For all sorts of reasons that make sense to them at the moment. Much more harmful than these errors? Keeps scores at home.

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