- 4 years ago
- Wedding: December 2012
DH and I got married back in December 2012, and before the wedding I posted on here once or twice asking for advice on how to handle my parents, especially my mother.
I apologize in advance for the length of this post.
Long story short, they’re married, she’s an alcoholic with definite sociopathic tendencies and has a history of “sabotaging” important events in my life through spectacularly bad behavior. He’s in poor health and EXTREMELY selfish. I cut off nearly all contact with her several years ago, but until the wedding had made a point of calling my father once a week or so. I should add that DH and I paid for everything in this wedding ourselves.
At the time, I wasn’t sure how to handle the invites. My father hadn’t been much of a father to me, but I didn’t want to not invite him, as our relationship had been at least cordial. I did not want to invite my mother because of her history of bad behavior and because she frequently drinks and drives. Then-FI and I were worried that if she had alcohol at the wedding–we intended to serve wine and beer and have a cash bar–and then got behind the wheel and killed someone, we could be liable in civil court since she has a history of drunk driving. (Obviously, the idea of her killing someone would be much worse than our having to declare bankruptcy, but you get the idea.) At the same time, inviting one half of an established couple is more than a little awkward, especially when they’re your parents. FI said he would support whatever decision I made, but suggested that I should be the one to make the final decision as they are my parents. Fair enough.
How I ended up handling it, and the results:
I wrote my mother an email and explained that she would not be coming and why. I was courteous but firm. She replied with an email that accepted no responsibility for previous behavior and indicated that my not inviting her would be emotionally hard on other family members. I stuck to my guns, but remained courteous. (I refrained from pointing out, for example, that her habit of driving drunk with kids in the car had a good deal more potential for being emotionally hard on other family members…) I haven’t heard from her since. I think the fact that I did not allow her to get me angry made her angrier than anything else.
I invited my father, but explicitly told him at the time–three months prior to the wedding–about what he would be responsible for in relation to the wedding. For context, I should add that my parents live across the country from us. I explained that he would be responsible for wearing an appropriate outfit (the guys in the wedding all wore tuxes), arranging for meals (aside, of course, from the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception) for himself, and arranging for all transportation and lodging for himself. I gave him the information for the hotel at which I’d reserved a number of rooms at a discounted rate for the wedding. (In this arrangement, I wasn’t paying for the rooms; I just let the hotel know about the wedding and asked for a block of 20 rooms to be set aside for out-of-town guests, and since I referred some business their way they gave those guests a deal on the rooms by mentioning the wedding party.) I clearly explained that he could not expect to stay with my local friends or expect them or me to drive him around, pick him up, and so on. Incidentally, this was a very DIY wedding: I made our cakes, did our flowers, had a friend decorate the reception venue (though I bought and set up all the centerpieces, etc), and to top it all off was moving out of my apartment the afternoon of the wedding. He complained about all this–he’s an adult, but he actually expects other people to take care of him and make these kind of arrangements for him, not to mention pay for them!–but indicated that he understood. I also indicated that since he is retired and on a fixed budget I would understand if he did not come to the wedding, and that there would be no hard feelings if that were his choice.
Fast forward to the day before the wedding.
He arrived in town at an airport different from that which everyone else was flying into, and immediately began calling family friends and demanding that they drop everything and come pick him up. At the time, which was a) during rush hour and b) a couple of hours before the rehearsal, these two friends were helping me with the flower arrangements for the bridal party and venue. He was eventually picked up and dropped off at a hotel which was literally a tenth of a mile down the street from the church. He did not come to the rehearsal or the rehearsal dinner. My friends, God bless them, knew I was a bit stressed out by all the preparations and didn’t tell me anything about what he was up to. I honestly didn’t really notice he wasn’t there; I was too busy being on cloud nine due to the wedding. 🙂 I did ask once if he was in town, and was told he was and was at the hotel.
The next day was total and complete madness up until the wedding. I was moving out of the apartment and running a couple of last-minute errands. One friend was arranging for one of the youngest bridesmaids (my baby sister, also in from out of town) to get ready for the wedding. Another was decorating the cakes and the reception hall. My other sister, who was totally invaluable, I must say, was pretty much doing everything possible to make the day go smoothly, whether it was packing my car, keeping me from losing my mind, making sure that all the cake layers got to the reception venue, etc. I later learned that my father had told at least one friend that this sister is a lesbian, which she isn’t. Even if she was, it wouldn’t change how I feel about her, but as many of my family and friends are fairly conservative Catholic and he just assumes that if someone’s Catholic they’re the sort of bigot that he is, this was a really nasty thing to do.
Once again, thanks to my friends and family, I didn’t know about much of the rest of this until after I got back from the honeymoon…
Apparently, when he was dropped off at the hotel the night before my father was told that to get to the church he had two options: either walk (again, we’re talking a tenth of a mile here) to the church, or call a cab. He spent the entire afternoon blowing up my friends’ phones to try to get them to drop everything and come pick him up and spend time with him. At one point, he called the reception venue and impersonated then-FI in order to manipulate the friend who was decorating the venue. She caught on immediately, told him he was nuts, and hung up on him, and then got dozens of text messages from my mother accusing her (the friend) of “abandoning” him when he needed her. When all of this didn’t get him anything except to have the previous suggestions repeated to him (walk, or call a cab) he proceeded to trash his hotel room in a manner which would have made your average drug-addicted rock star stand back in wonder. The plumbing was yanked off the walls, flooding the room. The TV was smashed. The window was broken. To crown it all off, he smeared his own feces all over the sheets and walls. All this because, in short, no one would come and wait on him.
I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
After throwing one of the more epic temper tantrums I’ve ever heard of, he left the hotel and somehow got to the wedding–twenty minutes late, I might add. Spent the entire wedding (which was a full Catholic Mass, so well over an hour) sitting in a pew close to the front and making the most horrible noises–choking, snorting, gasping, etc. Believe it or not, I didn’t notice most this…again, wedding cloud nine! I only realized it after the wedding when someone mentioned it.
My grandparents-in-law are the loveliest people in the world, and are professional-grade photographers. Their gift to us was to photograph and video-record our wedding. After the wedding, I found him explaining in gross–and I do mean gross–detail to my grandmother-in-law the color and texture of the snot resulting from his head cold. Shortly after that, he started asking the groomsmen, none of whom he’d ever met before in his life, for money.
He then found the few relatives on my side who could come (sisters aside) and asked them for a ride to his hotel. When they pulled into the parking lot, he faked a diabetic seizure so that they’d take him to the hospital, presumably because he saw the squadcars in the parking lot and knew the hotel manager probably wanted to have him arrested. (I can’t think why…) They missed the entire wedding reception, a couple of them arriving only as DH and I were leaving, due to accompanying him to the hospital. And yes, the doctor actually said that the seizure was faked.
Somewhere around that point, my mother started calling another family friend and demanding that they send her money for a plane ticket to go get my father. (They didn’t send it.)
I’m not entirely certain why I posted all this, and I apologize for the length to anyone who is still reading. Maybe to give some brides out there a good laugh? I can honestly say today that the whole situation, though sad, does make me laugh in a way at the sheer insanity of it all. At the end of the day, our wedding was a beautiful, beautiful day, one whose memories I’ll cherish all my life. And that’s what matters; not his behavior, not her behavior. I got to see my parents, especially my father, as they truly are, and I’m grateful I did before grandkids got into the picture. I now have no contact with either parent, and am very content with that. I got to see how truly fantastic my friends and family were, in that they stepped up and took care of all this when I’m usually the caretaker in the family. I have never felt so loved and cherished as when I finally heard the whole story and realized that they all loved me so much. I still tear up a little when I think about it.
Good luck and happy weddings, all you bees! Thank you for listening to me both before and after the wedding!