- 3 years ago
- Wedding: September 2019
Whilst planning our wedding, I have spent many hours reading through all of the wonderful advice given to others and although this is my first post, I have found that answers to similar questions I may have had so incredibly helpful!
I was hoping for some advice of my own as the title outlines I am experiencing some family drama that I’m finding difficult to navigate.
There is a lot of background to unpack, but the short version is that my parents have been divorced since I was a baby and have both since remarried. I have a wonderful relationship with my stepdad and with my sisters (my dad and stepmums children). I have always struggled to have a good relationship with my dad and stepmum however. Due to some of his own family issues, he has always been rather unavailable emotionally and takes the stance that everyone is out to get him. I have never felt as though I was a “full” member of their family. As a child, I was very aware how differently I was treated when it came to events like birthdays and Christmas and as I got older it was no longer about feeling left out of gifts and more how I was made to feel in their company. I was always a visitor, never had my own space in their home and everything was always very planned and organised to suit them. I never felt as though I could confide in them or go to them when I needed guidance and the result was two sets of very VERY different parents. The flip side of this is that from my teenage years he would tell me about his own issues and lean on me when he needed something. After his own infedility, he came to me for support, insinuating that he had been cheated on – not the other way round.
Our relationship did take a nosedive after a few hurtful arguments and the sad passing of my grandmother. Whilst we weren’t close, I was told via a third party and it really demonstrated to me that I was more of an afterthought than a family member. We went a number of years not speaking after this, after asking for an apology and asking to be included within the family was essentially told to “get over it”.
Once my sisters were old enough for me to communicate with directly, we did all reconcile with promises of improved communication and more family unity. It was easier this time as I didn’t solely rely on the input of my dad to spend time with my family. This continued over a few years until I met my Fiance and made the decision to move countries. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly as my sisters were reaching the age where my dad was beginning to voice his disappointment in the adults they were becoming and projecting his own issues onto them much as he did with me.
The last few years whilst I have been living overseas have been rocky to say the least. We struggle to maintain a regular contact schedule and both take blame for this, however the requirement for me to work to his schedule all the time has caused some friction. I work long hours in a difficult job and he will insist on calling whilst I’m at work and scold me for not answering or tell me he is too busy with leisure activities at the weekend when we both have time free. He also refuses to set time aside when I am back for a visit as he believes I should be at his beck and call but as I left a whole other family and friends behind my time is spread very thin. I often return completely exhausted and drained. I almost feel punished for leaving.
I fully accept that it is my own decision to live away from “home” and therefore always feel the guilt to comply with his demands but our most recent trip back has potentially ended what little relationship we had left. After making the decision to get married in the country I live in, all invites were sent with a very clear preface that we had ZERO expectation of attendance and for close family members made allowances to cover airfare and accommodation. We knew what a massive ask it was to ask people to travel and planned a small intimate wedding which would allow us to truly thank those who were able to attend. We also planned a reception in my home country for those unable to attend the ceremony.
After RSVP’ing and seeming excited at the prospect of visiting for the first time in the years I have lived here, the topic of giving me away was raised. I was upfront that I wanted both my stepdad and dad to do this as they both had a significant role in raising me. I was met by silence and a week later after some rude texts and ignoring my visits my dad finally stated that because of things that were said when my mum and him divorced (almost 30 years ago) he didn’t want to do that and they have thought about it and decided that they will feel far too uncomfortable attending our wedding with my mum and stepdad there. He said this would be the same with a wedding closer to home and that I was unreasonable expecting him to make the sacrifice of spending a day in the same room as my mum.
I was gobsmacked and on the flight home he posted on Facebook that he and my stepmum were off on a last minute luxury holiday. I wished them a good holiday and he sent a private message saying that they now had the money to go and needed to recover from my visit. He complained that I went on a trip for a few days with my mums family and that if I wasn’t going to prioritise him above all else, he wasn’t going to prioritise me.
I’m at a loss as to how I move forward from this; I feel as though I have spent all my life trying to please him. I spent a long time in therapy and learned to accept that he will never be the dad I want but I had come to accept the relationship we had. We have now indefintely postponed our reception in my home country as the only people unable to attend our wedding are my dads family and since our visit, they have all cut him out completely for various reasons.
Bees, please be honest – was I asking too much for him to take a shared role in my wedding? Should I just reduce contact and let this pass. I can only imagine that this has the potential to blow up after the wedding again. Just as an additional note – my sisters aren’t attending the wedding for reasons that I fully accept (work commitments and personal issues that prevent travel).
APOLOGIES FOR HOW LONG THIS SHORT VERSION BECAME!!