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To not invite my dad's wife to my wedding?

(234 Posts)
weddingfamilywoes Sat 01-Sep-12 23:03:59

I'm getting married next year, and deciding how to deal with my divorced parents is causing me a lot of stress. They have been divorced for almost 20 years, but its still a big deal for me to have them in the same place. Since they split up, the only time I have seen them in the same place was at my siblings' weddings. My dad never went to any graduations etc, it was always accepted that my mum would be the one to go.

At my siblings' weddings it was clearly a big deal for my mum that my dad was there. So much so, that she took a tranquilizer before one of the weddings. I also remember my dad talking to her at once, and it really rattled her.

My mum has never remarried. She hates my dad, but I think underneath there is a lot of regret and some feelings still there for him. When my parents split up, he left her for another woman (although I don't think my mum was blameless in the breakdown of their relationship). He later remarried (but to a different person).

I like my dad's wife (stepmother I guess) a lot, but I'm not sure whether to invite her to the wedding. I anticipate that my mum will react badly to the news, perhaps terribly so. I have always had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with her. She has quite low self-esteem and is prone to depression. When my dad got remarried (~10 years ago), I told my mum I was going and she got hysterical. She phoned my grandparents and shouted at them down the phone, and asked why they were supporting this. I backed out of the wedding. I'm kind of expecting the same thing if I invite my dad's wife this time. And I'm worried whether it would be too big a thing for my mum to handle. She had cancer earlier this year and has generally been more depressed since. But on the other hand I feel really bad for my dad and his wife if I don't invite her. Neither of my siblings invited her to their wedding. I guess they felt it was best to avoid the stress for themselves and my mum.

Maryz Mon 14-Jan-13 16:30:48

This thread has really saddened me sad

Your mum has you exactly where she wants you doesn't she?

FriendlyLadybird Sun 13-Jan-13 21:21:42

I'm another one who thinks you should invite your step-mum. My DH and his ExW absolutely loathe each other, over 20 years after they split up. However, they managed to pull themselves together and be the picture of civility for DSD's graduation, because they both knew it wasn't about THEM but about her. Your mother CAN do the same, just for one day.

ilovesooty Sun 13-Jan-13 21:18:54

I think the posters who've suggested getting them on separate tables but none of them on your table are wise.

I think it would be pandering horribly to your mother and an appalling snub to your father to put her on the top table and demote him to a lower one.

EugenesAxe Sun 13-Jan-13 20:48:35

I agree with everyone saying to invite your step-mum & that this is not your problem but your DM's. If she accuses you of being selfish I think you could reasonably direct that back at her. You need to be kind but firm - you're sorry it didn't work out between your parents, but she must accept you have a relationship with your DSM and that to ask you to not invite her to this special event in your life would be cruel to both parties. It also wouldn't change anything for the better from your DM's perspective; it's more likely to change things for the worse.

I think bubby also voices a lot of what I've thought. I guess you do need to think about how you'd feel if your DM didn't come & factor that into your decision, ultimately.

LesBOFerables Sun 13-Jan-13 20:16:51

She is playing you like a fiddle, OP. I feel very sorry for your dad and his wife. Why is it that the most outrageously behaved people get pandered to, while perfectly reasonable ones have their feelings ignored just because they don't parade them in front of everyone? It's hideously unfair.

bubby64 Sun 13-Jan-13 20:12:06

We had a similar situation with our wedding, except it was DHs mum, not mine. We invited her and FiL and his wife of the pat 12 yrs, and MiL kicked up in all sorts of ways, blaming me for the invite and she got really nasty at one point. In the end, she said she would come if FiL and SMiL were sat on the opposite side of both the church, and reception. We arranged all of this, and TBH FiL was willing to comply with her demands to keep the peace, but, on the actual day, she just didn't turn up!
It did upset DH, but, as he said later, if she had decided to come, she would have been a drama queen the whole day, and done her best to ruin the day for all involved. What I am really saying is that I would invite all 3, and it will be up to your mum as to whether she can accept the situation. DH and I still get on with SMiL much better than MiL, as do our kids, so I'm glad we didn't exclude her for our wedding (13 yrs ago now!)

TheFallenNinja Sun 13-Jan-13 18:59:02

No, but it will put the old man in a spot.

startlife Sun 13-Jan-13 18:20:56

My DH could have written this post some years ago. His mum & dad divorced 20 years previously but his mum refused to attend joint family events. DH's brother had no one at his graduation because he wouldn't choose between then. However for our wedding we refused to let this happen. DH invited his mum said his dad would be going, he wanted his mum there but of course he respected her decision.

She vented in exactly the same way as your mum, she would feel awkward, wouldn't enjoy the day etc. She was so used of getting her way, all of her life so this was wake up to her and she didn't like it.

DH perserved, during the run up to the wedding and she did come and you know what it was a non event. No drama at all. The best thing was that it actually positive for her- she had been stuck in the victim mentality for so many years it was holding her back.

The run up to the wedding might have been stressy for her but sometimes we all have to face our fears, it was a growing experience for her. Her life has changed for the better since then and she now has a new relationship.

Please make sure you invite your Step Mum, your mum needs to get over this for everyone sake (including her own).

gimmecakeandcandy Sun 13-Jan-13 18:18:49

whathaveigotoday have you actually read the whole thread before dishing out your 'advice' ? [hmmm]

Op ignore this posters advice. Please invite your sm and don't let your mother emotionally manipulate and abuse you anymore.

Inaflap Sun 13-Jan-13 17:57:46

Have not read the whole thread so forgive me if I am repetitious. Is your mum likely to be verbally abusive towards SM? I'm thinking in a sort of Eastenders type way. If not, I would onvite SM and assign your mother to your siblings to 'mind' and to ensure that both parties are kept apart. I think it a real shame that your father cannot have the woman he is closest to at his daughter's wedding because of the mental instability and machinations of a woman he left a long time ago. I think it is really hard for you but this isn't even the woman he left your mother for and really her life needs to move on. This happened to a friend of mine but it was worse because her father's partner was someone he had been having an affair with for 16 years of his married life so the betrayal was huge. All came to the wedding and all behaved like the civilised adults that they are. They were kept apart and all was well. It takes a lot for people to misbehave and cause a scene publically. Only you can judge whether your mother might do this.

Of course your father's wife might not want to front the barrage of hostility and decline anyway but from her perspective I am sure she would appreciate the thought that she is included.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 13-Jan-13 17:35:42

DSis (an occasional MNer) says it would be cruel not to invite SM, as this would deprive DM of an excuse to flounce dramatically. Imagine if it really was a brilliant day and nobody once looked at DM to see how she was bearing up! Oh, the horror.

meddie Sun 13-Jan-13 16:04:10

God I feel for you I really do. She sounds just like my mother. Fortunately my eyes were opened to her behavior many years ago and I keep a healthy distance and boundaries, but she still tries it on, though she gets no where..

You are in a difficult situation. Really you should set a boundary, its what you need to do in the long term or this manipulation and self absorption will continue (and get worse as she gets older probably). buts its your wedding day and even if you do invite your SM, which is what you should do. Your mum will either not attend, make such a big deal/drama about it that the run up to your wedding willbe all about her, or attend and have a face liked a slapped arse all day, maybe throw in a panic attack for good measure.

So what do you do... not invite your SM for an easy life, but this will reinforce your mothers behaviour, that if she causes a drama she gets her own way.

Or invite your SM but mentally prepare yourself for your mothers reaction and deal with it unemotionally. Ignore the sulky faces, don't be drawn into her dramas and let her get on with it.

I would be smiling my silly head off, commenting about what a lovely day it was and how everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and that I couldn't wish for anything better and just totally overlooking her slapped arse face....

fuckadoodlepoopoo Sun 13-Jan-13 15:44:29

She didn't for a second consider what you would want for your day! Everything was about her!

fuckadoodlepoopoo Sun 13-Jan-13 15:36:49

Wow so she put the guilt and emotional blackmail switch on, got you to change your mind and say you'd not invite sm, AND had you thinking it was your own idea!

She's good!

Your mum is so selfish. When she said everyone would be looking at her you should of said that no one else is interested, because they probably aren't. The only reason anyone might be is because she's made such a fuss about it all these years. Everyone else just gets on with their lives.

I also think you made a mistake asking for her permission. I think she relies on that. You're an adult who makes their own decisions now. By asking for her permission you are giving her the power.

HappyNewHissy Sun 13-Jan-13 15:23:40

I think you ought to hand over the invitation duties to your Fiance. He seems to have a much more level headed approach. He sees through the poisonous shite your mother spews.

You HAVE to get this in check NOW, or she WILL poison your marriage too, you are aware of that, aren't you?

You have changed your mind, it'd be MEAN not to invite your SM, as she IS a part of your life and you DO like her. Your SM has EVERY right to expect an invitation. Your father would want her there too, AND would expect to see your DM there too.

Stand up to your mother now.

SantasENormaSnob Sun 13-Jan-13 14:08:36

Your mum is one manipulative nasty piece of work.

It's about time people stopped pandering to this type of shit.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 13-Jan-13 13:32:50


Your post assumes that the DM didn't use to be emotionally abusive and that the affair is the cause of it.

BacardiNCoke Sun 13-Jan-13 13:27:49

I would invite your stepmum, and if your mum decides not to come then that's her loss. I got married 3 years after my parents divorced. I had a very small wedding (only 10 people). I didn't invite extended family, but my mum and (maternal) grandparents obviously. My dad was paying for my wedding. My grandparents decided not to come because my dad was going to be there. hmm And my mum only came to the ceremony. hmm sad I fell out with her massively before the wedding because she somehow expected me to invite her DP (who she left my dad for) and not invite my dad at all. confused We managed to reconcile before the wedding. But I told her I was under no circumstances leaving my dad out and her DP wasn't invited. I felt because it was such a small wedding it wouldn't be fair to my dad. So she didn't come to the restaurant for the meal afterwards. She said she went home and cried. My response to that was, "Oh". What did she expect me to say, she decided to exclude herself not me, I refused to be manipulated by her, or my grandparents. It was there loss.

It's your day, don't let yourself be emotionally blackmailed by your mum. You're not responsible for her feelings, she is. She chooses to react in the way she does, she is putting herself before you. You should start doing the same, put yourself first.

I made up with my mum and we're close now. She regrets not coming to the whole of my wedding and sometimes still tries to guilt me. But I refuse to be drawn in, it was her choice.

DeepRedBetty Sun 13-Jan-13 13:21:51

Have skim read, all your posts (I love the way you can highlight the OP's posts!) and some key other posts.

My first thought when I saw the recent exchange of emails with your DM was 'Uh Oh Burning Martyr Syndrome'. This is what we call my DM's attacks of 'poor little me' which she uses to ensure everybody toes her line. But your mum has it considerably worse than mine.

Re-iterate, like 99% of other contributors to this thread, this is your wedding not hers and you need to draw a line in the sand otherwise every other family event for the foreseeable future will have this shadow hanging over it.

DontmindifIdo Sun 13-Jan-13 13:07:33

oh and sit your SM with someone like your siblings on another table so she knows someone, but most SM's who weren't involved with raising the bride/groom would expect not to sit on the top table if it was traditionally set out.

DontmindifIdo Sun 13-Jan-13 13:05:15

Another thing to think about, if your Dad left your Mum for another woman, but not this one, then your step mum is actually being punished for the bad behaviour of another woman. It's her fault your Dad had an affair. Your mum has to accept that this is your Dad's partner now, it's wrong to not invite her. If your SM was the OW she might have a point about it, but she wasn't. The only person in the room who might be at fault is your Dad, but your mum isn't suggesting you don't invite your Dad, just not your Step mum, who as far as I can see is one of the only completely blameless people in all this.

Excluding her but not your Dad is not about making your mum feel more comfortable (because your Dad's presence will upset her anyway) it's about not highlighting to the world that your Dad has moved on and is happy when she's not, and particularly, your mum is using you in order to hurt your Dad by making you snub a completely innocent bystander.

Toptable ettiquette would have your mum sat next to your FIL and your Dad sat next to your MIL anyway so if they aren't sat together or talking it won't be obviously. Some have the traditions that the Groom's dad asks the brides mother to dance and the bride's dad asks the grooms mum to dance after the first dance, so if you prime your FIL to be to ask her to dance, tell your dad it's best if he asks your MIL to dance for the first dance (perhaps get a grooms man/male relative from your DP's side to ask SM to dance so she's not stood on her own at the side).

If your mum wants to leave early after that, then fine, but she'll have done all her 'mother of the bride' bits.

OTOH, your Mum, quite frankly, sounds like a drama queen and actually, if she decides to stay away because of this, it might be for the best, she sounds like the type who thinks her DD's wedding is about her and it's ok to try to keep attention on herself.

GilmoursPillow Sun 13-Jan-13 13:03:09

Oh FFS! You know what I mean, right? blush

GilmoursPillow Sun 13-Jan-13 13:02:30

...I will be inviting you and as guest too.....

GilmoursPillow Sun 13-Jan-13 13:01:40

While you're discussing this in any way, shape or form with your mother, she's got what she wants - you dancing to her tune.

Email her back and say that you want your Dad AND his wife to be there, and you want your Mum to be there too. I would write something along the lines of "I will be inviting Dad and Xxx, I will be inviting you as a guest too. I hope you can make it" and leave it at that. No ifs or buts. If she starts, repeat, "I will be inviting Dad and Xxx..."
Let her get the message that your feelings and your wishes (on YOUR big day) are non-negotiable.

TarkaTheOtter Sun 13-Jan-13 13:00:27

We invited the ow to our wedding because it ha been 10yrs and she is the mother of my half siblings as well as my dad's partner. My dm found it hard, but she did her best to keep those feelings from me because she knew I would worry about it. She understood the difficult position I was in and put me first because I am her child and it was my wedding day.

We had friends at our "top table" and had parents and step-parents to "host" their own tables. Naff, but it meant no one was left out.

Dm and dad/ow kept themselves apart and all was fine because they are all adults.

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