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To say no to this meal

(33 Posts)
lottie82 Tue 25-Feb-14 12:07:08

First off this is kind of long, so apologies in advance.....

I'm getting married to my partner of 4 years in July. We only decided and booked a couple of weeks ago, so it's all been pretty quick in that sense.

Anyway, my parents split up when I was 5 (27 years ago) and divorced shortly afterwards. My Mum says my Dad had an affair, he has always denied this, tbh I think he prob did, but I'm not bothered, my Mum can be hard work and they are VERY different people, but despite their individual faults (like everyone has) they have both been good parents. Even if he didn't have an affair, I am under no illusion that they would still be together now.

My Mum really hates my Dads guts, I can't mention him without her making a comment about him or his current wife. Most of the time it's in a "jokey" manner but it really upsets me and just makes me cringe. The only person she is making look bad is herself.
I appreciate that yes, my Dad prob did do wrong by her, but everything isn't always black and white, plus it was almost 30 years ago. He is still my Dad and I wonder how my Mum would feel if every time she mentioned her father, someone made a catty comment about him?

Even though it's not going to be a big or formal do, there are a few people from my Dads side that I have had to vito from the wedding because my Mum doesn't like them and even though I would like them to be there, it's not worth the hassle.

My Mum always making these comments about my Dad is the first issue, but the main one is.....

When I told her I was getting married she announced that she was going to organise a meal for her, her DP, me, my OH, My Dad, his DW and my OH's parents.

1) Why, why, why would she want to invite my Dad and his wife round for dinner? (they have spoken maybe once in the last 18 years) She clearly hates his guts, the whole time would be more than awkward and I just know she would say something. I don't think my Dad would even agree to go and I wouldn't expect him or want him to.

and

2) I get along with my OH's parents OK ish, but I do struggle to make conversation with them, everything is just small talk and they don't take any real interest in me or my life. we have nothing in common and they would definitely have nothing in common with my mother, her partner or my father.

My Mum seems set on having this meal before the wedding but the thought of it, really fills me with dread. Even without my Dad and his wife, it would be more than awkward and I really see no need. My Mum will meet everyone at the wedding, and as I said it's not a big formal do, just the registry office, followed by a meal then some more people along for drinks in the evening.

I just don't see any point in forcing this potentially (no wait, in fact, definitely) awkward situation and pretending everyone is friends, when they're not going to be buddies after the wedding.

I've told her that I'd rather not do the meal and we had a fight with her calling me "selfish" and hanging up on me. Arrrgh!

Opinions please (on the meal and also how my mum always slags off my dad in this indirect manner).....

eightandthreequarters Tue 25-Feb-14 12:13:37

"Selfish"? It's your wedding, not your mother's.

Tell your mother in no uncertain terms that there will be no meal. Not "I'd rather not." Just 'No.' No, as we say round these parts, is a complete sentence.

Choose another moment to deal with the insulting comments about your father. Have you ever told her that this bothers you?

MsLT Tue 25-Feb-14 12:13:55

Tell your Mum that she can say/do what she likes but you will not be turning up for this meal.

Pumpkinpositive Tue 25-Feb-14 12:17:06

Your wedding, your rules. grin

My parents are divorced and on no speakies. Only way my mother would invite my father for a big knees up is if she could lace the soup with strychnine first! Any unpleasantness erupting at the meal could spill over into the nuptials and ruin the day for you. I wouldn't risk it.

Have you ever tried, nicely, telling your mother how you feel when she pans your dad?

isisisis Tue 25-Feb-14 12:27:22

Is she doing this to try & clear the air before the wedding? You say it will be difficult & awkward but wouldn't it be better to get that over & done with so it's not difficult & awkward on your actual wedding day?
A resturant would probably be better than your mums house if you are going to do it so everyone's on a even footing.

SanityClause Tue 25-Feb-14 12:28:24

What is she hoping to achieve by this meal? It sounds ghastly! Can you ask her?

Have you ever spoken to her about how she speaks about your father? Just "I know there's no love lost between you and Dad, but it does upset me when you talk about him like that, even in a jokey way. Could you stop doing that in front of me, please?"

I'm guessing she is not someone you can easily speak to, though, from your OP.

CMOTDibbler Tue 25-Feb-14 12:33:41

As isisisis says, it would be a good chance to get through any awkwardness before your wedding, and I guess your mums motivation might be that she wants to get through the urrrkkk bit of seeing your dad and his wife and your future ILs on an occasion when there aren't others there and the pressure not to do anything to spoil your wedding day.

FWIW, my parents met dhs parents for the first time in a restaurant a couple of months before our wedding (the men had their suit fitting that day as well), and 16 years later have never seen or spoken to each other again after the wedding. Nor ever will I imagine.

lottie82 Tue 25-Feb-14 12:38:01

Thanks guys, good to know I'm not being a total selfish beeatch!

I've never said directly to her about the way she speaks about my Dad, I know if she did she would deny it, because most of the time, it is said in a "jokey" manner. I guess I really should though.

I did speak to her partner though, who called me the other day to encourage me to make up with my Mum, and he did say that he agrees with me, as in the whole things seems pretty pointless.

My Mum isn't a bad person, and I'm sure she has her reasons, but I just wish she would listen to, and understand my point of view a bit more.
And as I said, I understand why she holds a grudge against my Dad, but I just wish she wouldn't drag me into it, 30 years on.

Oh well, just the actual wedding to deal with now....... :-)

AngelaDaviesHair Tue 25-Feb-14 13:21:28

Time to haggle: she can have her meal, you are inviting all the paternal relatives she doesn't like to the wedding after all?

Be frank with her. It's a nice gesture, but the reality will be desperately awkward, so why do it? Tell her a dinner just you and her and your respective partners would be far better.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Tue 25-Feb-14 13:22:48

I agree with isisisis - better to get the horrid awkwardness over before the day than have it on the actual day.

Also - it could be worse - she could be trying to stop you inviting your dad to the wedding at all. At least she is acknowledging that your dad is important to you.

However, that is just my opinion. If you don't want the meal then you shouldn't have to have it.

FWIW - I suspect the reason she is annoyed is because she has steeled herself for the whole thing and decided it was the right thing to do. And then you weren't very greatful! Nothing worse than going to an effort for someone and then realising that you needn't have bothered. (DH - I am talking about you here!)

5Foot5 Tue 25-Feb-14 13:30:43

He is still my Dad and I wonder how my Mum would feel if every time she mentioned her father, someone made a catty comment about him?

Give it a try, see if she gets the message.

SeaSickSal Tue 25-Feb-14 13:36:42

I think it's rather sweet actually. I don't think she is trying to do anything nasty, I think she's trying to do something nice for you.

Obviously she realizes that there has been tension and unpleasantness between her and your Dad. It seems like she is doing this because she wants to get this out of the way before your wedding and clear the air so that there is no tension on your wedding day and nothing to spoil your day.

Can you talk to her and ask her to reassure you that this is going to be a genuinely conciliatory dinner and she won't cause problems. Emphasise how important this is to you and how upset you would be if it caused a row.

But potentially this could be a really good thing because it would clear the air before the wedding and mean they didn't just come face to face on your wedding day. There might be a bit of awkwardness but wouldn't it be better to get the tension and awkwardness out of the way at this meal rather than leaving it till the wedding?

Give her a break, I think she's trying to be kind.

MrsSquirrel Tue 25-Feb-14 13:36:45

Is she doing this to try & clear the air before the wedding? You say it will be difficult & awkward but wouldn't it be better to get that over & done with so it's not difficult & awkward on your actual wedding day?

Do you think it would clear the air lottie? If it were my family (my aunt and uncle, not my parents) it would do no such thing. The meal would be difficult and the wedding would be too.

YANBU to say no to the meal. You are not being selfish. As with any invitation, you are always free to decline. If anything, your mother is being selfish for insisting.

lottie82 Tue 25-Feb-14 13:46:38

no I don't think it would clear the air at all.

I do appreciate she has good intentions but it all just sounds horrific to me and the thought is almost giving me a panic attack ( not just my dad, having a meal with my OH's parents too!). I just wish she would realise that and leave it.

TheBookofRuth Tue 25-Feb-14 13:52:59

I can completely understand you not wanting to have your dad there under the circs, but I don't think having your future ILs there is such a bad idea. It's not likely that they'll never meet again after the wedding, you'll probably find they interact quite a lot at family parties and so on, especially if you have kids. Maybe it might help get over some of the awkwardness?

Cigarettesandsmirnoff Tue 25-Feb-14 13:53:24

Congrats on your engagement !

Don't do the meal. Some family's cannot be forced to mesh together.

Your mother probably feels very out of control with things so this is her way of managing it.

If you have the meal and it dies indeed turn out to be uncomfortable , EVERYBODY will be dreading your wedding!

Keep every one at arms length , then when it is the wedding they all can pretend to get on for one day!!

Cigarettesandsmirnoff Tue 25-Feb-14 13:55:11

I'm sure op knows her inlaws well enough to know that this isn't going to be some Italian family style meal - more like the Cold War grin

SeaSickSal Tue 25-Feb-14 13:55:23

Lottie I think you need to think about this a bit. If it is making you so anxious you think you're going to have a panic attack what is it going to be like on your actual wedding day?

I think your mother is right and it would be better for them to see each other and be civil before the wedding.

lottie82 Tue 25-Feb-14 13:55:44

Thanks cigarettesandsmirnoff, I think "Your mother probably feels very out of control with things so this is her way of managing it", sums it up pretty well!

Thumbwitch Tue 25-Feb-14 14:01:18

I wonder if she just thinks it's something that "ought" to be done - to get the parents of each half of the new partnership together prior to the wedding?
I know my Mum thought similar, when I was engaged the first time - I'd been with my fiancé for 10y by the time we got engaged, and although she'd met his Dad a few times, she'd only seen his mum once, and barely got a "hello" out of her. Ex's grandparents invited my parents over to visit (they were lovely).

So I (we) hosted a party (rather than a meal) and brought all our parents and partners and grandparents together. It was the first time that ex's mum and dad had been at the same function with their OHs since their divorce, some 15y previously. It went rather better than my ex thought it would, tbf - but then it was in the garden and nobody had to be anywhere near anyone they didn't want to be after saying "hello". Ex's mum barely said hello to any of my family but then she was a stuck-up cow (unlike her utterly lovely parents!)

Anyway. The point - if you're not comfortable with it, don't go along with it - there is no such thing as things that "ought" to be done these days, just do what YOU want to. smile

mumbaisapphirebluespruce Tue 25-Feb-14 14:07:13

It's just a meal. Considering your Mum's opinion of your Dad, I actually think it's pretty mature of her to host a meal ahead of your wedding. You hear of so many brides and grooms who dread their wedding day because of non speaking divorced parents, but your Mum is actually on the surface at least trying to behave nicely and perhaps this is her way of moving on. I think you need to speak to her and lay out your concerns regarding her comments about your father and your fears about the meal, and especially her behaviour. She might surprise you. If she can give you her word that she will behave then, I don't really see why you wouldn't allow it to happen. As for your in laws, well, no not all of us get on with our in laws famously, but it won't kill you to make small talk around the table for an hour or so. They are going to be in your lives for the foreseeable future.

Shamoy Tue 25-Feb-14 14:09:46

I'm in a similar situation, parents divorced for decades and my mum can't bear my dad. When I got married we had a similar get together with all parents. It was the first time my mum met my step mum and the first time they met my in laws. It was slightly awkward but polite but it did pave the way for a much more comfortable wedding!
I wasn't so worried about how they'd behave. They were a bit less anxious and behaved really nicely towards each other!
We've been married 10 years now and they've never seen each other since but my in laws do send my parents Christmas cards etc. I think the older generation do like to do things like that.
Imagine if your child was getting married. I'm sure you'd like to meet your daughters new in laws and make them feel welcome etc before the wedding too. It's quite a normal thing to do. After all your new in laws are going to be a bit part of your life going forward, you'll be family. Your mum just wants to be a part of that too :-)

oscarwilde Tue 25-Feb-14 14:10:16

She probably just wants to find out what colour dresses the other women are planning to wear.

It might not be a bad plan as per TheBookofRuth - but it will also stop you from dreading your own wedding day if none of them have ever met. If it is an unpleasant experience, then on your wedding day you could avoid a repeat by not even entertaining the concept of a "top table" and getting all parties to host their closest friends/rellies on other tables.

Kewcumber Tue 25-Feb-14 14:11:00

Just practice "thats a kind thought, but we don't want to do that"

Repeat ad nauseum, don't explain or apologise or engage in a debate about it, just "thank you but we don't want to do that"

Tailtwister Tue 25-Feb-14 14:12:56

I had similar issues when DH and I married. I was very worried how it was all going to work out. My PIL had a drinks party at their house the evening before the wedding and everyone was invited (not just my parents). The rehearsal was just beforehand and my Dad was there on his own (without his partner) and it was the first time they had laid eyes on each other for many years. That gave them a chance to say hello. My Dad's partner (now wife!) was at the drinks party together with lots of other people, so it gave my Mum a chance to see her but not the opportunity to be difficult as there were lots of people there iyswim.

In the end there were many relatives from my Mum and Dad's sides and it was fine in the end. I don't know for sure, but I suspect my MIL called my Mum beforehand to have a 'word' and impress on her that it wasn't the time or place for any unpleasantness. It seemed to work.

Personally, I would say no to the meal but maybe suggest something the evening before (drinks maybe?) so they can just have a chance to see each other before the day? If there are lots of people there your Mum won't have a chance to really say anything without looking bad in front of everyone.

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