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May 3, 2010

Q and A

Francie talks to three brides with toppling familial tension.

Dear Francie: My parents divorced several years ago. Even though I was a young adult at the time, the breakup of their marriage was very painful for me. Over the years, I thought things had gotten better until recently. The other day, my mother called and accused me of deliberately hurting her by asking my stepsister to be my matron of honor (her children will also be a hostess, host and ringbearer).

My mother feels that I should have asked other family members (blood relatives) to be in the wedding. She also stated I should be concerned at how this will make me look. I explained my reasons for not choosing "blood" relatives. There is tension among our family. I reminded her that I wanted to include family in the ceremony, but she previously expressed reservations about each person I mentioned.

I'm distraught over this. I'm deeply saddened that she is pulling out of the wedding because of my decision to include my stepsister. She told me she feels "victimized" by my decision. Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated.

Wedding Date: May 2010

Dear Yve: Divorce is never easy and can certainly make wedding planning very complicated. I'm sorry your mother is upset, but you're doing exactly what you should be doing. You asked your stepsister to be your matron of honor. She is your sister, even if she is not a "blood relative.” You've asked the people you feel close to, and they are the people who are supportive of you. I don't know why your mother is critical of your choices, but it is not her decision to make. By saying she feels "victimized" by your choices, she is attempting to manipulate you. It's important to learn to stand up for yourself now, because the members of your stepfamily are always going to be part of your life. If your mother brings the subject up again, you can say, "Mom, I love you and I'm sorry you aren't happy with my choices, but they are my choices." Leave it at that. If she continues to try to argue, say "I'm sorry Mom, but I will not discuss this further." It is up to you to set the boundaries. You deserve a happy, non-stressful wedding. It's up to you to make that happen. Good luck and God Bless.

Dear Francie: Why do people feel like they have to give advice about how to have a good marriage? It seems like every time I turn around someone is offering some brilliant piece of wisdom. The one I hear most is: "Never go to bed mad.” What is that supposed to mean? My fiance and I get along fine, and I really don't want unsolicited advice. How should I handle it when people feel compelled to tell me how to make my marriage work?

Wedding Date: October 2010

Dear Carrie: Most people who give advice on how to have a successful marriage have the best of intentions. I remember my father telling me, "Always build each other up, and never tear each other down." I have remembered this advice and it's helped me many times. I also heard, “Never go to bed mad.” I believe my grandmother gave me that piece of advice, and she and my grandfather were married for many years. I can't say that I have always followed her advice, there have been many times when I'm still angry or hurt when my head touches the pillow. But the truth is, I sleep better when I'm not mad. If a person takes the time to give you advice, they most likely care and want to see you happy. Smile and thank the person, and then choose to follow the words of wisdom you feel are worth listening to. You may be surprised how much you can learn from others.

Dear Francie: My fiance, "Tyler", proposed two weeks ago, and I am terrified to tell my family. Even though we have been dating for over two years, my family hates him! They won't give him a chance because they want me to get back together with my high school sweetheart, "Will.” My mother is convinced that my fiance and I are not right for each other. She says Will is my soul mate and it's only a matter of time before we end up back together. I will always care about Will as a friend, but Tyler is the man I want to marry. How do I tell my family without starting World War III? Help!

Wedding Date: June 2012

Dear Sadie: Congratulations on your engagement! I'm sure you are nervous about telling your family, but eventually you will need to share the good news. Although they may not react as you would like, it may not turn into World War III. You say your family "hates" Tyler, but you don't mention any reason for disliking him other than he isn't your high school sweetheart. Does your entire family object to Tyler, or is it mainly your mother? Perhaps she needs more time to get to know Tyler better. Since your wedding date is two years away, you can afford to wait awhile before you announce your engagement. It's important they get to know Tyler as a person and see the two of you interact as a couple. Hopefully your family will take the news of your engagement with happiness once they see how much you love him. If they still object, you must do what you think is right. You're a grown woman, and it's important to make your own decisions and stand up for yourself.

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