When my fiancé and I got engaged, our families were happy, except for my fiancé’s sister.
He had earlier confided he loved his younger sister, 23, but she was spoiled and never held accountable for her actions.
They weren’t close. I soon saw all this for myself.
His sister chose not to come to our engagement party as social interactions allegedly trigger her anxiety. I suffer from anxiety so I understood.
However, she never offered congratulations but spoke instead about how her older brother getting married is also a trigger for her.
My fiancé chose my brother as a groomsman as they’re close.
We chose to not include his sister as my fiancé figured it’d be a trigger and she has a reputation for “tantrums” when things aren’t about her. (She does get monthly mental health counselling and has medication for anxiety).
I felt badly, but he said it’d be the best decision.
When his sister and mother learned she’d be excluded, my future mother-in-law froze me out.
His sister spent Christmas (at my family home with all my family present) crying and claiming abuse and neglect.
She spent two days berating my fiancé - even bringing up past girlfriends.
She also told a cousin’s widowed fiancée that it’d be too hard for her to attend his funeral.
For every planned get-together, she feels the need to discuss how this is hard for her.
My future MIL doesn’t feel it’s fair that my family’s represented at the wedding more than his, and that his sister’s left out.
She will likely have a big tantrum at the wedding, creating a riff between my family and theirs, as well as between my fiancé and myself.
How do I handle this?
His sister’s reactions are part of an ongoing mental health issue, more significant than a potential one-day wedding drama.
Your fiancé, his sister, and now both your families, know this young woman has real anxiety issues and yes, “triggers,” too.
Her brother can’t expect to exclude her from every important occasion which will arise over the next years – the wedding, your first child, moving to a new home, etc.
She needs family support, starting with a mental health specialist’s plan for increased attention with close study of her medication regime.
Her tantrums, upsetting to others, are nevertheless a cry for help and understanding.
She’ll be part of his and your immediate family throughout your years together.
You rightfully felt badly about his decision and have experienced anxiety yourself which, you can be grateful, has been manageable.
The wedding is one day and will be full of happiness. Raise your empathy level about her life.
You two need a better way of dealing with her presence and behaviour than his just deciding when she can be excluded.
I grew up next door to children my age whose unmarried aunt had physical and mental health problems but was included in everything they did.
We all learned compassion through her.
Today’s advances stress not isolating those with mental health problems.
Include her in the wedding, in whatever she thinks she can handle.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding a woman who lamented that no one ever called her for a second date.
“She said that she asked questions during her first in-person meetings with men.
“She likely doesn’t realize that questions can appear as (and often are) cross-examinations of mate-worthiness.
“Who’d want a second date after that?
“She should scale back her first-date expectations to simple, pleasant, social interactions.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who has a friendly weekly conversation with a local librarian and wants to ask her out (August 8):
Reader – “He shouldn’t ask for a date while he’s chatting with her about books or any subject while she’s working.
“It becomes very awkward for her as she’s chatting with him in her professional capacity.
“He must wait until she’s outside of work, even wait until the end of her shift and walk out with her, and then ask if she'd like to go for a coffee once outside.
“Never in the workplace. It’s inappropriate and undermines people, especially women, who are acting in their professional capacity.
“He’s interpreting her friendliness as being more than work-related.
“Wait staff, retail staff, nurses, doctors, accountants, etc. do not want their clients asking them out, during work, at work, ever.”
Ellie – A good point, as is suggesting a coffee after work, which she can refuse if uninterested.
Tip of the day:
Mental health issues require professional diagnosis, guidance, and family support.