My wedding this past summer was glorious, until my father’s out-of-town cousin got drunk and created an ugly scene.
My family always invites this cousin to our important events, because my mom had originally introduced him to his wife.
No one realized that her husband had already had a lot to drink before their arrival. But people noticed at the reception that he was steadily knocking back drink after drink.
He seemed somewhat unsteady when he greeted me in the receiving line, but his wife was so warm and happy for me, I didn’t think about it.
Trouble started when guests went to their assigned tables and he didn’t like the location of his seat.
While already drinking wine, which he’d grabbed from a server, he openly switched place cards with a girlfriend of mine, whose husband noticed and said, “You can’t do that.”
With a loud, “Oh, yes I can,” he grabbed onto the chair but caught part of the tablecloth with it. Glasses and dishes went tumbling.
My girlfriend, standing nearby, had her dress badly stained by spilled red wine from the glass he’d been holding.
My husband and I only heard the tumult but didn’t actually see what happened.
The staff at the venue was wonderful and quickly re-set the table.
The wife grabbed her drunken husband, pulled him away, and took a taxi back to where they were staying.
She left a text message of abject apology and mortification, which my mother saw when she got home.
The night went on happily, but there was a lot of gossip throughout the evening as to how anyone could carry on like that, without realizing he had a serious problem.
My parents were upset for his wife. They talked about her husband’s addiction and realized she had to confront him about it.
They agreed that, besides getting treatment, he had to cover the cost of my friend’s dress if it were ruined.
After a dry-cleaner said that the wine damaged the expensive material itself, and that the decoration on it couldn’t take the cleaning fluid, my father emailed his cousin asking him to reimburse our guest.
Two weeks later, my father received a cheque made out to her. Included was a note saying that his cousin was going to see “someone” about his “issues.”
There was no apology to me, my husband, or my parents for his behaviour at my wedding.
What’s your take on this response?
How sad for his wife, but also sad for her husband whose addiction and whatever led him on that path, resulted in such ugly and disruptive behaviour for all to see.
Your parents’ approach was insightful.
By insisting on his paying for ruining the dress, they made the point that he’d done more than create a public scene, which he could forget when sober.
He had to take responsibility for his behaviour and its consequences. The pinch of paying up monetarily can have a different effect from a lecture.
Hopefully, he won’t think that’s all he has to do.
A 12-step group approach like Alcoholics’ Anonymous, or a rehabilitation program and other recovery programs, are all easy to find on the Internet.
Meanwhile, his wife can join a support group for herself such as Al-Anon where she’ll meet other people dealing with alcoholic family/friends and learn some of the ways they handle the situation.
Fortunately, you also have much happier memories of your wedding.
Reader’s Commentary A daughter’s perspective on a bad mother-daughter relationship (Oct. 26):
“My mom and I didn't have a good relationship when I was in my 20s. “She felt she’d done a good job raising and educating me, and I should recognize her hard work.
“But I longed to do many things that I knew she’d oppose.
“Now, in my 30s, I’ve done many of those things and feel less anger.
“I still don't call home as often as she wants, but I’m less annoyed by her.
“The mother shouldn’t give up.
“Raising children alone is hard, so obviously she wants to be recognized.
“But she needs to understand that her daughter could want something that she may never be able to provide.
“The daughter needs to make peace with this fact.
“She could want a better relationship in the future, so the mother needs to keep this door open and listen to her daughter more often, without judgement.”
Tip of the day:
Alcohol addiction requires support to overcome, and must start with the person’s determined willingness.