My brother’s previously been married four times and is currently planning his fifth wedding. For the bride’s sake, I’m trying to be positive and supportive (I don’t really know her and can't find much in common).
However, because of a history of drama/conflict/deception with my brother's past relationships, some family members are cynical and struggling with this.
He’s seeking our approval, wants us to love his fiancée, and be excited about his wedding.
Do we have to pretend? How can I be supportive yet authentic about my true feelings of cautiousness?
Can I still have a good relationship with him even if I'm not thrilled about his life-partner choices?
He’s very sensitive and expects a lot from us.
Are we being selfish?
It seems that your brother is the one who’s been most “confused,” not you or other close relatives. He’s made choices in his adult years that haven’t worked out, that’s not unusual. Nor is drama and conflict in some relationships.
But “deception” is something else. If deceptive behaviour has been at the root of his four previous marriage breakups, a caring sister would at least try to discuss – that means hear him out, not just judge him – why that kept happening.
He could use some support about marital relationships, more so than the wedding.
One way to get to know his fiancée better would be to try. Also, in a casual conversation, you could ask whether they’ve had pre-marital counselling, which many thoughtful couples do seek before the actual event.
A wedding is an important event. Yet learning better ways to stay connected is far more needed. It will take some delicacy in suggesting this.
As for who’s selfish here, that falls on the family members. Your brother’s inviting everyone to a party that they’d be insulted to be ignored over. The cost of a wedding gift is worth the family gathering… and the hope of your brother that fifth-time-lucky.
Help him know there’s more than “luck” involved. And help the others know that in families, even “pretending” to be accepting is more decent than shunning one among you.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding family members wanting to reveal to a female relative the name of whom they believe is her true biological father (April 12):
“As a Genetic Genealogist, and a daughter who was lied to for 59 years about her paternal parentage, I believe that withholding the truth about parentage would likely be identity-crushing when the daughter finally realizes that she’s been lied to all this time.
“I no longer speak to the family members involved in the cover-up on behalf of my mother, because I feel that what she and they did was highly unethical.
“They robbed me of knowing my father before he passed away, and of a relationship with half-siblings that I should’ve known much sooner than at age 60.
“In this case the daughter’s parentage may not be a fabrication, but what if it is? Consider the damage that’d eventually do. One cannot stand by and conclude that it’s better left alone when there’s such a potentially enormous price to pay, especially in the relationship between the mother and daughter.
“A better course would be to encourage the concerned relatives to suggest that the daughter get a DNA test to see if she can locate her biological father for medical information… definitely needed for the daughter’s eventual healthcare, and for that of any child she might have.
I’m 52 years old, female, and have had a few relationships but none of them led to a marriage covenant.
I’ve never been married, but most of my exes are. Do I have “damaged goods” written on my forehead?
I’ve put myself out there, but I think men don't want a committed relationship nowadays.
Wipe that worry off your forehead, you’re not branded “damaged.”
Instead, think about how you’ve approached past dating and relationships. Start with understanding that men and women alike are concerned about committing to the wrong person for them, and they should be.
That’s why scrutinizing dating profiles is very important. If a man just wants to have fun, don’t expect more. But if he’s a good guy, likeable, respectful, don’t rush your expectations. Enjoy the dating, while taking time to really know him.
Better to marry at a never-too-late age, rather than rush or hang onto a relationship that sours.
Tip of the day:
Family’s don’t have to love everyone’s marital choice. But decency calls for attending the wedding.