Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My brother, who is over 45, has become engaged to his boyfriend of four years. They are planning an extravagant wedding and reception, estimated to cost around $85,000. Neither man can afford this kind of expense. So they have asked for financial assistance (a gift, not a loan) from parents. The problems are as follows: They can’t afford this on their own and want money with no expectation to repay. My mother does not support gay marriage. She does not feel she should be pressured into providing money for something she does not believe in herself. My brother is pressuring her, giving ultimatums and brow-beating her for this money. In the past, she has lent him large sums of money, which he struggles to repay. It is very upsetting to see this transpire. My mother is constantly upset and worried. I have tried to stay out of this mess and let her make her own decisions. I feel he is out of line and I want him to leave her alone. He has been disrespectful, rude and arrogant. Emotional blackmail is unacceptable. How do I handle this mess he has created and continues to perpetuate?
DEAR DISASTER: Let me put a different spin on this and say, quite simply and clearly, that grown men (and women) don’t hit up their mommies for money to pay for their fancy weddings. Grown people pay for their own celebrations.
I fully support same-sex marriage, but I don’t support middle-aged people manipulating their elderly parents to get what they want, so my reaction to this is unrelated to your brother’s sexuality — or his plans. I assume your mother would be equally distressed if her middle-aged son or daughter were demanding that she pony up tens of thousands of dollars for a heterosexual union. (If not, she should be.)
Your focus should be on easing your mother’s mind and helping her to manage her anxiety. You have every right to tell your brother how his behavior affects you. If your mother asks you to run interference, you should do your best to persuade him to back off.
DEAR AMY: I grew up in a broken home, always believing it was my father’s infidelity that caused my parents’ divorce. I vowed never to become the other woman in someone else’s marriage. Then I met him. We met online and eventually in person. At the time, he told me he was divorced and was not looking for anything too serious. After a few months of fun and exciting times with him, I learned some things that contradicted his story, but as they say, “love is blind,” and I overlooked them. When I learned I was the other woman in not one but two of his relationships, I was devastated and heartbroken. We’ve broken up several times. He blamed me for sending him too many messages. My self-worth was already in the toilet. I feel as if the only time he’s been truthful is when he said I was a “mistake,” he “hates” me and he wishes I were “dead.” The guilt I have eats me alive. He also gave me an STD. I am doomed for life and feel dirty. I should have known better. I want to call him out to the other women he is involved with, but I am just as at fault as he is. What should I do?
Heartbroken in NYC
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: You need to see a counselor — immediately. My take on your situation is that there are a number of issues that have spun out of control in your life. You will start to feel better once you are able to breathe and unpeel this onion, one layer at a time. For now, I do not think it’s wise to contact your former lover, or any of his other partners for any reason. Your choice to contact him seems to bring down a lot of wrath and shame. You are not ruined for life; you simply entangled yourself with the wrong guy. Once you cut off contact, you will be able to concentrate on your own physical and emotional healing.
DEAR AMY: The give-away in “Sarah’s” letter, which described her new “daughter-in-law from Hell,” was her gratuitous reference to the girl being “Cuban.” The young woman’s nationality has nothing to do with anything relevant to the query, but it does confirm where Sarah is coming from.
Mike, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MIKE: Thank you, I had the same reaction to this question.