DEAR AMY: What can be done about my boyfriend’s overly religious mother, who repeatedly invites us to attend her church? She has invited us ever since we started dating, but now the pressure is really on. Her very small congregation (15 to 25 people) is actively looking to expand. The pastor has tasked every church member with contacting family, friends and neighbors as a way to garner new congregants. Now we both receive phone calls and mailers from her about church events, tent revivals, etc. I am about ready to stop taking her phone calls. Both of us have said that we’re not interested numerous times. We are both agnostic, and I am from a nonreligious family. The last time this subject came up, I told her that if I ever felt the need to go to church, the first place would be my grandparent’s church. Any thoughts?
No Church for Me
DEAR NO CHURCH: I have a suggestion for you: never walk into a used car lot alone, because you are unwittingly ripe for the plucking.
The mistake you seem to have made with this woman’s earnest marketing was to actually dangle the prospect of church. When you said, “If I ever felt the need to go to church...” what she heard was, “I’m thinking about it!”
You should say to her, one time: “It worries me that you keep asking me to attend your church. I respect that you are religious and love your church. But I’m not a Christian. I don’t go to church, so I hope you’ll stop asking.”
Mailers can be recycled. Phone calls can be dodged.
DEAR AMY: I’m very close with my immediate family. In fact, I set my brother up with his fiancee, an old friend of mine I’d known for years. I’m over-the-moon excited for their wedding, but my happiness was dampened when it was revealed that I was the only member of the groom’s family with no involvement in the wedding whatsoever. I am not in either bridal party (the other two siblings are), and I haven’t been asked to do so much as a reading at their ceremony. There were no tensions or arguments that could have brought us to this point, in fact, we were planning a vacation together before the wedding so they could take some much-needed relaxation on my dime. It has recently come to light that every member of the bridal party is much different than me in appearance. Specifically, I would have been the stereotypical “fat bridesmaid.” I used to be extremely fit, but after an unfortunate injury and resulting surgeries, I’ve packed on a considerable amount of weight. I’ve been perfectly healthy since and am working to get back to a healthy weight. Everyone else in the bridal parties fits a very neat and tidy uniform aesthetic, whereas I would be the only black sheep in what would have been an ill-fitting bridesmaid’s gown. Should I bring this up to my brother or future sister-in-law, who until recently I was very close with? We used to talk often, but ever since I was excluded from the wedding festivities, it’s been radio silence.
Reluctant Wedding Guest
DEAR RELUCTANT: Your brother and his fiancée have the right to include — and exclude — anyone from their wedding ceremony.
You in turn have the right to react to it, and I think you should.
I agree with your suspicion that you are being excluded because of your size.
This sort of madness is what separates the brides from the Bridezillas.
Here is a polite (albeit passive) way of calling them on it: “Hi, this is embarrassing to bring up, but I can’t help but notice that I am the only family member not to have any role in your wedding ceremony. I’m not asking for a specific role, but I’m worried that I might have done something to offend or upset you. I introduced you two, and I’m very happy about your future. I hope you both feel you can be honest with me.”
No drunken retaliation toasts, please.
DEAR AMY: “Frustrated” shared her heartbreaking ordeal of having her (currently sober) heroin-addicted daughter living with her and her husband — possibly for the rest of their lives. You suggested that they might be able to renovate their house inexpensively in order to give everyone some privacy. Dang! I thought this was both practical and possible. I didn’t expect it.
DEAR FAN: Breaking up spaces can sometimes help to keep relationships intact.