DEAR AMY: My husband’s brother and his wife just got divorced after 17 years of marriage and 25 years of being together. They have three children, who are close cousins to my three children. All the children are younger than 15. My children love their aunt and uncle, and consider her still their aunt, even though she is no longer married to their uncle. I, too, consider this woman my family, even though technically she is no longer my sister-in-law. My daughter’s communion is this spring, and this woman is godmother to my little girl. Naturally I want to invite her to the church and dinner afterward, but my brother-in-law forbids it! My husband is inclined to side with his brother and say she is not welcome, and that I need to honor this since it is his family. My daughter will feel terrible if her godmother is not welcome, and I am also fearful that the cousins will not come if their mother is not welcomed. Am I wrong in thinking it is OK to invite her, even though they aren’t married anymore? Is my husband acting appropriately in telling me it is his call to decide? We are now fighting over this and it isn’t pleasant for anyone. What’s appropriate here?


DEAR UPSET: Your husband and his brother have what could be called the primary relationship in this tough triangle. They grew up in the same household and have longstanding familial loyalties that your husband is anchoring to now. You can imagine that your husband is under some pressure from his brother regarding this event. Sibling loyalty (unfortunately) trumps your close relationship with your sister-in-law.

You can also imagine that, given the breakup of this marriage, she might not be ready to amicably attend a family event alongside her ex.

Because she is the child’s godmother, this is an issue you should take to clergy. You and your husband should ask for a meeting and attend together.

In my view, you should invite her, and the couple should work out between themselves who will attend.

You and your former sister-in-law should work hard to maintain your friendship and relationship, regardless of what happens with this event.

DEAR AMY: My niece recently got engaged. I sent a card congratulating her and offered to host a bridal tea for her. She accepted my offer of hosting a shower. Soon after, I was informed, by her mother, that they are getting married ASAP with only his parents, her parents and siblings in attendance. They want to spend funds that would be spent on a wedding on other things. Now, she and her mother seem to think they get to make all the decisions about the shower, and I am to show up with checkbook in hand to pay for the event. I have been cussed, screamed at and hung up on. Is it too late to call this off without causing a big (or should I say bigger) row in the family? I was under the impression that the hostess organized the shower and the bride-to-be furnished the guest list. Am I that much of an old fogey? Have things changed that much?

Curious Aunt

DEAR AUNT: “Things” have not changed all that much. People who offer to host events should be thanked, and the recipients of this generosity should gracefully accept, offer to help and not interfere.

Cussing, screaming and hanging up on people has never been an acceptable way to communicate, and it’s not acceptable now. You have learned some unfortunate truths about these family members, and because you can’t please them, you should gracefully bow out and let them do what they want to do, on their own.

DEAR AMY: I have a simple solution for “Worried Future Mother-in-law,” who was worried that the mother of the groom would be drunk and disorderly at the wedding. They should simply not serve alcohol at the reception, although they shouldn’t tell the groom’s mother ahead of time — otherwise she might bring her own, or arrive drunk.

Problem Solved

DEAR PROBLEM SOLVED: I have read that “dry” receptions are on the upswing, but many marrying couples, their families and friends, are not willing to sacrifice their own celebratory imbibing for others’ sake.

I absolutely believe in limiting alcohol served at these celebrations. Alcohol use at weddings leads to problems that last far beyond the typical hangover. Drunken revelers damage property and relationships, and the consequences of drinking at these open-bar events are sometimes tragic.


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