I recently proposed to the girl of my dreams. She took to wedding planning like a fish to water. Bridal magazines have overrun both of our apartments. Her mother and sisters are a constant presence. We've gone on dates to visit no less the half-a-dozen vendors. She's having the time of her life, and it fills me with unspeakable joy to see her so happy.
But I'm miserable.
I have known since the day that I came out that my parents would not be attending my wedding. I can remember seeing my father cry three times in my life: once at my brother's birth, once when begging me not to “pursue a path of sin,” and once when I told him I was getting married. Neither my mother, nor any of my six siblings will attend my wedding. My aunts and uncles have also declined. I have been forbidden from telling my last living grandparent to “preserve her health.”
How can I share in the excitement when my wedding feels like the final nail in the coffin of my relationships with my family?
Oof, we are so sorry this is happening to you. Some folks deal with this situation by just not inviting certain family members, but we know there are other options too.
Our readers offered a lot of comfort to a bride who felt like she didn't know how to enjoy wedding planning when she didn't have many friends, but this is a different subject… how to feel ok when family doesn't approve of your wedding.
Perhaps some of these thoughts will be helpful…
Reassuring words from folks who've survived wedding planning with disapproving family:
You can't control other people, you can only control your response to them, not their response to you. If they are causing you pain, then you need to let them go, and let the pain go. Maybe it’s a letter instead of a phone call. “Mom, Dad, I’m sorry you don’t approve of my life. I will always love you and appreciate what you have done for me. But I will do what is best for me and my partner. You are always welcome to be a part of our lives if you choose to, and we will miss you if you choose not to.”
Then, it’s truly a grieving process. You *are* losing something, the support of people you thought you had.
Acknowledge that. Those feelings of loss aren’t wrong, they’re perfectly normal. But once you begin working through them, you can start to enjoy what you do have — which is a beautiful fiancee and the beginnings of a great life together. Focus on your future together, and know that you did all you can to include your family.-Terry
What you’re going through–all the feels, all the confusion–is very normal. You’re transitioning from the family you were born into to the family you’re building with your wife, and that’s challenging for everyone. For some people, the challenge doesn’t surface until joint holidays. For others, it doesn’t surface until grandchildren come into the picture. But it will always come, and sometimes seeing the normality in your pain can help it not seem so overwhelming.
When the pain gets really bad, remember that you can’t control your parents any more than they can control you. They’re their own people and free to make choices that are right for them, even if they desperately hurt you, and vice versa. Remember that you’re not sacrificing your relationship with them over nothing–she’s the love of your life and worth everything, right? Not to mention your own sanity. You are worthy too.
And remember that this isn’t the end. Your parents are going through a transition right now too, and that’s hard for them as well. “Losing” your child to marriage isn’t easy for any parent, and it’s harder if the parent disapproves of their child’s partner for whatever reason. But plenty of parents have come around after seeing how happy their child is in their marriage. Maybe your parents will be part of that group. Maybe they won’t. But that’s not under your control. Only your happiness is under your control.-Cassie
During our planning, a saying we came back to when people would challenge our non-traditional ideas was “We cannot control the behavior of others. We can only control our reaction to it.” It’s natural to be hurt, angry, and sad about a situation like this. But, on the other hand you mentioned that your future wife’s family is completely on board and helpful and that your future wife is loving wedding planning. Embrace that part of it. Focus on the good and the rest will sort itself out. Your parents may come to accept your choice in the future, they may not, but it sounds like you’re marrying into a very loving and supportive family which is more than a lot of people can say.-OnTheBrink
I am a big advocate of understanding that we all have a DNA family but we can also choose to have a chosen family that supports us, that we can count on. As I’ve been adulting more, my relationship with my DNA family has become clearly not the best, but it isn’t the worst either… But I have lots of other support in my life, people I have chosen to surround myself with, people who love me unconditionally and help to push me to be better rather than trying to tether me to some mythology that doesn’t make sense for me anymore. I guess what I’m saying is, while it’s definitely legit to be sad about the family you were born to being dicks, you can also look to the family and friends you have chosen for support. And if Gramma would support you, fuck everyone else and please tell her/invite her. <3-Robyn Joy