Ask Alice — Advice for All: Not a Member of the Wedding

My husband’s sister is getting married next month to someone neither of us is fond of. 

Published May 26, 2012 4:00 PM
3 min read


My husband’s sister is getting married next month to someone neither of us is fond of. 

Dear Alice,


My husband’s sister is getting married next month to someone neither of us is fond of. We have never expressed our dislike to her and have, in fact, been very loving to her and helped her through some bad times. Yet she didn’t even invite her brother to be in her wedding party.


I am so upset over this insult to my husband that I have thought of not attending the wedding. My husband insists that we must be there, if only for his parents. (I also am angry with his parents for allowing it to happen. They should have intervened.)


In addition, my husband’s now angry with me for making what he says is a big deal about it.


I am not only confused by his response but hurt that he doesn’t see I am only being supportive of him. Even though he says his sister’s slight doesn’t bother him, I know it does.


As frustrated as I am, I realize this situation is not good for our marriage, and I want us to get beyond it. Please help. 


— Tired of Fighting


Dear Tired,

I recognize you are trying to be supportive of your husband and that you are angry with his sister and future brother-in-law over their decision not to include him in their wedding party. However, your husband seems to be reacting more to your pointing this out to him than to the actual insult. He is “shooting the messenger.”


I suspect he is hurt and angry about his sister’s decision. He is understandably embarrassed and may be uncomfortable with your attempts to soothe him.


Your pointing out this out only adds to his wounds. He likely feels protective of his family and resents your calling attention to their bad behavior. His reaction sounds like he is unable to tell you what he is feeling. Instead, he is directing his anger at you, which probably is helping to relieve him of his discomfort.


Unfortunately, there are times when we are not in touch with our feelings. Stop arguing with him. By engaging in these arguments, you are only creating a problem between you. Additionally, I advise you not to involve his parents, since this will only escalate the situation and may cause considerable conflict in your whole family.


Talk with your husband and tell him that you want to stop this tension between you. Explain that you were only trying to help and be supportive of him.


By offering him kindness and understanding, he may acknowledge how he feels about not being asked to be in his sister’s wedding. Be prepared to accept that he may not be able to recognize this now. In fact, it may take years for him to fully understand what has happened and his response to it.


Most importantly, you and your husband will be back to a comfortable partnership. You will then be able to attend the wedding without upset between you, which is most important.


There are likely to be many times in your marriage when your husband’s family or your own behaves insensitively or badly. The best strategy is just to let it go. This allows each of you to talk about your own frustrations about your families without having to be defensive. 


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