Thursday 18 December 2014

Dear Mary: Fiance asked his awful little sister to be my bridesmaid

Mary O'Conor

Published 12/08/2013 | 05:00

It is one of the unwritten rules in a relationship that one doesn't criticise the other person's family

I don't get on with my future sister-in-law at all. I don't think she likes or approves of me because I didn't go to college and I work in retail and she's in the professions. I think that she's a spoiled brat that treats her parents badly and uses her brothers when it suits her. My fiance adores his little sister, however, and can't hear a bad word said about her.

Even though he knows that we don't get on, he is insisting that she be one of my bridesmaids at our wedding next year. I can't bear the thought of having her so involved and I can't believe he has put me in this position as he's already told her.

I don't want to have a falling out with his family, but I'm so upset that he seems to be putting his sister first over his bride-to-be. He's making an already stressful situation worse.

Do you have any advice for me?

Mary Replies:

Yes, I certainly have advice. Your fiance has known his sister for all his life and, whether you like it or not, she is going to be part of your life from now on. I am not saying that you have to like her, but you will have to be civil to her and get on with her, and you should resolve right now never to criticise her to your fiance.

It is one of the unwritten rules in a relationship that one doesn't criticise the other person's family – I often think that it should be written into the marriage vows and would prevent an awful lot of problems. It is a curious quirk in human nature that, whereas we can complain about members of our own families to other people, we cannot accept it when anybody else is disparaging about them.

Have you any actual proof that this girl doesn't like you? It may be that you feel a little intimidated by the fact that she is a professional whereas you haven't got a degree. It is the first thing that you told me about her in your email. You don't give any examples of her non-approval, so take a moment to check if,in fact, you are projecting your own feelings of not being quite good enough onto her.

You are having other bridesmaids whom I expect will all be chosen by you from among your close friends and they will all be there to support you on the big day.

Your fiance certainly shouldn't have asked his sister to be one without discussing it with you first. But he did, and because of this you have no option but to gracefully accept her as part of your bridal party. I may be way off the mark here, but I have heard girls complain about being bridesmaids and the costs involved, as not every bride-to-be pays for their bridesmaids' outfits and travel expenses. They also say that they would prefer to be a guest wearing their choice of outfit rather than the bridesmaid's dress, so consider that she may not be all that keen on being your bridesmaid either, but is saying nothing to you.

Weddings and wills are both great sources of family rows so please don't make this into something bigger than it is. Instead put this 'blip' behind you and concentrate on enjoying your engagement and the fact that you have found true love.

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