Relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist Mary O'Conor offers relationship advice in her weekly column.
Question: My father left my mother for another woman about 10 years ago. Now one of my brothers is getting married and we are having the bridal shower for his fiancee in my mother's house.
My mother and stepmother have never met, although all of us children have met with her over the years. My sisters and myself don't want to invite our stepmother to the shower, but my brother, who is very friendly with her, wants us to ask her to break the ice before the wedding.
My parents do not speak to one another. What do you think we should do?
Mary's answer: This subject comes up frequently in my postbag and there is no right answer, as the scenarios can vary so much. The most important people at any wedding are the bride and groom, and every possible step has to be taken to ensure that their day is as happy and stress-free as possible.
In similar situations I have seen the stepmother stay away from the ceremony altogether - after all, it is not her child who is getting married - and there is then no possibility of any coldness or bad feelings on the big day.
I have also attended weddings where the mother had a new person in her life and so there was a feeling of equality when both parents had an accompanying partner. I realise your question is about the bridal shower, but you also have to look ahead to the wedding.
I think it would be asking too much of your mother to have your stepmother in her home, and this should be firmly explained to your brother. Then try to come up with some plan where your mother and stepmother could briefly meet before the wedding.
Your parents' non-communication with each other is an extra complication, so raise the subject with each of them in turn and ask what they intend to do about this on the day itself, and then be guided by them.
The solution, after all, is in their hands.