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    asking's Avatar
    asking Posts: 2,673, Reputation: 660
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    #1

    Jul 27, 2011, 10:36 PM
    Weddiquette
    I have been dating a guy for about 18 months. His wife is deceased and his adult daughter just announced her engagement. I've met the daughter only once but it went well and we've exchanged a few friendly emails and also small gifts for each other's birthdays and christmas. It's been low key but friendly, no conflict whatever.

    The father/my boyfriend told me he was not sure I could come to the wedding, that he'd have to talk it over with his daughter.

    As I expected, the daughter has said it's fine for me to come, but I am still a little taken aback. It never occurred to me that I would not be welcome. Wouldn't I be a sort of natural plus one? There's no mystery conflict with anyone else in the family, either.
    To put it another way, would it have been reasonable to exclude the father's steady girlfriend from the wedding?

    How would you react to this if it happened to you?
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,848, Reputation: 5428
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    #2

    Jul 27, 2011, 10:39 PM

    Your boyfriend is a man. Men are clueless about wedding etiquette. He was more worried about his daughter feeling comfortable enough with you (which gives him ten extra points). She is comfortable with you, so no problem. Have a great time at the wedding and tell us all about it!
    asking's Avatar
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    #3

    Jul 27, 2011, 10:43 PM
    Thanks, wondergirl!
    Been awol from AMHD because of a heavy workload (a book project).
    He did manage to hurt my feelings. I'll try to suck it up though. :)
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    Wondergirl Posts: 37,848, Reputation: 5428
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    #4

    Jul 27, 2011, 10:47 PM

    Naw, don't let your feelings be hurt. Think of it as him worrying about and taking care of the tender sensibilities of his little girl.

    If he's that good to her, think of how good he will be to you.

    Hope the book project is going well!
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    #5

    Jul 27, 2011, 10:54 PM
    Comment on Wondergirl's post
    Book nearly done, thank goodness. Thanks for the reality check. Hope you are doing well. I am not used to the new look of this place.
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #6

    Jul 28, 2011, 04:46 AM
    Ditto to Wondergirl.
    It may have had to do with letting her express her feelings about her mother not being there.
    Plus there's the formalities about your role sitting next to the father of the bride, and whether that makes you a sort of mother of the bride. Fortunately these days young people don't care a lot about formalities.
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    #7

    Jul 28, 2011, 07:21 AM
    Thanks, Joy, though this is a wedding a year away. I don't think it was about where I would sit. It was about whether I would be allowed to be there at all. He wasn't as direct as I said. He just indicated that it was an awkward topic and sounded like he didn't think I should be there; then a few days later I got an email invitation from the daughter. I had to guess what happened. Meanwhile he has come to Thanksgiving at my house and invited himself to my kids' birthdays and a high school graduation. But it never seems to go the other way. He shared his birthday with his daughter without me. So this thing about my not being invited to her wedding, just seemed like one more thing. He also proposed throwing an engagement party for his daughter with his female cousin (our age) as his hostess. This sounds okay, except the daughter doesn't know his cousin any better than she knows me and in fact my boyfriend didn't meet this cousin until about 4 years ago. I told him right off that that hurt my feelings. I find the whole thing confusing.It's hard for me to chalk it all up to he's just a guy, although any individual thing could be viewed that way.
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    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,304, Reputation: 7691
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    #8

    Jul 28, 2011, 07:46 AM

    It is very possible that privately his daughter may have had issues when you and he started dating, we and you just do not know that. So until he talked to his daughter about you coming he really just did not know.

    It is normal if you and he are in a serious long term relationship to be invited, but it is also very common for you not to seat with him at the wedding. More common if the girls mother would still be alive.
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    #9

    Jul 28, 2011, 07:57 AM
    So who would sit with him instead?
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    #10

    Jul 28, 2011, 07:59 AM

    Even though he may love you to pieces and his daughter has no problem with your relationship, there way be lurking in the back of his mind an unrealistic feeling of disloyalty to his ex. You haven't said how long they were married, if she's still alive, and, if she is, what their relationship is like now. He may have brought other women into his daughter's life before you and gotten grief for it.

    There may even be a novel in all of this! I should be taking notes.
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    #11

    Jul 28, 2011, 08:14 AM

    His wife has been dead for several years; they were separated for four years before that. He has not brought anyone else into his daughter's life, to my knowledge. He doesn't always tell me everything.

    I completely agree about the lurking sense of disloyalty to his ex. I have tried to talk to him about this possibility, but he says there's nothing to talk about. But there are signs of it everywhere. He talks about her angrily still, but then acts like he is still mourning the family he once had, with his wife--who he says was mean to him--and his little daughter, who has grown up. He used to say he wished we could have kids--we are in our late 50s...

    He says he is firmly attached to me, but if anything related to his old family comes up, I'm place firmly on the back burner, usually without any explicit discussion. Like for his birthday, he just kept putting me off when I tried to make plans with him. And then suddenly announced he was having his birthday with his daughter. I was backup in case she didn't invite him, I guess. He also told me in an email that he had told his daughter that he and I would probably never get married, a conversation that I was not aware he and I had had...

    A novel sounds like a good idea. It would help me deal with my feelings. :)
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #12

    Jul 28, 2011, 08:19 AM
    She's deceased. But I wonder if it matters (to him) when she died, if were still married or divorced, whether their daughter was young or grown.
    But I am getting a different picture of this. It's possible that he really is somewhat obtuse.
    Although we all have topics we stew over, this is one I would bring out in the open with him. Tell him that it hurts a little more because he inserts himself into your family, your children, your holidays, and is awkward about or even leaves you out of his.
    It might be something deep seated, if you were divorced and he was widowed. So I would be delicate about it.
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    #13

    Jul 28, 2011, 08:20 AM
    Comment on joypulv's post
    Oops, you answered while I was typing
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    #14

    Jul 28, 2011, 08:24 AM
    OK! Four years separated + death = GUILT!
    This is something I have first hand experience with. It now all makes sense. He's a mishmash of conflicted feelings. They broke up but she died. Guilt, guilt.
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    #15

    Jul 28, 2011, 08:28 AM

    Sounds like he wants to recapture the family he doesn't have any longer.

    Is there marriage at the end of the tunnel, or are you just dating each other and having fun and getting to know each other for now?
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    #16

    Jul 28, 2011, 08:48 AM

    We have talked about moving in together. But I have said I wanted to wait and he agreed once I said that. He has been planning to move closer to me, and gets ever closer to doing it, then doesn't. He had a mover lined up to move this weekend, and then cancelled at the last minute. So it remains a long distance relationship.

    Tell me more about the guilt, joy.

    By the way, even though he says their marriage was really bad, she asked him to leave and he didn't move out until their house sold a year later. It seems to me he really clung to the marriage, even though he says he wanted out. He says he was ashamed of what his family would think and hid from them the fact that he was separated. He sat by her bedside every day for months while she died. She apparently wasn't that happy to have him there. He says he did it for his daughter. But I think there's more to it than that. For me, it's water under the bridge. But I tell you all this by way of bringing out anything you have to say about guilt!
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    #17

    Jul 28, 2011, 09:14 AM

    Even if his wife was the "bad guy" in the marriage, he may (or may not) have contributed to how she acted and reacted. For instance, if he was a workaholic and didn't spend time with her and the kids, she could have resented that and caused him grief.

    Now he is looking back on what went wrong and sees his part in it -- or has inflated his role in how the marriage failed. That can explain his devotion to his daughter, wanting to make up for lost time.
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    #18

    Jul 28, 2011, 09:16 AM
    I don't want to try to describe what he is going through, when he isn't here. I married yound, someone I barely knew, left him, and he killed himself, a few years later. Not the same at all, we didn't even have time to fight much or have history together, but guilt is guilt. People feel guilty all the time when someone they didn't get along with dies. When someone dies whose love is unfettered, you grieve and cry and get through it and they are like an angel on your shoulder. When someone dies you didn't get along with, you either consciously or unconsciously wonder if you killed them with your anger.

    I feel for both of you. It would be nice if this could be spoken about. A tender moment, holding his hand, putting aside all the hurt and etiquette, just ask him if he will tell you more about his wife and taking care of her and her death. Don't say a word except mmm and yes and I think I understand. Hopefully his bottleneck is right near the surface.
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    #19

    Jul 28, 2011, 09:35 AM

    Thanks, Joy. That's an excellent point about the death of someone you've felt anger towards. I will keep that in mind.

    I have asked him about her death and he ends up talking a lot about the doctors and nurses and who did what wrong. He just seems to get so upset. It doesn't feel tender. I feel exhausted. I know he's exhausted by it, so now I just avoid the topic. He believes that she was getting better but killed herself. I have no way of knowing of course.

    Wondergirl, I don't actually assume his wife was the bad guy. The family seems very strange--one of the reasons I've hesitated about this relationship even though he has so many wonderful qualities--fun loving, intelligent, engaged with life, creative, and frequently kind. He says his daughter did not speak to him (like, at all) during her teens and would only hang out with her mother for about 7 years. (He says he took to talking to himself when they were home because they would not talk to him.) He seems to think it was Freudian and normal. It does not sound normal to me! Neither parent kept in touch with their families, which seems odd, so their daughter, an only child, has no real family ties. She's marrying someone with a huge functional family. As far as I can tell, the daughter sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders.

    Novel, novel, novel...
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    Wondergirl Posts: 37,848, Reputation: 5428
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    #20

    Jul 28, 2011, 09:38 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by asking View Post
    Novel, novel, novel...
    I'm taking notes. :D

    And I'm guessing he doesn't believe in counseling for himself.

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