DEAR CAROLYN: My brother is getting married to a woman I despise. She talks to my brother like he is garbage, manipulates every situation, and no one in my family likes her.
She wants me as a bridesmaid. I tried to politely decline, but she had my father call and guilt-trip me into accepting.
One major issue is that my husband and I are planning to have a child soon. We are seeking fertility treatment, which is quite stressful and expensive. I lost my job recently, which makes it all the more difficult.
I explained this to my future sister-in-law, and she does not seem to care. On my birthday she told me I need to get my dress. I was out and did not get her notice, and as the wedding is a whopping 10 months away, I do not feel I should get one yet. What happens if I get pregnant? She got mad at me, told my brother, and then texted me, “Why weren’t you there yesterday?” The last thing I need is more stress. How do I handle this?
Out Of Options
DEAR OPTIONS: You can come recoil with me at your using “Out Of Options” as your signature.
Out of options is when the tree branch you’ve clung to is sagging into the floodwaters.
A nuisance sister-in-law-to-be isn’t easy, but you still have options in abundance. Here are four, all valid:
Option 1: Bow out politely. Guilt-trips aren’t binding – and Father was out of bounds – so you can explain to the bride, “I appreciate being included, but, I’m sorry, I’m too preoccupied to be a bridesmaid and must back out.”
Option 2: Stay in politely. If you’re in, then be in, even if you’d rather be somewhere else – which means none of this “The wedding is months away so I blew off dress shopping” stuff. It’s a matter of good sportsmanship and of being good for your word.
There are also two practical reasons to go with the herd on dress shopping, for what it’s worth: First, the dress they pick out might become unavailable, and second, playing “What if I get pregnant?” roulette is a quick way to make yourself nuts.
Option 3: Bow out blazing. Explain that her getting angry for one missed shopping trip is your cue to back out of all bridesmaidery, and if she’d like to report you to your brother, father and parole officer, then she can be your guest. This of course will require you to apologize to your brother, quickly and fully. “I handled this badly.” Followed by: “Since we’re on the subject, I’m worried about you. I don’t like the way she treats people. You, me, anybody. I have your back here regardless – whether you go through with the wedding or cancel – but I wanted to say my piece.”
Option 4: Stay in blazing. OK, your brother apparently loves her, and she allegedly loves your brother, so you’ll find a way to love her, too, dammit. You will be nice, say yes, smile, ask her about herself. You will suggest things you and she can do together and you will rally.
So, which option to choose? That’s your call. My advice is simply to see that you have them, and own the one you like best.
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