I have one of those problems only a mother could solve, one of those stories you might find juicy if it weren’t your own real life. Here goes:
My best friend is a wonderful person — she’s the Tina Fey to my Amy Poehler, the Rose to my Blanche, the best damn friend I could ask for. Naturally, it was assumed if either of us ever got married the other would be heavily involved in the wedding process — that she would be my bridesmaid, or that I would be hers (maid of honor is a birth right for my sister).
Cut to now: I am planning my wedding in August with the most perfect man I could ask for. Yes, they really do exist, and I am so #blessed. Everything has been going great, even though we have a long distance relationship. He lives in California and I reside in the Midwest. We decided our wedding would be in San Diego.
I wasn’t sure she would even be able to make it out to California, so she understood she wasn’t in the wedding party. But a few weeks ago, she said she had been saving up for her plane ticket. I was so happy…initially. Which is a pretty awful thing to admit, but it’s really because of her boyfriend.
This boyfriend is nothing like my unicorn of a perfect man. He is abusive, both physically and emotionally. I have stopped attempting to show her light — I just wish she had higher self-esteem and could see she deserves the world and more.
If her boyfriend even allows her to come to the wedding (he’s that controlling), I assume he will ask for her to pay for him to travel to San Diego, as well. I would prefer that the creep who lays hands on my best friend not even be on the same planet as me, but if he gets anywhere near my wedding, it will be ruined.
This might sound like an exaggeration. It’s not. He gets vile and abusive when he drinks. I know he would end up completely wasted and pick a fight with someone. This wouldn’t be that typical “funny” thing that goes wrong and makes a good story later. It’s more like a total nightmare situation.
It seems like none of my options are good. If I tell her he cannot come, she will likely not be allowed to come either, or else he might come with her to California and get drunk and crash the wedding. If he stays home, I won’t get to spend much time with her anyway, because he will call literally every two minutes to ensure she isn’t cheating on him. He always claims he’s going to change, but I haven’t seen any sign of that.
I’m really am not trying to be an awful bridezilla! It’s also my partner’s day, and the day I will be meeting a lot of his extended family for the first time. It feels like a total disaster if I involve my friend, unless I lay down some serious boundaries. Is there any way I can do that?
—Bride and Gloom in Indiana
After contemplating your letter, my first concern is for your friend, not your wedding. Not that you aren’t dealing with an awful and confusing bind, but she’s in a potentially dangerous situation. Your wedding is in five months and it sounds like you are pretty organized, so how about we table that for a minute.
The US Department of Health and Human Services has some smart guidelines about how to help a friend in an abusive relationship (here is a link). I know from your letter that you have tried to help her, but I’m hoping that you will keep trying and ultimately, find a way to reach her. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline also has excellent resources (here is a link). I don’t want to sound overdramatic, but I’m concerned about her health and safety.
OK, let’s get back to the wedding. I know you love your friend and take her situation seriously.
The boyfriend should not be invited to the wedding. I completely agree with you that someone who has hurt your girlfriend does not get the privilege of being a part of that celebratory and love-filled occasion. That’s your first boundary and one that you need to sensitively discuss with your girlfriend (using the above guidelines). Just the fact that he gets drunk and aggressive is enough to ban him. If he’s in California with her, you are right to be concerned that he might show up. And what about when she goes back to the hotel where he has been stewing on his own for five hours? So, he shouldn’t travel with her either.
If she feels like she can travel alone without a backlash, don’t worry about the fact he’s texting and calling her. You’ll be busy with a million things and it will make her happy to be at the wedding, even if she’s distracted.
We all have momentous occasions in our lives when we pray everything will be perfect and then some other crappy thing happens. But life is messy. Paramount is your friend’s safety, so approach her from a place of love and concern and try to work with her to figure what’s possible without the boyfriend being there.
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