Two Urgent Pleas, Vol. 4, Issue 48

Dear Etiquetteer:I received an invitation to an out-of-town baby shower a few weeks ago. Out-of-town in this case means the only way I could get there would be by plane. To top it off, the shower is on a Sunday afternoon, which bumps up nicely against the start of the work week. I have declined, and properly.Now I'm getting frosty vibes from one of the hostesses (my sister-in-law). I must attend a Thanksgiving get-together at said in-law's home in a couple of weeks. How do I contain the frost quotient?Dear Declined:By ignoring it. Please continue to treat your sister-in-law as you always have, which will only make her look like a petty and ungrateful fool. Honestly, these people!

Dear Etiquetteer:I hope you can help us. My 44-year-old daughter is marrying a 49 year-old man we believe to be a four-flusher and liar. I don't like him and never want to see him. I don't want to go to the wedding. He is not welcome in our home. One of her brothers feels the same, two don't care, and two of her sisters are supportive. My wife and I are in a quandary, 77 years old and not in the best of health. Our daughter is in tears because we don’t accept him. This is a first marriage for them both.Dear Father of the Bride:Well, looking at this strictly from an etiquette point of view, you’re making an unmistakable stand. You couldn’t communicate any better to the entire world how much you disapprove of the marriage than by boycotting the wedding ceremony as you plan to do. At anyone’s first wedding the bride’s parents are very much on display, and your absence would be lost on no one. On the other hand, absenting yourself would be better than actually objecting when the officiant calls for those who disapprove to "speak now, or forever hold your peace."You realize, of course, that this would create a complete and total break with your daughter. Once anyone chooses a life partner, that person’s allegiance is bound to be with that person, for better and for worse, etc. etc. etc. So once your daughter marries this Man You Hate, she would feel as unwelcome in your home as he would be. And Etiquetteer can only speculate what attendant fractures might appear in your relationships with your other children who support or don’t care about the marriage.Now, dropping the etiquette issues aside for the moment, you and your wife need to weigh whether your love for your daughter is stronger than your hatred for her fiancé. If Love wins, you will need to welcome this Man You Hate as a member of your family. It doesn’t have to be awarm welcome, but you couldn’t exclude him from your home or from family gatherings. If your love for your daughter is strong enough, you may find the strength to do this, buoyed by your children who are advocating for the marriage. If Hate wins, you must reconcile yourselves never to have your entire family at the same gatherings ever again, unless it’s a funeral.This is a tough choice, but Etiquetteer cannot make it for you. Of course Etiquetteer hopes that Love will win. This Man You Hate may be all the things you think he is (Etiquetteer can’t know that). If he is, and your daughter discovers so for herself a few years down the road, your acceptance of her now will make it easier for her to return to you without fearing the sting of "I told you so."And from the "Trust in God But Lock Your Car" Department, Etiquetteer suggests that you check your will to be sure that, when your daughter inherits, her husband can’t get his hands on her inheritance.

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