Anyone feel like giving me family advice?

In May I got married. It was a tiny, simple wedding, with immediate family only. My stepmother was invited only because there was no way I could invite my father without inviting her as well. I did not invite my stepsisters because to me, they are not immediate family - we have never been close.

I heard that this hurt their feelings and made them angry. So I sent them each an email explaining my reasons - tiny wedding, only family who have known us our whole lives, etc etc. I mean, there were 10 guests in total!

They took offense to my email and each sent me back a snotty reply. I responded saying that I was hurt as well that neither of them had even congratulated us or sent a card or anything when they heard about our wedding (and upcoming baby).

It has been a couple of months now - what should I do to smooth this over? (Assuming I want to - I’m still not sure). We are all in our 30’s and this just seems so ridiculous. They have told my father that they will never be friends with me because of this but that they will be “civil” if we are ever all together in the same room.

Advice? Ideas?

I don’t know these people, so I may be way off base here, but this is what I would do:

Organize a big family get-together, a picnic or barbecue or swim party, something like that. In a pleasant and warm fashion, making no reference to the ill will of the past, invite your stepsisters to the gathering, along with many other family members.

The stepsisters may very well get all huffy and refuse to attend, but if they do, at least the ball is clearly in their court, and it will be obvious that you, at least, are trying to heal the rift and let bygones be bygones.

The worst that is likely to happen is that you’ll be snubbed by these women. And you’ll have a nice family schmoozefest, so the snubbing (if any) will be a very minor part of the event.

Thanks … they, and the rest of my family, live about an hour and a half away, so any kind of joint family event like that is tricky to organize. Believe it or not, that’s just the way my family is.

I would like to get this resolved before the baby arrives in November, because it is creating hard feelings between me and other members of my family (I feel like they are choosing my stepsisters’ feelings and happiness over my own, because they all live in the same city and see each other much more often - plus my stepmother definitely wears the pants in her relationship with my dad, and he is scared to stand up to her).

Whew … I guess there is just so much tangled up in this mess. :frowning:

I like the idea of the family get-together, it is definitely taking the “high road” … it’s just not feasible in the near future.

First, I think you have to understand that their reactions are not beyond the pale. I undertand your reasons for exclusing them, but they were excluded nonetheless, and they think of you as family, even if you’re not close family. Presumably, they figured you thought the same way, and they don’t. There may not be anything you can do, and you might not think it’s worth it, but if there is something to be done, it’s your responsibility as the person who caused the rift (for legit reasons, but still the actor).


If you are all in your thirties you should remain adult about the whole thing. You obviously have a problem with your father’s wife, don’t think that that goes unknoticed. Whatever the reason they (sisters) have picked up on it and that makes for an awkward situation. If I were you. I’d appeal to your fathers wife to help in smoothing things over. Having gone through something very similar many years ago, the best thing to do is put everything on the table and move on with your life, husband, impending lil’one.

So why are you obsessing about it now?

If they want to remain in a snit for the rest of their lives, so be it.

If the occasion should ever arise where you are all in the same room together, you can try to be civil - but if they aren’t, well - tough shit. You explained why, they didn’t take it well. End of story.

If I were you, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this.

If I was in this position, I’d probably just ignore it and go on with life. If we can all be “civil” when we see each other, well, that would be good enough for me.

If you really want to patch all this up, though, I would suggest forgetting the email and either picking up the phone and speaking to them or perhaps sending a nice handwritten letter accompanied by some sort of apology gift (flowers or something).

For the sake of peace in your family, you should have invited your stepsisters. Immediate family includes stepsiblings. I also think it’s kind of crass to send them an email explaining how they aren’t really close enough to you to merit an invite to your wedding and then to turn around and complain that you didn’t get a card or a hearty congratulations. From their perspective, you snubbed them. No matter how you justify it to yourself, that’s how they’re going to view it and you probably should have realized that before you did it.

I think the only way to really make peace is to apologize to them and tell them you made a mistake in not inviting them. You may not actually feel that way, but unless you at least pretend to feel that way, they’re still going to be pissed.

Sorry to be harsh, but rebuilding a friendship with them isn’t going to happen without a show of contrition on your part, whether you feel it’s warranted or not.

If you weren’t worried enough about their feelings to invite them to the wedding or to apologize (not explain) when they were angry about the lack of an invitation, I don’t see the point in any “smoothing over” gestures. As you said yourself, you’re not even sure you want to smooth things over.

Why not just let some more time go by and see if they really behave civilly the next time everyone’s in a room together?

I always feel like giving advice. Thanks for asking.

It sounds like your family (inluding you, I’m afraid) like to keep the drama and resentment stirred up. If it will make you feel better, send them a nice apology. Beyond that, let the whole thing drop. I’m sure everyone will find something else to be upset about soon.

They live too far away to make a get-together practical. Everyone has agreed to be civil, should you ever be in each other’s presence. How has anything really changed since the wedding?

for the sake of peace? How about the sake of what they wanted for a wedding? Conceding to the ‘sake of peace’ would be Stainz having a wedding that was based on someone elses wishes.

And I disagree with the immediate family definition. Immediate family to me has always been brothers, sisters, parents and often grandparents (but not always - depends on the situation). Stepsiblings aren’t immediate family - unless you are close to them - which Stainz already stated he isn’t.

The point is - they shouldn’t have been ticked off at not being invited to the wedding. Go ask Miss Manners - the people getting married have absolute right in who to invite or not to invite. It’s a very personal time of one’s life.

End. Of. Story.

Stainz, my $0.02 is to just allow them to act how they want to. If they continue to act petty about the whole situation, then thats their choice. They’re obviously arrogant, thinking they deserve to be invited to every party that anyone holds that they know.

For the sake of your current and continued sanity, I think you should react just as DMark commented - move on, if they accept it, fine. If not, fine. You probably have other people in your life that you’d rather spend the time and energy with rather then people who are going to be high maintenance with little or no give-back.

How about making a harmless concession to make someone ese feel good?

So what? My wedding was based on other people’s wishes? I didn’t even know 3/4 of the people that were there. My wife and I let our parents plan everything. We saw the ceremony as being for them, not us. If it was only for us, we would have just gone to a justice of the peace.

When did everyone decide that weddings are supposed to center obsessively on the whims and wishes of those getting married instead being an inclusive celebration that cares about the feelings of loved ones? Are the bride and groom going to die if a couple of stepsiblings are included? Is it some sort of huge tragedy if the groom has to compromise on something?

The OP’s father was immediate family, and his wife and stepkids are close to him. Stainz should have either invited his father’s family in toto or excluded them in toto. Once again, it’s not a matter of life and death, it’s just a trivial concession for the sake of family civility. It’s called being a grown-up. It’s not going to kill anybody

No, the point is that they have every right not to want to be friends with someone who they feel deliberately hurt their feelings.

That’s not even the point. Nobody has to do anything. I’m suggesting that if the OP had voluntarily bent a little bit, the wedding would not have been ruined and there would not now be tension in the family.

Incidentally, why don’t you ask Miss Manners about the acceptibility of complaining to someone because they didn’t give you a card.

End. Of. Story.

Stainz, my $0.02 is to just allow them to act how they want to. If they continue to act petty about the whole situation, then thats their choice. They’re obviously arrogant, thinking they deserve to be invited to every party that anyone holds that they know.

For the sake of your current and continued sanity, I think you should react just as DMark commented - move on, if they accept it, fine. If not, fine. You probably have other people in your life that you’d rather spend the time and energy with rather then people who are going to be high maintenance with little or no give-back.

If you don’t know/care about/like people enough to invite them to your wedding, then why worry when they’re annoyed/irritated/ticked off that they weren’t invited? They’ll be civil, you’ll be civil, no big deal. If you don’t care about being friends with them, then don’t sweat it.

If, on the other hand, you care about preserving family harmony, then invite the family, and that includes steps. If step-mom was invited, then so should step-siblings be.

My wedding guest list includes step-siblings, step-parents, half-siblings, and the ex-wife of the groom.

All those things everybody wasn’t going to do “until hell freezes over”? Well, hop to it, because I completely agree with Diogenes the Cynic, so hell must be frozen right about now.

Stainz, when you snub family members by not inviting them to your wedding, you can hardly expect to get cards from them.

:eek: :eek: :eek:

But this isn’t “every party.” This is a wedding for a step-sibling, and the general expectation is that they would be invited. I think many, if not most people in this situation would be miffed. If you really couldn’t have handled two more people, letting them know before the fact would have been much better. An explanation without an apology after the fact would have futher ticked off a lot of people.

It doesn’t sound like you really care about them. I second MissGypsy’s advice and be civil. If you want more of a relationship, be the better person and apologize.

If you want to have a better relationship with them (and that is a big if that only you can decide), you have to apologize. Not only that, you have to be willing to be vulnerable with them. A stiff “I am sorry your feelings were hurt” won’t do. Call or see them in person–and only them, no family party–and say something like “You know, with the baby coming, I find myself seeing how important family is. I was dumb to not invite you to the wedding. I thought I had my reasons, but I should have, and I am sorry I didn’t. I would like us to be closer. Do you think that is possible?” The key is to lay yourself on the line–few people don’t respond well to that. If they don’t, give it up, at least for now. And stop emailing about important things–no good ever comes of email when people are mad. It is too easy to misread someone’s tone.

I think you need to eat it and apologize. Claim temporary insanity, the weather or whatever but tell them you realize you made a mistake.

Then, after the baby comes, invite everyone by to meet the little one. I would also instruct no gifts for the little one, so they don’t think your apology was a veiled attempt to get gifts out of them.

I’m also still trying to figure out where the assumption that everything about a wedding is about the couple being married came from.

I’m getting married in about a month and a half and I can assure you that substantially less than half of my marriage decisions have been based on what my SO and I want. Weddings are a public affair - you’re celebrating and announcing your union to the world, which includes relatives you don’t care for. You’re also publically joining each other’s family. The marriage will be private. The wedding itself isn’t. Not to mention that the wedding is basically the first offical moment you’re a part of your SO’s family and vice versa - which means that it’s mostly about what the families want. You can tailor it to your own taste of course, but you can’t totally disregard the input of the families if you expect to keep the friction to a minimum.

In the final analysis, proper etiquette is about not hurting people’s feelings if you can avoid it. I can’t blame your stepsisters for being upset you didn’t invite them to the wedding. I would be upset in their position. In essence, what you said was “these people are important enough to me to be included, but you are not”. One of the people important enough to be included was their mother. If you were really serious about keeping the ceremony as intimate as you wanted it, then the polite way to do that without hurting their feelings would have been to go to them in person and announce your wedding and say something like “Although I’m glad you’re now a part of my family, SO and I have chosen to have only our parents and their spouses present at the ceremony. We will be having a party at a later date to celebrate with all our loved ones and hope to see you then.”

If they’re still bent after that, then they’re being unreasonable.

At this point, there’s not much you can do. Since the family picnic is not an option (although I might just have a party in their town - at someone’s house, or at a reserved location like a park - if it really mattered that much to me), then you’re stuck being civil to each other at events where you are all present. You could try speaking with them individually - but do it in person. Sending email to apologize for a slight (intentional or not) is tacky - I find it as offensive as the original slight personally.

silk, the point isn’t that the steps should have been invited. I’m with you that that’s Stainz’s call. But you can’t pretend it wasn’t a snub, because it was a snub. He has to live with the consequences.


Do I understand that the step-sisters never complained, yet you felt the need to send them an email (not even a phone call) not apologizing, but rather rubbing in the point that they were excluded?

You snubbed your step-sisters, then you refused to apologize and instead told them you wanted congrats and acknowledgement from them. Do you really not see why they’re upset?

If you want to make things better, you should apologize and express your interest in being closer. Honestly, I don’t think you do want to make things better, in which case you should do nothing.

In all this, I just feel bad for your dad. I assume you didn’t bother to ask him his opinion on dis-inviting his step-daughters before things. I hope your issues with his family don’t damage your relationship with him.