My Fiance Hasn't Met my Father

I recently got engaged. My fiancee and I have been together for almost 3 years and he has never met my father. This is because my father and I are estranged due to past emotional abuse which took place in the midst of my father’s progressive non-remiting Multiple Sclerosis, and we went nearly 6 years without seeing each other, only speaking on the phone twice during that time. The relationship between my father and I is very complicated as you can imagine, as I battle my own emotions in distancing myself from him (to escape the abuse) at the same time that I know he is dying. He was recently moved into an assisted living facility due to his worsening condition, and I feel that he is not much longer for this world.

When I heard he had been moved a couple of months ago, I went to see him (the first time in 6 years), he was not pleasant to be around due to his horrible attitude and just plain “weirdness”. He makes people pretty uncomfortable with his odd comments which are insulting much of the time. He has no filter basically. The visit confirmed again that I really want nothing to do with him. At the same time, he’s my dad and I do love him. We used to be really close when I was a kid, but through my teenage years, into my 20’s and still today (I’m now 32), we have grown further apart. My mom and dad divorced when I was 11. She still keeps in contact with him and felt it necessary to force him to tell me he loves me over the phone after our last visit because it went so horribly.

I really want my fiancee, future father-in-law and future mother-in-law to meet him at least once, but I am torn. At the same time I feel it’s strange that he lives in the same town and has never met my soon-to-be husband and his family.

My question to the group is: Should I let it go and take the chance that I will not regret them never meeting once my father passes away, or should I have them meet at least once and risk him being a complete ass to them, thus creating a lasting memory in their minds of what he was like? He will not be able to attend the wedding. He is bed-ridden and can’t do anything really or go anywhere because he is completely incapacitated. My fiancee and his father both offered to go for a meeting if that’s what I wanted, so their willingness is not the issue. I’m just afraid it will be a horrible experience for them.

What should I do?

Well, I imagine you’ve explained all these things to them in as many words as in your post, right? If so, and if they still want to make the effort to meet him at least once, then you should pretty much make the introductions and let the chips fall as they may. You’ll then have no regrets about missed opportunities and I suspect that your fiance and in-laws will understand the situation and be sympathetic.

Take your fiance to meet your father. You don’t have to control everything: if your father is an ass to your fiance, so what? Your father has a horrible neurological disease. Maybe he’s also an asshole, or maybe the disease has fucked him up to the point that he can’t help being an asshole sometimes, but either way there’s an obvious explanation for any weird remarks he might make. Your fiance is presumably not so emotionally fragile that he’ll be irrevocably scarred by having someone he has no relationship with say something strange or rude in his presence.

As for controlling the memory your fiance will have of your father: it’s not possible to give him a memory of the man your father once was. That man is gone. But it wouldn’t hurt for him to meet the man your father currently is, so he can have some insight into what you’ve both gone through.

Why?

I’m in this camp. Bring them to meet him. They seem interested to meet him, set it up, and let things happen as they may. Who knows, he may just surprise you in a good way.

Good luck.

Congrats and all the best on your engagement.

I’m with Dung Beetle, until you tell us why them meeting is important to you, it’s hard to know which you should do.

I can relate though, my hubby didn’t meet my family until 8+ years into our relationship, for similar reasons. But, then, I didn’t feel the need, as you seem to.

Can you tell us what you hope the meeting looks like? Are the fiance and family willing to meet with him, ‘for you’ only or do they feel it’s important separate from you?

Only you can know if you’ll regret not doing so.

Yes why.

I hope to don’t feel obligated to follow along with some antiquated tradition.

You have no moral obligation to your father or to anybody to introduce your future husband.
If you decide not to introduce your fiance to you father, you wont be the only one, not by a long shot. When I was married, I didn’t meet my father-in-law until after we got married.

[he was a total ass as well. He abused his daughter sexually]

To make it clear where I am coming from, my younger child has never met my mother or my father. My older child hasn’t seen them in 6 years.

My gut feeling would be to consider: yes to your fiancee, no to his parents. Given that the estrangement is an emotional topic for you, if you feel it would be helpful to you for your fiancee to have firsthand knowledge of the relationship, then there is a lot to be gained by him going. Your in-laws, however, are such a step removed that I’m not sure it would do anybody any good (although perhaps it doesn’t do any harm either, depends a lot on the specific people involved).

I would go. Why? Because once he’s dead, the choice is forever more taken out of your hands. If you don’t take him it will always be “could have should have would have”. If you do take him, two things might happen:

  1. He is a total ass. Then in your heart you can forever more say “I took my fiance, I did the best I could, and boy that went well!” And you need feel no guilt.
  2. He’s decent, or at least polite enough that you can get by. And same thing - you feel like at least you took him once.

You retain the higher ground.

When it comes to my toxic mother, I did what I needed to be able to continue living with a clean conscience after she died. I did NOT want to feel the guilt of not going to see her when she was dying, for example, plus she’s my mom. So I went, and while it was hard and troubling, I am grateful I went so I at least in my heart don’t have that guilt.

I think this is a good answer. I would go visit him with the attitude that if he does act like a jerk, that it is his brain disease talking and therefore not something to take personally.
Both of my parents are dead now, and I do take some comfort in the fact that my fiance got to meet my mother before she died. I think it helped him better understand who I am. For better or for worse, your dad is part of the reason why you are the person you are today.

I’m with Anaamika, and I would add that if he’s an ass to your fiance or his parents, I don’t think your fiance will consider that to reflect on you. You might help that last by preparing them: “we’ll go, but there’s a chance he’ll be a total dick, so be warned.” But it’s him doing that, not you.

No reason you can’t take your fiance first, and then let him decide whether it would be a good idea to bring his parents. So this doesn’t have to be decided all at once.

I’d also say take your bloke first, and then see how that goes before deciding on any follow up visits with the rest of the inlaws to be.

As to the question of “Why?” - I can’t answer for you, but regardless of anything else, it would be important for me for my SO to see my family.

For the same reason that my family (wife and daughter) visited my mother’s grave and left flowers, even though she died 4 years before I met my wife. Parents, good or bad, are a part of who you are - there is never any running away from that, and it is good that your fiancee wants to be a part of that.

I’m of the mindset that just because you happen to be related to somebody does not mean you are obligated to maintain a relationship with them if you don’t want to.

The operative phrase there is if you don’t want to. It sounds kind of like you truly want to make an effort, and if so, go for it (with your eyes wide open of course) and good luck.

But if you’re considering doing this just because it’s what people do, and you don’t have a real emotional desire to connect your father and your fiancee, then the whole thing probably isn’t worth the drama.

Personally, I wouldn’t bother. Lots of times I’ve been warned “you don’t want to meet <whoever>, they’re a jerk.” Not once has the warning been wrong, so now when I’ve got a chance to skip adding yet another dumbass to my life, I pass.

Tell us the very, very worst thing that could happen. Write it out.

I imagine something like this:
Your father is horrible to the wonderful guy you love. He finds exactly that thing that will hurt him, and insults that, he tells him he is not worthy of you, he tells him horrible lies about you. [/imaginary scenario]

And then what? You’ve already told your fiance about him. He knew what to expect. Now he knows the truth, and can understand your pain. He won’t judge you for it! Would you judge him if he had a horrible family member?

At the other end of the scale there is the possibility that your father will be all sweetness and light. That way your fiance will never see the nasty side, but at the same time he will be spared. He can still understand your experience from your stories.

The negative outcome, to my mind, is not that bad at all. It has the potential to offer your fiance an insight into your background. It might allow you to share some of that pain with him.

As others have said, you have no obligation to anyone in this situation. But if you are inclined to go, I say go for it, take it head on and come out the other side stronger :slight_smile:

I would say that you should have the fiance (but NOT his parents) meet your father at least once. I don’t know how often you’d be seeing your father, or whether you live even remotely close, but there’s a reasonable chance you might need to step in at some point and handle medical / administrative decisions - which would at the very least cause stress for your marriage in the short term.

I can’t think of any reason for your future in-laws to meet him, though.

This.

Thanks for the responses everyone.
I regret to say the decision was made for me last week when my father passed away, before my fiance had a chance to meet him. I’m a fan of everything happens when and how it is supposed to. I see it as a blessing that he has passed because he is now free from his suffering. Thank you all for your great advice and interesting perspectives! I really love this site because it helps put things in perspective using the truthiness of complete strangers :slight_smile: