Hanna asks: “My younger brother (45 years old) is getting married for the third time. After his first divorce was final, he married a woman he had known for less than three months. His second divorce was final two weeks ago, and soon he’ll marry another woman who he’s known for less than four months. He has three teenage sons and shares custody with their mother (the first wife). There were no children from marriage number two, and the newest woman has children in their twenties.
He and his most recent woman want a big wedding, and I refuse to attend — I believe the sanctity of marriage is a joke as far as my brother is concerned. I’m also appalled at the example he’s setting for his three sons. It seems like he’s more interested in ‘the thrill of the kill’ than being a husband. My mother insists that my husband and I go, just to keep peace in the family, but I think that’s a sign that I actually agree with this ‘holy’ matrimonial union. Is it rude of me not to go, or am I being judgmental?”
Dear Hanna: If we compared all the marriages that everyone approved of to those that some family member or friend disapproved of, the latter would way outweigh the former. There’s rarely a wedding where the union, some element of the ceremony, or the reception doesn’t rub someone the wrong way. “That,” the saying goes, “is what makes a horse race.” How boring would life be if everyone agreed on everything? That being said…
I really understand your distress. I’m sure you love your brother — it’s just his behavior that you don’t like. I understand your being judgmental, but the trick is for you to get the message across to your brother, while not appearing to be rude. It’s okay to express your distress to family and friends (close ones, I assume), but it’s not okay to express your thoughts out loud in public. If you really can’t see a way to attend, focus on your love for your sibling, albeit your distaste for the choices he’s making. If that means you’d rather boycott the wedding, fine — but don’t flaunt it. Before you make your final decision, bear in mind that your attendance at the wedding doesn’t constitute an endorsement of the marriage. If you don’t go, you may create a rift between yourself and your brother that you can’t mend later. If the only weddings that came to fruition were ones at which there were no disagreements, there would hardly be any weddings at all!
Readers, what do you think? What would you tell the brother (without being disrespectful)?
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