Dear Thriving Bride,
It is 14 days before my wedding, and I have not spoken to my parents since we announced our wedding date. I want to tell you about the ups and downs, and about how I really am feeling happy and excited about what is to come. I also need to tell you that I have postponed writing the details of this experience with my parents for some time. I am a writer, and I did not know where to begin. I decided that starting somewhere is better than not telling you the story. My advice to you is to tell your wedding journey story to as many people as you can before you walk down the aisle. You will be amazed at the support that is there and willing to be there for you if you just let them. And even if you are overwhelmed, you must start somewhere. This has been the journey so far:
1. PJ called my Dad and asked for my hand in marriage. My Dad let him know that he needed time to process it all. I respect this! After all, I was his first child (I have two sisters who had arranged marriages) who did not go back to our village to marry a man from the same tribe and village. A few days later we spoke to him and he gave his blessing.
2. Keep in mind, I introduced my parents to someone I was dating (for the first time ever) a few years prior to getting engaged to PJ. I just never did before. I was 32 years old and had a man at my parent’s house for the first time in my life. This is how we lived. They kept the letters flowing from suitors arranged by my aunties back in Nigeria, and I kept my heart’s desires private.
3. During the same conversation, my Dad asked to speak with me privately the next day. He asked that I call him when PJ was not there. Knowing my Dad, I did not have good feelings about the whole thing . PJ was sleeping and so I called him and listened as he told me about how PJ’s relationship with his in-laws was very important. I agreed. He then told me that I should not do what my older sister did and ruin the PJ’s relationship with them. I did not understand. He then told me about how I should not “fill PJ’s head with unnecessary stories about my childhood.” At that point, I understood clearly and had nothing to say. He wanted me to promise that I would never speak with my soon to be husband about my past. I simply could not promise because if I did I would be injuring that little girl inside me that dealt with abuse for so many years from my family of origin. Nope! It wasn’t going to happen. I told him that I would get off the phone if he continued to speak to me that way. My mother was standing right next to him and told me that she did not hear him say the things that I have just told you.
4. My parents do not call for two weeks.
5. We decide to set the date of our wedding and send out a “SAVE THE DATE” email.
6. My parents call, discover we have set the date, and let us know that they are supposed to decide on the date as my parents.
7. I refuse to continue the conversation.
8. We set the date, send out email invitations and they are not on our invite list. At this time, I let them know that I will not allow any kind of violence (yelling, screaming, etc) in my life, and ask them to communicate with me via email and email alone.
9. We begin to exchange emails. I ask them to acknowledge certain behaviors before I can move forward and talk with them about the wedding.
10. My parents refuse to tell their friends about our engagement. Their reason: We have not done all of the traditional things involved in a Nigerian engagement ceremony. I believe in honoring traditions, but we are not able to travel and do this ceremony.
11. My father starts threatening that he will not come. FYI: I think he was unaware of the fact that he was never officially invited to the wedding!
12. I sent out an email asking them not to come. Here is an excerpt:
I am so sorry, but I do not tolerate any form of abuse in my life. I would hope that as long as I was choosing a kind, loving, generous and supportive partner, nothing else would matter. But for you, it does. And for me, this does not feel supportive and is actually affecting me emotionally to the point where I need to tell you that I would prefer if you did not come to my wedding.
Both of your sons are dead, your older daughter hardly speaks to you, and I do not want you at my wedding. My response to all of this is to say Shame on You. Life has given you some many opportunities to do better and repair past mistakes, but you always choose not to. Yes, shame on you!
12. I let my mother know that she is invited to the wedding, but I do not extend that invitation to my father. My mother knows this is an invitation for her, and her alone.
12. It is 14 days before my wedding and they have yet to respond to my initial email. They want to know which airport to fly into. I do not want them there. I simply do not. You may judge my choice, and I can understand if you don’t understand where I am coming from. I am a Thriving Bride because I have accepted who they are and chosen what I want at my wedding, and this does not include this kind of stress. It is up to you to decide what you do and don’t want at your wedding, and you get to speak up about that when it comes to who to invite as well.
My parents are who they are. I cannot change them. You cannot change yours.
If the people who say they love you are not adding to your happiness at this time in your life, then maybe it is time for you to say Shame on You! Maybe not? It is your call, but it is up to you to decide what works for you in your relationships as you lead up to this happy day.
Anyone who says they love you and want to support you during your wedding journey, should be able to muster the capacity to help you on your journey towards becoming a Thriving Bride. If they are not capable of doing so, you may want to reconsider if and how you want them to take part in your wedding. You can just accept them and let them know your boundaries and limitations. You can also get a fabulous set of Surrogate Parents. Look for my next post with Tips to Help Thriving Brides find Fabulous Surrogate Parents!