Q: My partner of six years and I are getting married in September of next year and have been planning our wedding for about three months. My fiance’s younger sister, “Laura,” has been dating “Michael” for about two years. Rumor has it -- my fiance’s mother informed me – that Michael and Laura have been shopping for engagement rings. I really love them both and I am very excited for them.
However, my fiance’s mother also told me that Laura and Michael want to have a short engagement and she believes they will set a date for next July. I wasn’t sure how to respond so I just said, “How exciting!”
But I do feel a bit upset about this. I have been a part of this family for six years and I am so excited to make it official. I can’t help the feeling that Laura’s wedding will upstage ours since the bulk of our events (bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorettes, engagement parties) will completely overlap and her wedding will happen less than two months before mine. I also fear that some of my fiance’s family and friends won’t be able to travel for two weddings in such a short time and therefore skip ours since it is the second one.
Am I being selfish? I really do not want this to affect our relationship. After all, the weddings are only one day and we are going to be family for the rest of our lives. Would it be wrong for me to say something about how I’m feeling? Or should I just get over myself and be happy that we will all be family soon?
A: To believe you’re justified in feeling “upstaged,” you also have to believe two things: that there is such a thing as a stage, and that you are entitled to all of it.
Please do whatever it takes not to believe either of these things.
You’re leaning toward sanity, it seems, so here’s a little push.
A long engagement doesn’t freeze everyone in their places. Lives progress. That means couples choose long engagements at the risk that others will marry in the interim.
If you don’t want someone to get married in the interim because you fear that overlapping guests will have to miss your wedding, and if having these people present is your priority, then move your date up. Well up, like this fall or winter, since spacing is important to you.
If having the extra time to plan your wedding is your priority, then keep your original date with the full knowledge that it might cost you some guests – by your choice, oh well, meaning, at no fault of the people who get married in the interim. Because blaming people for getting on with their lives is not the frame of mind you want to bring to anything, much less to a wedding, where you essentially vow before all that you’ll never be “me-first” again.
Q: I’m curious where you draw the line between being introverted and passive-aggressive. One of my friends, if she doesn’t want to do something or if she is upset with me for something I did, will ignore me or be snippy until I ask what’s wrong. When I tell her she could have just said something outright, she defends herself by saying she just didn’t know how to bring it up ‘cause she’s so introverted.
Always, always, always, she’ll add that she “hates confrontation” so she didn’t want to bring it up.
I’ve always felt confrontation is like needles: No one actually likes them (except people with serious issues) but you deal with it because you’ll probably be better for it after. At what point do I stop giving her a pass on being an introvert and start seeing it as passive-aggressive?
A: “Lacks emotional intelligence” is not the definition of “introvert.” Introversion (equal sign) drained by social interaction, extrovert (equal sign) energized by it. That’s it.
Besides – labels are supposed to clarify, not obfuscate.
Someone “introverted” can be just as lousy a friend as someone who is “passive-aggressive,” if their mode of communication is to be punitive and defensive.
And, people are just as entitled to give up on a merely annoying or exhausting friendship as they are to give up on a bad one.
So skip trying to define her and just decide whether you want to remain her friend.
If you’re not yet to your breaking point – meaning, presumably, there’s enough about her that you enjoy and appreciate to justify putting up with this one drawback – then I urge you to be clear and unflinching with her. “You’re not avoiding confrontation, you’re just postponing it until I get upset, too, and say something. Since I don’t like confrontation either, I’d prefer that you not shift that responsibility on me. Just say, ‘I’m upset about [blank].’ Even if I disagree, I promise I’ll remain calm.”
Don’t give her a pass on weak excuses.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org