Stepmom Not Invited to Wedding

My 37 year old daughter is getting married for the first time in June.

My first wife, the bride’s mother, and I were divorced a few years ago and she is now deceased. I am remarried. Both children feel I am the bad guy for divorcing their mom and have never forgiven me.

Although my present wife and I have been together since I was divorced and have been married for seven years, neither my son or daughter will not see me, or let me visit them, unless I come alone. My present wife has never once complained or made an issue of this but I can tell this hurts her very badly. My wife has tried time and again to encourage a relationship with my children, inviting them to our house at every holiday or special occasion. Their response is never pleasant. Once again, my wife has never done anything to my children except fall in love with me after I initiated the first interest. I feel if there is anyone to blame, it is myself and my first wife. We just could not make it work. Over the years, it has gotten to the point that I feel I can no longer accept this unfair arrangement and it is time I supported my wife who has always been left out and had to sit at home while I visit my son and/or daughter.

The problem now is my daughter is getting married in June and has asked me to walk her down the aisle — most every father’s dream. The problem is, she has ask me not to bring my wife to the wedding. I can not think of a greater honor for a father than giving his daughter away at her wedding but I can not think of a worse dishonor than having to leave my wonderful wife behind over and over. I told my daughter that she should not put me in the position to have to choose between my daughter and my wife, both of whom I love very much. I would be honored to walk her down the aisle, but I will not disrespect and leave my wife at home alone any longer. My daughter says no way is she coming. What should a father do?

Amy Rubins, Fete Perfection,

I think your daughter is wrong to exclude your wife from family gatherings and, while I understand the pain of divorce and losing her mother, I think the time has come for her to grow up and accept reality. Harsh as this may sound, you may have to draw a line in the sand. Either your wife is invited or you don’t attend. By the way, I’d love to know who’s paying for this wedding. If you are contributing a major portion of the finances you absolutely have the right to invite your wife. Others may disagree that a wedding is not the time for ultimatums but I think the time has come. What happens at the next major family event, birth of a child, the holiday’s, other weddings…you get the picture. Pretending your wife doesn’t exist is not a grown-up behavior and I agree you need to stand by your wife, finally.

Alyssa Johnson, LCSW, Remarriage and Step Family Specialist

This is an extremely difficult and emotional situation. My concern is that this problem has gone on for so long. It’s been 7+ years. It’s way past time for your children to just move on and accept your wife. Unfortunately, you are in a position to have to choose between your wife and kids due to the issue being avoided and not adequately dealt with for so long.

Is now the time to draw the line in the sand? I don’t know. You are clearly not okay with avoiding and waiting any longer. I want to encourage you to think long and hard about how you want the situation between your kids and wife to look and what you think is realistic (this has nothing to do with the wedding).

Once you’re clear on what’s acceptable to you and what you are willing to put up with and not, as well as what you are are willing to risk losing or not, THEN and only then can you make a decision on whether this new “policy” needs to be in place prior to the wedding or afterwards.

I hope that helps and pray your children will recognize that they aren’t honoring their mother’s memory by continuing to hold onto this bitterness and anger.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites

Those are some very thoughtful responses.

Just from an etiquette point of view, it isn’t polite to invite a husband without his wife, or vice versa, to a wedding. All serious couples should be invited together including married, engaged, co-habitating (long time serious relationships).

It might be time for the family to get into counseling. If your family would agree, or if only parts of the family agree, it would be helpful to confront this before your love is poisoned and perhaps further endangered. I’ve seen this happen with a very close friend whose adult daughters sided with their mom and cut off relationship with the father. You might want to remind your daughter about how fragile life is…you never know how long we have on this Earth. It would be a shame to allow their allegiance to their deceased mother to affect the relationship with their remaining parent who is very much alive.

I wish you peace.

Amy Rubins, Fete Perfection

Family counseling…THAT is a great idea. I hope you and your family look into resolving some of these issues before the wedding so it’s no longer an issue once the wedding rolls around.