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Anxiety about Step-son’s Wedding

Alma Gill | 5/14/2014, 2:02 p.m.
Dear Alma, My stepson, who I adore and have known most of his life, is getting married next summer. I ...

Dear Alma,

My stepson, who I adore and have known most of his life, is getting married next summer. I love him and love the girl he is getting married to. Here is my problem. There is bad blood between his mother and me. I tried for years to get along with her and even acted as a buffer between her and my husband on many occasions. I did this to the point of causing myself anxiety because I just wanted everyone to get along so badly.

About three or four years ago, after being married to my stepson’s father for almost 17 years, I snapped. I lost my temper with her; there was a very ugly scene that even took place in a courtroom in front of a judge. It was something I will never forget. I haven’t spoken to this woman since. When my stepson visits, he shares comments that she continues to make about me to this day. I don’t engage at all. I will not let him hear me bash his mother in any way. If this was any other woman, I would be out for blood, but I realize that the people who would get hurt are my stepsons, who I love so, I suppress my anger.

But back to why I’m writing: How do I attend this wedding with a woman that I know does not hesitate to start fights, regardless of who is around. She will be surrounded by her very large family, and I will basically be there with a small handful of my family members. I will be outnumbered. And did I mention that I am estranged from my husband, too? That I’m not so worried about, but it still causes tension. And, Alma, where do I sit?

Jackie B.,

OMG Jackie, sounds like you’ve already lived through one Jerry Springer moment, and you don’t want to participate in another. I don’t blame you, girl; it can suck the life right out of you. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding of your step-son, and congratulations to you for loving him unconditionally. The one-on-one relationship between the two of you is special, and that’s how it should be. Step-parents are an extension of original parents. A relationship with step-children cannot be defined by the relationship you have with the original parent. Once you commit as a step-parent, you commit to that child for life.

Now, back to your dilemma. I applaud you for taking the high road, which most times, as you know, is the road less traveled. The high road can be a lonely place…it’s usually not where you find the fist bumps, the I-got-your-backs or the you-go-girl road signs.

Now here’s where my advice gets a little tricky — I want you to stay on that road. It’s great that your step-son is able to include you and wants you to be a part of this most special occasion. But you need to lay back. You know how there are different levels of guests at a wedding? You have the “family” guest, the “really good friends” guest and the “friends from work” guest. For that day, I’d like you to participate as a “friends from work“ guest.