Dear Annie: This has bothered me for a while, and I just can’t get over it. My brother got divorced when his children were very small. His ex, “Susie,” always said that we, “the family,” were the cause of their divorce, even though Susie cheated on him. I have dealt with it over the years and decided it is not my problem or my fault, and I’m over that part of my life. My brother and Susie did a fine job of co-parenting their children, who have now grown into decent adults.
Here is the problem. Five years ago, my niece was getting married. The wedding day was on my 50th birthday. When we received the invitation for the wedding, it was addressed to my husband. And in an afterthought, “and guess” — yes, they misspelled “guest” — was scrawled beneath his name on the envelope.
I know that Susie was the one who addressed the envelope, and she was intentionally snubbing me. I was hurt that they couldn’t even put my name on the invitation, or at least have addressed it to “Mr. and Mrs.” followed by our last name. We have been married for 15 years. And besides, I’m the one more closely related to my niece. My husband is only related through our marriage.
I was sure that a confrontation would have happened between Susie and me if I’d gone. I didn’t want to do that to my niece on her big day.
Because of that, and because I wasn’t really invited, I decided to skip the wedding and celebrate my 50th birthday instead. Well, it bothered my brother — a lot. And in the five years since, he’s hardly spoken to me.
Since our dad passed away earlier this year, I’ve called my brother several times. He doesn’t answer the phone. A couple times, I’ve called my mom’s house, and he’s answered. But he’s quick to hand off the phone to her and hardly says a word. So now I’ve stopped calling or texting. Obviously, it still bothers him that I didn’t go. Now I’m an outcast to the family. My mom is the only one that speaks to me. I love my brother. I never expected him to get this mad. What I’m wondering is this: Should I have just bit the bullet and put my feelings aside and went to the wedding? What can I do now? — Not Really Invited
Dear Not Really Invited: The invitation was sent by your ex-sister-in-law, but the wedding was your niece’s. I don’t think it was fair to effectively punish her (and your brother) for a slight they had nothing to do with it. But there’s no use dwelling on wouldas, couldas or shouldas. Your second question — what to do now — is the one that really counts. And my advice on that front is to swallow your pride, let go of your anger and apologize to your brother. Let him know that your dad’s death has made you realize how short life is and how precious family is. Ask that you put aside your differences and open up a dialogue again. Send the letter via email and regular mail, so that he has a better chance of reading it. If he still shuts you out, you can find serenity in knowing that you’ve done what you can. The rest is out of your hands.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@ creators.com.