Making Your Own Peace: How to Handle Loved Ones Who Just Can't Be Excited for Your Wedding

Whatever the reason may be, you must show empathy

Updated 10/10/19

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Brides want everyone around them to be over the moon about their engagement news. (Well, maybe not ex-boyfriends, but you get the picture!) Though the truth is, it doesn't always happen that way.

While this is a huge moment in your life, that's not always the case for those around you. Friends and family are living their own lives, tending to a relationship, or dealing with life situations that might preclude them from being happy for you. For some brides, it's divorced parents who are more concerned about being in the same room together. Maybe it's a mother-of-the-bride who's more absorbed in their own appearance and happiness than their daughters', or a single friend who views your marriage as another bud beating them to the altar. Whatever the reason may be, you must show empathy.

"I would call for understanding," Margo Howard, a retired advice columnist, four-time bride, and author of Eat, Drink and Remarry: Confessions of a Serial Wife says. "Have the maturity to say to yourself, 'I'm in such a wonderful place and I understand that this person is not having a good time right now in her life.' And then you sort of let it go." Of course, that's easier said than done, especially when you're so overjoyed and want to share the experience with those who are closest to you.

Emmy*, who got married in Chicago, was excited to have her oldest friend be part of her big day. They had spent their childhood planning their future weddings, so naturally, Emmy asked her to be a bridesmaid.

In the months leading up to the wedding, her friend's own wedding date was the topic of discussion—not Emmy's impending nuptials. Even during the weekend of her wedding, her bridesmaid seemed to turn the spotlight onto herself. At the rehearsal dinner, she spent the entire time talking to Emmy's parents, asking them their opinion about her date, instead of meeting Emmy's other friends. "She felt it important for my parent's approval for her date. It seems so ludicrous," Emmy says. "That's what she thought was important at my rehearsal dinner."

So how do you deal with a friend or relative who just can't be happy for you? Is it even worth the conversation? Howard doesn't think so. That is unless it's a friend or relative you're extremely close to, where you think a discussion could do some good. "Then you say, 'Let's talk about it because I know things are a little haywire,'" she recommends. But for friends or family members you're less close to, skip the awkward convo and just accept that people are dealing with their own lives. And for the narcissistic friend (like Emmy's) or family members, Howard advises: "Don't talk to her—it wouldn't do any good."

Ultimately, you need to exercise compassion, while realizing how fortunate you are to have other friends and relatives who are excited for you. Some friends wish they could share your joy, but just can't due to their own issues. All any of us can do is try and understand the reasoning behind a friend or family member's actions. And then, as we can, forgive and move on.

*names have been changed

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