Dear Carolyn: I am a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding on July 4th. Because of the date, save-the-date cards were mailed out a year and half in advance. My boyfriend has known about the wedding since the card was received.
His parents just informed him they plan to visit over that weekend. They visit a few times a year, stay in a hotel and mostly do their own thing, but they’ll meet up for dinner, a show, lunch, etc. This weekend happens to be an exception, as they bought tickets to a baseball game for the four of us that weren’t exactly cheap.
It’s obviously out of the question for me. My boyfriend wants to go, which would mean he wouldn’t go to the wedding.
I am not sure if I should be feeling angry, upset or just frustrated. On one hand, his parents were wrong for making plans without checking his availability, but on the other hand, he is close to his parents and talks to them on the phone almost every day.
Should I just tell him to go to the game and have fun? Am I being selfish for wanting him to come to the wedding with me? I don’t know if I should RSVP for one or two guests.
The right response to his parents was, “Sorry, Mom and Dad, G. and I will be at a wedding the weekend of the Fourth.” They can resell the extra two tickets online or at the stadium that day, with any money they lose serving as an appropriate consequence of not checking with you two first.
Since you hadn’t RSVP’d to the wedding yet (it’s flat-out rude to break social commitments for a better offer), and since it’s possible you’d have a better time flying solo — it’s your family, you’re in the wedding, it’s not inconceivable — then it also would have been OK for your boyfriend to hedge. He could have told his parents he needed to talk to you before committing to the game, then said to you that he’d still go to the wedding, of course, if it was important to you, no pouting, but if it wasn’t a big deal then he’d rather go to a ballgame.
In fact, if you trusted him to your core to turn his parents down and follow through on his promise to you, no sulking, then you probably would have been the one to urge him to go to the game.
So whether you feel angry/upset/frustrated or generous/relaxed/sympathetic hinges entirely on your boyfriend’s respect for what you and he share. If he stands ready to accompany you as promised, then all is well whether he joins you or his parents. If instead hearing “parents” or “free ballgame” was the end of any intentions he had to honor your plans, then you’ve got problems — whether he joins you or his parents. Talk about this, please.
It’s also important for you not to say, “OK, go to the game and have fun,” just because that feels like the cool-girlfriend thing to do even though you’re harboring resentment. Hiding how you feel is how love dies. You think he backed the wrong horse here? Then say so. A grown-up won’t make you pay.
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