Dear Kate and Allen,
My sister is getting married this summer. It’s her second marriage, and the guy is awful. I know for a fact that he’s cheated on her, and without going into too many details, there are plenty of other reasons why I know he won’t be a good fit for her.
I do not want this wedding to happen. The problem is, I can’t tell my sister any of this. The same thing happened before with her first marriage, when our whole family tried to warn her that her fiancé was a loser. She got mad, stopped speaking to us, and obviously went through with the wedding. Later, her husband got fired from his job for using drugs and lying about it. He didn’t work for two years. They’re divorced now.
I know if I try to warn my sister, she won’t believe me, and she’ll probably just get mad and isolate me again. But still … should I try? Is it better to warn my sister and face her wrath or suck it up and force a smile on her wedding day?
Hate your future husband
Allen: Hi, Hate your future husband. See my response to unintentional cheater last week. You guys should hang out and get drinks some time.
No, you shouldn’t try to tell your sister you hate her fiancé. That conversation has no chance of being productive. I’ve always been of the mindset that my job as a family member or a friend is to just be there and provide love and support. I think that’s all you can do in this situation, even if you don’t like the guy. At least for the wedding. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that the bride gets what the bride wants on her wedding day.
In the months or weeks leading up to the wedding, you can certainly let your sister know you’re not a fan of the man she’s marrying, I just wouldn’t frame that conversation in a way of trying to get her to back out of the wedding.
I’d make it more like a “Hi, I think this guy is a bag of hot garbage, and I don’t enjoy spending time around him, so I’m not going to.” At least then she might realize that she’s risking alienating people she cares about because she’s marrying a tool.
Once you get to take advantage of the open bar and free food at the wedding, all bets are off. You can either see if he’s going to grow on you, or just ignore them both and stay away and keep your peace of mind. After all, you did warn her that they won’t be seeing you if she’s with him.
But, once they inevitably get divorced — as about half of all marriages end — and she’s crying and sobbing at your front door, you do have to be the loving sister and lend her a shoulder to cry on and a bed to sleep in or whatever it is that she needs.
My point is, your sister is an adult. You have to let her live her life, and that includes making all of the mistakes she’s going to make. You don’t necessarily have to sit there and watch Rome burn, but once the catastrophe is over, you will have to help her pick up the pieces.
Kate: Ah, sisters. Can’t live with them, could totally live without them, as evidenced by the fact that a lot of us did before our parents decided to have more children (just kidding — I’m actually extremely grateful that my two younger sisters saved me from the intense parental scrutiny I would have undoubtedly faced as an only child).
I can understand how frustrating this predicament must be. You love your sister, and you want to save her from a lifetime — or at least a few years — of grief from this guy. But as you pointed out, she already has a history of defending her fiancés and turning a blind eye to the warning signs. I can understand her perspective, too. It can’t be fun to hear your entire family bash your betrothed, however deserved their criticisms might be.
When you say your sister might isolate you, I’m not exactly sure how far that would go. Would she uninvite you the wedding? Kick you out of the bridal party? Or does she just get sulky and screen your calls for a few days? Regardless — and despite the fact that your sister probably will shoot the messenger in this case — I think it’s worth it to warn her.
It might be a situation where a blunt discussion (like calling the guy a loser, for example) is not the best approach. Try taking her out to lunch, or calling her when she has enough free time for a long conversation. Tell her you love her, and you want her to be happy. And then gently explain why you don’t think her future husband is a viable path toward long-term joy and fulfillment. With any luck, easing the pill down with a spoonful of sugar will make her more receptive to what you have to say.
I mean, really, what’s the worst that could happen? In the best-case scenario, she might postpone or even cancel the wedding. In the worst case, she stops speaking to you for a while, and you don’t have to waste a day watching her marry someone you hate. Either way, you’ve done everything you can to stop her from marrying a guy who doesn’t seem all that into monogamy.
Dear Kate and Allen,
My husband and I have both worked at nonprofits for the last five years. It’s the reason we had such a modest wedding, even though I always dreamed of an over-the-top ceremony. Our jobs are rewarding but low-paid, and we’ve struggled financially for the last several years. We’ve had to put a lot of things on hold — buying a house, starting a family (we both really want kids), even adopting a dog.
Which is why it should be great — great! — that my husband was just offered a new job in a much bigger city halfway across the country. It’s a for-profit company with a noble mission (think, like, Patagonia) and he’ll literally be making more than four times what he does now. The city itself would be much more exciting than the small town where we live now (close to both sides of our family). On the surface, it’s everything I ever wanted. We could start a family. I could pay the bills without feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack. Everyone is congratulating us — my parents, his parents, our co-workers, our friends. Our bartender, for God’s sakes.
So, why do I feel like I’m going to cry every time I think about it? Over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that I absolutely, positively do not want to move. I love my job, even though it’s low-paid. I love being close to my parents, even if it means living in the same boring small town. I don’t want to uproot our lives and move away from a support system that we’ve spent our whole lives building. My husband will have a great new job, and he’s the type of guy who can make friends in a heartbeat. I’ll be on my own, navigating a strange city and trying to make connections.
I don’t know what to do. I love my husband, and he’s over the moon about all of this. He keeps talking about how I’ll never have to work again. But I don’t think I want to go with him. Please give me some guidance. Am I being insane? Or is there a reason I’m feeling this way?
Against the move
Kate: I don’t think you’re being insane. But I do think you’re spiraling a little bit, and it can be hard to see a situation clearly when you’re so wrapped up in your own worries.
It seems like most of your concern stems from a loss of control. Which, again, isn’t entirely unreasonable. Your husband is going into this move with a secure new job and an obvious sense of daily structure. You are in a position where you’ll have to spend more time searching for a new career you find equally fulfilling. There’s no debating that you won’t have the built-in level of support that you’re currently getting from your family.
But it also seems like your anxiety is exacerbated by a sense that you can’t talk about any of this. If everyone around you is happy — your husband, your parents, your in-laws, your friends — it can be hard to be the one person saying, “Hey, I’m not 100 percent here for this.” But your feelings are equally valid, especially given you’re the one who’s, you know, actually moving.
It’s okay to tell your parents that you’ll miss them and you’re worried about moving far away. It’s fine to confide in your friends that you’re worried about building a new social circle far from your hometown. And it’s crucial you actually talk to your husband about this. Please don’t wait until you’re in meltdown mode and ready to issue some last-minute ultimatum about moving. Give him the chance to hear your concerns. It’s endearing that he wants to be a provider, I guess, but you can tell him that you plan to keep working and you’re concerned that you won’t find another job you love just as much. You can tell him you’re afraid of feeling isolated in a bigger city. I’m 99 percent sure that he has his own doubts, anyway, despite his excitement. It’s a lot of pressure to go from a small nonprofit to a big corporation. I’m sure he’s worried about fitting in, too. And if you can both talk about things honestly, I think it will make you feel a lot better about the move.
Because I think you will move, and I think you should move. From your letter, it seems pretty clear that it’s going to open a whole new world of possibilities for you and your husband. But there are also things you can do to regain a sense of control. If you haven’t already, start applying for jobs in the area. Ask your co-workers if they have any connections or company recommendations. Try to find a sense of ownership over the whole situation. Pick out paint colors. Scout out the local Humane Society for adoptable dogs. Give yourself things to look forward to, and I bet the move will start to feel a whole lot more approachable.
Allen: So I guess I shouldn’t congratulate your husband on the new gig, huh?
There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad about potentially leaving a place you’ve come to love. You seem pretty adamant that it’s not just being nervous about leaving. But, if there’s any chance of this just being fear or nerves about leaving something familiar, you should definitely go. I don’t know your age, but leaving the familiarity of my hometown at 22 was the best thing I could have experienced. I, of course, came back because Frederick rules and so does my family, but building another life in an unfamiliar place was huge for my maturation.
All that being said, if you absolutely, positively don’t want to move, don’t. Live your life. Do what makes you happy.
I’m of the firm belief that you should never leave a job if you can’t quit without crying, and that no one should make decisions because of money. Money isn’t all that important. You make it, you spend it. You make more, you spend that too.
So, if you want to stay, then give it a shot. But realize that actions have consequences. You’ll have to live on your income, and you’ll be without your husband. Now, maybe you guys can make that work. I recently read Gwyneth Paltrow only lives with her husband like four days a week, and they’re thrilled about it. Maybe you visit every couple of weeks, and he visits every couple of weeks, or whatever you guys can make work. If he’s making that much money, perhaps he can send some to you to help with bills, so you don’t have to struggle. There are ways to make it work, if you really want to.
But you have to talk with your husband about it. Does he know you’re apprehensive? If not, waiting until the last minute could really cause tension between the two of you, and perhaps even resentment.
All of this being said, let’s say you stay, and then you realize home isn’t where you build, but it’s the people with whom you build. You can always quit your job and move out to be back with your husband.