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Ask Amy: They’re not shallow people but their wedding plan seems shifty

Ask Amy: They’re not shallow people but their wedding plan seems shifty

Dear Amy: One of our sons and his fiancée are going to get married in a civil ceremony nine months before they have a formal wedding.

For the second event, they’re planning the whole enchilada: showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinner, 100-plus guests, formal wedding attire, father walking bride down the aisle, officiant-led vows, 12 attendants, father-daughter dance, speeches and toasts, etc.

The private civil ceremony is being done so they can save money on health insurance (they both are employed in full-time, well-paying jobs with benefits, so they acknowledge it’s not a necessity).

We are struggling to positively reframe and get excited about this big wedding after they will have called each other husband and wife for almost a year.

Is it disingenuous to have a big wedding (the vast majority of guests will not know they married the prior year), implying it’s the start of their married life when it isn’t even close?

If they were saying “come help us celebrate being married” or doing a one-year vow renewal, we would get that.

One of them has said that the vows will be standard ones.

They are not a shallow couple, but it feels like it’s a show that misses the reason for a wedding?

Help!!! We want to be supportive and happy, so can you help us with a different way to look at it?

– Wanting to Get in the Groove

Dear Wanting: Your son and his fiancée are having a civil ceremony, followed by a religious ceremony (that’s the enchilada part) many months later.

There are a few reasons why couples choose to do this: military deployment, holding a small “destination wedding” in a location where it is challenging to get married legally, or holding a wedding ceremony in another country for family or cultural reasons.

Saving money on health insurance is on the less romantic end of the spectrum.

I wish they hadn’t told you about this legal ceremony, because it would have spared you hours of rumination and judgment.

And now for the reframing: Consider this upcoming wedding their one religious ceremony and family celebration, bringing their more quotidian legal marriage into a new and spiritual realm of married life.

Dear Amy: I was raised in a very abusive environment.

The abuse was very seriously physical on my dad’s side, and mentally and emotionally on my mom’s.

I left home at 17. I limited my interactions with both sides thereafter.

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There were several times over my young adult life that horrible things were said by both parents that caused me to completely stop interacting with them. Nobody even contacted me when they died.

There are other siblings involved. They seem to have just accepted the abuse and continue to interact with one stepparent who dished out a lot of it.

One sibling can’t understand why I won’t have a relationship with this person, and there is a lot of underlying anger toward me because of this.

I’ve been in therapy for years now.

How can I make that sibling understand?

– Wounded

Dear Wounded: Your therapy can address your need to make this sibling understand why you are keeping your distance from family members who have hurt you.

A central question to ask yourself (and try to answer) is: “If my sibling doesn’t understand me or refuses to understand me — what then?”

Abusive households create a system of total chaos among all the people who live within them. Alliances form and shift. Some people are less traumatized than others. Some do better if they live in a state of semi-denial. Some are able to forgive – or forget.

What no family members should do is insist that others must feel the way they feel, or react the way they do. That goes for your sibling, and it also goes for you.

You have a duty to take care of yourself, to protect yourself, and to continue to work toward your own continued healing.

Dear Amy: I identified with the question from “No Hugs, Please!”

When I was a kid, we had an uncle who made me uncomfortable with his insistence on hugging the kids in the family.

I’m not saying he was a creep, but I found all sorts of ways to avoid him. I wish my folks had taught me that it was OK to just say that I didn’t want to be hugged.

– Don’t Hug Me

Dear Don’t: Parents should encourage their kids to use their voices – while understanding that they can’t always do so.

You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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