Family issue... advise/opinions wanted please!
Hello! I've got a decision to make about a family related issue. I'm undecided and would love some fresh perspectives. It's a long story, but I'll try to compress it as much as possible. I'll also try to just state the facts, but as I'm emotionally involved, it will be biased :-)
About 4 years ago, my father started an affair with a woman across the country that he had met through work. My mom, my brother and I all thought that my mom and dad's marriage was happy and successful. They had been together for 22 years. However, my father told us about the affair and told us that he was going to leave the other woman (let's call her D). He kept changing his mind and went back and forth between saying that he was going to stay with my mom and that he was going to continue seeing D. He went back and forth probably 4 times. Finally, my mom said enough and kicked him out. He eventually moved across the country and moved in with D.
During this waffling, the separation and the divorce, my father has been extremely unpleasant to my mom. He's been downright cruel in the things he's said and shows very little respect for her. Soon after he moved out west, he began hounding me for communication. I kept telling him that I needed time and that I didn't want to have constant communication with him. He would not accept this. For a couple of months, he was calling me multiple times a day and leaving long voicemails on my phone. He was texting me many times a day, emailing me many times a day and messaging me whenever I went on Facebook. I couldn't take it and, after warning him that I would do so, I blocked him on Facebook, got rid of my phone's voicemail system and stopped responding to his emails and texts.
After some mediation with my school's counselor and the two of us, we agreed to weekly phone calls. I was allowed to set the time limit for the calls. This worked out ok, although I dreaded talking to him.
My father really lost more of my respect 2 summers ago, when he was back east visiting me and his mother. We were scheduled to have dinner together and when I showed up to the restaurant, he and D, the other woman, were there. He did not tell me she was coming or even that she had come on the trip with him. I had made it clear previously that I did not want to meet her. She was not pleasant at dinner (very high maintenance) and I was furious with my father.
A couple of months after that dinner, my mom and I went to my cousin's wedding. This cousin is on my father's side of the family, but that side of the family has always been extremely close with my mom. D was completely pushy about spending time with me and even hugged my mom and I when we had both held out our hands for a handshake. She also sat with my father right up front while my mom and I sat in the back for the wedding party. They were very showy and very into PDA, which I found to be disrespectful in the current setting.
Recently, my father and I have been texting once or twice a week, which is much better for me. He's still unpleasant towards my mom and continues to blame her for driving a wedge between me and him and between their mutual friends and him. He seems completely oblivious to how abrasive his behavior has been these last few years.
Now to the problem at hand. My father and D are getting married in July. They're getting married in a very public and showy way, too. Of course, my father wants me to be there. He has been pushy nonstop, pressuring me to agree to come. He's already bought a plane ticket, even though I have made it clear that I do not know if I will be going. I have not forgiven my father for what he did to our family and I do not respect him as a person based on his behavior. I don't respect D either, because I don't feel that someone willing to have an affair with a married father of 2 deserves my respect. I don't want to leave my mom at home and I don't want to be away from my horse because of my limited time seeing her during the academic year.
So here's my pros and cons list for attending the wedding:
- I will be expected to spend a lot of "quality time" with my father and D
- I'd have to watch this gaudy (in my opinion) ceremony
- I'd have to leave my horse and my mom
- plain and simple, I don't want to go and I dread the thought of it
- I'll get to see my family, who I haven't seen in a long time and I'm very fond of
- I get a free trip to California
- I'll be able to get my father off my back
My mom's biggest concern is the years of grief I'll get from my father if I don't go. I see this as a potential problem as well, but I also think it's ridiculous that I should have to choose between 2 unpleasantries from my father. I would love to see my aunts, uncles and cousins, some of whom I haven't seen in 5+ years. However, whenever I think about going to the wedding, I get a pit in my stomach.
So, if anyone made it through that long post, I'd love to hear opinions and advice. Anything that pops into your head. I'm really at a stalemate with my decision making, I don't quite know where to go from here.
how old are you ? not exactly sure where the line falls, but at some age you have to make your own way in the world and do what makes you happy. If your 12 or 14 Id say its not really up to you. If your 20 ? different story. You mentioned academic year, college ? whos paying for it ? Nothing wrong with simply saying you wish him the best, but you dont aprove and wont be attending. However you cant call the next day and ask for college money.
I too was a child of divorced parents and both of my parents had others in their lives some whom I really liked and others I definitely did not. I decided to live with my father who didn't really want or support me like my mom. But, I decided to stay in the city where I grew up 1000 miles away from my mom. It made me sad but I basically raised myself as my father was rarely around as he was seeing various other women instead of looking after me. I had a similar surprise when my father brought his lady friend to pick me up fro the airport after visiting my mom for the summer. It was a complete shock for me and he married her a few months later.
I understand how difficult it can be when we don't really want to be somewhere but, you can choose to put this aside to share in his day. You'll be the bigger person for it and you'll get the chance to see your family. It seems your mom understands this as I'm sure you wouldn't want to hurt her feelings. All in all it's your decision and if you really don't think you can be there then he'll have to respect you for that decision. Best of luck to you.
Take it from someone who no longer has a father to squabble with, go. What's past is past and you need to move into a healthy future. Remind him what you expect of him, but remember that he is your dad.
God what I would give to be able to get upset at my daddy and tell him so...
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Thanks for the responses.
I'm 19, I'll be 20 this spring (before the wedding). My father doesn't have much work and my mom is paying most of my college tuition. He pays what he's required to by their divorce contract, which is required to change with how much he earns.
Really, what I'm struggling with is whether to go so I can see my family or if that's not a good enough reason to subject myself to this event.
One possibility is telling him that I don't want a big part in the wedding/ceremony and want time to myself and time with my cousins. Do you think that could work?
That sounds like a great solution to me. I'd likely also sit down the three of you and have an adult conversation that you have no wish to be "mothered" by the new wife.
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My dad passed away suddenly (3 months terminal cancer) in 2010.....at the age of 58. How I wish I could fight with him....even over the last piece of cake!
Look ahead.....if your dad passed away two years from now, how would you feel about not having attended the wedding?
Aliliz, Go to a library where there are no influences of home and it's peaceful. Take an inexpensive brand new notebook and pens. You will write two lists. Do not title them pros and cons but Why I will go and Why I will stay. Allow half the book for each topic. As each thought comes to mind, write it down. Don't take time to think about it, just get it down. As you get going they may start coming in fairly rapid succession. Don't question anything or think about rewriting this as you will not be graded on it. When you've tired, keep the book handy and continue with the entries. At the end of a week, read it. You should see the situation with clarity and will know what to do. I learned of this technique from a marriage counselling service my father was helping to set up thro the church.
My father divorced my mother in a very similar way, except I was 10 and he already had 2 kids with the other woman (kids older than me too!). I hated being shuffled between houses (no one asked me if that was what I wanted. Yes I was 10, but still.. I didn't have a voice). I hated being with his new wife who would bash my mom and try to act all fake nice with me. If I were older, I probably would have cut off ties with him and not looked back.
Having a blood tie to someone doesn't entitle them to treating you like trash nor does it obligate you to being unhappy just to be with them. Engage as much as you are comfortable doing, but don't be fake either. If you're not OK hugging the other woman then make it VERY CLEAR that you are not. If he blames your mom for the rift, tell him very plainly that it was his affair that broke up the family. If he insults your mother, call him on it - tell him he's just trying to make himself angry at her so he doesn't feel like a turd for cheating on his wife. Don't just think the things you think - say them. Yes you may only have one father, but he will only have one you as a daughter, and he did not do right by you all.
I think it's wise to go, but you have every right to set very clear boundaries about how much time you will spend with them. Make it as much or as little as feels right, but when you ARE with them, BE with them willingly and make it the best half day or day or two hours that you can.
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