Five years ago this January, my parents decided to divorce. Suffice it to say that the divorce was not amicable (there was Another Woman involved), and although my parents have tried hard to get along better in recent years, there are a lot of residual resentments and hurt feelings hiding just below the surface.
The wedding, as weddings do, has brought those resentments to the forefront. My dad threw a hissy fit over two guests my mom wanted to invite; they used to be his friends too but he feels they “betrayed” him during the divorce. When I saw that our invitations designer had ignored my instructions and put my mother's name on the return address of the envelopes, I was briefly terrified that my father would somehow see that as a slight. My brother is appalled that we’re inviting The Other Woman (whom he hates). My mom is mostly low-key and supportive, but has hinted that she wants to make sure there are posed photos that don’t involve my dad, since she doesn’t want to frame any photos that include him.
I’m a bit jealous of Econo Boy’s family, truth be told – his parents are still happily married and are wonderful together. No demands for separate photos there. But I think I’m finally at peace with the reality of my family situation. When my parental drama pops up, I try not to let myself get upset or obsess about how I think things “should” be in an ideal world. Do I wish that my parents got along well enough to agree on a guest list and pose for photos without arguments and accusations of favoritism? Of course. But that’s not going to happen, unless I drug them up with Valium or trade them in for better parents (which I’m told is not an option). They are the only parents I’ve got, and they’re not perfect but I love them. So my only option is to call them on the bullshit when I can, smile through a slightly longer photo list, accept that there’s going to be some tension, and try not to let it ruin the day.
Another one of my coping strategies has been, strangely enough, the bridal party. In retrospect I’m not that attached to the idea of dressing my pals in identical outfits and I probably could have gone another way. But I want my friends there in the dressing room to hug me if my family stresses me out, and as protective covering – somehow I feel like their presence will help dissuade my parents from throwing their drama on me (in my family, you Do Not Make a Scene In Front of Strangers). They’re sort of like emotional bodyguards, clad in navy and carrying bouquets.
I know for a fact that I’m not the only one with less than perfect parents. So how do you guys cope?