This category deals with problems caused by both family and friends. When we get married, we suddenly have to re-engage with our own family, and we get another set of parents and family to deal with. Also, friends who are fun on a night out can suddenly become a problem as we plan to settle down.
I think my future sister-in-law is trying to sabotage our wedding!
It started when we went wedding dress shopping. She knew that my maximum budget was £ 1,500 but she brought in a lovely dress without telling me that it was over £ 4,000 and way beyond my budget. Of course I fell in love with it only to discover I couldn’t have it. She then did a similar thing with the venue, raving about a country house nearby and saying it was affordable, only for it to become clear when we went there that it was way beyond what my family could afford. Their family doesn’t have any more money than ours so I don’t know why she is doing this unless it is to make me feel bad. She is now saying that my husband-to-be and I won’t have a proper honeymoon unless we go somewhere exotic that is far beyond our means. I think all of this is spite for some reason, though I don’t know what I have done to upset her!
Wo says: Presumably what you did to upset her was to become the main woman in her brother’s life, forcing her into a secondary role. Some sisters immediately love their new family member, others do their best to resist change. It sounds as if you have the measure of her now, so you can prepare a defence. If she says you’d look good in something expensive then take one look and say it would suit her much better. If she wants you to go to a tropical island, say that it would suit someone sophisticated like herself better and you are just a simple soul. Sooner or later she will start to relax in your company and you’ll become good friends. That may be some time after the wedding though.
What happens to our relationships with friends once we don’t go to the pub every day?
Our social lives are very much centred around our local pubs. We live in quite a large village and we tend to meet all of our friends in them. Most days we take our dog for a walk and then drop in to one or other of the pubs, and often do a mini pub crawl to see everyone. As we both have reasonable jobs we have been able to afford to do that, but now I am pregnant and so we plan to get married so that the baby has stability. We also need to start saving to buy a place rather than just renting. In short, going to the pub is going to have to be severely curtailed. That means that either we won’t see friends very often, or we are going to have to persuade them that popping in to have coffee with us at home is as much fun. I am not sure that all of them are up to having conversations while sober.
Wo says: There are real friends and then there are pub friends, and it sounds as if you are about to find out the difference between the two types. There is no escaping the fact that raising children and buying property are both very expensive things that leave little spare cash for socialising. Not to mention the fact that pub crawls tend to also mean lots of expensive takeaway meals and so on. You’ll have to be cooking at home once you start saving hard. For a lot of people getting married and having a child (in whichever order) mean a long period of living frugally and as a result losing contact with a lot of people who do not have such constraints. You will get through that period eventually, but there are really no short cuts. Your best friendships will survive it.
My man voted for Brexit and I’m worried we will end up with no friends at our wedding!
In my friendship group everybody was against Brexit and they think that the people who voted for it are mad or worse. Unfortunately the two people I know who wanted Brexit were my father and my boyfriend. My father never stops talking about it but my boyfriend had the good sense to keep his views to himself. Now, though, he sees my dad a lot more (we are due to marry next June) so they talk about it together lots. That has given my boyfriend clearer arguments so, when we are out with friends, he starts to argue with them whenever the topic comes up – which it still does quite a lot. I really think that some of them are starting to avoid us as a result, and I worry that there will be lots who refuse to come to the wedding. How do I shut him up?
Wo says: One unfortunate side effect of the Brexit vote was that those on the losing side are still looking out for the evidence that proves their view was right all along. That means that the topic is not going to go away for many, many years. I think that you need to convince your man that he has the satisfaction of being on the winning side so he should be magnanimous in victory – i.e. shut up and let others sound off without feeling a need to put them right all of the time. After all, he can chat to your father about how wrong they are.
How can I make my bloke be politically correct in front of my parents?
My boyfriend sees himself as a bit of a rough diamond, so he tends to speak his mind without thinking about the effect it has on other people. He doesn’t give politics much thought but he still has strong ideas – for example he regularly calls the leader of the opposition a dickhead. He also refers to people claiming benefits as scroungers and migrants as invaders. I have been brought up in a house where politics is regularly discussed and now that we are going to get married my boyfriend and parents meet a bit more – and to say that it is causing friction is an understatement. My dad tries to make conversation but as all he likes to talk about is current affairs and politics he soon ends up going red in the face with anger and leaving the room. My boyfriend doesn’t even really notice, and when I explain afterwards he just says that my dad should stand up for himself and argue back if he thinks he is in the right. Somehow I need to find a solution to this before it causes a long term problem.
Wo says: Why not look at this from the positive side. Your boyfriend and your father have a topic, politics, that they can talk about. The problem is that your boyfriend hasn’t yet learned to avoid using terms that are generally considered to be a problem. I would suggest that your best route is to ask your dad to keep going with the political conversations that he likes, but ask him to try to gently educate your boyfriend to avoid using offensive terms by giving him better ones – for example, ‘uncontrolled immigration’ rather than ‘invasion’. He may still not like your boyfriend’s political views, but they can have hours of fun arguing about them.
One of my relatives has a learning disability and I don’t want her as a bridesmaid.
I have a young relative who has a learning disability and I love her to bits but I really think she would be the wrong choice as a bridesmaid. Unfortunately everybody else seems to have assumed that she will be one and I don’t know how to stop that happening. I just know that on the day she will be pulling strange faces and so on in the wedding photographs and she will distract people. How do I tell her gently that she won’t be a bridesmaid and how do I explain my reasons to other people?
Wo says: Of course she must be a bridesmaid if she wants, and you must be her biggest champion. You said that you love her to bits, well this is exactly the time to prove that. She may well become a bit of a distraction in your wedding photographs but your family and friends are no doubt used to her and will simply smile and say how nice it was that she could enjoy the day. In any case, many of your photographs will just be of the happy couple, or of other combinations, so you will have plenty of absolutely perfect snaps to frame.
I had a slip of the tongue speaking to his brother and now he thinks I fancy him!
We met away at university, so when we were celebrating our engagement at my man’s home it was one of the first times that I met his younger brother. After a few drinks in the pub, he patted his lap as I walked past to encourage me to sit on his lap. I could see he was being mischievous so I said quickly ‘I am not sitting on your lap!’ but it came out as ‘I am not sitting on your lips!” Nobody else heard and he just smiled then, later on, came and whispered in my ear ‘I liked your Freudian slip. You must have been thinking what I was.’ I pushed him away but he just kept smiling and now he winks at me every time I see him. He hasn’t tried anything on yet it makes me nervous to visit my future in-laws house. How long do you think it will be until he lets this go?
Wo says: I think you are worrying too much about this. Somebody a bit more confident than you would just have given him a hard stare then said ‘In your dreams!’ and walked away. As it is, you say that he is only winking at you, in which case it should be simple to ignore him. If you have to look at him directly ask him loudly whether he has got something in his eye again, so that he is the one who has to do the explaining. If he tries to describe what you originally said to anyone else, then say he must be hard of hearing. He probably isn’t really trying to cause you any harm but is just a young man with a misplaced sense of humour.
At my wedding I want my older brother to give me away because my dad still can’t look me in the eye!
As far as my mother is concerned, we are a normal family and therefore my father should walk me down the aisle at my wedding. She knows that my dad and I don’t get on well though she hasn’t got a clue why. I won’t go into details here but if I say that we got on well until one night when I was twelve and he was drunk, and that he has never been able to look me in the eyes since, you’ll understand the nature of the problem. I was lucky because I was naturally assertive and so quickly escaped the situation. Neither of us have referred to it since, yet I can’t forgive him and I certainly am not letting him give me away at the wedding. My mother says that all of our friends and relatives will find it strange so now she is getting upset as well. I don’t know how to make this right!
Wo says: Obviously your father was entirely in the wrong and you have every reason to be very angry with him. I am sure that some readers of this will say that you should speak out now so that he has to deal with the consequences of his action, and there is some justice in that. I feel from your letter though that you don’t want to go that far. What is probably true is that this is the crucial point in both your lives where this might be resolved between the two of you, if you choose to take that path and accept an apology after an open discussion between you. Of course, I don’t know quite how bad things got and it may be that there can never be a reconciliation between you. If so, then tell your mother to say to relatives that the two of you have had a bad argument recently and that is the reason for your brother doing the honours. I think most people would accept that.
My alcoholic friend is a great laugh on nights out but I don’t want her at my wedding!
Now I can’t actually be sure that my friend is alcoholic because she is always fine the next day and is successful at work, but she pretty well always gets absolutely plastered on our nights out and frequently acts badly, by which I mean she is sick and/or makes a pass at random nearby men. I have seen her at weddings and they give her an excuse for starting drinking early and you can imagine the state of her by the end of the evening. I’d like to simply ban her from my wedding but you can imagine it would probably be the end of our friendship. I will ask my other friends to keep an eye on her and keep her under control however on past performance she is too difficult to manage once she is well lubricated. Any suggestions please?
Wo says: Ultimately if she behaves badly it will reflect on her not you, so you should definitely invite her and not risk your friendship. Naturally you need to ensure that your mutual friends keep her away from ‘the top table’ once she starts to get drunk. If she is a true friend, of course, you might be doing her a favour by having an honest conversation with her well before the wedding to say that you are worried about her getting drunk there. If a direct conversation is too difficult for you, then use humour by openly suggesting that you are putting her under the control of other friends at the wedding, given her tendency to get inebriated. If you keep referring to it, she may take the hint that it is time to do something about her drinking.
My man’s family are rich and want a huge wedding but my dad’s pride is being hurt!
My future husband and I come from different parts of the country and so our two families hardly know each other. I am not from a poor background but we have never had money to splash around. By contrast, my boyfriend’s family have loads of spare cash. They didn’t spoil him so I didn’t realise it myself when we were at college. When I started to visit his folks though it became very obvious, which I find a little uncomfortable though I guess I will get used to having money. The trouble is, with the wedding approaching my parents are being confronted with the fact that they can’t afford to pay for the wedding that my future parents-in-law are hoping for. I might persuade them to accept a 50% contribution but even then it would break them. I hate to see my dad look ashamed yet I am not sure how to manage this, so all advice welcome.
Wo says: I think you need to step back and let your parents negotiate this. They may find it easier to talk about once they get to know each other better. You should arrange one or more get togethers where they have an opportunity to relax in each other’s company. It could be that your problem goes away when it becomes a discussion between friends rather than between two sets of proud strangers.
One of my potential bridesmaids has a perfect bum and I don’t want her to upstage me!
Ever since that royal wedding, everybody has been super aware of the bridesmaid with the perfect bottom who upstages the bride when she walks down the aisle. In my case I have a young cousin who is absolutely dying to be one of my bridesmaids but I have seen her out and about in various outfits and the eyes always follow her, and she knows it. She certainly outscores me in that department. I know that if she is there, then my big entrance in the church will be totally upstaged by her and it bothers me. I am not often the centre of attention and this is my occasion. How do I avoid her being a bridesmaid when everybody else thinks she is perfect?
Wo says: That is a tricky one, particularly as I don’t know all of the circumstances. I guess that you have a few options. Firstly you can propose other people who you would prefer. After all, the role of the bridesmaid is quite important in helping you get ready for the wedding, so you could say she is too young. That is tricky though as others are likely to say that they will help her. Another idea is to have lots of bridesmaids so that she is surrounded by lots of others, which will do something to hide her attractions. My last idea is to ensure that the bridesmaid’s outfits are not figure hugging so that there is less opportunity for her to show her rear off. At the end of the day, however, you may have to accept that she is family, and family must be accepted even if they are annoying.
My boyfriend used to date my best friend and she never lets me forget it
I met my husband-to-be at least four years ago when he was part of a gang who knew each other from school. Before we became serious he had a couple of months dating my best female friend and when they broke up we got together and have stayed together ever since. The trouble is, my girlfriend is a bit of a bitch and can’t stop herself reminding us both that they once had a fling. At every opportunity, she remarks on his hidden birthmark or on other more intimate personal characteristics of his, even the funny faces he pulls at times during sex. I have tried telling her to pack it in but she just tells me not to be silly. My man just tries to ignore her but I am sure he wishes it would end too. Any suggestions please?
Wo says: The solution is to wait until after your wedding. You do not want a big bust up with a close friend when your wedding is on the horizon, so just grin and bear it for the moment. You can try a little sarcasm if you like, maybe keep a scorecard or ‘bingo card’ of mentions in your bag and pull it out and tick it when she says a familiar phrase. If you get past your wedding and she is still doing it then you can become far harder on her by not inviting her to your house and saying why. Once she knows that a word out of place leads to some sanctions she might start to behave a little better to you.
I helped my friend out with her online sex website but now the photos are starting to circulate
One of my girlfriends heard about people making money with this new website where you have a private set of admirers who pay money to share some intimate stuff. She started up and was not getting much uptake so she decided to spice it up and asked if I’d pretend to do some lesbian stuff with her. It was all extremely tame and I insisted on keeping my knickers on despite her promising that only her subscribers would see it. I don’t know how but now some pictures have leaked out and they show the two of us together. My fiancé knew about it and thought it was a laugh but now his mates are sharing the pictures on their phones he is getting angry with me and talking about calling the wedding off. Is there anything I can do?
Wo says: There certainly isn’t any way to stop the pictures from circulating – that genie is out of the bottle. You need to remember that you have not done anything wrong. Foolish possibly, but not wrong. The only reason that your friend thought she might make money is because of the demand from men, so they really don’t have any right to criticise. The only real problem here is the reaction of your fiancé. You should certainly apologise for causing him embarrassment (men are such frail flowers) but then encourage him to be grateful that he has such a sexy girlfriend.
How do I avoid my sulky mother from getting involved with my wedding dress choice?
Since I moved away from home to college I have got on really well with my mother. When I lived at home she was really bossy and opinionated, and we nearly came to blows on many occasions. When she didn’t see what I got up to, she could relax and be nice to me. The trouble is, now that I am getting married there are lots of decisions she wants to be involved in – the biggest of which is the wedding dress. I know that she has not really changed, and if she comes along she will form an opinion about what she thinks I should have and then argue and sulk if her choice is not the one I go for. How do I deal with this?
Wo says: I am sure that you know your mother well, so your analysis is probably correct. She has to be stopped from coming along with you and your friends when you are making a final choice. On the other hand, she has to feel involved because her own friends probably ask her about it. Why not make a point of going out with her, just the two of you and maybe one friend, for some joint research on what the best shops are and the possible styles. Explain in advance though that you won’t be taking her along on the final shop as you don’t want to argue with her as you value your renewed friendship with her too much. When you are with her, be positive with her. You might even find that she has some useful advice for you.
My boyfriend’s dad has the hots for me because I mistakenly gave him the idea I was interested!
When I first went to my boyfriend’s house we were with two of my girlfriends and in a silly mood. When we were sat around I noticed that his dad couldn’t keep his eyes off my legs – I was wearing a micro-skirt. For a laugh I flashed him my knickers, or I would have done if I was wearing any but I had forgotten that I wasn’t. He went bright red and left the room but unfortunately I kept on going out with my boyfriend for two more years and we are now engaged. We will be living with his parents after the wedding and his dad has got the idea that he is on a promise. He keeps coming up close behind me and pressing himself against me, and he makes jokes in front of everybody about looking forward to seeing me coming out of the bathroom in my negligee the morning. Obviously my boyfriend doesn’t know about the original incident and he just tells me that his dad was always a bit of a joker. What do I do?
Wo says: A firm stamp down on his foot with your heels when he next comes up close behind you would start to convey a clearer message, followed naturally by a sincere apology for mistakenly stepping back on him. If he talks about you coming out of the bathroom then cruelly say that you are dreading seeing him with his beer gut and in his Y-fronts. If your boyfriend objects to you being rude, say that you are just being a joker like his dad. With a bit of luck he does have a sense of humour and he’ll start behaving normally to you.
My uncle gave my brother money as a wedding present but I am just getting a set of fish knives!
When my only brother got married a few years ago he and his wife to be were saving for a house and so my rich uncle gave them a cheque that I know was for several thousand pounds. He has always been nice to my sisters and me and so I was amazed when I found out that he only plans to buy my partner and me a set of fish knives for my wedding present. I am sure that they will be top quality but it will be only a few hundred pounds worth. I feel short-changed. Don’t I deserve the same treatment as my brother?
Wo says: Of course you do, and if he hasn’t suddenly lost his money then it would be great if you could do something about this. After all, you are fighting for your other sisters as well so that they don’t get treated equally badly when they come to get married. Of course, there are no rules to say that he has to give you the same amounts, and in his mind he may have an old-fashioned view about the importance of boys and girls in the family when it comes to getting married. This needs you to be polite and to win him over to your way of thinking. I’d advise that you visit him with your sisters and a gift or nice meal or whatever and then broach the subject of equal treatment. It might go wrong but with all of you there together smiling at him he will probably give in. At worst all you have to lose is a set of fish knives.
Should I push for a beach ceremony even though my boyfriend’s mother is ill?
Ever since I was a child I have wanted to get married on a beach, preferably on an island overseas somewhere. Now I am engaged and my fiancé’s mother is ill. She is rather an invalid and does not want to travel too far and certainly not get on a plane. That means that if I insist on a beach ceremony then it will exclude her, which is something I don’t think my boyfriend would accept. On the other hand, she knows about my dream so she could easily decide to approve us going ahead without her. To be honest, it feels a little selfish that she hasn’t already suggested it. Should I talk to her and see if she would agree?
Wo says: Bad girl! If you make a mistake on this one it will haunt your marriage for years to come. I’d suggest that you try and arrange a two stage wedding with the main ceremony close to home and then later some form of blessing for you on a nice foreign beach, where you can go along with a few friends. I’m sure that his mother will be happy with that and will understand – and even if she then suggests that you go ahead and get married abroad, do not accept the offer. It is a test and you will fail it if you accept.
Is it too late to stop my best friend from getting married?
Her wedding is arranged and all of the invites have gone out. I helped her buy the wedding dress and to arrange the venue and catering, and the honeymoon is all booked as well. The trouble is, I just found out that her husband-to-be is being unfaithful, and not just a one-night stand. He is having a full-on affair with a married woman at his work. She is a secretary there and I found out because I know one of his workmates. Apparently he boasts about it quite openly. Says that he is making the most of his freedom as he won’t be able to get out as much once he is married with kids, because he wants lots of those.
Obviously I should tell her, but the implications are massive. She thinks he is perfect and you can’t suggest even a minor flaw. I once said that I didn’t like his accent and she didn’t talk to me for a week. Also, her family has spent so much money on the wedding already. It would be a massive drama if everything had to be cancelled. I reckon, even if she knew, she would find a way to excuse him. They’d have a row then still get married. I’d be the troublemaker and our friendship would be over. I did think of sending an anonymous letter but I’m no good at things like that. What should I do?
Wo says: You are in an impossible situation. Female friendships are strange things, easily derailed and hard to repair once they have a serious dent in them. Certainly if you don’t say anything now and it all comes out after the wedding and your friend finds out that you knew then you’ll still be in trouble. On the other hand, unless you have really good evidence of the affair, and you probably only have a secondhand account, then whatever you say he will probably mostly deny it. You have two options, both of them hard. The first is to say nothing and NEVER admit to knowing or even suspecting there was a problem. The second is to gather as much evidence as you can, then say something and accept that you may never be good friends again. Good luck.
Friend has decided that she is getting married in California but it is all too expensive!
When I got married two years ago, we had the wedding locally and the reception was also close by. We had a fantastic hen party weekend in Cornwall, but I provided the accommodation and so no-one was too much out of pocket. In other words, I was very aware of the fact that some of my friends just about get by on their wages and can’t afford to splash out too much cash. Now one of the same group has announced that when she is getting married (in about 8 months time) she is having a beach event in California. She has found a flights and hotel package that she wants us all to buy, but it still costs four figures. I can’t afford it without borrowing but I know she will be really nasty if I say I am not going. It is really annoying and I don’t know what to do. My husband says that I should ask the others in our group of friends what they think, but I know if I do it will get straight back to her. Am I going to have to just get into more debt?
Wo says: Obviously if all girlfriends were really good friends then you could talk to them openly and honestly about any problem and there would be nothing further to worry about. What you are highlighting is that sometimes others expect that friendship means giving up some independence and doing exactly whatever they want. Humour can be a good way of getting your point across. Go shopping with her and pointedly say that you can’t afford something now that you have to save for the USA. Order the cheapest thing on the cafe menu and say that you are saving money in order to go to her wedding. Say you can’t join the group on a night out for the same reason. Keep it lighthearted though, just tease her about it. Some of your other friends may join in if they are feeling the same way. She will soon get the message. If not, you really are going to have to scrimp and save.
Attention seeking best friend will be a problem at the wedding
I love her dearly but my best friend always has to be the centre of attention. It has been like that ever since we were at school. There was a group of six of us and she was always the leader, the one who was cheekiest to the teachers and the one who stared at the boys she fancied. I was always a follower who said very little. After school, when the others moved away, we stayed friends. Now I am getting married and I am terrified that she will steal the show even at the wedding itself. I want that day to be about me. If I don’t do something there is every chance that when people talk about my wedding day in years to come, all of the stories will be about her!
Wo says: There is an old song lyric, ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with’. It is like that for girls with best friends. She may not be the best friend you would have in an ideal world, but she is the one you have. I recommend that you embrace her character and involve her in every aspect of the planning. That way, there is a good chance that the stories will be about what the pair of you got up to and there shouldn’t be any surprises on the big day itself.