Ask Amy: Religious family member shuns mixed-faith wedding

Story image for FAMILY from Omaha World-Herald

My son is getting married in a few weeks. We are Jewish (although not religious), and my son is marrying a lovely Christian girl (also not that religious).

They are having a Jewish ceremony with a reformed rabbi as their clergy.

We parents are very happy and proud.

My nephew on my husband’s side (his brother’s oldest son), RSVP’d to the wedding that he was not coming “with regrets.”

My brother-in-law told my husband that his son wasn’t coming to the wedding because the son is an Orthodox rabbi (although currently not a practicing rabbi) and he couldn’t possibly go to a wedding of mixed faith.

He sent no card, no well wishes, nothing. And the RSVP card came a week late.

So basically, he chooses his religious beliefs over family, and is snubbing us.

How would you handle this? Should we never speak to our nephew?

Should we refuse to attend any future event that he might invite us to? We would like your opinion.

Excluded

Dear Excluded: There are ample examples of people of all faiths refusing to attend weddings or other religious ceremonies, for a variety of reasons. The list justifying this exclusion for Catholics is several items long. And even if there are actual religious reasons or justifications for refusing to witness this marriage, declaring this seems less about living out one’s values, and more about shunning people.

This behavior is always about the person doing the excluding, and not about the people being excluded.

It would have been very easy for your husband’s nephew to simply send his regrets regarding this wedding ceremony. Instead, he put the word out that he is actually rejecting their marriage.

There are natural consequences to excluding family members. One consequence is for family members to want to retaliate, or behave as he has. But should you? No.

You should be honest: “We heard from your father why you refused to attend your cousin’s wedding, and we want you to know that we are upset.” That’s it. There is some likelihood that he won’t care in the slightest how you feel.

Dear Amy: My mom has known her best friend, “Maxine,” for over 30 years.

Even though Mom and Maxine work similar jobs with similar pay, Maxine is financially comfortable due to a family inheritance, while Mom struggles to make ends meet because of poor financial decisions and no planning.

Whenever the two of them go out to eat or to a movie, Mom always expects Maxine to pay for the both of them. Mom says this is because, since Maxine is the one with plenty of money, she should be the one who generously pays for everything. Maxine usually does pay, and Mom never returns the favor.

I’ve told Mom that it’s not right to expect Maxine to always pay. Mom says that I just don’t understand how it works. I disagree.

Of course, Maxine can be generous with her money if she likes, but I think it’s presumptuous and rude of Mom to treat Maxine like an ATM just because she has more money. What do you think?

Distressed Daughter

Dear Distressed: I think your problem with your mother runs deeper than her relationship with “Maxine.” You obviously believe that she has squandered her own earnings; I assume you are worried about her financial future.

Your mother’s relationship with her friend is her own business. Prosperous friends are sometimes quite happy to pick up the check with no hard feelings, financial reciprocation or strings attached.

If you are worried that your mom will turn to you as her own personal ATM post-retirement, then this is an important issue, and in this case, your mother’s choices become your business. If you want to weigh in on her business, this should be your focus. Maxine might not be there forever.

Dear Amy: “Confused in Colorado” was griping about his lady-friend’s babysitting commitments for her kids interfering with their time together as a couple.

He never said that his friend didn’t want to do this, only that he thought her daughters were taking advantage of her.

I’m glad you pointed out that she had basically taken a job and that he should find useful ways to use his time. He sounded selfish.

Active Gran

Dear Gran: I believe that the last-minute nature of some of these commitments was getting under “Colorado’s” skin. Yes, his friend has basically left retirement to work. The two of them should develop a more predictable schedule.

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