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Heavy Meddle: My Sister-In-Law’s Wedding Date Is On My 10th Anniversary. Really?

When wedding dates and long-planned anniversary celebrations collide. (Josh Felise/Unsplash)
When wedding dates and long-planned anniversary celebrations collide. (Josh Felise/Unsplash)
This article is more than 2 years old.

Welcome Meddleheads, to the advice column where your crazy meets my crazy! Please send your questions via email. Not only will you immediately feel much better, you’ll also get some advice.

Hugs,
Steve

...

Dear Steve,

My sister-in-law had joyous news to share with everyone: she’s getting married! No complaints there. Her fiancé is an awesome guy all around and everyone is thrilled to welcome him to the family when they get married next year. About that wedding date, though...

Of all 365 days of the year — so many choices! — they picked the day before our 10th wedding anniversary. My husband (her brother) isn’t too thrilled either.

I know this might seem like I’m being catty and territorial about what is, after all, just a date on the calendar. But since at least our fifth anniversary, my husband and I have made it known among both of our families were planning to take a second honeymoon for our 10th.

I realize there’s little I can do: Their venue is booked and a deposit already made. But...

We hoped we’d take our son with us (for his first really big family vacation) and to invite along all the grandparents, too. The goal was for everyone to hang out in a tropical locale for a few days, then let our kiddo spend some time with his grandparents while mom and dad took some much needed alone time for the rest of the trip.

Again, this plan was widely known for years now among all of our families, sister-in-law included. And our wedding date isn’t unknown to her — she was in our wedding.

Given the impending nuptials, we doubt there will be much left in my in-laws’ coffers for a trip like this, even if we moved our second honeymoon plans to later in the year.

I realize there’s little I can do: Their venue is booked and a deposit already made. But I’d love some validation that perhaps even mentioning her date to us before she put down money would have been the courteous thing to do?

Signed,
Anniversary Angst

...

Dear AA,

I suspect your sister-in-law got so excited about her wedding that she simply didn’t realize the date she and her fiancé chose was the day before your 10th anniversary. I could be wrong. Maybe she and her guy chose this day on purpose. If that’s the case, you’re dealing with hostility, not just accidental inconsideration.

But let’s assume that they simply didn’t realize that they’d chosen a day that was going to interfere with this long-held plan. It was an honest mistake. This is why they didn’t think to mention the date to your and your husband before they booked the venue and put down the deposit.

The real question is: what should you do now? And my answer is that you should talk to your husband, who sounds like he’s upset, too. And that the two of you should make your feelings known to his sister and her intended. This may sound like the recipe for a feud. But I’d argue that it will actually help avoid conflict down the road.

Because the truth is, you have these feelings of disappointment and frustration. Suppressing them isn’t going to make them go away. Just the opposite. They’ll build up. They’ll eat away at you in the form of silent resentment and, eventually (my bet) start to express themselves.

This is no one’s fault. This is two beautiful plans having a scheduling issue.

In other words, you don’t need validation from me. You need to validate your own feelings. You made a beautiful plan, and you let everyone know about it. Then your sister-in-law fell in love and she lost track of your plan and made her own beautiful plan — not realizing that it interfered with yours. This is no one’s fault. This is two beautiful plans having a scheduling issue.

So why not sit down like beautiful adults and share your feelings about this unintended consequence with them? Not to guilt trip them. Not to bully them into apologizing, or even switching dates. But simply so your feelings get heard and heeded.

It is possible to bring this up in a way that isn’t accusatory, that emphasizes how happy you are for both of them, but also makes clear how much you had looked forward to your 10th anniversary. If you can do this, my guess is that they’ll react with empathy, and that you’ll be able to accept that they truly meant no harm.

It’s important to realize what matters here, which, as you note, isn’t the particular dates on a calendar, but the love and support we offer our families when it comes to their marriages and anniversaries. That support can only be genuinely offered if we’re honest with them about our feelings, even and especially our hurt feelings.

Good luck!
Steve

Author's note: There is, of course, the possibility that the sister-in-law knew about the 10th anniversary plan and simply decided her wedding was more important. But there’s really only way to know for sure, right? Please use the comments section to send along your advice. And when you’re done with that, send along letter to Heavy Meddle, too. You can send your questions via email. I may not have a helpful response, but the act of writing the letter itself might provide some clarity. — S.A.

Heavy Meddle with Steve Almond is Cognoscenti's advice column. Read more here.

Steve Almond Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond's new book, "Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country," is now available. He hosts the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed.

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