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Maid of Honor drama
May 11, 2012 7:05 AM   Subscribe

While planning my totally drama-free wedding, I'm having drama with my maid of honor and at this point I'm not sure whether I should even have a maid of honor. Advice, please!

Maid of honor: best friend for the last 16 years. We've been like sisters and are in most of each other's family photos from growing up. Though she did not officially have a bridal party when she got married, I was for all intents and purposes her MoH - helped with planning and logistics, planned the bachelorette party, gave a speech/toast, etc. She also happens to be a lesbian.

Fiance: wonderful guy, raised in a Western country that is not mine (or my MoH's). Attended my MoH's wedding with me, but some months later voiced the opinion that for religious and cultural reasons he did not support the use of the word "marriage" to describe same-sex unions, though he does not believe same sex unions/whatever should be illegal. (aka, he does not believe states like NC should be wasting their time banning same-sex marriage when it's obviously inevitable and there are much bigger fish to fry. Overall, not really a position I condone, but it's not like he's a Westboro Baptist Church asshole)

Lead-up to current situation: the opinion voicing happened prior to my engagement. It turned into a multi-day argument between her and him, and between me and him, as I feel very strongly about gay rights in the US. None of us backed down. The two have them have not spoken since the argument, and he and I have continued to have discussions (not arguments) on the topic as we try to better understand each other's beliefs. Neither of us has changed our minds.

Current situation: When I got engaged I asked if she wanted to be my maid of honor -- we had both assumed for ages that that would be the situation -- but said I would understand if she now didn't feel comfortable with it in light of her situation with him. She said she would support me as her friend and happily stand up for me at the wedding. However, in the months since, she's made a few snide comments to me (which to me seem out of the blue) where she'll say things like "Oh, I'm sure he's in favor of [unrelated political issue], if he doesn't even think I should be allowed to get married". Whenever I talk about the wedding itself, she's all excited, but as soon as I talk about my fiance or our plans, she won't engage in the conversation and we just end up changing the subject. When the topic of an actual purchase of a dress for her came up yesterday, I finally asked her if she was sure she was comfortable with being MoH, since it was pretty clear she didn't like him and I didn't want her to feel obligated to stand up for me if she didn't support my marrying him.

She continues to insist that she wants me to be happy and will support whatever I want to do, but when I asked if she could stop with the hurtful potshots at my fiance, or let me be excited and talk about him instead of just the party we happen to be having, she just said it was "complicated" and that she felt so disrespected by him for his opinion about same-sex marriage that she couldn't support him and couldn't overlook that disrespect just to pretend to be happy to let me gush over him. I implied that perhaps that meant she shouldn't be the maid of honor, and she told me that if the situation were reversed she was sure I'd still want to be supportive of her (true) and to think about how I'd feel if she asked me to step down.

Of course, the main difference is that my coping mechanism for situations in like this is to look past any issues for the time being, keep my mouth shut, and pretend nothing is wrong, whereas hers is obviously to voice her unhappiness and, well, make snide remarks. (This has been the dynamic since we met as teenagers, for whatever it's worth)

At this point I see two options. One, to suck it up, not say anything to my fiance (I have not yet), accept her offer of support, and hold out hope that by the time the wedding rolls around -- in about a year -- they'll come to some terms with each other. In the meantime I feel awkward, uncomfortable, and upset that I can't even talk about the person I'm marrying with the person I want to have a significant role in the wedding. Two, to tell her I've made a decision not to have a maid of honor -- I have no other bridesmaids, and my fiance only planned to have his best friend be his best man -- but that I'd still love for her to be at the wedding with her wife as my guests. In all honesty though, I suspect that if I went with option 2 the friendship would pretty much be over and I'd have two fewer guests at the wedding.

But in addition to feeling that I'm being made to choose, I have to choose on two levels: between two people and between two sides of a delicate issue on which I have strong opinions. On one hand, if I knew my fiance's best man thought poorly of me and didn't like me, I'd be offended that that's who he chose to stand up with him at the wedding. I feel like the best man and maid of honor need to support the couple, not just one half of it. On the other hand, I agree with her on the gay rights issue, and I understand because of her painful history with her family's negative reaction to it that she is extremely sensitive about it and is just totally done trying to form relationships with people who don't support her. So while part of me thinks it's obvious that it's our wedding, I need to be looking out for my fiance, the other part is not okay with the idea of ignoring her real and (imo) justified offense at his opinions and telling her to take a hike. I'm also sensitive to the position she's in, agreeing to be in our wedding when he's an expressed an opinion that she shouldn't have been able to have one of her own.

So help me out here, MetaFilter. What do I do?

Just a few quick bits more to avoid having to update through the mods:
-- Yes, the wedding is a year away, but yes, we're doing things like buying dresses now. Part of that is due to the availability of the dress she wants -- it is nearly sold out and it's a low-volume indie design -- and the other part is that I'm moving a good distance away and thus trying to get most of the wedding-related logistics with my mother and best friend done before I do so. So "just avoid the dress and moh issue for another six months" isn't a good answer.
-- I haven't talked to my fiance about this yet because I still have a small hope that something wil change and they'll be able to get along, and I don't want to poison that potential by letting him know about how she's acting right now. At the end of the day I know I'll talk to him before I do anything if I do decide I don't want a maid of honor, but as far as deciding right now, I'm more comfortable keeping him out of it.
-- But as far as "how he might feel about it", when he was best man for his best friend, he actually tried to talk him out of marrying the girl just before the wedding, but still happily did the best man thing when his friend was determined to go ahead with it. So there is precedent for him understanding why you might still stand up for someone at a wedding despite not being a fan of their intended.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (88 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm on your friend's side here. I would have a very hard time even attending the wedding of someone who felt that my rights were inferior to theirs. Be happy she's even willing to go.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:12 AM on May 11, 2012 [28 favorites]


Look, she's your best friend. And history will prove her to be right. You need to stand by her. She is hurt by your husbands point of view for very, very good reason. He has basically invalidated her existence. If I were you I would stick with your best friend, keep her on as MoH and get in your husbands face the next time he tries to voice his hateful opinions until he can learn to change or to keep them to himself.
posted by pwally at 7:15 AM on May 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


I haven't talked to my fiance about this yet because I still have a small hope that something wil change and they'll be able to get along, and I don't want to poison that potential by letting him know about how she's acting right now.

I think you may need to re-think this.

You need to have some kind of clear-the-air conversation amongst the three of you; this isn't a matter of your maid of honor getting into a snit because you're not giving her the biggest and poofiest dress or something, this is a case where your maid of honor is thinking "My best friend is about to marry someone who told me to my face that my own marriage isn't valid." That's kind of a biggie.

If you are determined to have her as your maid of honor, she needs to know that you support her own wedding, and part of that is resolving things between her and your husband. The fact that the two of them haven't spoken since the argument tells me that there is still a lot of bad blood between them, and that needs to be cleared out before she feels comfortable.

Not saying that they have to agree. I'd just go to your husband and say "Look, things haven't been resolved since that argument and I think everyone's still hurting over it. Can we all maybe sit down and at least come to a detente about this?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on May 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Keep your friend in the wedding. You will be very sad on your wedding day if your friend is not standing up there with you.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:17 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is really hard, I'm sorry. I come from a fairly conservative background and now live in a more liberal environment and thus am routinely exposed to both kinda of people. It isn't easy for people who have never really known (or much less loved!) a conservative to see that opinion as anything less than disrespectful and/or hateful.

I was listening to a story on NPR today on Obama's stance on same sex marriage and it suddently occured to me that not all that long ago, I still held what today I would consider a bigoted approach to gay marrage, maybe a 5 years ago I endorsed the ideas of civil unions, totally taking the whole marriage thing out of it. That's how I said it and saw it in my mind, but looking back I think it really did imply that same sex unions were somehow less than hetero marriages. Through just basic exposure and thought, my views have changed. Your finance may indeed also have the same evolution. Since he is marrying you, you who has a lesbian BFF, I think there is a strong chance that this may happen.

I would counsel you to speak respectfully and civilly to both parties, leave the anger out of it, and just urge them both to acknowledge that you love them both and thus you feel they are both good people and express your sincere desire that they be able to come to respect each other fully, but until then they need to goddamn get over it and quit causing wedding drama.
posted by stormygrey at 7:18 AM on May 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


Of course, the main difference is that my coping mechanism for situations in like this is to look past any issues for the time being, keep my mouth shut, and pretend nothing is wrong, whereas hers is obviously to voice her unhappiness and, well, make snide remarks.

Honestly, in a MoH type situation, your default should be hers. By that I mean that, ideally, she should be the one to look past disagreements and move on. Flag it and move on, one might say.

However, since...

(This has been the dynamic since we met as teenagers, for whatever it's worth)

You really can't be too surprised with her behavior and you're partly responsible for choosing/sticking with a friend who you know is a bit of a fireball.

From going through wedding planning recently with soon-to-be Mrs.Eld, with her only sister being her MoH, things are only going to get more intense/more heated so a good relationship baseline is pretty vital, I'd be worried.

I don't want to get into any details of the arguement because honestly that's between them and it sounds like, from the way you've framed it here that they may be arguing over semantics and dictionary level things since your fiance seems to support all the rights/abilities hetero couples have being transferred to homosexual couples, just not the word "marriage". While not absolutely PC, it's pretty sane and I hate to see someone who could potentially reach out to him (MoH) throwing the opportunity away in a fit of pique.

Not to mention this being your moment and all and she's kinda shitting on it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:19 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fact your best friend is agreeing at all to be part of you marrying a person who thinks she shouldn't be able to get married is remarkable. I agree with pwally on this.
posted by Jairus at 7:21 AM on May 11, 2012 [20 favorites]


Really, this issue is about you. It sounds like your friend really still wants to be your MOH and your fiancé would probably be ok with it, based on his prior experience. And frankly it would be on him to suck it up anyway, since he caused the issue by telling your friend what he thinks about the legitimacy of her marriage (why did that happen?). Do you want this friend in your life? Then deal with her way of dealing with your fiancé's opinion. You said she's always been this way, so I imagine you have some experience dealing with it. If you can't deal with it, even living far away from her and finding other people to get rapturous over your fiancé with, then say you aren't comfortable with her being in your wedding party. And accept the damage that might do to your friendship.

Personally, I think you should do the first thing. I think your discomfort with her behavior stems as much from your discomfort with your fiancé's opinion as from what she's actually doing, but I could be totally wrong. Good luck, either way.
posted by MadamM at 7:22 AM on May 11, 2012


Here is a thing: I've learned that when I am the privileged person in an interaction, it is very difficult for me to viscerally grasp how painful casual injustice is to the marginalized person. It's very easy for me to feel that a casual injustice is an abstraction, or not worth fussing over, or not really that serious - even though when I am the marginalized person in an interaction, a casual injustice can just leave me reeling. That is, if something happens to a friend of color, some casual piece of creepiness, I am at risk of not paying enough attention to what it means to them. The daily grind of "you are not as good as me, your things are not as good as mine, you don't get to use regular words to describe your life"....that's painful for GLBTQ folks (about marriage or about other stuff). It's real. It wears you down.

Honestly, if I were your friend, I would not want to be your maid of honor and my friendship with you would suffer a bit - I'm willing to put up with that whole " you can have a commitment but I don't believe your 'commitment' is actually equal to my straight-dude marriage" thing from the older generation, but not from friends who are equals to me. I think it might be a relief to your friend if you talked this through and asked her if she'd prefer not to do it. This would probably be a time-consuming and intense conversation, because it might take her some time to process what she actually wants.
posted by Frowner at 7:23 AM on May 11, 2012 [78 favorites]


"I totally understand why you don't get along with fiance, and that's fine, you don't have to, but I want my MOH to be someone who gets along with me and my husband, and that's not you right now. I can't imagine having anyone else as my MOH so I think I'll just go without one. I really love having you as a friend, and thank you so, so much for putting in the effort to be there for me".

Not everyone is going to be the friend who loves to hear about your plans with your fiance or whatever. They don't get along (for good reason on her part) and it's probably time to accept that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:28 AM on May 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have been further reflecting as I sit here and look at stupid things like "card boxes" and "candy buffets", planning my own reception which, is um, next Friday, you have a year. Let me tell you, a wedding that you are so heavily involved in that is still a year out is not going to be a drama free wedding.

I would use this year to see exactly what marriage means to your guy. If he opposes the word marriage to describe same sex unions, why is that? Ok, religious, I get that, but what does his religion then dictate within the bounds of your marriage? If his religion and culture proscribe certain attributes and duties within a marriage, this is going to greatly affect your life together. If you can't talk to your fiance about this, you don't need to get married to him.

Go have an awesome party with you and your awesome girl friends.
posted by stormygrey at 7:32 AM on May 11, 2012 [27 favorites]


A year down the road, with this kind of clash in world views between the two of them, you don't know whether she's even going to want to attend the wedding. Things may get better between them or much, much worse. My position in either of your shoes would be to take the pressure off by not having any official wedding party at all and letting her play as big or as small a part as she likes when the time comes. After discussion with her, of course. Don't demote her from MoH position, just say, I think this setup is putting too much pressure on everyone; what do you think?
posted by BibiRose at 7:45 AM on May 11, 2012


Also, from a perspective standpoint: queer folks (much like women) are routinely expected to just suck it up. We're supposed to be really nice all the time to people who think we are inferior to them; who think that they are "normal" and we are some kind of freaky-deaky exception; who think that it's really big of them to let us have our civil ceremonies and what not. We're expected to be polite and pleasant to people who think that a conversation about the day to day realities of our lives is an abstract "political" thing along the lines of having an opinion on the electoral college.

"Oh, it's just a difference of opinion!" Well, listen, I have to live with the consequences of that difference and you do not - the consequences are real and material to me. The boys throw stones at frogs in jest, to quote the immortal Joanna Russ, but the frogs die in earnest.

I add that I once hurt someone whose opinion I value when I did this same kind of "this is an abstract political question" to something that affected that friend's daily life.

Now, I have to wonder whether your fiancee could perhaps grasp this in a new way with conversation. It may be a process for him, where GLBTQ stuff is becoming more real to him over time. We're all socialized in screwed up ways and it takes a long time to learn to be emotionally present and compassionate and to really hear people who are not like you. (It's something I struggle to be better about all the time!) Maybe your fiancee is actually someone who is becoming, that this is his journey to acceptance and emotional presence. (I cannot believe I referred to something as a "journey to emotional presence, gag.)

But it's tough for your friend to be present through that. It's tough to have to argue for your right to be equal to someone. It's tough to sit next to someone and to know for sure that they do not think that your partnership is as real as theirs, just because they are straight and you are not. To ask someone to sit through that, do the educational and emotional work involved - that's a big deal. Added to the MOH, it might actually be too much! (Although I would totes rather do educational/emotional work than have to do all the parties and showers and wedding planning, so YMMV.)
posted by Frowner at 7:45 AM on May 11, 2012 [58 favorites]


[Folks, if you can't answer the question being asked without jumping in with DTMFA, please keep walking. This is not the place.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:49 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your boyfriend made a bigoted remark about a minority of which your best friend is a member, and now your best friend is uncomfortable around your boyfriend. I think it's on your boyfriend to get with the non-homophobic program, and if that fails it's on you to either not tolerate homophobia from your partner or to accept that your partner's homophobia is going to close some doors for you socially. It is absolutely not on your best friend to pretend the bigoted remark doesn't bother her. She's probably done plenty of that in her lifetime and it sucks.
posted by milk white peacock at 7:51 AM on May 11, 2012 [110 favorites]


Also, from a perspective standpoint: queer folks (much like women) are routinely expected to just suck it up. We're supposed to be really nice all the time to people who think we are inferior to them; who think that they are "normal" and we are some kind of freaky-deaky exception; who think that it's really big of them to let us have our civil ceremonies and what not.

Yes, I'm wondering why the onus is on the gay female friend to hide everything she feels to make things more smoothed over? Why is it not on your fiance to call her up, hide what HE thinks and feels and tell her he apologizes for what he said? That would smooth over the situation as well.
posted by cairdeas at 7:51 AM on May 11, 2012 [45 favorites]


"My friend, this is the man I love. He's not perfect: nobody is. But while his opinions on a charged and complex political issue that affects you personally are offensive to you, and are not opinions that I share, he is in many important ways a good man, and he has always been respectful of you as a person.*

"You are my dear friend, and I love you very much. And you know, possibly better than I do, that people don't always have a lot of control over who they fall in love with. It hurts me when you talk about my fiance in these ways. I am asking you to stop making snide remarks about my fiance in my presence, and to support me as I marry this man that I love, just as I have supported, continue to support, you in your marriage. If you, my dear friend, can't stand by me in good conscience, that will sadden me, but I hope you will understand that my choice of who to marry is not really your business."

* I am assuming this is true.
posted by gauche at 7:55 AM on May 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think you'll regret it later on if you don't keep her as your MOH -- this argument will fade with time, but hopefully your friendship won't, and having the people you care most about involved in your wedding is more important than having that wedding be completely drama-free.

It sounds like the problems between you and your friend only arise when you start talking about your fiancé and how excited you are to be marrying him. So maybe you should just cool it on talking about him with her. You have EVERYONE ELSE to talk about him with, after all, and it's not like the fiancé conversations with your friend are pleasant for you.

She's making a big sacrifice to suck it up and accept your choice of a partner who's said some very hurtful things to her; you can suck it up and respect her desire not to talk about him.

I really do understand why this is bothering you on principle, but this sounds like a relatively painless compromise for you to make, in the scheme of Shit That Can Go Sour With Weddings.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:55 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not really that complicated - like in many situations, they're both wrong:

Your fiance: It's incredibly, INCREDIBLY disrespectful to attend someone's wedding and then later express that you don't 'agree' with that marriage. A wedding is a coming together of friends and family to support the couple (at the couple's expense!) and by later revealing that he doesn't actually support the couple... well, he really needs to keep that opinion to himself and not share it with the parties in question.

Your MOH: It's incredibly disrespectful for her to say that she 'supports you' and then badmouth your fiance to your face. It's not that she can't express her opinion of your fiance - that's her right. But I think she's futily trying to pretend that she can still be friends with you and be mad at her fiance.

I think, unfortunately, there are some tough conversations in order. Personally, I would expect my fiance to apologize for his hugely disrespectful behavior. Not for his opinions - for his actions.
posted by muddgirl at 7:56 AM on May 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


I think your friend is handling this situation in a less than ideal way, because it sounds like she should just step down from being your maid of honor.

However, I suggest you give some additional thought to her perspective: even if your fiance is not actively supporting efforts to enshrine his beliefs into law, he still actually (and vocally) believes that your friend's relationship should not be granted the same rights and privileges society grants his, and does not believe her lifetime commitment deserves to be called a marriage. Right? I mean, it doesn't sound like he's just hung up on the word "marriage" because he's some kind of linguistics geek. (If I'm mistaken, and he is, then I think there's a lot more room for compromise.) He's expressed belief in a value system that says she is less than straight people, and her best friend is marrying him. And if you have kids, what will he teach them about her relationship? It's a lot for a best friend to think about, and it hard to push those thoughts aside and get excited about the wedding.

So, again, I think that your friend could handle this better by simply stepping down because she feels conflicted about your marrying someone who holds these beliefs. However, it seems like she's trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to suck it up and do what she thinks a good friend would do. I think you need to fight your instinct to just keep your mouth shut while hoping things work out. I think if you're going to preserve this friendship and also marry your fiance (and doing both may prove to be impossible), you need to have an honest conversation with your friend, and give her an out--say that you understand if she can't stand up for both you and your fiance.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:59 AM on May 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Your MOH: It's incredibly disrespectful for her to say that she 'supports you' and then badmouth your fiance to your face. It's not that she can't express her opinion of your fiance - that's her right. But I think she's futile trying to pretend that she can still be friends with you and be mad at her fiance.

Yeah, I think you have to draw the line on this behavior. You've heard her opinion, you know how she feels. Just because you think she might have a point doesn't mean she gets to call the shots and act out on her feelings forever and ever. If she can't pull it together, like, right now, then it's not crazy to say, I don't think having you stand beside me while I marry this guy is a good idea.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:59 AM on May 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


She continues to insist that she wants me to be happy and will support whatever I want to do, but when I asked if she could stop with the hurtful potshots at my fiance, or let me be excited and talk about him instead of just the party we happen to be having, she just said it was "complicated" and that she felt so disrespected by him for his opinion about same-sex marriage that she couldn't support him and couldn't overlook that disrespect just to pretend to be happy to let me gush over him.

Since this is not simply your wedding, but you and your fiance's wedding, I think it's reasonable to no longer include your friend as the maid of honor (if she really insists on keeping this issue on the front burner for the next year). Considering the political climate, I don't think it's going to get any easier for your friend to bite her tongue.

The wedding is about you and your fiance, not about your friend.
posted by BurntHombre at 8:01 AM on May 11, 2012


she just said it was "complicated" and that she felt so disrespected by him for his opinion about same-sex marriage that she couldn't support him and couldn't overlook that disrespect just to pretend to be happy to let me gush over him.

Umm. The wedding party is supposed to be supportive of both the bride and the groom. If she can't get behind him, she can't get behind your marriage.

She needs to either cut that shit out or step down. The gay marriage issue is a red herring. It could be any issue over which she and your fiance disagree. Maybe one is a vegan and the other isn't. Maybe one is religious and the other isn't. Maybe one wants kids and the other things increasing the human population is immoral. Whatever. If your best friend cannot avoid making snarky comments about your fiance's beliefs, she has no business being in your wedding. End of story.
posted by valkyryn at 8:02 AM on May 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


People are really fixating on the gay-rights thing, which is understandable because it's a hot topic of course, but if it was any other divisive issue the responses might not be leaning so much towards the MoH in this situation. Your friend finds your fiance offensive. She has every right to feel the way she feels, but it's your wedding. Weddings are meant to be a big, once-in-a-lifetime deal, and you have the right not to have it soured by bad feelings. In general, anyone who can't let the happy couple be happy should butt out. "But this is DIFFERENT! Basic RIGHTS! OUTRAGE!" No. It's a wedding. A third party is making it about her instead of the two people getting married. Go MoH-less, and don't feel guilty. You can still be friends and continue to have these arguments with her for the next twenty years if you're so inclined, but not on your wedding day or in the lead-up to it.
posted by Gator at 8:03 AM on May 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Don't ask her to step down; tell her you fully and absolutely want her in your wedding. But give her complete freedom to withdraw at any point if she feels too uncomfortable on her own account. You aren't considering asking another person if she does not stand as your Maid of Honor, so it really won't be any skin off your nose (wedding-wise) if she bows out. Even if she goes ahead and buys the dress now and doesn't use it in the end--an unused dress is trivial in the bigger picture, and a tiny risk compared to giving her some time and freedom to sort this out.

Ask your fiance not to discuss his opinions about this with her out of respect for your long friendship with her and personal support of her. If anyone's been behaving badly in this situation, it's your fiance; this is not the time for him to be having it out with her on this subject. Even if he maintains his position, he should be able to see how ungracious it is to discuss it with her while he is in the process of planning his own wedding.
posted by torticat at 8:06 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, on the one hand, I think that if your MOH doesn't support the idea of you marrying this guy, she shouldn't be your MOH.

On the other hand, I'm just...trying to imagine how your friend must feel. I wonder if we played a little game in which your friend was a black woman married to a white man, and your fiance had said he didn't believe in interracial marriages, if that would clarify your view of how wounded and horrified she must be at the prospect of you marrying this guy.*

Which in turn makes me wonder if a lot of your MOH's snark about your fiance isn't based on fear that she's going to lose YOU once you marry this guy. When I entertain that possibility, all of it makes sense: why she insists on still being your MOH; why she can't quite keep her mouth shut on the matter of your fiance. She's not just wounded by his contempt for her own marriage - she's frightened that this marriage means she'll lose you.

(And why shouldn't she be? You're committing your life to someone who has no respect for who she is.)

Have you flat-out told her that marriage to this guy isn't going to change anything about your friendship?

Moreover, have you made certain that your FIANCE knows marriage isn't going to change anything about your friendship? Have you made clear to him that once y'all are married, you WILL be having your best friend and her wife over to dinner/out on a couples' vacation/etc, and that you will expect him to make them feel welcomed and cherished as part of your (joint) lives?

This is the groundwork YOU need to do before sitting down with both of them and using one of the scripts provided above -- something along the lines of, "I love you both. You are both going to be fixtures of my life, for the rest of my life, period. I need you both to come to a truce based on your respect for ME, because I can't bear to lose either of you."

* (I recognize that it's REALLY problematic to liken sexual orientation to race. I'm thinking here in terms of marginalized minorities and social justice and broad changes in social attitudes about what's "normal" and "acceptable," so please forgive me the messy and inapt analogy.)
posted by artemisia at 8:08 AM on May 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


Your fiance: It's incredibly, INCREDIBLY disrespectful to attend someone's wedding and then later express that you don't 'agree' with that marriage. A wedding is a coming together of friends and family to support the couple (at the couple's expense!) and by later revealing that he doesn't actually support the couple... well, he really needs to keep that opinion to himself and not share it with the parties in question.

I don't know, I've attended more than a few straight weddings in which a not-insignificant portion of those in attendance have had serious doubts about the marriage. It's a complicated thing, attending a wedding, and people do it will all kinds of mixed emotions and thoughts.

I think that knowing gay people personally, and being present at important parts of their lives, is often a first step towards overcoming one's own bigotry. I wouldn't approach this as though your fiance is a hypocrite or is disrespecting your friends purely by attending their wedding, because there are good reasons why that might not be the case.
posted by gauche at 8:09 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Seriously, I am sorry this touches a nerve with people and I'd appreciate from this point forward if people make an extra effort to answer the question and take side conversations to MeMail and don't parody the way you perceive people's responses, it's not a great way to keep the conversation running smoothly. ]
posted by jessamyn at 8:12 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know, I've attended more than a few straight weddings in which a not-insignificant portion of those in attendance have had serious doubts about the marriage. It's a complicated thing, attending a wedding, and people do it will all kinds of mixed emotions and thoughts.

Again, he's entitled to his own opinion, and I think it's OK to attend a wedding (and keep your mouth shut afterwards) or express your opinion (and decline to attend the wedding). The rude thing is to sup at someone's table and perhaps drink their liquor and dance to their DJ in a room they rented, and then turn around afterward and tell them that you think they're not doing a moral thing. Yes, rude even if it's a straight couple.
posted by muddgirl at 8:13 AM on May 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


. One, to suck it up, not say anything to my fiance (I have not yet), accept her offer of support, and hold out hope that by the time the wedding rolls around -- in about a year -- they'll come to some terms with each other. In the meantime I feel awkward, uncomfortable, and upset that I can't even talk about the person I'm marrying with the person I want to have a significant role in the wedding. Two, to tell her I've made a decision not to have a maid of honor -- I have no other bridesmaids, and my fiance only planned to have his best friend be his best man -- but that I'd still love for her to be at the wedding with her wife as my guests.

Your friend is not handling this well, and you are going to make things worse by turning this into an all-or-nothing choice between her and the fiance.

Basically, your MoH should have understood that your fiance is to be accorded the benefit of the "grampa rule"-- an acceptance of the fact that, due to his background and upbrining, he's going to hold certain outdated views on things.

Your job, however, is not to escalate it by turning it into this thing where you feel you have to choose your fiance or best friend.

Here's the thing-- you need to tell your MoH to stop making snide comments, and you need to be able to be open about talking about your fiance without any snide remarks from her. Stop her every time. It may happen that she decides to bow out of the wedding, but you have to let her do it. Don't disregard the possibility that she is hoping that you escalate things by being so obnoxious about your fiance that you rescind your offer to be MoH, so then she can portray herself as the victim here.
posted by deanc at 8:15 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think there's a difference between whether your friend is right and whether she should be your MOH.

I think you should be frank with your friend. "Look, I agree with you and I totally understand your position. At the same time, Fiance is not going to change his mind. If you can live with this and want to be my MOH, I would love that, but I need you to really put it aside and stop making comments and changing the subject when it comes to Fiance. If you don't think you can do that, I will understand completely and you're still my best friend, but I'll go without a MOH."
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:18 AM on May 11, 2012


[If your comment is not DIRECTLY helping the OP with this question, please take it to MeMail or otherwise open a MeTa thread if you can not do this. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:21 AM on May 11, 2012


Your friend needs to stop talking out of both sides of her mouth.

She either supports you and your future husband or she doesn't approve of you marrying someone of his ilk. Her position of MoH implies that she supports not just you but also the person you are marrying and that is just not the case.

Both of them are entitled to their opinions and they're both entitled to think the other person is wrong. She is not entitled to snide remarks and inappropriate asides about your future spouse and you need to call her on it. If you aren't immediately calling her on it each and every time - maybe you need to re-think both relationships.

(If she was asking this question - My best friend is marrying a homophobic fraud - should I still be her maid of honor? I'd tell her to step down from the job because she'd be a hypocrite to support that man in any fashion but especially at his wedding.)
posted by jaimystery at 8:21 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the fiance is getting a bit dumped on--according to the post he does not oppose gay unions but personally does not use the word marriage for gay unions. That is hardly militant homophobia or a being a cultural reactionary / neanderthal. It is culturally inconsistent with you and your MOH's values but it is hardly Westboro revisited. A measure of civility, forgiveness and generosity serves all quite well. I really do not see how dumping one of them, or both of them, solves your problem. Damn, gauche just said it better than I can--so ditto. And I would point out that in most revolutions/wars the best long term outcomes are when the formerly oppressed move ahead in victory with generosity and pragmatism in treating their former oppressors.
posted by rmhsinc at 8:22 AM on May 11, 2012


I don't know, I've attended more than a few straight weddings in which a not-insignificant portion of those in attendance have had serious doubts about the marriage.

Right, but I imagine that was more about the suitability of the couple and not whether or not they should even be permitted by the law of the land to get married to one another.


OP, it sounds like this is a supremely unpleasant situation for both you and the MoH. I wouldn't deliberately exclude her from the wedding party, but I would let her know - as carefully as possible so it doesn't seem like a passive-aggressive push-out - that she is welcome to back out of the MoH position at any time and no feelings will be further hurt.
posted by elizardbits at 8:29 AM on May 11, 2012


Talk to your fiance. You are marrying this man, and if you can't communicate with him and come to a resolution (even if it's "let's agree to disagree") before the wedding, what will you do afterwards? It doesn't get easier.

The two of you need to come up with a plan you can both live with. I hope for your sake he agrees that he was out of line, and calls up your MOH to apologize sincerely for hurting her. If he doesn't, or she doesn't accept, I think you do need to tell her that her remarks are hurtful to you, and they need to stop for you to feel comfortable with her as the MOH. But do so with the realization that you are asking an awful from your friend, and forgive her if she decides she can't be the bigger person.

For what it's worth, I was once the MOH to a friend whose fiance was kind of a jerk. However, the fact that he so clearly adored her meant that I was polite and welcoming to him whenever we interacted. Over the years, as he's grown and learned to recognize all the way in which his insular, privileged upbringing influenced his personality, he's become a much more thoughtful, engaging person, and I genuinely like him now.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:33 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


You have already decided to marry your fiance. You knew about his views before this. Your friend does not have to respect your choice. But if she does not, then she should not be your Maid of Honor. She is punishing you for your fiance's views. I get why, but it is not great behavior if you want to be Maid of Honor. You chose him, she says she is choosing to support you. If that is her choice, she needs to follow through with it.

If the tension over this issue has been leading you to remind you less often how much you care for and value her as a friend, maybe you can focus on that more. If I were in her place I would probably feel very threatened by the situation - maybe you can reassure her that you are able to compartmentalize between your fiance's views and your own?

She needs to be respectful of your choices in a partner. If she cannot be respectful, your friendship will not succeed. This is her decision to make - and, I get why it might be incredibly difficult for her - but you have made your choice. She can't make your choices for you.
posted by newg at 8:38 AM on May 11, 2012


"Remind her" not "remind you," sorry.
posted by newg at 8:38 AM on May 11, 2012


You absolutely, positively need to talk to your fiance about this. It's okay to have differences of opinion, but he has made hurtful statements that are a slap in the face to someone you care deeply about and doesn't back down when he's told they're hurtful. He doesn't see this as a problem? He can't figure out that his opinion should be kept to himself in at least some situations? He hasn't apologized? Talk to him, and take careful note of his response. This is a periscope into your future.
posted by sageleaf at 8:47 AM on May 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


I used to think pretty much the way you've described your fiance thinks - pro-gay-union, but geez, it's not marriage, call it something else. I used to define marriage in my head as a religious/legal life-long contract between a man and a woman who love each other and want to raise kids. Gay unions seemed a different thing - call it something different! I experienced a big turn around in my thinking when I realized that historically speaking, that is not always what marriage has meant - the definition of marriage has changed and mutated to fit the needs of the times. Once I realized that this was true, it was an easy thing to fit gay unions into my new expanded marriage definition. I wonder if looking at it this way would help your fiance, who seems stuck where I once was.
posted by molasses at 8:53 AM on May 11, 2012


One, to suck it up, not say anything to my fiance (I have not yet), accept her offer of support, and hold out hope that by the time the wedding rolls around -- in about a year -- they'll come to some terms with each other.

I think you need to be able to talk to your fiance about things like this. It's important to you and it's causing you angst.

Personally, I think you need to ask him to apologize to your friend. Without addressing the merits of what he believes, actually expressing it to a gay friend of yours was incredibly rude and hurtful. Not every opinion needs to be expressed, especially when you're directly saying to someone, "I don't think your relationship is equal to mine." This is not remotely like disagreeing on veganism or religion or having kids, unless he'd told a vegan or childless friend of yours he didn't think vegans/childless people should be allowed to marry. If he can apologize, genuinely and convincingly, then I think it's fair to ask the MoH to pipe down. If not, then I don't think she should be your MoH. Asking her to step aside will be really hard to do without making it seem you're siding with him. I have no suggestions for how to do that, sorry.
posted by Mavri at 8:58 AM on May 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, ironically, my dad actually held this belief about same-sex marriages for a long time. Aaaaaand he's gay. o_O!?

It turns out, it is more related to the whole "marriage is a sacrament" thing - which actually doesn't have anything to do with gays, but has much more to do with the "My Religion is Right, and the rest of you are Wrong, and it is cute that you have your own little things that try to replicate our Right Way Of Doing Things, but... well... sorry... rejected..." perspective that MANY religions and religious people cultivate.

And I think this comes from a lack of exposure. It took my dad a while to realize that he doesn't actually think that a Hindu marriage or a Methodist marriage or a Jewish marriage shouldn't be called a marriage... but that they are all just as divorced from his particular view of what a religious marriage is as same-sex marriage was. It took him a long time to realize that husbands can have husbands and wives can have wives and that there was not going to be a linguapocalypse as a result with everyone frantically trying to figure out what gender someone's partner is. It took him a long time to realize that this was a question of civil rights, and that churches have and always will have the right not to marry a couple that doesn't fit within their dogmatic structure. It took him a long time to realize that the "traditional" definition of marriage (culturally, religiously AND legally) has been a dynamic and changing thing - hardly the static and set thing he once thought it was. (Seriously, look up the legal doctrine of "coverture" if you want an eye-opener about how we've "traditionally" defined marriage.)

You can't dial down the drama by asking her to step down, that will only turn it up to 11 and probably end your friendship. (Or at least, forever change it for the worse.) You can possibly end the drama by just sucking it up, but that's unlikely and unpleasant.

I would ask the Maid of Honor what would make her feel better. (Also: If she's married, she's actually a Matron of Honor! This might possibly be contributing to her angst over the situation if she sees that even YOU aren't recognizing her status as a married woman!) Does she want one good kick at the shins of your groom? Does it really make her feel better to keep venting her frustration in such a passive-aggressive way? Or would she like the opportunity to discuss this issue with him, try to learn about the underpinnings of this bigoted belief, and get an opportunity to express to him why her marriage is just as valid as his - and convince him of the same? If she chooses Door No 1 or Door No 2, I'd say that I wished she could have been open to a productive solution, and then I'd go with the "If I can't have you, I don't want anyone" speech above, and say that you've decided not to have a Maid/Matron of Honor. If she says she would like the opportunity to talk it through, then I would lay it out for the groom. You seem to have started doing this, but I'd be really clear about the reason for this conversation: that his comments demeaning her marriage make it impossible for her to fully support your marriage to him, and that it is damaging your friendship, possibly irreparably, and that discussing it and coming to a mutually agreeable understanding of respect is the only way for this important person in your life to take part in your wedding. Then I'd sit down with the two of them and I would play referee so that it doesn't get uglier. Wear a helmet.
posted by jph at 9:05 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dump the MOH. You are not marrying her. Fiancé has got some learning to do, but you are spending the rest of your life with him.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:15 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I say keep her as MOH, but tell her: "Friend, I understand that what fiance said hurt your feelings, but I want the sniping to stop" Repeat as often as necessary.

When my father would say"unions not marriage" my response was "separate but equal?".....and he finally came around
posted by brujita at 9:16 AM on May 11, 2012


I think AskMe's strong pro-gay rights position (a position I hold as well, for the record), may be effecting the usefulness of some of the answers you're receiving since it is making it impossible for many to see your fiancee as anything other than the antagonist here (hence the many thinly veiled DTMFA answers or bizarre "She should be your MoH but out of respect for her you should never mention the wedding around her" responses).

This is a difficult case where I can see both of your positions (yours and the MoH's). From the perspective of your MoH, it sounds like you hope she can just temporarily suck up your fiancee's casual homophobia in support of your wedding. To the casual observer this doesn't seem that far removed from asking a black MoH to, for the sake of the wedding, just ignore for a moment that your fiancee is a "little" bit racist ("But he never uses the N-word!"). This is not a realistic expectation on your part.

On the other hand, her insistence that she remain the MoH when it is clearly obvious her (understandable) negative feelings towards your fiancee make it impossible for her to fully support your marriage is strange. At some point the onus is on her to gracefully step down rather than escalate an uncomfortable situation at what is supposed to be the happiest moment of your life.
posted by The Gooch at 9:19 AM on May 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I've got to agree with the folks saying sit them both down and get them to come to a detente: they don't have to AGREE with each others' positions, they (both!) just have to agree TO BE RESPECTFUL of each other's positions. After all, this isn't something that'll magically end on your wedding day: you hope to keep both BestFriend AND NewHusband in your life, which means that they WILL interact at various points over the years.

They've got to agree to disagree, as the saying goes, and stop yanking you around between them while they're at it.
posted by easily confused at 9:34 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This may be a belief or opinion of your fiance, but it is the life and identity of your friend. I think your fiance was out of line in expressing his opinion of her marriage. To him, it's theoretical. To her, it's deeply personal. (You don't even like hearing snide things about him; how would you like hearing that your union was a legal entity and not a marriage in the deeper sense?)

I think that for at least a little while, when she says negative things, you should respond something like, "oh, Jess, I know how angry at him you are, and I would be too." Think of the discomfort you feel about feeling she's pushing you to choose between her and him. She may feel you're asking her to choose between betraying herself or losing you. Asking if she wants to stop being the maid of honor may have felt like "don't you want to just go away already?"

I think you need to hold onto her tightly right now while she is hurt and angry, or at least acknowledge and respect those emotions, even though her anger at him is hard for you to hear. If you want to stay friends, I would not push her away because of them or imply that if she's (quite understandably) angry, maybe she should just play a lesser role in your life. You are the one choosing to marry someone who believes your friend's marriage lacks spiritual meaning (if that's a fair characterization), so you should bear the tension this creates, not offload that tension onto her by requesting her silence.

I know that's not what you mean to do, and your wishes have a real place here too, but right now, she's feeling deeply insulted, so the annoyance of not being able to talk about him might be something you could live with, perhaps? You're getting married (yay!), and that gives you power to set the terms of who participates and who doesn't at this moment, but across a lifetime of friendship, you both set the terms. I wouldn't use your temporary power to say "you need to stifle this anger or else I'll shut you out."

If you respond to her likely anger and sadness with love, you may also get questions like "how can you marry someone who believes that?" (a question about who you are and whether you're being true to your beliefs) or "how can you marry someone who would say that to me?" (a question about betrayal). You probably need to start grappling with those questions so you can talk about them with her.

Hopefully you all can have a conversation outside of her snarkiness, but my sense is that you aren't quite ready to do that, or more precisely, that what you would communicate is "he is my top priority, even though he deeply insulted you, and if you can't support me wholeheartedly in embracing him, and stay silent about your anger and hurt, then I need to put distance between you and me," which could very well end the friendship.
posted by salvia at 9:45 AM on May 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


Have you and your husband had premarital counseling? If not, I think you should, and you should talk specifically about what marriage means to each of you and what rights and responsibilities you think married people have to one another and to the larger society. You need to decide whether you and your fiance are on the same page about what it means to be married before you marry him. I honestly do not think you should marry a person who doesn't hold the same beliefs you do about what marriage is, because it will affect your relationship, in big and small ways, down the line. This isn't about your gay friend, it's about your relationship.

Once you've done that, then it's time to figure out what to do about your friend. Because if you and your fiance agree on what a marriage means, you should be able to explain to your best friend what that definition is. And your fiance should be involved in that conversation. And if the definition the two of you have isn't one that your best friend can stand up and support, she shouldn't be your maid of honor. But if you and your best friend have one definition of marriage, and your fiance has another, I would respectfully submit that the problem isn't between you and her, it's between you and him.
posted by decathecting at 9:49 AM on May 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Sorry, I think you have to stand with your best friend here. You've said you're conflict-avoidant, and if you concede this you're going to doormat your way out of a friendship you've had for years and years by asking her to step down. That sucks. Don't do that. Plus, you'd be siding with your fiance even though you disagree with him. Why do you feel like you need to do that?

I am conflict-avoidant too, and I love people who are steamrollers. They're so confident and sassy! Love 'em. Married one. But I'm a decade into this, so let me tell you: You need to find a way to communicate with your fiance that how you feel is more important than his abstract belief. And by turning this into a knock-down-drag-out with your BFF, he is making you miserable.

As your husband, he needs to specialize in not making you miserable. Especially if he has a tenacious personality.

I also advise you to think about therapy. For both of you would be great, but just for you would be helpful too. This kind of conflict is going to come up again in your relationship -- and again, I have this dynamic going in my own marriage, so I definitely don't think it's a dealbreaker, I just think that you need to develop a toolbox of ways to make sure that he's prioritizing your feelings and desires as well as his own.

I would answer precisely the same way if the conflict were about Mormons being Christian (a topic about which I am totally indifferent.)
posted by purpleclover at 9:58 AM on May 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


Your husband needs to apologize to your best friend, and keep his trap shut about his opinions on gay marriage from here on out. The apology isn't for holding the beliefs he has -- nobody should be punished for a thought. But rather, he needs to apologize for being an insensitive ass and expressing that belief to somebody he ought to have known he would hurt by saying it.
posted by yarly at 9:58 AM on May 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Your friend is experiencing social paralysis because she is caught between poles. The cutting comments are her current best way of dealing with what's going on.

Here are the poles:

- She hates your fiance. This is a contentious topic (cf. this thread) so what I'll say is that it's completely understandable that she hates your fiance and I wouldn't say that hating him - or at least disliking him very strongly - is an overreaction on her part. This doesn't mean that it is the correct response, just that it's within the realm of understandable and normal reactions to the opinion your fiance holds about her marriage.

- She loves you. Hooray for you! You are her best pal. She may not like the guy much but she wants you to be happy and respects your ability to make that decision for yourself. I'm basing this on an assumption that she didn't act this way about him prior to this whole mess. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know. But she loves you, and she wants to be the maid of honor for you - not for you and your fiance, but you - and make it an awesome wedding because she's so fond of you and wants you to be happy.

So, she wants to try to be respectful of you, but at the same time she has no love for your fiance and very little respect, if any. But that's why she's not dropping out of the wedding party - because she considers her Maid of Honor duties to be a separate thing from liking your fiance. In her opinion, the offense committed belongs to your fiance, so stepping down means that she loses out on something she cares about greatly, and that this is making accommodations for a bigot, and she is losing out even though she didn't do anything wrong and he did. This is what she means when she says it's complicated.

She continues to insist that she wants me to be happy and will support whatever I want to do, but when I asked if she could stop with the hurtful potshots at my fiance, or let me be excited and talk about him instead of just the party we happen to be having, she just said it was "complicated" and that she felt so disrespected by him for his opinion about same-sex marriage that she couldn't support him and couldn't overlook that disrespect just to pretend to be happy to let me gush over him. I implied that perhaps that meant she shouldn't be the maid of honor, and she told me that if the situation were reversed she was sure I'd still want to be supportive of her (true) and to think about how I'd feel if she asked me to step down.

This is pretty much the entire situation. She's being asked to bless, and support, and take part in the commemoration of, a union between you and a guy for whom she has a pretty good reason to at least feel a strong dislike. And she's doing that, because she respects you.

But she's also being asked to listen quietly and/or pretend to join in the excitement when you gush joyfully over a guy who - real talk here - in her opinion, considers her to be pretty much a second-class citizen. And she's not doing that, because she respects herself.

If I were in your situation, I would do one of two things:

1. Tell her that this whole business is something you're still kind of wrestling with, but in the meantime, ask if you can agree to a cease-fire: You don't gush about him in front of her, you don't ask her to join in your excitement about this guy, and she refrains from making cutting remarks about him. Not perfect, but you both get a little closer to what you want. As friends who understand each other, you both accept that the occasional potshot might slip out or you might gush a tiny bit here and there, and you agree not to make a federal case out of it if it happens.

Or,

2. Ask your fiancee to just basically lie through his teeth. Have him get in touch with her and apologize and say that her reaction to all this has caused him to do a lot of soul-searching and he understands what was wrong with what he said and he's reconsidered his views on the subject; given how happy she and her partner are, and how strongly his fiancee feels about all this and how cogently she made her case, he now realizes that marriage is marriage, no matter who's getting married to whom. Have him close by saying that he realizes his previous statement caused a lot of hurt and that he knows that this won't fix everything, and he understands if she's not ready to make nice, but he hopes this at least can be the first step in building a bridge.

Probably putting that in an email would be best.

If he asks why he should lie, it's really pretty simple: You can hash out this philosophical difference between you, but in the meantime, he has disrespected and hurt the feelings of your best friend and it's causing problems. The offense is his, and it is against her, and he needs to rectify it.

And if he asks what happens after that, the answer is: He keeps pretending. Yes, he's being asked to lie. Yes, the lie is about a principle of his. It doesn't matter. She should never have come to know that he feels that way about her marriage. Telling her this - or saying it where she could hear - was a boneheaded move and now he needs to swallow his pride and engage in a massive polite fiction.

So, you know, either way. Difficult solutions, yes, but this is a difficult problem.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:12 AM on May 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


Wow, it's interesting how much I disagree with many of the other posters in this thread. But there seem to be a lot of OMG *WEDDING* cultural baggage that I've never understood, personally.

For me, it could not be more cut-and-dried. Your friend has every right to be offended with your fiance's stance. Her being hurt does not mean that she gets unlimited license to bag on him to you about anything related or un-related to the sensitive issue. To me, if she is that offended by what he said, she should stop hanging out with you. If she's going to hang out with you, she has an obligation to keep it under her hat and not slag on your fiance.

In your place, I'd tell her to knock off the remarks, or I'd cut her off—not just as MoH but as a friend.

She seems to feel that she has some kind of right to be in your wedding party, and that it's super duper critical important that she be in it, and (from my point of view, confusingly) many people in this thread seem to agree. In my mind the wedding is about the beginning of your marriage, and it need not be a critical milestone in your friendship—though clearly others disagree. You may want to think about to what degree you feel your wedding should be about your friend.
posted by BrashTech at 10:18 AM on May 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, and I should add, when I say that you and your fiance should talk in counseling about what marriage means, I don't just mean that you should talk about whether gay people should be allowed to have it (though you probably do need to discuss that, because it bears on what you each believe about the role of marriage in society). I also think you need to talk about things like whether, in a marriage, one spouse always needs to side with the other in disagreements with outside parties. You should talk about whether one spouse should suck it up and make nice when doing so would make life easier for the other spouse, even when the first spouse really doesn't want to apologize or pretend things are okay. You should talk about how to deal with conflict, and how to make sure that you're fighting fair and that each of you gets a chance to be heard, even when you may naturally have different levels of tolerance for conflict. You should talk about whether you believe that conflicts within a marriage should stay between the two of you, or whether it's okay to "air your drama" to friends and family to seek advice. You should talk about whether you can stay friends with people who may try to undermine your relationship and whether you're going to discuss those problems together or deal with them separately.

That's what I mean when I say that how you define marriage will affect how your marriage plays out. You're already having all of these issues with your fiance, and they'll come up again. Your spouse will have arguments with other people, and you'll be put in the middle. People will flirt with your spouse or otherwise try to get between you, and you'll have to decide whether to stay in contact with those people. You'll argue, and you'll have to figure out how to argue productively. Again, this isn't about your friend; it's about your relationship.
posted by decathecting at 10:27 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another probably unpopular opinion here:

I think you should consider asking your MOH to step down for the sole reason that you asked her to stop doing something that hurt you and she continued to do it and justified her behavior. This will likely continue through the planning phase and after the wedding too. Agree to disagree but maintain a respectful distance, at the very least - no one needs to pretend to feel differently and without context I don't know that I think an apology is necessary - but some sort of detente might be the best solution here.

I think the question of who is "right" or "wrong" here is largely irrelevant, and I say that as someone who had a very similar issue occur in her immediate family not too long ago.
posted by sm1tten at 10:30 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


One, to suck it up, not say anything to my fiance (I have not yet), accept her offer of support, and hold out hope that by the time the wedding rolls around -- in about a year -- they'll come to some terms with each other. In the meantime I feel awkward, uncomfortable, and upset that I can't even talk about the person I'm marrying with the person I want to have a significant role in the wedding.

Two, to tell her I've made a decision not to have a maid of honor -- I have no other bridesmaids, and my fiance only planned to have his best friend be his best man -- but that I'd still love for her to be at the wedding with her wife as my guests. In all honesty though, I suspect that if I went with option 2 the friendship would pretty much be over and I'd have two fewer guests at the wedding.


Neither of these sound like good options. But I don't see how long it's been since this incident? If it's quite recent, maybe leaving things alone for another month would help. But if it's already been a few months, it's probably not going to heal on its own. I would hope that your fiancee, possibly under duress from you, apologise to your best friend... but I also think you are within your rights to ask your best friend not to insult your fiancee anymore. I can easily imagine myself in her shoes: I'm a lesbian (though unmarried) and my best friend is straight, and has a boyfriend I dislike/disapprove of (though he's not anti-marriage equality). I've made it crystal clear to her what I think about him: she knows! So now I don't talk about it anymore. If they were to get engaged tomorrow, I might want to sit her down and remind her why I'm right, but then I would be willing to can it again.

I think that you SHOULD ask her not to continually insult him. If I were her, I would like to have one chance to vent to you, at length, about my feelings... and then I would be willing to put them in a box when with you. But it would help a LOT to A) hear an apology from him and B) have the chance to really spill my guts about it one time.

Best, best wishes, OP. This is a tough one. I hope that you come out of it with a great marriage and a good relationship with your best friend! And I hope your fiancee comes around on this one.

(On preview, I love FAMOUS MONSTER's excellent answer, too.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:34 AM on May 11, 2012


I think what I would do, if I were you, is have this conversation with my fiance: "Look, Snookums, I love you. But you really hurt Marisa's feelings, because this is an issue that's very personal and meaningful to her. It doesn't matter a whole lot to you. I respect your right to have an opinion on it, even one that's different from mine; that's not the issue. The issue is that gay marriage, or civil unions, or whatever, doesn't matter a whole lot to you but it matters a ton to Marisa, and her feelings are genuinely hurt, and this is hurting ME." And ask him to apologize to her for hurting her feelings and not to discuss it with her again. Because, really, the issue to my mind isn't so much whether he's right or wrong -- it's that here's a political issue that, for him, is pretty theoretical, that he apparently thinks is SOOOOO important that he's willing to place it over and above his wife's best friendship. (And he can totally say something like, "I know we disagree on this issue, but I think I wasn't civil, and I want to apologize for saying something hurtful. I will continue to think about and learn about the issue, but for Anon's sake I'm going to drop it and not discuss it with you any further.)

You should have a similar conversation with your best friend, who -- and I think she's correct to be very hurt -- is also placing this political issue above her friendship with you. She's mad at Fiance, but she's hurting YOU. And I would say to her, "Look, I know you're really angry at Fiance. I am not him, we don't agree on everything, and the way you are sniping isn't hurting HIM; it's hurting ME. I'd like it to stop."

And sometimes adults are best-served by sitting on their opinions for the sake of their loved ones, whether that's not snapping at Crazy Aunt Jess when she is a jerk to you the 3,000th time because it would upset your grandmother, or whether that's saying to your union-disliking husband, "Look, we're having dinner with My Friends The Union Organizers and just for tonight you need to sit on it and not bitch about how awful the Underwater Basketweaver Union leadership is in your current negotiations." It's pretty rare in life for an engaged, interested person to find someone else they agree with on all issues 100% of the time, so an important life skill is learning how to socialize with people who have many good qualities, but one or two opinions we dislike.

And there is a point at which you say, "No, look, that opinion is so abhorrent we cannot be friends any longer," and that's fine and fair. But your MOH needs to either suck it up on this issue or cut herself off from you guys. And your fiance really, really needs to decide that you and your best friend are more important than his political opinion and sit on it.

And I think one of the reasons people are coming down hard on your Fiance is that many people intuitively feel that, as it is not a personal issue in which he has any kind of stake, he really needs to be respectful of Marisa's personal stake in the issue. For him it's an argument about terminology. For Marisa, it's an issue of personal rights, respect, and autonomy. For his wife, it's her best friend. Terminology is SO much less important than Marisa's personal stake in the issue and his wife's friendship with her.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:08 AM on May 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


[This is a followup from the asker.]
To address some things people have brought up:

(1) I am fully aware of the shittiness of what he said and the fact that he said it at all and how awful it was for my friend to hear that from him. It has been made exceedingly clear to him that I feel it was shitty. And I am fully understanding of why my friend doesn't like him and doesn't want to have a relationship with him, and I am fully cognizant of how grateful I should be (and I am) for her willingness to be my maid of honor at my wedding to him despite everything. My question is less "Why is she acting this way" and more "Given that she is acting this way, which would normally make me tell her to take a hike, but that I completely understand why she is acting this way, for reasons which would normally make me side with her against him, what do I do?"

(2) He is from a country that has for some time had federal recognition of same-sex partnerships where the current political argument about gay marriage being called marriage is a more semantic one (incorporating all the highly loaded issues of religion, and social capital, and so on, which people have rightfully brought up). Again, he's not some WBC crazy, but his position on the issue starts at a different point than ours does in the US. (Doesn't change the fact that I firmly believe the right answer is the same in both countries) Also tied up in this is the fact that the words "separate but equal" don't have the same chilling connotations to him as they do to Americans so it's not a trump card in the argument.

(3) The reason he and my friend have not spoken since is that he fully realizes the impact of what he said and how it played out on his relationship with her, and on my relationship with her, and his reaction has been to just not say anything until he thinks he can say something that will foster a more positive relationship rather than risk doing even more damage. He did apologize at the time "for offending her" (yes, I know) and told her he'd think more about the issue. Which he has been doing and which we've been discussing over time. On her side, she has expressed to me and him both that she has no interest in anything but a only-as-necessary relationship with him unless he changes his mind and expresses full support for her and for her marriage.

(4) And to make it clear, yesterday was the third time I have explicitly given her an opportunity to back out of the MoH thing, since I fully understand why she doesn't like him, and in all three cases she has responded that she was fully committed to supporting me -- emphasis on "me" -- and if I thought she should step down, the decision would have to be mine, and she would be extremely hurt if I decided that. I guess that's my biggest frustration, that I have ended up in a position where I have to choose and decide which disrespect I'm more willing to defend.

(5) We have discussed what marriage means for us for our wedding, our marriage, and how we envision our relationship and our roles. We are at a point on that where we are both comfortable. Thanks for the concern but I think it's not relevant here.

And just a side note, for the same reason she and I both believe in maintaining "Ms." status following marriage, we don't see "maid/matron" as a necessary or desirable change in wording based on a change in marital or sexual status. Please don't think I'm failing to recognize or embrace her married state, we just don't like the word "matron."
posted by cortex at 11:33 AM on May 11, 2012


And to make it clear, yesterday was the third time I have explicitly given her an opportunity to back out of the MoH thing, since I fully understand why she doesn't like him, and in all three cases she has responded that she was fully committed to supporting me -- emphasis on "me" -- and if I thought she should step down, the decision would have to be mine, and she would be extremely hurt if I decided that

I really think she's trying to provoke you into making that decision by her behavior. I think she intuitively understands that by getting married, you're making your relationship with your fiance and bigger priority than your friendship with her, and this is causing her a certain amount of distress, but not distress that she's willing to take responsibility for by stepping down. Instead, she wants to be the victim here by badgering you about your fiance until you finally break down, ask her not to be her MoH, and then she can say, "I got thrown out of the wedding because my former best friend sided with her homophobic fiance over me!"
posted by deanc at 11:46 AM on May 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh my. That sound extremely frustrating. And a little passive-aggressive on her part. She'll only step down if you make her? Then she'll hold it against you?

It may be useful to have a slightly harsh, but honest conversation with her. Supporting *you* means not making you feel like crap. It means not making you feel like you have to justify your relationship. It means not making you choose between your best friend and your fiancee. So tell her that. Tell her she's being mean, and you understand her feelings, but that she needs to understand yours too.

Your fiancee sounds like he is trying hard. People don't just change their core beliefs easily. It's good that he's trying and that the two of you are having open conversations about this. Insisting that she will only have a relationship if he *expresses full support for her and for her marriage* and otherwise he can rot in a gutter, is.. well. I'm not sure what the right term would be. Not helpful?

I hope this helps. Best of luck with everything.
posted by valoius at 11:55 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know this isn't what you want to hear, but in this convoluted situation with so many ALREADY-hurt feelings a year out, I think you have two choices if you truly want a drama free wedding. You can:

A) Explain to your MOH that the tension is souring the wedding, and you would love to have her a your side as an honored guest at the wedding, but the MOH thing isn't working. You can then pick a new MOH or not have a formal wedding party at all. (My husband and I did this--I HIGHLY recommend it.)

B) Elope and then have a party. Because this is unfortunately already a dramatic situation.

What is happening now clearly isn't working, it's making everyone feel bad, and frankly I can understand both her reservations about participating and your reservations about her involvement while upset. Just let this one go and move on. Trying to force the issue will not help.
posted by anonnymoose at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


P.S. your fiancé should apologize for real, and soon. No "waiting for the right opportunity". His rationalizations do not change the fact that he behaved hurtfully to your best friend, regardless of his own background. We call knowing how to be sensitive in spheres outside your own experience "empathy". A husband should have empathy. He needs to step up.
posted by anonnymoose at 12:01 PM on May 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


First, you need to abandon the question of whether or not she wants to back out. She knows why you're asking, but her being your maid of honor is a separate issue in her head from whether or not she likes your fiance. So there's no clash there, from where she sits.

If you don't see it that way - if, in your estimation, part of being maid of honor is that you get to tell her all about your great fiance and how excited you are to marry him and she agrees and is excited too - then she needs to have that expectation communicated to her, and you can go from there. But if you don't see that as a necessity, then you have to stop bringing up the subject of her stepping down. Continuing to do so would start to feel like you actually want her to step down and you're too conflict-avoidant to just say so. This would send to her the message that you're punishing her for basically making waves when the fault is not hers.

I guess that's my biggest frustration, that I have ended up in a position where I have to choose and decide which disrespect I'm more willing to defend.

Well, if you defend hers, it'd be because someone said something homophobic to her and she's very upset by it. If you defend his, it'd be because he's your fiance so you have to stand by him even when he's wrong. I don't really see a dilemma here. You're his partner, not his puppet. You think he's wrong, you know why he's wrong. The fact that he's your fiance means you need to be understanding and communicative when he's wrong, not that you need to defend him when he's an idiot about something.

Look - again, the offense is your fiance's. Right now you're worrying about how she's handling it. Stop that. Work towards a solution instead. Which means overcoming this:

my coping mechanism for situations in like this is to look past any issues for the time being, keep my mouth shut, and pretend nothing is wrong

Because if you leave this alone then no one's getting what they want, and it's only gonna get worse.

So check it out -

On her side, she has expressed to me and him both that she has no interest in anything but a only-as-necessary relationship with him unless he changes his mind and expresses full support for her and for her marriage.

Hooray! Easy answer. Your fiance needs to give her the apology she wants. Doesn't matter if he means it, he just needs to sound convincing. If he honestly thinks the difference is semantic then it's not like he's compromising some great principle. Dude needs to suck it up and do this for the sake of your happiness. This means you have to ask him to do it, and impress upon him how important this is to you. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:08 PM on May 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


The reason he and my friend have not spoken since is that he fully realizes the impact of what he said and how it played out on his relationship with her, and on my relationship with her, and his reaction has been to just not say anything until he thinks he can say something that will foster a more positive relationship rather than risk doing even more damage. He did apologize at the time "for offending her" (yes, I know) and told her he'd think more about the issue. Which he has been doing and which we've been discussing over time. On her side, she has expressed to me and him both that she has no interest in anything but a only-as-necessary relationship with him unless he changes his mind and expresses full support for her and for her marriage.

You know what? He can think whatever he wants, but if he is a person who supports gay rights, which it appears that he is, I think you would be well within your rights to say "look. I know you feel strongly about this, but your insistence on harping over word choice is causing actual damage to my life. Given that this very obviously means a lot more to my friend than it does to you, can you just LIE and say you've changed your mind and are so sorry and will recognize their marriage from now on?" Frankly I think he's being stubborn just for the sake of being stubborn.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:21 PM on May 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Despite your caveats, you have a whole year for things to simmer down. Agree to table it for the summer and then reconvene when cooler heads may prevail. Dress or no dress.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:41 PM on May 11, 2012


After your clarifications, I think you need to back up your friend. Tell your fiance to apologize to her, in earnest, and get on with your wedding, if that's what you want.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:58 PM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with a lot of posters above, but will add things I think may not have been considered.

1) One of the problems with being a minority-be it LGBT, race-based, religious, etc, is that you are less privileged than others. One of the ways that often plays out is "when X minority comes in conflict with Y majority, X will be asked to yield to Y."
This is one of the things going on with why the friend is staying on as MOH. She is being asked to yield to him, and it's got a lot of context. If she voluntarily gives up the MOH position, then she is yielding to what she perceives to be bigotry. Many, many people have resolved never to give on that fight. If she's married, she may be one of them.

2) Knowing which way you jump on this is likely important to your friendship. I think the other reason she's not withdrawing, as you obviously hope she would, is because she wants to see if you will really kick her out of your wedding because she can't say nice things about a bigot who has hurt her feelings. She is being really clear that she will be extremely hurt if that happens because she wants you to know the consequences of your choice.

3) You don't mention why it is so important to you that she really like or pretend to like your fiance. Do you think that "I think he's a bigot, but I'm glad he's making you happy" would be an acceptable response for her? What if she responded to your gushing with "I'm glad you're so happy." Which is something she can in fact feel?
posted by corb at 1:50 PM on May 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


I guess I would defend the person whose disrespect I felt was more understandable. In this case, it would be your MOH, because your FI was the offending party, and she is only reacting to what was done to her. (Nevertheless, I would still probably ask her to try not to snip about FI around you.) Your FI chose to do something offensive, and you chose to stay with him, so now you have to deal with the consequences of that, socially. I think your relationship with your best friend is probably worth more to you than the principle of supporting your FI when you don't even agree with him, but I could be wrong. I also find it a little chilling that he is willing to maintain this position when he can see how much it is hurting your friend, and how much it is hurting your relationship with her, your best friend of many, many years, and that he is willing to be the wedge that drives you two apart, but that's your business.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 1:51 PM on May 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I also find it a little chilling that he is willing to maintain this position when he can see how much it is hurting your friend, and how much it is hurting your relationship with her, your best friend of many, many years, and that he is willing to be the wedge that drives you two apart, but that's your business.

If I got into a row with a Bush voter over a political difference or got into a dispute about the ethics of diet with a strict vegan, I might let that disagreement play out, and then I'd drop it rather than holding some kind of long term grudge over the issue where I wouldn't be able to keep quiet about how much I couldn't stand the other person because we were on opposite-but-not-actually-diametrically-opposed sides of an issue. And I might accept that I'm never going to be best friends with the person. The fact that months and months later the MoH continues to make unprompted snide jabs at the fiance whom she hasn't even seen in several months isn't normal. The normal behavior is to engage in a sort of "well, I have my beliefs, and you have yours" sort of detente that people manage to maintain with their cranky right wing uncles.

If it will help, the fiance should apologize for saying what he said, but the truth is that it is simply not expected that such a disagreement, well within the bounds of expected popular opinion in our society, would result in a months-long grudge that the MoH simply cannot stop talking about.

Right now, the MoH really doesn't like the fiance and doesn't want to be in the wedding, but she knows that she will look like the bad guy if she says, "I refused to be the MoH because the groom told me he supports civil unions but not full marriage equality." The MoH might be able to handle this better with the passage of time and an apology from the fiance, but it's in no way "chilling" that he's "willing to maintain" a personal opinion.
posted by deanc at 2:59 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Right now, the MoH really doesn't like the fiance and doesn't want to be in the wedding, but she knows that she will look like the bad guy if she says, "I refused to be the MoH because the groom told me he supports civil unions but not full marriage equality."

Around my neck of the woods it would be perfectly acceptable. She would not be the bad guy unless she made a big stink of it. Then she'd be a bad guy because of the stink, not her reasons.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:05 PM on May 11, 2012


My wife's high school friends were all a lot more liberal than I am. They all grew up in Portland and I grew up in Kansas. So I'm coming from the perspective of the fiancee', here...

If I was the fiancee and I heard about this, I'd say "Forget it. She's causing too much drama. Let's just skip the whole wedding party bit." Because honestly, mature adults can agree to disagree on subjects - even subjects that make them have hurt feelings - if they choose to.

Our MoH definitely held different ideas about morals and relationships than I do/did, but I didn't mind her being in the wedding and she didn't seem to mind that I was the groom. We accepted the fact that we are different and she supported my wife by being there on our wedding day. In turn, I was an usher at *her* wedding a few years later.

I think when people get so upset because someone holds a contrary opinion, they make their own lives worse due to anger, hatred, and bile. This guy is obviously a good enough person to marry. Any differences of opinion are just that - opinion.
posted by tacodave at 3:37 PM on May 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Any differences of opinion are just that - opinion.

Things having to do with race or other human rights are a little more charged than that, imo.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:45 PM on May 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think that you should make the decision for her (as the update alludes to) and ask her to step down as MoH. Not because she's wrong, but because your friendship is going to be damaged and/or destroyed by the time your wedding rolls around anyway.

It sounds as if she's feeling extremely conflicted, as situations like this are wont to do for marginalized folk. Some people take who you marry as a reflection of who you are, especially in contexts like this. If you're marrying someone who is uncomfortable acknowledging non-hetero marriage, well...what happens a year or two down the road, when he (inevitably) insults your friend, and she feels like she can't turn to you for support? What could couples meet-ups look like? I'm not going to tell you to DTMFA, but do recognize that there are a host of unspoken "choices" and statements being made; your friend is picking up on them, and is indirectly asking for a guilt-free release from a situation that could highlight or enhance her marginalization. Accept the potential loss of friendship as a consequence of this particular marriage, and let her go amicably.
posted by Ashen at 3:52 PM on May 11, 2012


Because honestly, mature adults can agree to disagree on subjects - even subjects that make them have hurt feelings - if they choose to.

I think the point is that the fiance holds the same dismissive attitude that you do -- the MoH's marriage has been dismissed, and the guy (and the bride and you) think she should just get over her "hurt feelings". When you are the person or group on the receiving end of that level of discrimination -- your marriage isn't legit (and it follows: happiness? soul mate? co-parent? love?) -- it's waay tone deaf to have it reduced to "hurt feelings" like it's just some bullshit political disagreement.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:53 PM on May 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Crikey, some of the scorched earth tactics people are recommending, makes me wonder how much time they actually spend around people they disagree with. It's a sad life if you don't give people the opportunity to change and live up to expectation, and it's an important skill to be able to engage with those you disagree with.

she has responded that she was fully committed to supporting me -- emphasis on "me"

I think it might me useful to explain to your friend, that "supporting me" = "supporting my and my partner" - I mean, that's what a marriage is all about. I appreciate how hurtful and distressing your fiance's attitude is to her, by all means, but she is essentially asking you to choose between your fiance and your friend - that's a shitty thing for a friend to do, and a healthy partnership will always support each other first*: again, that's what marriage is about (*supporting each other doesn't mean supporting each other's opinions).

The other thing you might say, is that "Friend, supporting me = supporting my choice of partner and the celebration I'm having on account of it. I understand my fiance's opinion hurt you; what can I say? He's genuinely working on it. I want a friend in the lead up to this event and on the day that makes me feel supported; wants to celebrate this event with me; appreciates my partner because of the positive impact my partner has on my life; and is able appreciate them on that level. I don't want someone who is making me feel judged; makes me feel like my marriage is a mistake; or thinks my partner is a bad person or bad for me. I love him, and I'm having a ceremony to celebrate that.

"If you can't do those things in light of his comments, I totally understand and respect that, and release you from any obligation, no hard feelings. But I need that support, now, leading up to the big day, and during the event itself. Do you think you can do that, or convincingly fake it such that I would never know? I know it's a big ask, but if you want to support me, that's the kind of support I need. Fiance is making an effort to rethink his attitudes. He comes from a different environment to us, and has a different context about this. I think your presence in my life will hasten a change in his attitude. It's not your responsibility to provide it, but you're such a big part of my life, and your relationship with your partner is so great, you're the best example of gay marriage that I know. Have a think about things; I don't want you to feel that you're sacrificing your principles around this, but I need to know my maid of honour is happy and excited about this event, as I am."
posted by smoke at 4:10 PM on May 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


My question is less "Why is she acting this way" and more "Given that she is acting this way, which would normally make me tell her to take a hike, but that I completely understand why she is acting this way, for reasons which would normally make me side with her against him, what do I do?"

Side with her against him. You understand why she is acting this way, and those are reasons that would make you side with her against him. What is the reason not to -- on this issue -- be like "yeah, I still can't believe he hasn't changed his mind yet. How can I make it easier for you to support me given how understandably angry you are at him? I'm so glad you're still willing to be part of the wedding."

When she vents ("he probably believes X too"), why not say "oh god, I hope he doesn't have any other opinions as ridiculous as his opinion on gay marriage" and then change the subject?

You might even try not to gush about him to her. Do you -- as her dear friend -- really want to repeatedly expose her to someone who has said her marriage isn't a real marriage? That's deeply hurtful.

I'm sorry that there is tension here. But to be clear, he has caused the tension. This idea that members of oppressed minorities need to not show how that makes them feel to be acceptable to members of the dominant majority is part of how prejudice is maintained. Why -- of the three of you -- would you ask her to be the one to reduce the tension caused by what he said? Her feelings have as much reality as his opinion. This has a much deeper impact on her than on you or him, to whom the question is theoretical.

A friend like this is worth a lot. Don't lose her by asking her to cheerfully tolerate his bigoted opinion of her.

Nine paragraphs deleted.
posted by salvia at 6:35 PM on May 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


First off, this isn't drama, this is conflict. This isn't "you didn't get me the fluffiest, sparkliest unnecessary trinket!!!!" - this is "someone insulted me and I expect you to do something about it".

By asking your MoH to ignore your fiancé's hurtful comments (either directly or by not talking your fiancé into apologizing properly the very day this happened), you're disrespecting her immensely. By not taking action, you're telling her that you think his disrespect of her marriage is OK. It does not matter if this is not what you actually think - this is what you are telling her.

She feels this but still loves you and is hoping that you'll realize how disrespected she feels about this situation and side with her (and her entire community) against a bigot (regardless of him being your fiancé). She is vocalizing her discomfort repeatedly because you are her best friend and she expects her best friend to stand up for her. And it doesn't matter that he's "not WBC", he's still a bigot and casual heterosexism like his is the main reason so many of us still suffer in North America. (I can't even go more into this because this line of argument just makes me so angry.)

It's time for you to make a decision. I can't tell you what to do because ultimately you'll have to decide which is more important to you: your fiancé's right to make bigoted comments to your best friend or your best friend's right to be offended by these comments and expect you to stand up for her. Your decision is going to have an impact on your friendship with both people - that's what decisions do.

Honestly, the only reason she hasn't ditched your wedding entirely has to be that she loves you a hell of a lot. I certainly wouldn't put up with this shit, no matter how long I knew the person.
posted by buteo at 8:12 PM on May 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


By not taking action, you're telling her that you think his disrespect of her marriage is OK.

Yes, this.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:01 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


She feels this but still loves you and is hoping that you'll realize how disrespected she feels about this situation and side with her (and her entire community) against a bigot (regardless of him being your fiancé).

Honestly, I don't think we should be throwing around accusations of being a bigot, here. A little more than 10 years ago, advocating civil unions put you on the bleeding edge of support for gay rights, to the point where the governor of Vermont had to wear a bullet proof vest in public to protect himself after signing civil union legislation. Casually calling someone a bigot for a belief that not too long ago was considered extremely progressive doesn't really help anyone here.

I think the MoH easily conflates the fiance's support for civil unions with the fact that being against gay marriage is associated with a whole host of other extremist partisan beliefs of the Republican party, such as global warming denialism, support for torture, and race-baiting. In the context of the fact that the fiance actually comes from a foreign country, it's pretty unfair to associate him with a whole host of beliefs that have nothing to do with him.
posted by deanc at 9:49 PM on May 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


You might even try not to gush about him to her.

While my sympathies lie with the MoH here (in the sense that she has every right to be offended by the fiancee's insensitive comments/beliefs), statements like the above (and I don't mean to pick on this one specifically since there have been similar comments made by others in this thread) only serve to reinforce my belief that the (justifiable) distaste many responders to this question obviously have towards the fiancee are clouding their ability to answer this question in good faith.

If a MoH finds the bride's fiancee to be such an objectionable human being that simply having him mentioned in conversation is enough to offend her, the fact is, she should not be the MoH in their wedding, regardless of whether or not she holds the morally correct position.
posted by The Gooch at 10:05 PM on May 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It seems to me that the maid-of-honor-or-not issue isn't actually the problem here. Let's say she is no longer your maid of honor (either because you ask her to step down or because she decides to step down, doesn't matter), but you two continue your friendship. The removal of the maid of honor role won't stop her potshots at your boyfriend or her unwillingness to listen to you talk about him in favorable terms. Presumably you would like to be able to talk about your boyfriend with your best friend regardless of whether she's your maid of honor.

Same goes for after the wedding - these issues won't magically go away once you're married. You're still going to want to talk to your best friend about your husband (and hang out with the two of them at once, etc), and you won't be able to. *That's* your problem. I think I would try to figure out how best to address that problem, ignoring the wedding aspect for the moment. Pretend there's no wedding being planned - how would you handle this problem?
posted by whitelily at 10:05 PM on May 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


You might even try not to gush about him to her.

statements like the above... reinforce my belief that the (justifiable) distaste many responders to this question obviously have towards the fiancee are clouding their ability to answer this question in good faith


Thanks for noting you didn't mean to single me out, The Gooch. In my case, I actually don't feel distaste for the guy, but I do feel for the MoH as someone trying to avoid losing a friend while trying to minimize her exposure to the friend's partner. The bias I have is thinking that the friendship is really important and that I can feel what a difficult spot the friend is in. She's been nicely articulate about her desire to support the friend, but also honest about her inability to support the fiance.

So, I made this recommendation because I would encourage the bride to do her best to help the MoH walk that tightrope and respect the MoH's stated desire for an "only-as-necessary relationship with him." If that's a boundary she wants to have, it'd be really nice if the bride could potentially meet her halfway and help her stay in the safe zone. To save such a major friendship, it seems worth it to me. I agree with whitelily that this is more of a lifelong question than a "what to do about this one ceremony?" question. And presumably she has many others she can gush to.
posted by salvia at 11:04 PM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, here's a novel idea: have you discussed this with your mother?

You are planning your wedding with your mom and MoH. Your mom barely gets a mention yet she must surely have an eagle-eye view on the situation.
Have you confided in her? Did she even notice MoH's snide remarks? What does she think? Given that she must know MoH probably as long as you have, does she think MoH is acting up or is this typical behaviour to be expected from this girl? She might tell you that, for instance,*you* are the person being way too over-sensitive by trying to please everyone at your wedding. Alternatively, she might be relieved that you spoke to her first, and she might take the initiative to speak to your best friend privately about her option of stepping down from the MoH role; timing the talk after you have moved to your new location so that you won't be involved.
Then again, she might encourage you to orchestrate your husband's-to-be apology. However, she does know you two, or you three, from the outsider-looking-in perspective since hopefully many years. She surely has the counsel of her own years, and that of her fellow friends to reply on how to best diffuse the situation. Talk to her about this, and rely on her judgement.

(p.s. Happy Mother's Day!)
posted by ruelle at 1:59 AM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


People often urge brides/bridal couples to make more selfish choices on "their day," so that it will somehow be perfect and idyllic... and I just don't think that this is always the best course, or even realistic. First of all, this isn't "your day" – you have all the days! This is one of them: a big day, a memorable day, and hopefully a lovely one, but trying to force it into being fairytale perfect and idyllic isn't likely to work anyway (have you seen how many wedding angst Ask Metafilter questions we have?)... so I would urge taking a more expansive view in your fairly unusual situation.

What scenario is more likely to help bring rapprochement between these two people you love at some point in the future – which may be long after your wedding day? More likely to turn out better if you ask your BF to just be a guest instead of MoH, or more likely to turn out better if you accept her position of being your MoH to support you even if she doesn't approve of your fiancé's views.

What scenario is more likely to cause you to feel resentment toward your husband-to-be at some point in the future? If you remained best friends with your Maid of Honor because you were willing to accept her participation in the wedding despite her dislike of the groom's views? Or if you lost your best friend over "defending" your husband by asking her to drop out of the wedding, even though you agree with her fundamental viewpoint?

What scenario is likely to cause more drama and unease surrounding the wedding? If your best friend is not your MoH, and possibly not even present at the wedding, or even any longer your best friend? Or if your best friend is your maid of honor despite having serious disagreements with your fiancé?

Who will be hurt the most? Will your fiancé be hurt the most if your best friend is maid of honor? Or will your best friend be hurt the most if you ask her not to be your maid of honor?

How do you want to remember the day? Will it be a better memory if your best friend is not there, or if your best friend is there, even though she has negative feelings about your fiancé? If asking her to drop out breaks up the friendship, is that an okay sacrifice to be tied to the wedding?

What is the significance of the wedding? Is it to be with friends and family to formally declare your love and intention to be joined together? Is it circling the wagons and declaring that it's you two against the world? Is it a production performance or a celebration? Is it inclusive or exclusive? Under what formulation of what a wedding is to you, does your friend not fit into the picture, and how possible might it be to change your concept of that meaning so that this is not the case? The wedding is not the marriage, after all: it is an outfacing social event, not a private moment between only the two of you. If any social element of the party is discordant or imperfect, it does not doom the marriage.

Finally (or really, I guess, first), I'd ask myself if I was really in the position of choosing my best friend over my husband-to-be (or vice versa), or if that was a false dichotomy that I could completely reject because I could in fact choose both and remain true to my love and complete support for each of them, especially because each of them in their own ways are allowing me to do that by not issuing ultimatums or insisting that I reject or turn my back on the other. I'd say that's it's a great opportunity to accept that gift from both of them graciously, and have your wedding with all those you love beside you.
posted by taz at 3:23 AM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


taz: I'd ask myself if I was really in the position of choosing my best friend over my husband-to-be (or vice versa), or if that was a false dichotomy that I could completely reject because I could in fact choose both and remain true to my love and complete support for each of them, especially because each of them in their own ways are allowing me to do that by not issuing ultimatums

From the OP's update above:


she (the MoH) has responded that she was fully committed to supporting me -- emphasis on "me" -- and if I thought she should step down, the decision would have to be mine, and she would be extremely hurt if I decided that.

The friend is essentially holding the Maid of Honor position hostage - she's made it clear that her holding the position comes with terms and conditions that are negative for the OP and will lessen her enjoyment of the wedding planning process (namely, the OP cannot even MENTION the other person involved in the wedding without causing great upset to the MoH), but simultaneously will not voluntarily step down from the position and has made it clear that she would be hurt if she was asked to do so by the OP (leaving the OP in a damned in I do, damned if I don't scenario).
posted by The Gooch at 8:46 AM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to add my opinion that I don't think you should make your fiancé lie. I think it sets a bad precedent and I don't think he'll want to do it, either, because I'm assuming he has some deeply held reason (however wrong it may be) for feeling that way.

I also think it may be a challenge to get him to apologize in a way that will seem sincere, given what you've told us about the "I'm sorry I offended her" comments. Your best option, if possible, would be to get him to say something directly to your friend that, although perhaps not an apology, would get him back on her good side.

He could say something to her like "hey, I know that my opinion on gay marriage has really hurt your feelings and I feel terrible that it's causing a rift between you and my fiancee. I just want you to know that I think you and your wife are a great couple, and I support 100% your right to be in a committed relationship and to have all the rights that my fiancee and I do. I'm still struggling with the details of how that should be referred to, mainly based on the teachings of my religion and my upbringing. In the future my views may very well change on this, and if you'd like to give me some books to read so I can think about this further, I'll keep an open mind."

Now, you may not be able to get him to say something like the above either. In that case, I would talk to your friend myself, and tell her that you love her and she is your best friend, that you are sorry for your fiancé's behavior and that you suspect he is someday going to change his mind about the marriage issue, and that you're going to keep trying to help him see things from another perspective. And then, I would force her hand on the issue. Phrasing is key. You cannot ask her if she feels that she can support you etc etc. She is clearly paying attention to how you say this and refuses to give the 'wrong' answer because she does not want to say or imply that she doesn't support you. So you have to ask her point blank if she can support your marriage to him. "I know you fully support me and that you want to do this for me. But in order to fill this role, you've got to fully support my marriage to him. If you can honestly tell me that you support our marriage and my relationship with him fully, despite the fact that he does not fully support the concept of gay marriage, then I would be happy to keep you as MOH. If not, we can just have you come as an honored guest and we'll still have a great time." If she tries to get around answering this directly, you'd have to press her on the question "yes, but do you fully support me marrying this man?"

I dunno, that's the best I've got on both counts. I do agree that it would suck to have to do this to her. You're in a bad position so I don't think there's any way to play this that's going to end up hunky dory, unless he has an epiphany.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:52 PM on May 12, 2012


It's never a super-satisfying answer, but I would see if I could let it slide. I know that there is a lot of emotion for everyone involved. However, I think that the fact that both of these people love you and you love them might let it slip by. Don't force a confrontation where you can't see a really satisfactory answer.

If the two of them can manage to not talk about this and not re-open old wounds, time will help mellow things.

(On a side not - and I say this not to be judgmental, but maybe to re-frame a little - I think the real problem is not that she and your fiance hold different opinions, but that, because they have such different stakes in the game, he should have hidden his. While he has an opinion about same sex marriage, she actually has a same sex marriage.

In a much smaller example, I think it's weird, wasteful, and a little selfish when people own gigantic trucks in the city and suburbs, without some practical reason to have an H2, or a Expedition, or whatever. However, if my best friend's fiance owned one of those, I'd just keep my mouth shut.)
posted by mercredi at 12:49 PM on May 13, 2012


He's being shitty, she's supporting you, and attempting to avoid all talk of your fiance.
Personally, I see that as fair.
She is not under a moral obligation to like or sublimate her valid feelings towards him, she's still happy for you. I've done and seen the same approach with friends who were in abusive relationships, or who had partners who had done unacceptable things. I think you'd feel horrible cutting off a friend when you know she has a valid point.

I'd suggest talking with her about this, and coming up with a code word. She wants to support you, she doesn't want to talk about your fiance, if you bring up something she feels uncomfortable about, she says 'Sparkles', you rephrase into something you can both be excited about. If she says something catty about your fiance, 'Sparkles' (or some other word), and she apologises and there's a conversation switch.

You cannot expect her to pretend or forgive something that you know she shouldn't have to forgive or forget for. A friend in an abusive relationship made us do that several times with their partner, and it really just fed into the dysfunction. I know it's not that situation, but it is that dynamic.


Still, I'm not, and wouldn't be marrying him, so maybe I'm not the best person to ask. I would get a civil union with him though - so if he's consistent with his views, no problem!
posted by Elysum at 4:55 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Seriously, this is not the place to rehash gay marriage arguments, full stop. Answer the question please. ]
posted by jessamyn at 10:01 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


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