How do I get over wedding resentment and be civil?
January 9, 2012 2:51 PM   Subscribe

What are some coping mechanisms for going to a rehearsal dinner and wedding of someone who actively dislikes me but is related to my fiance?

My fiance's cousin is getting married next month. He has, for reasons unexplained, disliked me from the very start and has been rude to my face on the three occasions I've been around him. My fiance acknowledges this and says that that's just the way he is.

Full disclosure: I don't like him much either, though I at least started out wanting to like him since my fiance thinks of him as a brother. His idea of a good time is to get hammered and go out to dance clubs and walk around wasted late at night, which are activities that my fiance gets corralled into whenever they spend time together but otherwise finds distasteful. (It's not unlike the jumping off the bridge thing.) Beyond that, when my fiance spends any time with him, cousin's bad attitude towards women generally and towards me specifically rubs off and my fiance get a bit rude with me for a few days until the influence wears off. Fiance knows that cousin doesn't like me, doesn't know why, doesn't really care, and loves me anyway. Fortunately, cousin lives far away and meetings are rare.

We got engaged last summer after being together about four years, and set a wedding date for this fall. Cousin gets engaged to his girlfriend of a year a month later and sets the wedding date for the upcoming winter (e.g. next month) a full eight months before ours. It was incredibly hard not to take that personally because it felt like he was trying to basically supplant our wedding with his own, and it always seems like cousin is trying to make everything into a competition with my fiance and my fiance isn't noticing. I've worked hard to try and frame it to myself that my fiance's family is unlikely to be able to afford both weddings so I get the best of both worlds this year by getting to meet them all at cousin's wedding but not have to feed them at ours. But it still doesn't feel right and I'm still sad.

As if that weren't enough, cousin declared that he was giving my fiance the "gift" of a new fancy tuxedo, which he is to wear to cousin's wedding, and then can wear to ours. I cannot even express how angry this still makes me, weeks later, teeth clenched. Cousin declares a "wedding gift" to "us" of my fiance's tuxedo, without even consulting me or taking into consideration what our wedding is to look like or feel like, because it fits the theme of his wedding. It feels like cousin is giving a gift to himself! Like my fiance must wear a fancy new tuxedo to cousin's wedding because only the best will do, but shoot, just wear what you have to your own wedding. Aaargh! It's especially offensive because most menswear places you rent from for weddings and the like will comp the groom's tux or suit when you rent a few for the groom's party, which means that he's been "given" a "gift" of something we didn't need, and would have been free otherwise, when my mother is essentially paying for the entire wedding. I've tried to explain this point of view to my fiance but he sees this as a tremendous generosity from his cousin and doesn't seem to see anything wrong with wearing the tux for our wedding once he's already worn it for another. The tux is measured and purchased, by the way, so no declining this gift. Expensive tuxedo ahoy.

Needless to say with all that backstory, I wish I weren't obligated to attend cousin's wedding. He seems to show nothing but contempt for me, nothing but one-upmanship towards my fiance, and utter disregard for our own wedding later this year. And yet, I've shelled out over $400 for plane tickets, hotels, dress, etc., for his wedding. It's leaving me feeling intensely resentful and angry.

I've been trying to settle on a few for-sure behaviors that I'll need to exhibit at these events. For example, since I'm the next wedding, and family might want to ask me about it, I need to deflect deflect deflect and put as much emphasis on the current wedding we are attending and the bride and get the attention off of me. Additionally, I need to focus on smiling and staying in the background so as not to take away from the experience of the current bride and groom. (This may not be so easy since my fiance is in the wedding party.) I expect my MO to be as close to "chameleon" as I can possibly get it.

I guess I'm looking for some coping mechanisms for the attendance at these events, as well as maybe some "bright spots" that I have failed to identify due to my anger and sadness. Mantras? Anecdotes that will tell me that everything will be okay? Telling myself that his wedding is six times our budget and thus will be six times as tacky isn't working; I don't seem to really be able to get behind mean-spirited snark that gets a lot of people through uncomfortable situations. I'll take anything, I guess.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This all sounds awful. Here's something akin to gritting your teeth that you can do/focus on when things get rough, is invisible to others and can help ground you: tap or flex your toes rhythmically inside your shoes. It's gotten me through many confrontations with everyone from social snipers to opposing counsel.
posted by carmicha at 2:58 PM on January 9, 2012


I think maybe you are reading too much into it. The cousin sounds like a gregarious guy who doesn't expect anything from you. He planned a wedding quickly and gave your fiance a suit. He can either wear it or not to your wedding, I don't even see how those things are related. It saves your fiance money. And maybe all the relatives will go to both weddings, or like you said, it may actually completely work out in your favor (if you are not that close) if they don't.

It sounds like he really likes your fiance but doesn't have too much to do with you. That's ok, right? Nothing sounds malicious, evil or particularly unpleasant. You can talk about your own upcoming wedding or not, it's ok either way. (He doesn't seem like an easily offendable guy, reading into things a lot- obviously I don't know any of you!).

Your wedding will be smaller and more intimate, that sounds nice. Please just enjoy both!
posted by bquarters at 2:59 PM on January 9, 2012 [21 favorites]


Kill him with kindness. That quickly makes his behavior seem unreasonable, and you'll just feel sorry for him.
posted by anniecat at 3:07 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The guy sounds like a big, jerk, yes, but you also come off not so well in this question.

Your fiance parties with him on the rare occasions that he sees him. This is not a big deal.

He plans a wedding 8 months before yours and this is somehow a dig on you? I mean, if your wedding was a Saturday and he planned his for a Friday then sure, but these weddings are almost a year apart? Getting married first seems to equal winning to you, but it doesn't to most people.

He gives your fiance a gift you don't really want, and somehow this is terrible? Why in the world would it matter if the tux for your wedding had already been worn to another event? Unless it gets ruined or something. And if it's not right for your wedding, you already said your fiance could get another tux or suit for free, so who cares? If this one's not the right one, get the right one at the wedding.

If people ask about your wedding, talk about it. If you want to meet family, meet them. If you want people to come to your wedding, invite them. It sounds like there will be many, many people at this wedding. Talk to them instead of the one person you don't like.

Also, though, the stuff about your fiance treating you badly after being with him? He needs to cut out that shit right now. Does he know he does this? That is completely unforgivable.

I got married recently, and I'm just sick of people getting married who think there's something unique about them because they chose to have a wedding, or who are willing to take on stress to get married. If it's not fun, you're doing it wrong.
posted by brainmouse at 3:07 PM on January 9, 2012 [84 favorites]


If you don't want to go, don't go. If your fiance doesn't want to wear the tux from his cousin's wedding to your wedding, he doesn't have to. If you don't want to spend time with this person ever again, you don't have to. And if you don't like the way your fiance behaves or treats you, don't blame his cousin, talk with the man you are marrying and tell him to cut it out.

I get that the cousin has been rude to you (and I'm taking your word for it that he actually is a jerk). But all of the specific examples you've brought up here are things you or your fiance have chosen to do, or that have nothing whatsoever to do with you, and that you're blaming on him. It's easy to do that when you don't like someone, because everything they do grates on you. But the cousin doesn't make your fiance rude to you, your fiance chooses to be that way. The cousin isn't having his wedding now to mess up your wedding or beat you at the wedding race, he's doing it because he and his fiancee decided to. And he certainly didn't buy your fiance a tuxedo to make you mad and downplay the importance of your wedding, he did it to save his cousin some money on an otherwise expensive monkey suit.

Weddings make emotions run high, especially when you already have strong feelings about someone. But you are taking things personally when there is absolutely no evidence that any of this has anything to do with you. Make the choices you want to make, the choices you can live with. But don't blame the cousin if you don't like the results of the choices you and your fiance are making.
posted by decathecting at 3:10 PM on January 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


First, he does sound a bit of an ass, but the "wearing off" on your fiance and his subsequent bad treatment of you is ALL ON YOUR FIANCE.

Second, get over the wedding date. You have no idea what prompted the date. Maybe his fiance's mom has six months to live. In any event, being engaged does not mean that weddings and life in general stop until you have "your special day."

Also, unless the dinner jacket is royal blue or godawful, it is a: a generous gift b: has nothing to do with what your fiance wears to your own wedding and c: a nice way to think that maybe the two of you may enjoy elegant, formal dress events in the future. Which is not just about one (or two) wedding days.

Focus on being your best self, and let this go.
posted by cyndigo at 3:13 PM on January 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


You are trying too hard to be nice. Your mantra should be to be yourself and act politely while keeping your distance. To rude remarks, answer "Why in the world would you say that?" and walk away. Smile, be friendly to people who are friendly to you, keep away from people who are not.

Your fiancee should pay for all your expenses except clothes, especially the plane ticket and lodging. Regarding the tuxedo, there is no reason in the world why it has to be worn at your wedding: you and your fiancee should together pick what looks right. I would not worry overmuch about being upstaged, there is enough time in between that your wedding will be a special event.
posted by francesca too at 3:16 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're ascribing way more motivation and introspection to these events than seems at all likely. Mostly, I'd wager, they're thoughtless, in the sense that literally, no thought was given to the consequences or analysis you present here.

You have to treat aggravation like this as if it were bad weather, or flight delays, or some inconvenient city-wide event the day of your wedding.

They may be an impediment to this wedding going exactly the way you pictured, but you (and everyone invited) will be happier if you just let it go without anger and enjoy it.

I don't mean this to be harsh, just that there's very likely no malice here, and that anger and frustration is corrosive to you. The key to getting through the wedding will be to arrive as not-angry as possible.
posted by mercredi at 3:16 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yep, I'm with bquarters and brainmouse on working to reframe the entire narrative by removing all your assumptions about his motives, and looking merely at the material facts of the situation, then making your choices accordingly.

For example, I would bet cash that the earlier wedding date had nothing to do with him wanting to upstage your wedding; not to go all MEN ARE LIKE THIS AMIRITE, but I am hard-pressed to think of even one man I've ever known in my entire life who would plot their wedding date in order to upstage anyone else. He may have not even picked the wedding date. It's 99.9% certain that it's not about you -- and even if it is, it's an 8-month differential. Your families will cope.

As for the tux: as others have said, your fiance can wear it or not. If that's the only gift you receive from the cousin, well, so be it. You're not marrying your fiance just for the gifts, right? So shrug it off.

It's clear that there's not a lot of love lost between you and this guy, but that doesn't mean he's trying maliciously to villainize you. Concentrate on reacting calmly only to the facts in evidence, as it were, and not on presumed motives that, honestly, you don't really know.
posted by scody at 3:17 PM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd suggest that the important problem to solve isn't the one with this cousin, it's the one with your fiancé.

Ok, this cousin likes to go clubbing and get wasted, and he's kind of a jerk, and he can be overbearing when it comes to making plans for other people. That's not actively a problem for you until your fiancé goes along with him.

Your fiancé chooses to go clubbing with him. Your fiancé chooses to address the cousin's hostility toward you with, "yeah, he hates you..." rather than approaching him and saying, "you need to treat the woman I love with respect." And he chooses to treat you poorly after spending time with his cousin.

The best way to cope with this kind of family/in-law situation is to team up with your partner and have him go to bat for you with his family (and under other circumstances, you do the same for him)--but first you have to have a willing teammate.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:20 PM on January 9, 2012 [31 favorites]


I'm with those who don't see where the competition is... if I were your fiance's cousin's fiancee and your fiance's cousin told me "Oh, we can't get married this winter... that's only eight months before my cousin's wedding!" I would think your fiance's cousin (to whom I am engaged in this scenario) was a crazy person. When you have a long engagement, these things can happen.

As for the actual wedding, you should be able to avoid the cousin almost entirely, since everyone else at the wedding will be trying to say interact with him.

And if people want to talk to you about your wedding, go ahead. Two of my best friends got married one month apart this year (and the couple that got married first announced their date after the couple that got married second had already sent out their save-the-dates! Dun dun dun!). There was a lot of overlap in guest lists between the two wedding and we all talked about the second wedding at the first wedding, and than a month later we talked about the first wedding at the second wedding. Don't worry about staying in the background. Just don't thrust yourself into the foreground.

Agreed, though, you need to deal with your fiance if you feel he's treating you poorly, for whatever reason.
posted by mskyle at 3:24 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Beyond that, when my fiance spends any time with him, cousin's bad attitude towards women generally and towards me specifically rubs off and my fiance get a bit rude with me for a few days until the influence wears off.

This is the problem, your fiance's ability to get roped into doing whatever cousin wants. Yes, cousin is an asshole, but then he also turns your fiance into an asshole and worse, your fiance doesn't seem a problem with this.

Honestly, I'd dump him, 'cause you're just signing up for either a lift time of this crap or having to teach your fiance how to follow asshole cousin. That's doesn't sound like fun at all. It'd be one thing if fiance was like "Hey man, that shit's just wrong, no." But he's actively dissing you after he spends a lot of time with asshole cousin. Who the hell needs that?

Minor note: Cousin doesn't like you because you're a threat to his relationship with your fiance. He's never, ever going to like or respect you until you can get up in his face and cuss him out or some such. Repeatedly. But you're obsessing over his wedding date, so you're fighting a war you don't even understand due to differences in communication styles.

It's one big headache. Go find someone who treats you nice all the time and not just when his asshole brother/cousin/friend isn't around.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:26 PM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


He gives your fiance a gift you don't really want, and somehow this is terrible? Why in the world would it matter if the tux for your wedding had already been worn to another event? Unless it gets ruined or something. And if it's not right for your wedding, you already said your fiance could get another tux or suit for free, so who cares? If this one's not the right one, get the right one at the wedding.

My reading of the situation is that the cousin gave the tuxedo to the fiance as a wedding gift to the fiance and the OP, which the OP finds upsetting because a fancy tuxedo for their own wedding would have been unnecessary.

I can see how a wedding gift that specifically excludes half the couple could feel offensive to the excluded party.
posted by elizardbits at 3:28 PM on January 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Two people brother-like-people of similar ages getting married within 8 months of each other is a PERFECTLY NORMAL THING. People having different timelines after engagement is also normal. Even if there is some kind of element of playful competition in his head with your fiance, it would be absurd and I'm having trouble understanding how it would be meaningful to you. Its not like its the same weekend or even the same month.

The tuxedo thing sounds like a perfectly reasonable and thoughtful bonding thing for a brother-like-person to do for a brother-like-person to me. Downright adorable almost. Proper etiquette would have involved consulting you, the bride ?or maybe someone in your wedding party?, before hand, but this dude doesn't seem like the kind of guy who has put a lot of thought into proper wedding etiquette. I would recommend appreciating the gift to your fiance in the spirit it was undoubtedly given in.

It sounds like future cousin-in-law has perfectly decent reasons not to like you, does your fiancé might actually like getting drunk and wandering with his cousin, even if he doesn't like doing it without him? It sounds like your beef might be with your fiancé and not the cousin. If your fiancé can be happy not having a drinking relationship with the cousin, or you can find a way to be happy with him having it I suspect your issues with the cousin will go away.

The having issues with women thing, even if they are temporally specific, is totally on your fiancé and deeply not okay. I would not marry this man unless you can have a successful Come To Jesus Talk about it that addresses the problem.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:30 PM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I can see how a wedding gift that specifically excludes half the couple could feel offensive to the excluded party."

Incidentally, have you asked your fiancé about how he feels about wearing a tuxedo? If he wants to wear one to an otherwise low key wedding that seems like it should be totally up to him.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:33 PM on January 9, 2012


are activities that my fiance gets corralled into whenever they spend time together but otherwise finds distasteful

I think I know what this is about.

You don't like your fiance's bros and everything he does is going to bug you.

which means that he's been "given" a "gift" of something we didn't need, and would have been free otherwise, when my mother is essentially paying for the entire wedding

I disagree with this. Don't make the poor guy get married, and have pics for the rest of his life, in a shitty loaner tux. Let the guy have his james bond tux for a couple nights.

I would not be surprised if your fiance's friend is giving him a tux because your boyfriend has been going around saying "Boy I wish I didn't have to wear a shitty loaner tux"
posted by Ad hominem at 3:40 PM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think a bright spot would be that he doesn't have to wear the tux at your wedding, but you can re-use parts of it and add your own jacket or shirt or tie if you like and make it into something new.
posted by Elizabeth907 at 3:41 PM on January 9, 2012


Your fiancé's cousin, who you dislike, is having a wedding, and you are attending. That's all that's happening. This has literally nothing to do with you. Nothing.

You say your fiancé doesn't get that his cousin is trying to compete with you guys by having this wedding now. Isn't it possible that your fiancé, who has known his cousin his entire life, is correct about his motivations, and you are wrong? Isn't it possible that you're the one being petty here?

Go to the wedding because that's what you do when your fiancé's cousin gets married. Act how you act at weddings. None of this involves you except to the extent that you choose to become emotionally invested.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:43 PM on January 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


How do I get over wedding resentment and be civil?

1. Remember that eight months is plenty of time apart for important family to attend two weddings.

2. Your fiance thinks of him as a brother. That means a permanent, lifelong relationship that pre-dates you and will likely endure at least as long as your marriage does. If you have problems, they are with your fiance. If your fiance's cousin is rude to you, or if your fiance is not treating you well, or not standing up to you as needed to his own family, or is being unduly influenced by outside forces, this is a problem with your fiance. Unless you, too, care about your fiance's cousin as if he is your brother-in-law, what your fiance's cousin is like or how he spends his time or what he is doing is not your problem.

3. Your fiance can wear whatever he wants to your wedding: the gifted tuxedo, a rented one, a comped one, whatever. The fact that your mother is largely paying for your wedding has nothing to do with whether your fiance's cousin gave him the gift of a tuxedo. You are not entitled to the value of the gift of an expensive tuxedo in the form of a wedding present you would prefer to receive. It is a GIFT. (By the way, you are the only person who will care or notice what the "theme" of your wedding is.)

4. Your fiance's cousin has not shown any "disregard" for your wedding. NONE. If he shows up naked carrying sparklers during the vows, then, yeah, okay.

5. The fact that the budget of his wedding is six time the budget of yours is not a wrong being done to you. It does not mean that his wedding will be "tackier." It does not mean that he is better than you, or worse, or that your family and friends will love you more, or less. It is irrelevant.

7. I need to focus on smiling and staying in the background so as not to take away from the experience of the current bride and groom. Do not act like a martyr only as a way to draw more attention, praise or sympathy to yourself. Be a polite, warm, generous happy person while attending the wedding. That's it.
posted by argonauta at 3:48 PM on January 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Add the word "wedding" to anything and all of the sudden any normally awkward interaction gets blown waaaay out of proportion.

"What are some coping mechanisms for going to a rehearsal dinner and wedding big party of someone who actively dislikes me but is related to my fiance?"

Such coping mechanisms include focusing your happiness on the happiness of the people at the party, being excited to see people there you know, talking to other people's fun uncles, sampling all the things there are to eat, partaking cheerfully and frequently of an open bar, marveling at pretty decorations, and deciding that the DJ, while cheesy and horribly retrograde in his taste, is well-intentioned and you might as well shake your booty a bit.

"It always seems like cousin is trying to make everything into a competition with my fiance and my fiance isn't noticing."

Girl, your fiance not noticing is the wise way to go about things. Don't play in this competition. Decide for your own sanity that there IS NO COMPETITION. All this wedding oneupmanship comes from your own values of what you've decided "wedding" automatically confers which are not universal. A wedding doesn't necessarily mean that you get a one-year berth around the day and anything within that timeframe deliberately steals your thunder. It doesn't mean that everything has to be absolutely new and unworn and anything else is an affront.

Your wedding means that you and your fiance are going to be joined together in a happy union. All else is incidental. Your wedding is in the fall - use this time not to be suspicious of external forces but to plan and nurture the internal bond you're gonna be making to each other. There's probably tons of other stuff to stress yourself out about. Don't create your own monster here.
posted by sestaaak at 3:52 PM on January 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


You sound really competitive with the cousin for your fiance's attention and affection. If so you need to stop like yesterday. It's going to solve all if these other problems like magic.
posted by fshgrl at 3:53 PM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Most of the people you'll interact with at the wedding won't be the bad cousin. They'll be family or friends, and in either case just be your usual gracious charming self, make nice remarks about whatever you can find to praise (doesn't the bride look lovely? what a nice venue; what a nice job the minister did; etc.), and let your fiance do his wedding-party duties as he sees fit. Bad cousin will come around once maybe to say hi, you'll say hi, congratulations, what a beautiful day, etc. Even if he reacts ungraciously, you can just rise above by refusing to be drawn down to his level.

General point about wedding gifts: try to take them in a kind spirit; people can be really dumb about what makes a good wedding gift and you can't get into this kind of analysis of which gifts are slights or inconsiderate etc. I agree that it's a weird idea for a gift, especially for a couple, but what the hell, this cousin doesn't hew to normal social standards for a lot of things it sounds like. If he meant it to be generous to your fiance, great, take it in that spirit and roll your eyes at the ways in which it's less-than-great.

it always seems like cousin is trying to make everything into a competition with my fiance and my fiance isn't noticing

If you want a petty thing to think, take comfort in this. This makes your fiance sound like the bigger man, and the cousin sound like a petty loser. The fact that your fiance doesn't notice these "contests" means he has won.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:55 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your fiancé doesn't sound very mature, that he can be so easily "influenced" as you put it.

This is a problem between you and your fiancé. Everyone is correct that you are now conflating things and blowing issues out of proportion, but I believe the resentment you feel is justified and started when cousin was openly rude and your boyfriend (now fiancé) didn't put the smack down on his cousin.

Yes cousin is baiting you a bit and winning at it, but I get the feeling fiancé likes that you and cousin are "fighting" over him.

It seems your fiancé doesn't put you first. In light of this, I believe you are best advised to rethink your future plans.

This whole thing is immature and heartbreaking. I really understand your hurt and frustration. Don't turn yourself into a pretzel over this. The angrier you are, the more likely your buttons will get pushed and you'll look badly in front of everyone.

I suggest that you not attend the wedding, but not over a tuxedo. I suggest you skip the wedding because it is assured that cousin will be rude to you, your fiancé will be rude to you - or they both will. What's your plan when that happens?

If you do go to this event, don't drink.
posted by jbenben at 3:57 PM on January 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


No matter how grating you find the cousin, you can't really wish him into the cornfield. It doesn't sound like he's going to be part of your day-to-day life, so what will really be lost by taking the high road?

If you need a mantra, well, annoying in-laws are common to the point of being a sitcom cliche, and at least this particular one lives far away. You might even meet some really fun people at this shindig.

On the other hand, if the issues-with-women thing seems acceptable to your partner rather than something he holds his nose and tolerates, you might want to get that hashed out before you make a lifetime commitment to the guy.
posted by bunji at 3:57 PM on January 9, 2012


The fact that your fiance doesn't notice these "contests" means he has won.

To add to this point: if you are correct about the cousin's motivation (i.e., that he is trying to turn everything into a competition), the fact that your fiancé isn't noticing and isn't playing must be absolutely infuriating. I'd suggest getting on that winning side of these non-competitions, if only for the sake of driving the cousin crazy.
posted by ootandaboot at 4:10 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


People tend to be pretty busy at their rehearsal dinners, with their attention spread out among a lot of friends and relatives. I doubt the dynamic that usually holds when your fiance and his cousin are together one-on-one will hold during the rehearsal and wedding, even though your fiance's in the wedding party.

Can you cope any better with the tuxedo if you think of it as the cousin giving your fiance a groomsmen's gift? For that matter, if your fiance had come into your life already owning a tux, would you have been upset that he wanted to wear it to your wedding?

It takes two people to make a competitive relationship. If "it always seems like cousin is trying to make everything into a competition with (your) fiance and (your) fiance isn't noticing" then presumably the competition is coming from you.

One thing about marriage: when you marry a person, you marry that person's family. Your fiance loves his cousin, treats him like a brother, and, given that he seems to take his cousin's side in most of the disagreements you describe, probably isn't going to give him up for you. You don't sound okay with gaining this guy as close family. I'm not saying DTMFA, but you need to give your engagement some more thought given your level of distress.
posted by gingerest at 4:11 PM on January 9, 2012


nothing but one-upmanship towards my fiance

My mother once called me out of the blue, demanding that I attend her Christmas party, and not her brother's.

"Why don't you want me to go to Uncle John's?"
"Because I don't want to go."
"OK, then don't go."
"But I want to see you."
"Then I'll visit you, too. You live five minutes from each other."
"No, because then I'll want to do a big Christmas party for you."
"You don't have to do that."
"If you're coming over, I want to."
"Why don't you want to go to your brother's? You could see me AND not have to worry about throwing a big Christmas party."
"Because then he'll WIN, all right?"

And this is where I lost it on her.

"Win? He'll win. Holy shit, are we in a game? What's the score now? What inning is it? Is it first down? Do I have the ball? Are there cheerleaders? How many timeouts do I have left?"

This one-upmanship? It's in your head.

If a five-year-old beats you at a game of checkers and then runs around the room jumping for joy, are you mad? No, you're not. Know why? Because. He's. Five. Years. Old. And checkers is a game.

So, there's your plan. You're not playing a game, even if someone else is. And if they are, it's just a game.

Besides, the wedding will go much easier if visualize the groom strutting around like an idiot screaming, "KING ME, MOTHERFUCKER!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:53 PM on January 9, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm not going to talk about the whys and wherefores of your situation.

One of the things about weddings (and rehearsal dinners for that matter) is that the bride and groom have a lot of social responsibilities - since they have a million other people to have short conversations with, you'll only have to have short conversations with them. So the interactions you're dreading are going to be short.

Are there going to be guests you like? Focus on the people you're looking forward to seeing.

Can you plan something nice for yourself after the wedding?

On the way to the wedding, blast loud angry music and sing along with it. Metal solves many issues. Every time something comes up that gets your goat, go back to the loud metal singing in your head.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:56 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you're being a little unreasonable here, if you think that someone else's wedding eight months before yours is "competing." For heaven's sake, how long before or after your own wedding IS permitted?!? If the cousin's had been scheduled for the week before yours, okay, but eight months? No.

As for the gift of the tuxedo: so what? There's no requirement that your fiance wear the thing again at your wedding; nor is there any objection, other than that the mere sight of this particular tux apparently would make you nuts. Fine, that's somewhat understandable. But try looking at it this way: maybe you should be happy that this "gift" to you is not some tacky/ugly/disgusting *thing* you'd have to display in your home and look at every day.

So please go to the cousin's wedding, behave (as you've planned to!) like a lady, and wish the happy couple well. (Something that might give you a small laugh: traditionally, one offers the groom "congradulations", but you'd tell the bride "good luck"! And considering she's marrying Cousin, she might need it.....)
posted by easily confused at 5:00 PM on January 9, 2012


The way you get through it and get over your feelings is to relax a little bit, and to understand that you cannot pick your BFs friends. You especially can't pick your BFs family.

From my own experience it can be really really difficult to try to balance maintaining a friendship with someone that your SO doesn't get on with. The way you are presenting it, the problems are all his end, but my ESP is picking up the other side of things.

Also, though, the stuff about your fiance treating you badly after being with him? He needs to cut out that shit right now. Does he know he does this? That is completely unforgivable.

To what extent do you facilitate this through your heavy negative energy leading up to his playdates, and upon his return from them? My guess is that even if the drinking and carousing isn't his normal cup of tea, he does enjoy the chance to do it occasionally with his buddy. You can help to make this an uncomfortable thing for him between the two of you by talking it up beforehand, asking for details, emphasizing that it isn't something "the two of you" like to do, and just generally by sending out the "girlfriend doesn't like it" energy that can create distance and unpleasantness without anything being said explicitly. He can resent this bad energy and find it a struggle, because he still wants to hang with buddy without it being a big deal for days before and after. If that is how it plays out, the problem can be more on you than it is on him.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:09 PM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


oy. this is yet another reminder of why I am totally going to elope in some random city hall somewhere if i ever tie the knot.

Okay, so: Full disclosure: I don't like him much either / sets the wedding date for the upcoming winter (e.g. next month) a full eight months before ours. It was incredibly hard not to take that personally because it felt like he was trying to basically supplant our wedding with his own / cousin declared that he was giving my fiance the "gift" of a new fancy tuxedo [...] which he is to wear to cousin's wedding, and then can wear to ours. I cannot even express how angry this still makes me, weeks later, teeth clenched. / Expensive tuxedo ahoy. / I expect my MO to be as close to "chameleon" as I can possibly get it. / his wedding is six times our budget and thus will be six times as tacky

The emotions in this post are so...not necessary.
Read that text, especially the wording used in bold. Can you see how personally, and how intensely, you are reacting to this situation? From my perspective: you two may not get along, he was nice to buy your fiance a tux (dude, even if he doesn't wear it to your wedding, there are plenty of other occasions where those things come in handy), the cost of his wedding has no bearing on the cost of your own. But, instead, you're reacting really personally, and I don't think it really fits.

8 months is not a slight against you.
Acting like a chameleon sounds a little over the top.
And a present makes your react with clenched teeth. Really? My grandma still drops off leftover thanksgiving turkey at my house and even once signed me up for that frozen-steak of the month club thing, even though I've been a vegetarian for 15 years. And my teeth don't clench. It's kind of funny, actually.

And as for this: when my fiance spends any time with him, cousin's bad attitude towards women generally and towards me specifically rubs off and my fiance get a bit rude with me for a few days until the influence wears off.

This is really an issue between you and your fiance.
I mean, my friends who work as counselors to drug addicted, violent, racist offenders don't start treating me badly because of who they're hanging out with. Fully grown adults usually can control their own behavior and personalities, despite outside influences, you know?
posted by vivid postcard at 5:11 PM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Telling myself that his wedding is six times our budget and thus will be six times as tacky isn't working; I don't seem to really be able to get behind mean-spirited snark that gets a lot of people through uncomfortable situations. I'll take anything, I guess.

Just remember it's not your wedding, it's your fiancee's cousin's and his bride's. You say the cousin likes to make things a competition, and I agree with the others in the this thread that you're making it a competition. Stop that.

Hang out with the family members you like and be pleasant. Who knows, you might make some new friends! Don't project your bad attitude though. It will just make the whole thing worse for you before, during, and after the whole thing. It's just not worth the mental space. People will probably want to talk about your wedding, and if that helps you relax, do it! I was surprised at my brother's wedding this fall how many people I barely knew wanted to hear about my summer elopement. I think it was wedding fever. It was an ice breaker.

If your fiancee is doing stupid stuff when he's around his cousin, don't blame the cousin. I swear there was another question on here that was very similar - in that one SO didn't like how the other behaved around certain people because it was out of character. People are complex. Drunken partying can be fun. It's OK. He needs to own up to it though.
posted by kendrak at 5:22 PM on January 9, 2012


And as for this: when my fiance spends any time with him, cousin's bad attitude towards women generally and towards me specifically rubs off and my fiance get a bit rude with me for a few days until the influence wears off.

This is really an issue between you and your fiance.

Yeah, I was going to let that slide but. This is your boyfriend thinking "holy shit, a chapter of my life is ending".His cousin reminds him of his old life, what he will be giving up. He is trying to push you away a bit because he is afraid.

Anyway, not going or going and being all "look what I put up with" will actually backfire if you just want a drama free life. Just go, be civil, and leave when it is time.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:47 PM on January 9, 2012


People are being a bit harsh, but I agree that your best bet is to go and be your best self. The way I insulate myself against infuriating people (and it's totally ok to be annoyed by some of this stuff) is to think about my own life. This guy has very little bearing on your day to day life, so if you're around him or another annoying future in-law, smile and be polite and think about how you're going to rock a new project at work or step up your fitness routine or plan the most fun wedding Ever. Then when talking with non-annoying people try to enjoy it as much as possible, including raving about how excited you are about your own wedding if people ask.

Stop thinking about him as much as you can, and protect yourself from their pettiness. You're above that drama.
posted by ldthomps at 6:12 PM on January 9, 2012


From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous:
If there was actual time travel, I'd swear you were me in 1991...especially if your fiance's aunt decided to jump into the fray. (If you think this is bad, wait until everyone starts having kids. There are two people in this world who literally would not exist if it wasn't for Cousin deciding he couldn't fall behind...)

From a 20 years out perspective, you are getting lots of great advice. I'll nth rising above it all. Cousin is being an ass because he's deeply insecure, and he's afraid of losing what might be the only real friend he has. (The tux thing also suggests a severe lack of social skills.) Cousin is right to be concerned – Fiance is going to spend most of his time with you from here on in, after all.

As everyone gets older and grows up, if Cousin decides to continue being an ass, it will become more and more obvious to your fiance – especially if you don't force the observation on him, and especially if you don't do anything that causes additional friction while Cousin does. Assuming your fiance isn't a fool and Cousin continues to be an ass, I promise...realization comes. It probably won't make your fiance forsake Cousin entirely, but it will defuse a lot of the power you think Cousin has right now.

TL;DR: patience, grace. It sucks, but it works.

The more pressing problem is that right now, your fiance needs to be deprogrammed after every visit. When my husband behaves like his family members after he spends time with them, zero tolerance is the only way to go. “Stop Awful_Behavior_01.” No elaboration, no baiting. The instigators are not the actual, immediate problem, and calling them out diffuses the issue at hand. So far, so good.
--
posted by jessamyn at 6:23 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


>i>Beyond that, when my fiance spends any time with him, cousin's bad attitude towards women generally and towards me specifically rubs off and my fiance get a bit rude with me for a few days until the influence wears off.

Ooooh, this sounds like more of a problem than anything else you posted. Your fiance doesn't sound mature enough to marry...and the cousin isn't too far ahead of him. Take all of this wedding stuff - and the chaos around it - as an opportunity to think about your own preparations for marriage and the person you're about to spend your life with.
posted by Ashen at 12:28 AM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was planning my wedding, my cousin got engaged and set her date about 4 months before mine. My mother was livid! It was all part of a vast Long Island conspiracy to one-up the Maryland branch of the family. So. Much. Drama. My wedding was about me & my fiance, and whoever else wanted to/could be there to celelebrate w/us.

My mother & the competitive aunts did not look noble and martyrish with their stiff upper lips and forced politeness. They looked ridiculous.
posted by headnsouth at 5:14 AM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hello OP, I hear your frustration and I hope that you are reading the above answers carefully. From my reading of your question, it kind of sounds like you're in a state where you are reading all of your fiance's cousin's actions into how the relate to you. Wedding eight months before mine? He's upstaging me! Tux gift to my fiance? He's trying to make a point about our decoration! His wedding invitation had blue lettering? HE KNEW MY FAVORITE COLOR WAS BLUE AND HE DID THIS ON PURPOSE!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, it is so, so easy to do this when you are scrutinizing someone's behavior that you do not like. So easy. It sounds like you have some real emotions (bad ones) saved up and they don't really have an outlet. Have you met the cousin's fiancee? Is there a way to before the wedding? She may be lovely. But she won't be lovely if you analyze her behavior the same way you are analyzing her fiance's.

One of my favorite quotes is, "you will not be punished for your anger... you will be punished by your anger". You are only hurting yourself here. You are due for a long talk with your fiance. "It's just how he is" is not good enough. He needs to have your back.
posted by amicamentis at 6:58 AM on January 10, 2012


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