Carolyn Hax: Son plans quickie wedding; parents decry the ‘rush’

He becomes hostile when asked, “Why rush?” He would not tell his three sisters of his wedding plans. He told us to “tell them if you want.” Very sad and concerning start to a life together. Do we attend the ceremony?

— Less Than Enthusiastic

Less Than Enthusiastic: Obviously, yes, if you feel safe doing so.

And apologize for crossing wayyyy too far into his business.

Your certainty seems to have blinded you. How do you think you would feel if someone criticized the person you plan to marry — tried to badger you out of it, even — just because your beloved … posted a lot on Instagram? That’s all you’ve got?

So many people are rethinking how they work and trying out new careers. And even if it weren’t common (and pretty darn understandable right now), your adult child would be fully entitled to decide his own comfort level with supporting a partner’s new endeavor.

He also gets to decide how close he is to his family. For all I know he has good reasons to remain at arm’s length.

Your objections are such a withering dismissal of your son’s judgment and autonomy that I’m not sure your relationship will recover even if you do 1. grasp how urgently you owe him an apology; and 2. deliver that apology in a masterstroke of sincerity and grace.

There’s just so much contempt in your view of the woman he loves and lives with, and so much evidence that contempt kills more relationships than pretty much any attitude or feeling we can have toward others, that I don’t think you’ll get anywhere without dismantling it from within.

And please know that if you do welcome your new daughter-in-law … and she turns out to be terrible and the marriage goes south, the welcome won’t have been in error and you won’t have told-you-so license. That’s because offering civil, respectful support is just the right thing to do.

If the point is to be close to your son, then trust your handiwork in raising him, support him in his choices, flag things only if genuinely dangerous or concerning (abuse, for example, or clear signs he’s unhappy), and be as sad and surprised and sympathetic as anybody if it unravels, even exactly as you predicted.

Re: Wedding: A pandemic wedding JUST to exclude people, not telling sisters, etc., is a red flag — one you now can’t address after carping on him excessively — but marrying after living together for two years isn’t rushed.

Anonymous: Well wait — I’ll throw a red flag as hard as anyone, but given the amount of operatic angst that gathers around weddings, using a pandemic to avoid it all sounds like genius to me.

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