Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I have two weddings coming up soon, back-to-back. Both are far away. I’ve more or less committed to going to one. The other one I could afford to go to, but I’m not sure I want to, given the cost of the two combined. Is it bad form to go to one but not the other? I value both friends equally, and both are invited to each other’s weddings. I feel like hurt feelings, or an empty wallet, are inevitable.
Everyone’s Getting Married
You’re probably right. So which would you miss more, the money or the friend(s)?
I do think friends owe it to each other to be gracious about taking “no” for an answer with attendance, since we all have lives and since friendships are better judged on effort over time versus on one event.
But I also think milestone events deserve a different approach than just, “I’d rather have the $400 in the bank.” I’m well past my days of eight weddings one summer, but in retrospect I am glad I rallied, even when it left me broke and tired. It’s a moment and it passes. If you can’t pay bills, then, OK, stay home. Otherwise consider that investing in this moment will carry you further than the cash ever would.
Re: Weddings:Thank you for your answer about attending weddings (and other milestones) even if it is a short-term hardship. My son is getting married, and his cousin says she can’t afford to go because they are building a (4,000-square-foot) house. I even offered to chip in $500 (about half the cost), but she won’t come.
How do I set aside the resentment? I don’t feel like going out of my way to any of her future milestones, even though I’ve been there for hers and her siblings’.
No no, please don’t use my words to justify resenting someone who chooses to say no! And the snark about the square footage is so over the line.
I was offering someone different ways to approach a tough decision, not arming those who would judge that decision. The applicable advice on this issue instead is the rock-solid baseline truth that you don’t know how anyone’s life is unless you’re in it yourself. This cousin could easily be overwhelmed and financially overextended. While offering to help with the expenses was fine, even generous, it is decidedly not generous to decide for other people that they can afford to spend $500 — on what you think they should spend it on, no less.
So, here’s how to “set aside” the resentment: Realize it’s inappropriate to judge this cousin. Her not going is a bummer, but anything you label it beyond that is gratuitous.
You can also scan up to the paragraph preceding the one you cited, about judging “on effort over time versus on one event” and on taking no for an answer with grace.
Carolyn: Thank you for pointing out that I was letting my disappointment in my niece turn into resentment. She did express regret, and I will be disappointed, but I’ll accept it with grace.
Thank you for your gracious answer to mine, which was a thumping.
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