Tell Me About It

My father disapproves of my gay wedding

It has come to light that he will not attend, and I am very disappointed

PROBLEM: I’m gay and have been out for quite some time. My long-term boyfriend and I decided to get married, very recently, after the Marriage Bill. I told my parents the joyous news, as I felt on a high after the country had seemed to support me.

My mum, of course, was happy for me, but my father remained stern and cold. It has now come to light that he will not come to our wedding. I don’t know what to do. Part of me obviously wants to have him there, but if he disapproves I’d rather not have him there. My partner’s parents are dead, so he does not face this problem.

He doesn’t understand the extent of my problem as he has never had any sort of judgment from his parents; when they died he was still in the closet.

While my mother supports me, I feel she may feel it is necessary to side with my father about the wedding, and I am now feeling very disappointed and wondering if we should have decided to get married at all. All the good feelings generated from the Marriage Bill feel tainted. I’m sad and upset.

ADVICE: It is wonderful that you are getting married and that you seem to have been clear and happy about this the minute the opportunity became available to you. However, not to have the support of your family is very difficult, and of course this has taken the shine off your happiness.

You say that you have been out for some time, so my guess is that your father knew this and you have had a previous experience of him coming to terms with something he found difficult. He might be a man who struggles to accept change, but perhaps if you leave the invitation open to him there is a possibility his attitude will ease.

If you would really like to have him in attendance, you might consider talking to people he respects in order to gauge if they have any influence on him.

Are you inviting other relatives to the wedding? If so, they could be asked to talk about and demonstrate excitement at the upcoming celebration.

The other person you need to be involved is your mother. As her son, you have a right to expect her to be at the most significant event of your life, and perhaps she needs to know how important this is to you.

She may feel that your father needs support. Perhaps she sees a vulnerable side to him that is less obvious to you. However, you too are experiencing vulnerability, and now is the time to let your mother see this so that she can rise to the occasion.

You expect your father to accept you fully. Perhaps you can also accept him fully and forgive him for his limitations. The danger is that you will continue to suffer from his lack of support and let this ruin what should be a highlight of your life.

You say your partner does not understand your feelings of abandonment, and perhaps this needs to be addressed.

No doubt you both will find there will be many things that seem important to one partner that are not significant to the other, but the expectation of relationships is that partners take the time and trouble to really understand what is going on with the other.

Your partner does not need to “fix” your situation, but in order for you to feel excited and enthusiastic again you will need him to have your back and be sensitive to what is happening for you on the day. Both of you will benefit from talking about what parenting and loss have meant to your lives.

No doubt you both have different coping mechanisms. This is an opportunity for you both to look at these patterns and see if they need to be changed.

Your feelings about the wedding have suffered and you might need to shift the focus to what this event is really about. You are committing to someone you love in front of your community of people, and this is both a solemn and celebratory occasion. It is about your future and not your past.

You will not have all of your family relationships resolved before the wedding, but you will have a lifelong partner to help you as you figure it all out. This is something worth celebrating. Invite those with whom you would like to share this wonderful occasion, but do not take any responsibility for them either on the day or beforehand.

They are responsible for themselves. Your focus needs to be on your partner and on both of you having a fantastic time on your wedding day.