Dealing With Problem Relatives and Friends at Weddings

How to fix problems with awkward relatives and friends

Take off your your boxing gloves. This is not going to be a clean fight!

"There are two methods to winning an argument with relatives.
Neither one works!"
- anon -

Often certain relatives and friends just assume that they will be maid-of-honour, best-man, or some other 'helper' at the wedding. They can easily become offended if we don't accept their offer and will be completely unable to comprehend why we have not invited them to take part.

Maybe we don't even have a rational explanation ourselves, which makes turning people down all the more difficult. But sometimes we just don't feel right about certain people taking part. And if that happens, we should take positive action as soon as possible.

We must let them down without hurting their feelings and without damaging relationships for the future. Hopefully this page will give some guidance.

If anything goes wrong at a wedding, it's almost invariably because of people.

First, accept that we need somebody

You know who I mean; those people you find just too awkward to love from the bottom of your heart. More often, it's from the heart of your bottom. But love 'em or leave 'em, we do need people at a wedding. The first thing to remember is that we cannot do it alone.

There is a natural hesitation to include some people. If we know she will get embarrassingly drunk, or that he'll be sobbing all the way through the ceremony because of his recent rejection by Catherine Zeta-Jones, then these are problems we just don't want to think about.

But we must be firm with ourselves; not only think about the problems, but tackle them.

Next, is there really a problem?

We said above that if we just don't feel right about certain people taking part, then we should do something about it. But before crashing into delicate relationship minefields, make sure there really is a problem to fix. Anyone taking a medical first-aid course will be told they should never give heart massage unless they are absolutely certain that the heart has stopped. The same applies to relationship problems.

And since we mention 'heart', remember that any decision we make should not be the choice of our heart or mind, but a sensible balancing of both.

Understand why there is a problem

Remember that two people can look at exactly the same thing and see something totally different.

Mothers often unwittingly cause problems because they are naturally emotional at this time. They are losing a son or a daughter.

Other relatives may be concentrating on the fact that their families are expanding and uniting (empathy is easy on that point!) We are feeling tension and excitement, and it is natural for relatives to have similar emotions. Understand that they too, as relatives, are getting married to a certain extent.

If we can see the problem from the other person's point of view then we will have a better chance of understanding the problem and therefore a better chance of fixing it.

Sounds like common sense? It is. Nothing here is really radical; just things we already know but just need reminding of.

The best way to get rid of enemies is to make them your friends

Hmm... easier said than done.

Some people are very difficult to talk to, mainly because they are always talking themselves. You know, like Aunt Sally, who would make a wonderful parole officer because she never lets anyone finish a sentence.

We spend much of our lives avoiding conflict with people close to us; the last thing we want to do is cope with something unpleasant when we are thinking 'weddings'. But deal with it we must, and like all unpleasant tasks, it's easier once we make a start. Try this classic problem solving routine if you suffer from procrastination.

OK, so now we're rollin'. What's the secret recipe for fixing those problems?

No secret; simply Seven Steps to Dealing With Problem Relatives and Friends

Some of our most powerful world leaders still do not understand that nobody wins in a war. As with the ludicrous fire story, don't fight with you relatives - it will only make matters worse. Speak sweetly. Nature doesn't like hardness in speech, that's why there is no bone in the tongue.

See our Seven Steps to Dealing With Problem Relatives and Friends

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