Do I Say No? Wow!*SWH Added

Updated on January 27, 2017
M.6. asks from Woodbridge, NJ
14 answers

I recently posted on what a mess my life is, and one of the issues was we have some out of town events to attend that I have to plan for. One is my brother's wedding. I received the actual invitation yesterday, and up until that point, all I knew was that it was being held about 5 states away and in July. The wedding is being held over the weekend of the 4th of July (which actually falls on Tuesday). Flights are upwards of $600 a person. Ok, that's a bitter pill, but we could possibly do 2 tickets, plus we can stay in the home they rented (like a 10 bed chalet) for either free or very low cost. However, because it is on a holiday weekend, and other close family members are attending (it is a very small wedding), we would have no one to watch our 17 yr old special needs child. We really cannot afford ANOTHER $600 ticket, plus this is not an event that I would bring him to. It's a location we are not familiar with and a schedule we cannot control, both of which are important to keep things "calm". Normally, we have a couple of family members that are trained to take him when we have to go somewhere, but they are all attending the wedding expect one, but because she has a conflict and so cannot take him either. We will not find respite care on a holiday weekend - especially a weekend like the 4th where most folks are going to get a 5 day weekend out of this. Believe me, we would have travelled on a holiday weekend LONG before this if we could of used respite. My husband's family is not in on this wedding, obviously, but they all take a 1 - 2 week camping trip over the 4th every year as a tradition since before we married 20+ years ago. We have not been able to go since we brought the boys home from Russia and this son cannot go with them because he is terrified of all things crawling, snakes, getting dirty, you name it - plus, none of them are trained to care for him (don't even ask . . .).

My mom offered to pay his ticket - which she can not really afford. But even though she somewhat understands that isn't the ONLY real issue here, she is fixating on just the money part. My brother (the one getting married) is one of those folks who thinks a good spanking would fix our son . . . he has a good heart, but he just simply does not understand. So he will neither understand our absence, nor the issues that could come up if we DID go.

So, we can take the money from my mom, roll the dice, and take our son. Or we can skip it and live with the fall out (which will be BAD - this will NOT be a forgive and forget situation).

There is no "right" answer here, but I am curious, what would YOU do. Oh, we do face the possibility that we may not be able to attend at all due to our other son who is being transferred to another facility, but for right now, I am only factoring in the 2 known issues and none of the unknown issues.


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So What Happened?

Wow! You know what? I never even thought of just me going with my mom. I really didn't. This son can totally be parented by one person so me going is actually an option. I am going to talk to my husband about it - he won't be thrilled he is missing out (on the getting away, not the wedding itself), but I am going to promise him a fishing trip weekend with just his dad/brother (since I will go with my mom to be with my brother) AND a getaway just him and I sometime in August for our anniversary when I have easy access to care for our son. I will still have to roll the dice that our other son's needs won't interfere with the wedding, but that is an acceptable risk at this point since we simply cannot predict what might happen.

We don't get to pick our family, but we are supposed to love and support them when and where we can . . . Yes, he's a jerk, and, if he wasn't family, he isn't someone I would pal around with. However, he IS family and is only having family at his wedding (it is small with no friends invited) - he deserves to have me there and he would come if it was me.

Thanks amazing ladies!!!! Problem solved!

More Answers



answers from Portland on

This is making more sense now. I get more what you are dealing with.

Your immediately family is your priority. This is where I think therapy could help you - I know that's not really what you want to hear, but it's so true. Your immediately family, with your two kids who need a lot of care, are almost in crisis mode on a regular basis. No one would expect you to go to crazy amounts of trouble to attend things for extended family knowing that you have so much on your plate.

I don't know why your mom and brother don't get your challenges. That actually must be very upsetting. I'm not well, and we changed how we did everything. Our family comes first. We say no all the time. It upset a few people, but quite frankly, they were demanding in the first place. Your family comes first. You shouldn't feel guilt about this, conflicted or otherwise. And if you fear that there will be some fall out - that's on them, not you. There's something wrong if they will be so offended. I missed my niece's wedding. They respected our decision. So - there might be some bigger issue to do with your own family (siblings and mom) that's deep routed if you fear the consequences of doing what's best for your family.

Myself? I wouldn't go into specifics. I would say sorry we can't make it. I wouldn't involve your mother. I wouldn't tell your brother why if he's not understanding or supportive. There's boundaries that really need to apply here. You don't owe them an explanation. A polite I'm sorry, we won't be able to make it - is all you need.

You sound like a very loving giving person. That doesn't mean you have to please these people. If they are going to hold this against you, then what do you care anyway?

Sounds like you and your husband should plan a nice getaway weekend some other time. You deserve it.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I would send regrets and a nice gift and call it a day. You have very valid reasons to not travel. If your family won't be gracious and understanding, that's on them. Two of my dad's siblings had their weddings in the brides' hometowns, both which were a plane ride away. There was no way my parents were going to entertain the thought of buying plane tickets for 5 kids, and no one to watch us, so they declined each invite and there were no hard feelings.

The only compromise I can think of is would it be manageable at home if either you, your husband, or perhaps the adult child who lives nearby went to the wedding as a representative of your family? If both of you need to be home, then decline without guilt but if you or your husband can hold down the fort, maybe one of you (preferably you as he is your brother) could go. If that would cause chaos though, the needs of your children and your own sanity take priority over a wedding.

Sorry that your family isn't more supportive and doesn't get it. This would not be an issue with my siblings and for that, I am grateful.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You can't fix your brother's attitude toward your son - just keep your son as far away from his as possible so he doesn't decide to "discipline" him himself!

Anytime someone plans a destination wedding far from family, they have to expect that some people cannot come. You can cut back your contact with your brother so you minimize the "bad" reaction, which I assume you have faced before so you know what it's like. If your brother is that rigid and selfish, I wonder that you want to spend any time together.

I would either stay home entirely, sending regrets, and declining your mother's offer of the ticket (because you still have to deal with your son and you will have other expenses there) OR I would consider going alone and leaving my husband home with the kids. It's not a ton of fun going to a wedding alone, but if you have housing with other family members, it might be manageable. And you would wind up with a weekend alone for yourself, away from the child care and difficulties with your kids. If that would be fun for you (because you enjoy the other people who are attending and you could also keep some peace in the family) and you could pay for just the one ticket, maybe that's a compromise. But if you would hate every minute of it, then send regrets.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I went to my cousin's wedding alone last year. I shared a room with my mom. I am sorry that your brother and people in your life are so unforgiving and are not understanding. I think that is very rude of them. You have very good reasons not to go and no one should bat an eye if you rsvp'd no. Since you say there will be very bad fallout I think just you should go and leave the rest of your family at home. Fly up one night. The next day go to the wedding. Fly back the next morning. Good luck. Keep working on making your life simpler!! You can do it! Delegate delegate delegate! And learn to say no much more often. Put yourself first more often. Let go of things you try to control. That's my pep-talk for you :) PS - if your brother is that self centered and that much of a jerk perhaps it is not a bad thing to skip the wedding. Perhaps cutting him out of your life would be a blessing. You really don't need someone like that in your life. We cannot pick our family unfortunately.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Can you go by yourself just for the wedding? Fly in and out in like 24 hours so you are gone as short of time as possible.

Then your son is home with dad and you do get 24 hours of respite and a wedding, maybe with a glass of wine to boot.

Good luck. If you can't go alone then you will have to decline the RSVP.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

ETA: Sorry - I guess I should have read ahead. Other people suggested it. Hope you have a great trip with your mom!

I don't see the problem here. I really don't. Go with your mom. Your husband can stay with your son. You both don't need to be there.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't see any reasonable choice other than to send your regrets. I'm sorry your family isn't more understanding.

ETA: Oh, I'm so glad that you found a workable alternative.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I am so glad you will be going with your Mom. I hope you have a wonderful time and even get to relax a bit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would leave my husband at home to take care of son, and go by myself. It doesn't sound like the wedding will be fun if you bring your son, so why bother?

Reading below: Sounds like you came to that conclusion before I posted. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I would what works for me. I have an autistic grandson with process disorder issues. I understand the difficulty that a change in routine and location causes. Fortunately our family has not had reasons to make a sudden change. If his parents were in a similar position, they would stay home. Sometimes they do go home because of issues related to his behaviour or the reaction of adults. This isn't difficult because they are close to home. They rely on me to take care of him at times.

You have 2 difficultis when considering this trip. The distance from home with the changes of changes in routine. As well as relatives judgements. I would not go. I would be extremely disappointed. I would say, "I want to come but it is not possible." Then I wouldn't respond to negative or judgemental comments. I would say somethin like "I'm disappointed too." I would not say why I couldn't come because saying so, gives them reason to question your decision and blame your son.

You have reason to not go because you're overwhelmed with strong feelings of anxiety and depression affecting your life. As others have said you need to take care of yourself and stop trying to make others happy when to do so, makes you feel out of control.

If going is important to YOU, consider leaving your husband staying home with him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.
Don't go.
There's no fall out if you don't accept any and don't apologize for not being able to attend.
Your priorities are else where and other family members are going to have to get over it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

So glad you figured it out! And yes that is the solution I was going to suggest too! :) Sometimes we get so wrapped up in a problem, we don't see the easy way out! Hope you have a great time and I think you have the right attitude about your family and everything else!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i would decline.
what sort of a brother would not 'forgive and forget' a sister with the challenges you've got?
i was the only one who didn't go to a brother's wedding several years ago, simply because it wasn't convenient for our family at the time. i'm pretty sure there was some minor resentment over it, but i get to choose what works for me and mine.
if they want you there so very badly, why not have it close to you?
you really do have to learn how to do a better 'no.' it can be done with love, and courtesy, and finality.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Here's my thought. Take your mom, your husband, and your child with you to the event.

Why not drive? I can drive from OKC to Denver CO which is 3 states away in 10 hours or so and anywhere just a couple of states away can't take more than a day WITH stops every couple of hours.

If your vehicle isn't fit to travel that far then rent a car or van with a DVD player in it, pay the gas, stop and eat out every meal, and you STILL won't pay $1800 for your trip. Flying you still have to rent a car, pay for food out, and other travel things.

Then one of you keep the boy in the room or busy during the ceremony. Problem solved. You can use your room as a home base and he can stay there a great deal. He can also go wander about and do things that are offered in the venue. With some leeway he can have a good time and be controllable within his needs.

I've traveled a lot and it's not hard. If you need to you could leave after dinner. Then get in the car/van and drive for a couple of hours. Around bedtime/9pm stop at a good place to get a snack and use their bathrooms to change him into his night wear. Then back in the car/van. He watches a movie until he's asleep and you or hubby or mom can drive all night. You are there before the sun comes up. Sharing the drive is good too. That way no one person stays up all night. I've done this a bunch of times. It's so easy! I prefer to drive that way actually.

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