• Mon, Aug 9 2010

Bitch, Please: Just Say No To The Bridesmaid’s Dress If It’s That Bad A Marriage

Do you have issues with your no-longer-best girlfriend? Is your coworker driving you crazy? Megan Carpentier is here to give you the life advice that you don’t want to hear, told in the way you absolutely need to hear it.

You can title this: My Friend Is Marrying a Stupid Asshole Who Doesn’t Deserve Her and I Do Not Want to Be in Her Wedding. That pretty much says it all: my friend has been with this idiot douchebag for about a year now and is talking about marrying him. It seems pretty much a given that they will get engaged next month. Yet, 2 months ago, I was on the phone with her constantly because she was ready to end the relationship due to his anger management issues, his control issues and his propensity to call her fat and unattractive and harass her for not working out enough.

Suddenly, she seems perfectly content to proceed apace with the relationship. We haven’t talked about it and I don’t think she wants to hear anything I have to say — I tried to listen and be supportive when she was upset previously, but I never sought to hide my opinion about what was happening. Nonetheless, I think there is a good chance I will be tapped to be a bridesmaid when they get engaged.

I know that people in abusive relationships may not choose to leave for a number of reasons, and that to be a true friend to someone in that situation is to not judge them and just be there, but I am having a MAJOR issue reconciling bridesmaid duty/spending tons money in a celebration of a marriage to this asshole. I love my friend with all my heart, and I want to share this with her, but I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I think about doing this. I don’t want to “punish” her or make her feel bad, but I can’t put myself through all that, knowing what I know about her boyfriend. If and when she asks me, what should I say?

Awesome. Well, so you broke the penultimate rule of girlfriend-dom: never badmouth the boyfriend until he’s really, really out of the picture, because some version of this situation happens every single time. Of course, your friend broke the ultimate rule of girlfriend-dom: never badmouth your boyfriend to your girlfriends if you’re going to stay with him no matter what kind of asshat he is.

So, your girl friend is marrying an asshat. A huge asshat. Whether she’s staying because she is abused and doesn’t know how to leave, or because she really, really wants to get married and having a husband who’s an asshat seems like a better deal than being single, it’s difficult to say — but, by your retelling, it seems that the prospect of the Big White Wedding seems to weigh rather heavily on her decision.

There is, however, a really big difference between “not judging” a person who finds it difficult to extricate themselves from an abusive (or just shitty) relationship, and actively working to support the relationship. Technically, being a bridesmaid is actively working to support the relationship, which you have trouble doing. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The best time to bring this up, however, is not when she asks you to be a bridesmaid. Like, not by a long shot. This is a face-to-face, air-clearing, future-of-the-friendship kind of conversation, and should be treated as such — which is why I recommend the application of brunch food and at least one mimosa. And when she’s sipping on champagne and scarfing Eggs Benedict, you start the conversation in this way.

“You know that I love you, and I really want to see you happy. And, under normal circumstances, nothing would make me happier than supporting you as you pledge your life to someone that makes you happy. Now, maybe I just haven’t been privy to the ways your boyfriend has changed, or how he’s made up to you his temper tantrums, his control issues and his really, really unnecessary insults of you personally. And, if I just haven’t been seeing the concrete and specific ways that he’s not only apologized and made up for his past behavior but also changed the way that he treats you on a daily basis, please tell me, because I would be happy if that’s the case. But if it’s not the case, then I’m not totally sure why you would want to spend the rest of your life with someone who treats you poorly, or how I can pretend like the way he treats you is okay with me.”

And then listen. Chances are, he hasn’t changed and she knows it, and you’ll get a better sense of why she’s staying (because of the abuse, or because of the possible wedding), which can help dictate your response if and when she asks. But, at the end of the day, if it’s not a marriage you support, it’s not fair to be part of the wedding, nor of her to ask you to shell out the money to do so despite your deep reservations. But at the end of a day, an invitation to be a bridesmaid is supposed to mean more than shelling out for the dress and standing for the pics, and if you broach the subject with her before she asks, she can either alleviate your concerns or take the VERY broad hint that she ought not ask. But if she doesn’t do either, you aren’t required to accept standing there next to her and smiling for the cameras as she marries some asshat or abuser — but keep in mind that, if she does agree to marry him and ask you to participate, she might react like either an abuse victim (defensively) or like someone who wants to marry an asshat (defensively), instead of like the friend you love.

If you have a problem with a friend, relative, coworker, or other person in your life, email Megan at advice@thegloss.com. If you have a problem with your boyfriend, you should probably just try talking to him.

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  • Jessy

    Excellent article! Wow, finally. Someone got it right.

  • Bowleserised

    Thanks for this – I find that variations on this come up all the time, moreso know as we’re in our thirties.

    I had a similar situation a decade ago and did not clear the air. Now there’s a lingering tension between me and the friend, who knows I don’t like her husband. I accept that he must have improved, and that that happened between them and I know nothing about it, but she still stiffens up if I ever say something about him.

    • Bowleserised

      “moreso NOW”

      Ugh.

  • cori

    I opted out of a friend’s wedding because I thought SHE was the one who would end the marriage quickly or call the whole thing off and the dress alone was about $300 and I’m poor. I was wrong & they seem to be very happy together. It was a bad choice on my part and I feel bad about it but when you’re on a tight budget like I am $300 on is just too much for something you don’t think will work out.