Life

Ask Fiona: Should I ask my step-daughter to be a bridesmaid?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers advice to a woman havinga dilemma bout her wedding; another who has concerns about her friend and finding love after a break up

It's the right thing to do to ask your partner's daughter to be part of the bridal party
By Fiona Caine, PA

THE man I am about to marry has a daughter with his first wife. Their divorce was difficult, and his ex-wife has always she made it very hard for him to see the child. He and I plan to marry in the summer, and it will be a white wedding with my two sisters as bridesmaids. My fiancé’s mother insists we should be asking his daughter to be a bridesmaid as well – and now says she won’t come to the wedding unless this happens.

I know she doesn’t like me and thinks I had something to do with the divorce (I didn’t – he and I didn’t even know one another when they split). The trouble is, I just know what will happen – we’ll go to all the expense of organising a dress and everything, then his ex-wife won’t let her come.

If I say yes to this and then the girl doesn’t come, it will spoil the day for my fiancé and he won’t enjoy the wedding. If I say no, it’s going to upset my mother-in-law-to-be, who then won’t come – and that will spoil things for my fiancé too. I just want my fiancé to enjoy our wedding.

He says it is up to me, but I know he really wants his mum to come and would really love for his daughter to be a bridesmaid. I just don’t know what to do for the best.

KE

FIONA SAYS: I can understand why you don’t like the idea of being given ultimatums by your mother-in-law-to-be, but stop for one moment and think about this little girl. The one who is about to become your stepdaughter. If she knows of the wedding plans, she is probably feeling very left out, and I have to say, I am rather concerned that your fiancé isn’t more concerned about including her.

Lots of little girls get very excited at the idea of being a bridesmaid, and I’m sure your fiancé’s daughter is no different. Trying to organise this with your husband’s ex-wife will I’m sure be tricky, but there’s someone else who could do this and might really appreciate the opportunity.

Rather than be at loggerheads with your new mother-in-law, why not talk to her and explain your fears? You could then ask her to broker the arrangements. I’m sure that, between now and the summer, there will be the opportunity to organise a dress for her (make allowances for her to grow a little of course).

Then you could suggest, for example, that the little girl could come and stay with her granny a few days before the wedding (for rehearsals etc). If that were to happen then it’s more likely she would be able to be there on the day. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have one more bridesmaid at the wedding, and you could be building important bridges by asking her to be there. It will help your relationship with your mother-in-law-to-be and – more importantly – it will help to build a relationship with your new stepdaughter too.

MY FRIEND IS OBSESSED WITH A MARRIED MAN

I’M REALLY worried about my friend who believes she is in love with a guy she works with. She never stops talking about him and, although he’s married, she’s convinced that he’s eventually going to leave his wife to be with her. I’ve been with her when she’s around him and, as far as I can tell, he’s not in the least bit interested in her. She flirts outrageously with him, and he ignores her.

She’s written loads of letters to him, none of which he’s acknowledged, and last week she followed him around town all weekend whilst he was out with his family. They didn’t notice, but I am worried that this is going to blow up in her face any day now. I’ve tried to get her to back off but she won’t see sense, so what should I do?

EB

FIONA SAYS: Your friend’s behaviour sounds like it could potentially be bordering on harassment, which could land her in trouble. I suspect the man would be justified in involving the police if she continues to stalk him in this way. She really needs to understand the potential seriousness of what she’s doing.

I know you’ve already tried to make her see sense and I suspect it will not be easy to get her to realise this is an obsession – at least that’s how it sounds.

She may resent your interference and it could well affect your friendship, but as her closest and oldest friend, I think this is a risk that you’re going to have to take. Hopefully she will see sense, but if not, all you can then do is be there for her when this delusion crashes down around her.

I’VE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH NEW FRIEND

FOLLOWING a messy break-up, I went through a tricky bout of depression last year and had some counselling for about four months. In that time, through a support group, I met a man who was also seeing a counsellor. He was finding it hard to come to terms with the death of his wife and we struck up an immediate friendship.

We’ve both finished our counselling sessions and have remained good friends. What’s more, we’ve spent a lot of time together, and I realised over Christmas that my feelings for him now go beyond friendship. I love him very much and really want to tell him how I feel.

We’ve been seeing each other for about six months and the longer our friendship continues to grow, the more difficult it will become, I think, to start a real relationship. However, I get the impression that he is not really ready for this, and the last thing I want to do is scare him away. I’d feel terrible if I did that, because I think he relies on me quite a lot for support.

TM

FIONA SAYS: I’m not sure why you’re so worried about this developing friendship. Many successful marriages have happened between people who suddenly realised they were more than friends. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least give him a clue as to how you feel though.

How much worse would you feel if, five years from now, you’re still good friends – and you find out that you’ve loved each other all that time but neither of you had said anything? That really would be a terrible waste.

Let him know that your feelings for him have grown beyond friendship, but that you’re prepared to wait. He may confirm your suspicions that he’s not ready for a relationship – but this need not mean the end of your friendship. If he makes it clear that he’ll never feel anything more for you than friendship, then at least you’ll know and can start to look elsewhere for love. On the other hand, you may find he feels the same way about you but has simply been holding back because he thinks YOU’RE not ready for a relationship. So go on, ask him – you’ll never know otherwise.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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