Ask Damon: I told my fiancée son I hate weddings. Now I feel neglected.

Hi Damon: My son is engaged to a woman who loves to organize parties, and now I have hired a wedding planner. The wedding is planned for March 2024, the last I heard. I told my son, I really don’t want to hear anything about her. I told Khatib that too.

I hate weddings. I get my palms sweaty thinking of playing any role at all, and I get too anxious at the thought of appearing. But what I really hate about weddings is tidy consumerism, the fact that people buy into all the nonsense (literally), and that they’re a major show event of marriage when half of them end up in divorce. It makes me say no to all of that.

Here’s the twist: I’m white. My son is biracial. My husband is an immigrant from the Caribbean and is a real loner. We basically don’t socialize much, and we don’t communicate at all since the pandemic hit. My son is very social and so is his fiancée. Her family is huge, very close, very rooted in black identity.

I feel like my son is choosing ‘them’ over ‘we’, and that adds another layer of hurt on top of anxiety. Her grandmother was amazed by him when she first met him. They all just love him to pieces. Which I’m not complaining about, don’t get me wrong!

It’s just a feeling of rejection. How do I handle wedding tensions when I feel disapproved of being an anti-wedding person as well as a white person? Instead of my identity, which is fiercely independent, non-committal since childhood, highly intelligent and a successful career with a life full of joy, I get on my knees daily in gratitude.

Future mother-in-law who hates weddings

future mother-in-law: I’m curious if you’ve already read the question you asked me before submitting it. In the first paragraph, you reveal that you told your son and his new fiancée that you literally don’t care about what might be the biggest day of their lives, you forbade them from sharing any details about it with you, and you wonder why you feel neglected?

We don’t even have to get to the racing part – I will eventually, but not yet – but they seem to do exactly what I asked of them. You don’t want to be included in planning a wedding that will undoubtedly include countless opportunities for your families to meet, laugh, dine, and bond, so they don’t include you.

Now, for your future son-in-law’s family, you’re the cold white woman who wants nothing to do with her son’s wedding to a black woman. Even if race had nothing to do with this – it does, but let’s pretend it doesn’t – the optics here are horrible, and I don’t envy the uphill climb that you’ll need to adjust if you want to be included in the family stuff from now on.

I’m not saying you have to be Martha Stewart. I think most people, even those who want or have had weddings, would agree that they can be overpriced and these looks with minimal impact on an actual marriage. But you are so committed to the claim of “free thinking” that you don’t really think about it. If you are, you will see that there is a huge difference between “Planning big events gives me anxiety, and I wouldn’t be offended if you didn’t involve me. But if there’s anything else I can do to help, please let me know!” And the “My name is Chris and I don’t care about that!

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I think the best way forward is to just apologize to your son and his fiancée for being so cold. Explain to them that it was your anxiety about weddings that caused your behavior, not your feelings about the actual marriage. I would also suggest that you see a therapist who might help explain why you insist on being so dismissive on their big day.

Also, are you sure your actions have anything to do with your feelings about the wedding and nothing to do with your feelings about marriage? Because I am not. You seem to have some concern about your son embracing this new black family and leaving his white mother behind. But your fear appears to be an anticipation of behavior rather than actual behavior, because there is nothing in your letter to indicate that your son has ostracized you.

I think it would be helpful for you to ask yourself some tough questions about race and how that contributes to your discomfort. For example, you refer to him as biracial. It is technically. But historically, in America, your son is too black. This is how race building works here, affecting every aspect of your son’s life, and I hope you realize that. Perhaps you feel that his choice of a black partner is a reinforcement of this reality and a distance from you. The former may be very true, but the latter doesn’t have to be.

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