I have a simple question about a close friend and her husband. Our youngest son recently was engaged. There will be an engagement party coming up and an e-vite was sent. Our friends responded “no” because they would be attending a college football game but would let us know if their plans change. We know they have not purchased tickets yet for this event.
Since they are among our closest friends it doesn’t feel very supportive. Am I overthinking this?
Background: Our eldest son of four children was married two years ago. This same couple accepted the invitation but left right after dinner to attend another wedding that they were invited to. It left two seats empty at that table. We felt they should have accepted one or the other invitation, and once again it didn’t feel supportive.
Mother of the Groom
Dear Mother of the Groom,
I agree it doesn’t feel very supportive to put a football game over a family celebration; to me, it also lacks consideration to respond with a “maybe” if a formal RSVP was asked for.
However, let’s try to find some grace for them, because this is surely the best way to handle difficult relationship situations.
Since you consider this couple to be one of your closest friends, I’ll assume that these two situations you mention are aberrations after many years of a mutually supportive relationship.
The first thing that occurs to me is that it’s human nature for us to grow and change throughout our lives. This leaves us with a choice—either we embrace our inner work and consciously strive to better and strengthen ourselves, or we don’t and then the forces of the world work upon us, oftentimes to our detriment.
The past few years and ongoing pressure of the pandemic have changed all of us and created new dimensions in many relationships, so from this perspective, it is perhaps not surprising that we might feel some tension with those close to us.
This brings me to my next thought, which is that perhaps it’s time to give this relationship some more time and attention if you feel so called.
Maybe you and your friend can get together, just ladies, and you can have a heart to heart about how you are doing. This might give you some insight into how and who they are now, and why they’ve made the choices they have.
It might also be the case that they simply have no idea their actions were hurtful to you. Perhaps they see this engagement party as more akin to a casual backyard barbecue than a pre-wedding celebration, in which case their casual answer would feel perfectly fine to them.
Also, when we feel someone is not reciprocating, it’s good to ask ourselves if perhaps they are feeling the same from us? Are we unknowingly doing something hurtful to them? It is easy to do.
And, as another way to explain their actions, perhaps these two situations you mentioned could be explained by understanding what this football game and other wedding mean to them? Maybe they’ve realized that they need to prioritize being a couple over group engagements at this time? Perhaps their first date was a college football game and so this game has special significance for them.
Was the other wedding they left to attend a family wedding? Perhaps they carefully considered all options and decided that going to both was the way they felt they could best support and honor all their important relationships—even though it didn’t feel this way to you.
Of course I don’t know what was in their hearts, but maybe if you get closer to them, understand what has been happening in their lives, you will find peace and joy again in your relationship with them. Of course it might also be that your relationship expectations need to change—perhaps they are just not now people who can support you in the way you need to be supported? In which case maybe it’s OK to let the relationship go a bit. Or maybe they need your support at this time more than you need theirs? In which case maybe it’s time to forge a stronger friendship.
But of course, make sure your cup is full first. Do you have other relationships you can turn to now for support? Perhaps you could talk to your husband or son? I would guess either of them would be happy to give you a hug.
As a final thought, when a son marries, I think his mother needs to let go of him to some extent, in her heart; I imagine this is not easy. So maybe it’s nice for you to honor this giving, and any feelings—perhaps a bit of grief—that come with it? But since this is your fourth, you would know more than I!
June Kellum is a married mother of three and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.