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My future brother-in-law is a needy trainwreck. Help!

June 14, 2013, at 9:10 AM
 

Dear Starshine,

I'm getting married, and the wedding plans were going smoothly until two weeks ago, when my fiancé's brother (a groomsman) decided to pull out of the wedding, saying he doesn't even want to be a part of our lives. This came as a total shock to us. He said he felt that my fiancé does not care about him. He expects them to hang out every weekend and for my husband-to-be to call more often. My fiancé is hurt by his brother, who seems to be slowly cutting the family off; he already doesn't speak to their mother. We tried apologizing, but he wanted guarantees that my fiancé will spend more time with him. We feel there is a deeper issue, as his wife became irate when she wasn't asked to be my maid of honor (I barely know her). I worry that he and his wife may crash the wedding after all. Should I try to fix the situation in hopes of a better relationship between my fiancé and his brother?

What I'm about to say is going to piss you off before it calms you down, so be patient.

Your wedding is not a big deal.

It's impossible for you to recognize this, as you're likely garter-deep in cake tastings, floral fiascos, and RSVP cards, but it really doesn't matter if this demanding dude and his dramatic wife crash the wedding or march down the aisle or boycott the post-toast Electric Slide entirely. It's just a party. And it's not about them. No one will notice but you. And I'm hoping you're too tipsy to care at that point. So let's remove wedding-day worries from the equation and figure out what's left.

You're marrying into a tumultuous family — also known by its more common name, "a family." And you're right to be concerned about your groom's relationship with Mr. Needypants; it'll be hard for him to be happy if his brother isn't, and hard for you to be happy if your husband isn't.

Even when your emotionally blackmailing "fiancé's brother" becomes your emotionally blackmailing "brother-in-law," though, this family feud won't be yours to fight. Here's a little something no one tells you while you're shopping for bridesmaid dresses: Marriage means taking on the full dysfunction of your spouse's family even as you waive the right to butt in and fix it.

But hey, enjoy the wedding!

***

Dear Starshine,

I am a PhD student, and have a hard time connecting with men who are as or more academically advanced than I am. I can easily talk with them, but when it comes to relationships, I don't know why, but I always fall for the guy who is a happy-go-lucky type and typically is only a graduate. And then I am not happy because I don't see them as ambitious enough. How do I deal with this? I don't want to have a divorce down the road because I misjudged.

Listen, Miss Judgment, are you looking for a Mr. or an MD? It makes sense to zoom in on post-nominal titles if you're hiring a professor or proctologist; otherwise it's strange — and ultimately useless — to define people by their degree level. In fact the phrases "advanced" and "only a graduate" make me think you need to get off campus more.

There will always be someone better educated than you. But "ambitious" pertains to love as much as it does to education. Be ambitious enough in your romantic life to go after what you're clearly drawn to: Someone whose joy isn't tied to his academic status — and who'll think it's hot to call you Dr.

Send me your dilemmas via email: ToughLove@TheWeek.com. And follow me on Twitter: @ToughLoveAdvice.

 

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