Thursday, September 14, 2006

DILEMMAS RE: DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS: HOW TO DEAL: PART V

A few months ago, I found myself (with TallGuy) on a lazy Sunday watching My Fair Brady: We're Getting Married! So... I used to have a major crush on Peter Brady when I was nine. I'll admit it. I loved watching re-runs of The Brady Bunch (and you could basically find them on 15 different channels at all times), and Peter was always my favorite. Forget Greg, the hearthrob/wannabe singer (Johnny Bravo) -- Peter was a middle child (like me), sensitive (like I try to be), and damn cute! So who CARED that he wasn't real? Or was a product of the late 60s (and was about 20 years older than me??)

Naturally, then, My Fair Brady: We're Getting Married! has become standard fare in the TallGuy/Wedding Fairy household (at least when we stumble upon it while watching TV at random hours -- i.e. not during our The Office, Reno 911, or Project Runway viewings (my choice). There was one particular episode that struck me - and relates to this series - about divorced parents - and how Adrienne dealt with that situation PRE-wedding.

With respect to divorced parents, issues don't simply arise AT the actual wedding. One thing to keep in mind is that thought should be given when it comes to the planning stage--in terms of the levels of involvement that each parent will have during this process.

During this particular episode, Adrienne (Peter's pretty yet slightly crazy/odd fiance) left the warm and fuzzy confines of L.A. to see her parents in her small hometown during the planning process. And it wasn't pretty. Or fun. Adrienne was doing her best to see both her parents (her mother, still single) (her father, newly remarried), and keep them both in the planning loop - but she was finding it difficult including both of them - separately - and keeping her emotions in check.

I don't remember every detail of that episode, but I do remember a lot of crying (on Adrienne's part), and a lot of helpless staring (on Christopher Knight's part) -- there were separate visits to each parent, and the visits were not always comfortable. As I watched, I realized that the planning process is not all fun and games for all involved. And I wondered how these complicated relationships played a role in the planning process.

The bottom line? The bottom line is whatever your bottom line can be--i.e. your doing as much as you can to include and accommodate everyone--but remembering your own feelings/emotions too. If planning is painful/stressful to you because you feel like you have to include your mother in the dress shopping, but ALSO not offend your father by asking your stepmother to get involved in some way -- then you have to remember your bottom line - always go back to that.

Normally, I'm all for doing everything possible to make your guests feel comfortable. I still stick to that, but during PLANNING, you should be your own boss--and do whatever you need to do in order to make (and keep) the process enjoyable. Planning doesn't involve the same discomfort issues that a wedding does (i.e. loud announcements by DJs, or very obvious seating situations). Therefore, keeping everyone happy during this stage isn't really the goal - the goal is to get the job done, and to enjoy doing it (from what I hear, planning is stressful enough - even WITHOUT divorced/separated parent issues).

If your mother doesn't like that you didn't ask her longtime boyfriend for advice on selecting photographers (and he's a photographer), tough #&!. If your father doesn't understand why you didn't invite your stepmother along to the caterer tasting -- deal with it. As long as you try to keep in mind the thoughts/feelings of others, you've done your job.

So plan away and keep in mind those who want to help you - but don't get mired in the BS during this stage of the game - it's more important to think about how those relationships will play out AT THE WEDDING (and plan accordingly) than deal with family strife BEFORE HAND.

That's the advice I would give to Adrienne and (sigh) Christopher Knight/Peter Brady, and that's the advice I am giving to you now.

Stay tuned!

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