Dear Annie: My fiance and I were best friends growing up, and our families were close, as well. When we were 16, his parents suddenly pulled "Paul" out of school and told me never to call their house again. My mother said Paul was no longer welcome in our home and I was not to mention his family again. I never knew what happened.
Five years later, Paul and I reconnected at college and began dating. Neither set of parents was happy about it. We've been together for seven years and recently bought a house and started a veterinary practice together. When we became engaged, everyone in both families was nasty to us, including our siblings.
We've tried on multiple occasions to get the families together, but it's always been a disaster. Nobody will tell us why our families don't get along. When we ask, we get indignant and childish answers like, "They know what they did" or "What difference does it make?"
We are planning a wedding, but at this point, we're not inviting the relatives. We're both fed up and decided to hold a small civil ceremony and then have a night out with friends. His sister found out and blew a gasket, saying I've done enough to "ruin" their family and why can't I leave them alone.
We'd love to have a wedding where people behaved themselves, but that's not in the cards. Is it wrong to insist they tell us what the feud is about, or should we get over it? We're so tired of this nonsense.
Not Romeo and Juliet
Dear Juliet: We think it's time to get to the bottom of this. Since it is affecting your future with Paul, you have a right to understand what is going on. You might also point out that when you and Paul marry, the families will need to put past hurts aside and be civil, or it will be difficult to include them in your life. We hope they can clear the air and get past this.
Dear Annie: The letter from "Put Out in Peoria," whose family members boycott one another's weddings, is a sad but classic example of the many petty family feuds that make their way into your column. Everyone has flaws, and family members hurt one another's feelings, usually unintentionally, perhaps because of conflicts or envy going all the way back to childhood. Bad behavior and selfishness should not be condoned.
However, I'd like to suggest that anyone who is fuming about her young children not being invited to a wedding or about her cousin's claiming Grandma's garnet ring that was promised to her should pause to consider all the real suffering there is in the world — such as the person down the block with terminal cancer or the friend whose child was killed by a drunk driver. Just grow up and get over it.
Rude in Redway, Calif.
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