Wedding advice: My wedding date falls during my sister’s “busy season.” She’s enraged. – Slate

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Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Dear Prudence,

My fiancé and I got engaged over the holidays. We live out of the country and knew it would require our families to save up to attend, so we’ve been trying to figure out everything as soon as possible. I’ve wanted to get married in March ever since I realized my fiancé was the one. March is absolutely gorgeous here and it’s the month of many significant things in my life, as well as my relationship. When I started researching all my options, the first weekend in March came together like it was meant to be. The one place I really wanted to get married is usually booked two years in advance but had an opening for next year. Everything else fell into place making this date seem meant to be. I even got an insanely good deal on hotels for my family through some connections. The problem is my sister.

She is an accountant and this time of year can be very busy for her. I checked with her when I first got engaged and she said she could most likely make it work the first week in March. She double-checked with her boss, who agreed as long as she did extra work the week before and wasn’t completely MIA during the week she wanted off. The destination is across many time zones and is a long plane ride, so coming for anything less than a week is difficult. At first, my sister was fine, but last week, I got a call from her saying that she was upset that I would plan my wedding during tax season and that the trip was going to be really stressful for her. I told her that I was surprised because she originally said it was fine. She said that after thinking about it for a while, she realized it would be more of an imposition than she thought. I told her that the dates had been set, deposits had been placed, and she had almost two months to think about how this would have impacted her. She immediately started yelling, called me a bridezilla, and hung up.

The next day, I got a call from my mom to talk about why I “had upset my sister so much.” I told her the situation and my mom stopped just short of telling me I should change my wedding date. I am still in shock. My sister isn’t the golden child, but my mom subtly favors her over me. I’ve brought this up to my mom several times and she brushes it off as a non-issue. Honestly, I’m kind of heartbroken that my mom and sister can’t just get behind me for this once-in-a-lifetime thing. I wanted to get an outside opinion and see if I am in fact, being a bridezilla. For reference: Everybody in our family also had to travel to my sister’s wedding, which was in a much more expensive location and she put us through the wringer with the things she made us do. I’m not having any bridesmaids, so she has no duties. Am I being too insensitive? Should I be taking the imposition on my sister’s schedule more seriously?

—Possible Bridezilla

Dear Possible Bridezilla,

How’s the family you’re marrying into? Because the one you have is really disappointing. I hope you are surrounded on your wedding day by people who support you or can at least pretend that your event isn’t about them. Unfortunately, I don’t think your sister will be one of them. Your line for the rest of the planning process can be, “I’m really sorry you won’t be there. I wish you would have told me about your scheduling conflict sooner, but it’s too late to make a change now.” And your only response to, “You’re a bridezilla” or any other unreasonable allegations is, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” You and your sister have a long life full of holiday celebrations and family events and maybe being aunts to each other’s children ahead of you. You might have to navigate family crises and care for ailing parents together. All of this will be absolutely miserable if she’s in the habit of bullying you. So there’s no time like the present to send a clear message that she’s not the only one who’s feelings matter, and that you won’t let her attacks make you question your entirely reasonable decisions.

How to Get Advice From Prudie

Submit your questions anonymously here. (Questions may be edited for publication.) 

Dear Prudence, 

I recently reconnected with one of the nurses who was part of my care team when I was recovering from my strokes in 2016 and instantly became very good friends, sharing our deepest and personal secrets and our situations at home. We cried on each other’s shoulders many nights and held hands to comfort each other. I told her about my divorce, and she told me about breaking up with her abusive fiancée and moving out. She was currently sleeping on a co-worker’s sofa. I offered her one of the extra rooms in my townhouse and she accepted.

We’ve had a few enjoyable dates and kissing sessions, and we sleep together every night with nothing more than holding hands and a good night kiss. She’s very attractive, funny, compassionate, and a hard worker. She is the type of woman I had dreamed about before I got married to my ex. My female interest and I have a lot in common and one big difference: our age. I’ll be 65 later this year and she’ll be 55 next month. I think there is a chance for a special romance between the two of us but can’t decide if I should go all in for a romantic relationship. Help!

—Do I Or Don’t

Dear Do I,

I always struggle to decide exactly what kind of an age gap is creepy or troubling. So I admittedly don’t have a clear rule, but despite that, I can still say with confidence here: You’re fine! Ten years’ difference for two older adults is absolutely nothing.

However, there are some other concerns. First, this woman is struggling financially and living in your home, so she’s pretty vulnerable. You don’t want to make a move that would make her uncomfortable—or worse, make her wonder whether she has to take things to the next level with you in exchange for room and board. Second, she just got out of an abusive relationship. Even if she likes you as much as you like her, it’s very likely that she’s not ready to jump into something serious and official. Third, respectfully, your communication sucks! How have you talked about all of your deepest secrets and not, “So … what are we doing here?” Absolutely don’t go “all in for a romantic relationship” until you’re all in on being close enough to have a normal adult conversation about your feelings and gently inquire about hers.

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Dear Prudence,

My dear friend and I work in the same competitive industry. She has an incredible and well-respected track record and wants to leave her current employer, but keeps getting rejected from positions for which she should be a shoo-in. She doesn’t know why. I know exactly why. She approaches work interactions in a more formal way than is the norm in our business, and people interpret her as rude. We’re also in an industry where people take pride in flattening power hierarchies and elevating the perspectives of folks all up and down the chain (which I love about our industry); she views the world in a more traditional, hierarchical way. This also rubs people (including me sometimes) the wrong way.

She’s been up for multiple positions where I know someone involved in the hiring process, and this is 100 percent the reason she is not getting these positions. There is probably a gendered element to the perception of her as rude, as she is very direct. But from my observations regarding the power dynamics, it is not 100 percent gendered, it is also a mismatch between our industry’s cultural norms and her ways of operating. I love her and do not want to hurt her. Telling her this will hurt her, and I also do not think this is fully something she can change, or something she’d be willing to change. Not getting these positions is also hurting her, especially as she is very confused about why she is not getting them. So: to tell her or not tell her? And if I should tell her, how?

—To Tell or Not to Tell

Dear Not to Tell,

Unless she asks for your perspective or advice, don’t say a word. This shouldn’t be too hard, since you don’t believe anything you would share would make a big difference anyway. If she does ask, be specific about the kind of behavior that might be rubbing people wrong rather than insulting her with terms like “rude” or focusing on people’s distaste for her personality. For example: “The fact that you address people senior to you as Mr. or Mrs. but don’t speak at all to the administrative assistants might give the impression that you’re not on board with flattening hierarchies in the way people in this industry value.”

Dear Prudence,

I am a 39-year-old woman who has always loved theater. In my adult life, it has taken a back burner. However, a few years ago, I decided to dip my toe back in the water. This was with the encouragement and support of my lovely good friend “Bethany” who has performed with many local theater companies and has a very well-earned reputation as a great performer and amazing person to work with. I got big and sometimes leading roles fairly easily as a young person, but I also know that rejection is just part of the business, so I was surprised both by how difficult it was to get cast and how much it hurt when I wasn’t.

This was exacerbated by the fact that I talked Bethany into coming with me to a few auditions for shows I definitely let myself get too excited about and wound up not getting in while she did. I think it was the feeling of being passed over while Bethany (and her partner, who is also a stalwart in many local troupes) continued to get chosen over and over that got me. It was impossible at times not to feel like she was not just chosen while I wasn’t, but chosen over me, though in reality, we wouldn’t have been up for the same roles. I wasn’t mad at all at Bethany. She’s wonderful and I know why she got cast. She knocked those shows out of the park! The feelings were just complicated. I recently got a very (very) small role in a show and wound up not having the best time or gelling with the cast, who were gelling spectacularly with each other, but I put my best into my handful of lines and stayed professional, reliable, and a team player. It stung a lot though, especially when the rest of the cast forgot to include me in a photo while I was just in the other room. It compounded the feeling that the theater scene in our city might just not be for me on the whole, but I was hoping to potentially be able to translate my small part and can-do attitude into something meatier now that my foot was in the door.

However, I was passed over again for a role in the same company’s next show, and while I am fine, I can’t pretend like the feeling of sadness isn’t accruing to the level of diminishing returns. I didn’t even get a callback, while other people were getting in on their first auditions. I know I’m a good actor. Not better or more deserving than other people who get in the shows, but good! While I would love a chance for something bigger and I know I am absolutely capable, I can’t force that and I know it’s just a matter of tight competition and the director’s vision. Despite knowing it’s not personal, I am still very much considering giving one or two more shows a chance, and then perhaps, if I am still not getting roles or only getting incredibly small ones, I’ll focus on other things where I feel more successful and valued. Bethany has spoken about how great it would be to work together sometime, but I would really like to not go out for any more shows she does. Past experience tells me she will get in and get a lead role, and I am very much likely not to be cast here. I don’t want to risk our friendship by getting resentful or self-conscious about this, but I know telling her that I won’t audition with her anymore won’t be a fun conversation, and I am also risking the small chance that maybe we both will get in a play and have a lot of fun! What should I do?

—No Small Parts

Dear No Small Parts,

A good friend would understand if you explained why you didn’t want to audition with her. But I don’t think you should put Bethany in that position. And I don’t think you should prioritize the possibility of a rewarding acting experience over a relationship with someone who you admit is “lovely” and unproblematic and wants more time with you. You have very little control over whether you’ll be what any particular production is looking for or whether any cast you perform with will embrace you and remember to include you in the photo. Pulling away from a genuine, supportive relationship—one that you know can thrive if you nurture it—just to avoid feelings of jealousy and hope that you might have a better experience than you have so far seems unwise to me. Tell Bethany how you’re feeling about the rejections, but agree to continue to audition with her. And ask her for some acting tips!

Dear Prudence,

My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly 30 years. We both were single parents. We agreed to raise our children in their own homes, not forcing the two families together. It worked, the kids got along fine and even considered themselves brothers and sisters. Well, the kids aren’t kids anymore, grown with their own families. My boyfriend convinced me to sell my home and move in with him. I thought it was time and financially it would help us both. It started out well until recently we got into an argument. For two months, I was given the silent treatment or single-word responses. He did this on occasion when we lived separately but I would go home and he would eventually get over it. Now I am stuck (in his home) with this behavior. We are practically senior citizens. I am financially stable on my own. Should I stay or should I leave him and his home?

—Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Dear Stuck,

Two months of the silent treatment?? Not two hours or two days but two months? I’m in shock and actually surprised you didn’t move out during this time. That said, another big number in your letter is 30. This isn’t new to you. I’m interested in how you handled his behavior over the past three decades. Did you ever let him know that it hurt you and you found it unacceptable? Or did you just respond like nothing had happened whenever he decided to speak to you again? If not, it’s worth telling him one good, clear time that he’s going to have to find another way to cope when he gets upset. Give him an explicit warning that the next time he shuts down for more than 24 hours, you’ll start packing your bags.

Classic Prudie

I hate my son’s girlfriend of 13 years. They are high school sweethearts who are now 30 and talking about buying property and eventually starting a family together. He currently lives at home and helps pay my mortgage, among other things. If he leaves, I will be forced to sell the house and adjust to a new lifestyle. I feel she will keep me away from my son when they move out.

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