My sister wants no part in my wedding: Ask Ellie
Q: I’m engaged, getting married before my older, unmarried sister, who just can’t seem to accept it.
She hasn’t shown any interest in meeting my future husband, his family, or partaking in the pre-wedding activities.
She’s said she wouldn’t attend the wedding though I’ve constantly reached out to her and invited her to participate.
She even ignores my attempts at reaching her by phone and messages and avoids talking to me altogether. She tells our parents that I’m desperate to be getting married and that none of us cares about her.
She refuses to seek professional help when it seems that she may be suffering from mental-health issues which we’ve suggested to her. She disregards our plea and says hurtful and irrational things in response.
She also distanced from mutual friends who were being supportive towards me, and saw them as taking sides when they all tried to talk to her to hear her views and understand why she’s treating me this way.
A: This isn’t about your wedding. It’s about a sibling in deep trouble with mental-health issues that need to be understood, for her sake.
Just telling someone that they’re behaving irrationally or talking about it in the family, is no help.
I understand that you all hoped she’d agree and seek treatment ... but that’s not a likely response from a troubled mind.
The wedding is just another flashpoint in whatever it is that she perceives is alienating you from her and vice versa.
Continue with your wedding plans, but don’t lay expectations on her. Tell her you would wish she could be there, but it’s her choice, she’s an adult and you understand.
Then I urge you to talk to your parents about her behaviour changes over the years, and for all of you to meet together with a mental-health professional to get advice on how to reach her.
(She may even join you, once she learns of everyone’s support).
Q: My husband and I separated a couple of years ago. While my mother was dying, he committed adultery with a woman from his church.
He’s even told our child about his actions, and continues to take her to his church, which I find appalling when everyone there knows what he did.
I’m working hard to move on and have spoken with professionals. However, I feel blocked.
He’s very uncommunicative and also uncooperative about getting the separation agreement completed. You’d think he’d be hurrying to get out of our marriage.
My friends don’t understand why I keep accommodating his requests, but I don’t wish to be bitter. I wish him only good things and hope he changes to be a better person for his child.
How does one separate from someone like this, while still getting what I need done for our child?
A: Your dying mother, his cheating, these are tough situations in a family’s life. It’s not that unusual that the separation isn’t finalizing swiftly and easily.
Your intentions are thoughtful, but anger and hurt are evident in your words.
And your husband sounds as though he started something he doesn’t know how (or want) to finish. He certainly doesn’t know how to talk to you after his affair.
Professional help to move forward, requires a longer process.
Delays on a legal agreement are common in separations. Often, the “guilty” party wants to not have that label affect custody decisions, visiting rights, support costs, etc.
Continue counselling for yourself and consider mediation regarding the separation process.
Ellie’s tip of the day
While a wedding’s very important, a sibling’s mental-health care is urgent.
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Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: