Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A marriage of inconvenience

Long Suffering Spouse's younger sister has been married twice before, both times to the same man -- but they divorced a second time a few years back and, this time, the break appears final: He married someone else a year or two ago; now my sister-in-law is planning her own independent march down the aisle.

"Long Suffering Spouse's younger sister" is too long a moniker, even for one as long-winded as me. So we'll call her "Josephine" for purposes of this discussion.

Josephine met her fiance on-line through some Catholic dating network.

A few of you may be scratching your heads at this: You may recall that we're Catholic -- and the Catholic Church does not permit divorce and remarriage. But the Church does sometimes issue annulments -- kind of a religious mulligan -- that says, in effect, that the prior marriage didn't happen. The children born of such a non-marriage are not stripped of their legitimacy -- which must surely be a relief to my nieces and nephews.

Josephine and her husband-to-be have both been divorced -- but both have had their prior marriages annulled and are free to remarry in the Church. I understand Josephine is buying a new white dress for the occasion, which is now set for the 4th of July weekend. The oldest of her four children, a college student, will give her away.

All well and good, right?

Of course not. If everything were all hunky-dory, why would I write about it? Why would you read it?

The problem is that Josephine's pending husband creeps out Josephine's mother -- my mother-in-law -- and both of Josephine's sisters, one of whom is my Long Suffering Spouse. What makes this particularly remarkable is that my wife and this other (older) sister haven't spoken in over a decade. These two wouldn't agree that the sky is blue: If one were to stake out that position, the other would deny it with her dying breath.

I've met the prospective husband two or three times now during Josephine's whirlwind courtship (they've gone from that first exchange of emails to the altar in about ten months, as near as anyone can tell). As an in-law, my opinion is entirely irrelevant, but I will admit that he strikes me as a bit much. I'm not given to hugging strangers; I'm not given to hugging close friends. I know and like some people who carry on like that, but I keep them at a distance. This guy is a hugger. As my pen name suggests, I radiate hostility even on my best days, so Josephine's husband-to-be didn't try to hug me -- but, when he shook hands, he patted the top of my right hand with his left. The first time he went to my mother-in-law's house he felt obliged to straighten all the pictures on her wall.

And his past seems... incomplete. His first marriage failed over 20 years ago. He has one (or is it two?) adult children from that union. He's at least 15 years older than Josephine; he's in his early 60s -- and he looks like he's about 40. But if he's so all-fired interested in marriage now, why hasn't he taken the plunge sooner?

Josephine's new beau lives in an Eastern state; Josephine has traveled frequently to visit, and he has come into Chicago frequently as well. Josephine came to Oldest Son's wedding last month (her youngest was the flower girl, a duty she had performed for Older Daughter as well) -- and spent most of the reception sitting outside talking on her cell phone to her fiance. Two and three hour phone conversations may still be the norm for love-struck teens... but doesn't it seem odd for persons who are three and four times 15 years old?

Josephine has a good job and three of her four children are still quite young. The world is not always a nice place and there are too many scary people living in it. Josephine's mother and sisters are worried. There is absolutely nothing concrete to point to... but all of their instincts are on alert.

But even if they loved Josephine's husband-to-be, her wedding would still be a big pain.

Look: The 4th of July weekend is prime baseball tournament time. Youngest Son hardly played on the varsity this year as a junior. His only meaningful game experience (and his only hope of landing a place on a college baseball team) is going to have to come from his performance in summer tournaments. We won't even be in the state that weekend.

But Josephine has decided to make this a Big Deal. She has decided to extract payment for her sacrifice in attending my children's out-of-town weddings by insisting that we attend hers. (I don't remember threatening her, or forcing her to attend.)

I submit that we're talking apples and oranges here. I went to Josephine's first wedding; she went to mine. In my book, that makes us even. (My wife went to Josephine's second wedding, too.) If Josephine wants to start venturing into Elizabeth Taylor or Zsa Zsa Gabor territory, that's her business. I can be happy for her -- but I feel no particular obligation to attend. The kids' weddings are entirely different. It would be a snub if I refused to go to the weddings of my nephews and nieces, given that Josephine extended herself to come to her own niece and nephew's weddings. But Josephine's children will marry sometime in the future, perhaps even the distant future -- not next month.

Am I out of line here?

I don't think so either.

Josephine will not be satisfied with our attendance at the nuptial Mass. She wants us to come and dance the Macarena at her reception, too. My wife is adamantly opposed -- and we are going to have to leave a tournament to drive four or five hours to attend the Mass as it is. Now Josephine is texting my daughters, trying to get them to go to her reception. Older Daughter lives in Indianapolis. She is just starting a new job -- and (not surprisingly, given her age) already had nine weddings to attend this summer. Either she or her husband are standing up in several of these.

Why do people insist on taking what should be a happy occasion into a power play?


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

in my mind second (or more) weddings should be small intimate quiet affairs with no big deal about it. the end. don't go if you don't want to and you don't owe explanation either, just that you won't be attending.

can you have a credit check run on the guy? he could be big trouble. really. just sayin'. oh, and when you get as old as me you finally realize you just don't have to do what you don't want to do.

smiles, bee

Fran said...

I second what Bee said.....all of what Bee said.

And you really should do some checking up on him....You are a lawyer......

If you find something bad and want Josephine to know, send the info to me and I will mail it for you! That's what blog friends are for!


Steve Skinner said...

And your story reminds me as to why I live 3000 miles from my family!