Author Topic: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations  (Read 8554 times)

catmustache

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Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« on: November 07, 2013, 05:40:06 PM »
Not really sure where to put this, but my cousin-in-law is getting married, with my husband as one of his groomsmen. I was invited to the wedding, but decided against going and just having my husband attend. I'm not terribly close to anyone in his family and usually spend the majority of my time with them running errands and keeping my mouth shut lest I make someone cry.

My thought he would go to the wedding, do the Disneyland thing with his family, spend time with them, etc. while I would stay home, thus leaving him a bigger budget to eat and have a good time than if I went with him. I thought it was a pretty good situation, but I'm now dealing with some backlash about it, where everyone is telling me that I should just go. See examples of similar things here: http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/she-cant-afford-to-come-oh-really#axzz2k0aoYbT7. This is probably exacerbated by the fact that I bought a ticket to go on a vacation to Italy next year a few months ago. Granted, that purchase was a $500 round trip ticket 10 months in advance when I had ample cash and rewards points, but whatever. I'm not really sure it's relevant.

I just figured it wouldn't be that big of a deal since I'm not super close to any of the people and I could send them an amazing gift with half of what it would cost by me not going. Thinking back to my own wedding, there were very few people I actually wanted there and, no offense to them, my spouse's sisters and brothers in law were not really high on that list.

So, am I just being a b****? Yes, I could probably afford to go, but I can't see the value in having me spend $600 on something that will probably not make a huge difference to them. In a YMOYL analysis, this is just not worth it to me... Unless it's going to damage my relationship with my in-laws.

My original plan was to just send a card with a cash gift and an apology, but I'm second-guessing myself. Should I bite the bullet and go or should I schedule some huge meeting at work (I mean, I am slammed at work with a ton of deadlines coming up, but no official no leaving from my boss? How do those of the way of the almighty mustache deal with these types of scenarios without alienating friends and family?

gimp

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2013, 06:00:16 PM »
Screw that. You don't like them, and $600 is a pretty penny to spend for someone you _do_ like.

gooki

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2013, 06:02:46 PM »
I say go, but skip the extravagant present. Primarily because your husband is one of the groomsmen which indicates there's a fairly close connection there.

StarryC

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2013, 06:14:10 PM »
This trip isn't worth the money.  But, you probably see your husbands parents and siblings a lot more frequently than just this wedding.  And it apparently does matter to them.  You are saying you aren't going because you aren't close to them and don't have fun with them.  They realize that, and interpret as you saying, "I don't like you all that much, and so I don't want to spend money I have to be at the events that are important to you."  Fine.  But when they react like you said that to them, don't be surprised. 

I think the lifetime of peace and the potential help that your husband's family could provide through your life is worth it.  If you do go, make sure you say something about changing your mind.  "I realized this was going to be a family reunion of sorts and was important to H's mom and dad and siblings, and so I decided that I should come."  That might help heal the relationship. 

I mean, you don't have to go.  But if you go through your life only doing the things that are the most fun for YOU and skipping the things that would be less fun for you but more fun for your friends/ family/ kids, I think you end up alone. 

goodlife

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2013, 06:42:06 PM »
Cousin-in-law doesn't exactly sound like a close family relationship, so personally I would feel zero obligation to attend. Having said that, if you do choose to attend, I would give no gift at all, your and your husband's presence should be enough.

If it's not just about the wedding, but also about other activities that require money to be spent, then I would just politely decline those. I routinely decline activities/dinners/etc. and tell people that I simply don't want to spend the money. They might find that odd, but are generally receptive enough. I am the same way, people have turned me down for activities that I wanted to do because they didn't want to spend the money and I found that perfectly ok. Not everything is equally worth it to everyone. If I somehow feel that the person might be offended by me saying that, then sometimes I just make up another excuse....using your work as an excuse in perfectly ok in my opinion.

geekette

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2013, 07:23:00 PM »
I just say something like "Congratulations!  I'm sorry I won't be able to attend".  I'm rarely called upon to give excuses, reasons, whatever.  If I do, I'll say I'm sorry, but I have other obligations.  I wouldn't do that for close family, but gee, a cousin in law?  Doubt the couple would even notice you're not there. 

I don't think I've ever used the excuse that I don't want to spend the money.  As StarryC said, that says "I don't like you".

MKinVA

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2013, 07:38:25 PM »
I think you should do what your husband wants. Is he upset or uncomfortable that you aren't going? Putting him in the position of spending the entire weekend explaining why his wife isn't there? That wouldn't be fun for him. We had the same situation a few months ago with a nephew's wedding and both ended up going, but not bringing our college age kids. Wasn't really necessary for me to go (they have made excuses not to come to our celebrations), but my husband didn't want to go alone and felt obligated to go, so we both went. We carved out some time for just the two of us to enjoy the town we were visiting and tried to make it a mini vacation. It worked. We had a good time overall.

chasesfish

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2013, 07:58:19 PM »
I think you should go, your husband agreed to be in the wedding and your putting him in the position of explaining why your not there. 

Why will it cost $600?  What can be done to trim that?

CommonCents

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2013, 08:05:18 PM »
It can be costly to repair damaged relationships.  Not in terms of money, but in terms of time and emotions.  It sounds like you already have a fragile relationship and this will damage it further.  From that perspective, if you can afford it, I would suggest reconsidering, particularly as your husband is part of the wedding and presumably you already need to pay for his room.  This isn't about fancy holiday presents or them wanting to go out to dinner and you want to stay in.  It's about a wedding, which is really important to a lot of people.  I agree with a PP - what does your husband say?

Argyle

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2013, 08:07:11 PM »
I agree.  I think you should go.  Do your best to have a good time.  Saving money is good, but not at the expense of relationships.  They don't want a fancy present; they want family there.  However distant you feel, they feel you're family.  And your husband is a groomsman.  It's okay to spend the money.  Again, do your best to have a good time.

mm1970

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2013, 09:32:47 PM »
Meh...I can see why people think you should go, and not send your husband on  his own.

On the other hand, my husband and I have attended family functions alone, depending on work, kids, money, etc.

Maybe it's because we were in the military and lived on opposite coasts for 2 years, but we don't feel the *need* to attend things together necessarily.  I didn't drag him across country for my father's burial, and he didn't drag me across country for his grandfather's.  That's maybe not the best example, but when you are looking at a $1000 plane ticket (last minute and during Thanksgiving/ Christmas), it's relevant.

catmustache

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2013, 01:08:30 AM »
Interesting thoughts. I had a very different perspective on weddings and caring about who showed up. I've had the majority of the members of my family turn down attendance at various functions (funerals, weddings, graduations, etc.) for no particular reason and send the person/family about half of what their expected airfare would have been. Usually this goes over fine, but my family dynamics are weird, I guess.

That being said, this has given me some food for thought about money vs. relationships. Maybe it's worth the $$$ to avoid potential headaches with in-laws. While my husband would like to spend time with me, he's less concerned about my actual attendance at the wedding, so he really has no strong feelings one way or another (except for not wanting money to be tight because of this). This will really be a tough decision.

ace1224

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2013, 05:36:22 AM »
i would go but only bc i would personally be a little butthurt if someone's spouse didn't come and they didn't have a reason not to.  i would think they didn't like me, or didn't think my life event was important enough to warrant travel.
that being said, when i do want to get out of things with the partner's family i make sure there is a "fall guy" aka work made me do it.  they forgive me for that.

jrhampt

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2013, 06:20:50 AM »
I would blow this one off and blame work.

thelamb

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2013, 07:44:33 AM »
I sometimes feel that if the words of this blog, and other musings on the forums, were some sort of dogmatic religion, the only acceptable form of socialization would be biking to somebody's house and having a maximum of 3-4 beers or a few glasses of boxed wine.  The reality is that there are many other social situations and often they require some money and, in order to stay on a certain plan, might require making other sacrifices in order to participate.  I've personally been given a pretty hard time for turning down my friends for weekend trips to go booze and watch sporting events, or other such things.  This one seems just a tad (note, sarcasm) more important and it's family.  I say go.  Although, I'd probably skip Disneyland, too many lines. 

CommonCents

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2013, 08:24:44 AM »
Interesting thoughts. I had a very different perspective on weddings and caring about who showed up. I've had the majority of the members of my family turn down attendance at various functions (funerals, weddings, graduations, etc.) for no particular reason and send the person/family about half of what their expected airfare would have been. Usually this goes over fine, but my family dynamics are weird, I guess.

That being said, this has given me some food for thought about money vs. relationships. Maybe it's worth the $$$ to avoid potential headaches with in-laws. While my husband would like to spend time with me, he's less concerned about my actual attendance at the wedding, so he really has no strong feelings one way or another (except for not wanting money to be tight because of this). This will really be a tough decision.

So for your family you know you're off the hook and can send your or your husband's excuses.

Another thing is how many cousins are in your husband's family.  I have 2 (one passed away a few years ago in his 30s).  One came and was a bridesmaid, if she declined I would have been pretty hurt.  The other side has chosen to not be as connected with my family for this and other events, and declined and I wasn't surprised.  My husband has about 20+.  We didn't invite most of his cousins.

Noodle

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2013, 11:10:09 AM »
I think this is just part of learning your husband's family's approach to things. For some people, the wedding is about the bride and groom, and other guests are a nice addition but not necessarily a requirement. In my extended family, there was a couple who chose a destination wedding even though it meant neither of the groom's siblings could go because they had very young children with special issues who couldn't handle the travel (or having one parent away)--everyone accepted it up front and there were no hard feelings. For other families, weddings and funerals are the only time everyone gets together and it's as much about the reunion aspect as the specific couple--meaning that people choosing not to come is taken much harder. I would go, and just take it as a lesson that this kind of thing is different in your husband's family. (Also, when you say you are getting grief, who from exactly? If it's upsetting your MIL/FIL or your husband's siblings, I would take it more seriously than from a random cousin.)

My perspective...I think it's also a reminder to be careful about how you talk about decisions that are likely to be unpopular with people who have no part of making the decision. The more reasons you present (financial or otherwise) the more material you give them to argue with you or feel hurt by your priorities. "I'm so sorry I won't be able to join you--this trip just isn't going to work out this time" gives very little traction.

impaire

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2013, 01:14:59 PM »
Since you already have a ton of advice, I'll just add what I would do for perspective; like most I agree that your husband's perspective and his family culture should be more important to your decision than our advice. Personally, I would say, perhaps a little hypocritically, "wow, that's a shame, I just booked a trip to Italy and our traveling budget is tapped out." I would send a gift, but not huge.

Something to consider: traditional wedding etiquette is that the gift "makes up" for the value of the meal/reception you were treated to as a guest, so if your husband's family is very touchy about the pieties of social conventions, going without handing a gift may not go over well.

lifejoy

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2013, 02:42:24 PM »
I was in a somewhat similar situation. I couldn't decide whether or not to go to my boyfriend's cousin's bat mitzvah. The WHOLE family was going. It was an honour to be invited. I first declined, because of cost, but then I looked at the whole affair as a family reunion. I love my bf's family, so it's not a hard sell... but once I looked at it from a place of smooth relations and becoming closer and more involved with family events that are important to THEM, it became a no-brainer. If you decide this way, look at it as an investment in good feelings. People (whether they should or should not) tend to think it's weird if the spouse decides to not go to an event.

MgoSam

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2013, 03:09:20 PM »
I think that if you don't want to go then you shouldn't go. Life is too short to worry about such things, do what you like. That said, there may be consequences from his side of the family down the line.

I will add though, that I don't completely understand what the big deal is for things such as an out-of-state wedding. For weddings that are in town, I have no problem going to them even if I don't want to, but think it is a burden to go to a wedding that is out of town, especially if you aren't particularly close to the person getting married. Additionally, most people don't remember who all was at a wedding, generally the bridge and groom are too busy to truly care.

Bank

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2013, 03:25:22 PM »
I wouldn't go.  Life is too short to spend it toeing the line of other people's social expectations.

Quince

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2013, 03:36:04 PM »
One of my biggest regrets is going to a wedding in which my husband was part of the wedding party. You don't want to go, and your spouse will be busy with his duties. Don't go.  People who get touchy when you don't follow their script aren't worth coddling. 

lifejoy

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2013, 11:16:25 AM »
"One of my biggest regrets is going to a wedding in which my husband was part of the wedding party."

Just realized that you'd be sitting awkwardly alone for parts of the wedding. Boring! My friend went to her bf's brother's wedding and it was the worst experience for her. Her bf was the only person she knew and he didn't even like his family (so neither did she).

Yikes.

imustachemystash

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Re: Handling bowing out of expensive "fun" obligations
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2013, 12:27:46 PM »
I wouldn't go.  I had to go to a wedding where my husband was a groomsman and it was really boring for me because I didn't know anyone and he was so busy with all the duties.  I didn't even get to sit with him at dinner.  I think people will understand if you say you have a work obligation.  Enjoy some quiet time alone too!