*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Finding the right words to propose, choosing a ring your fiancee will like, and thinking about having a family with her is one of the most special moments in a couple's life.
How should you react, though, if your new partner tells you immediately that your child won't be allowed to come to the wedding? Is that a warning or just a reaction against being a stepmom?
My friend Noah has been dating his girlfriend Anna for three years and a half. He also has one daughter from a previous marriage, Bianca.
While he hasn't expected Anna to completely fill in a parent role, he did hope she would be close to his daughter and support her when she needed it.
"I don't particularly want Anna to be a stepmom because she has her mom, and they're always going out together and sharing special moments. Anna can be her friend and talk to her when she needs it; she doesn't have to feel like a mom if she doesn't want to. I always told her that. If I am a dad already, my partner doesn't have to take on the same responsibilities for my daughter," Noah said.
The dad always included his daughter in the trips he took with Anna, and they took walks in the park and went for picnics, too.
During this time, Anna wasn't too pleased about seeing his daughter so often.
"It's ok to play from time to time, but she doesn't need to go with us everywhere. I want to enjoy some free time just with him. His mom could come over and look after Bianca; we need at least a few hours to ourselves," Anna said.
While it was plain to see his girlfriend had no intention of becoming his little girl's mom, Noah still believed that they would gradually get close.
"They need time, and I'm sure Anna will eventually warm up to my daughter. She's a great kid, always ready to hug and smile. I'm sure it will be all right," the dad said.
Noah proposed two years after they started going out together, and Anna said yes immediately.
"There was nothing more to think about. That was the next step to being together permanently. I'd been thinking about it for at least a month before, but I appreciated the time he took to prepare the proposal and the place where it happened; he chose a very nice diamond ring, too," Anna said.
The couple set the wedding date, and then they began thinking about all the details for the big day.
Anna got to make the final decision on the wedding cake, and she went with her mom and her mother-in-law to try different wedding gowns.
"They were both so happy for me, and I wanted to share those moments with them. We're going to be a family very soon," the future bride said.
Even though she did her best to include as much of her own family and her fiance's in the wedding preparations, there was someone she tried very hard to leave out.
Her fiance's daughter rarely got to see anything related to the wedding, and Anna felt the event had nothing to do with her at all. She didn't even consider looking for a nice dress the little girl could wear at the wedding. And that was because she assumed she would be staying home.
"She told me my daughter won't be allowed at the wedding; she's a first grader, so she won't be noisy or disrupt the ceremony. I feel she should be there, but I don't want to argue right before the wedding. Anna is so happy every time we talk about that day, and if I make her include Bianca, it could all change," Noah said.
The wedding date is one month away, and Noah is doing his best to convince his fiancee that his daughter should be with them on that day. He's also asked Anna's mom to help.
"My mother-in-law talked to Anna, but she got the same answer I did. She just won't have her around her on our wedding day. She's not a little kid anymore and won't need to be played with or held. I just want Bianca to be a part of our wedding memories, like everyone else in our families," Noah said.
As time goes by, it looks less likely Anna will do anything different than what she's set her mind on. And neither her parents nor her fiance has found the right words to show her Bianca is an important part of her life and shouldn't be left behind at home while her dad is getting married for a second time.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fine for Anna to refuse to have her stepdaughter at the wedding? Should Noah insist on bringing his daughter for the ceremony, or would that cause an argument and potentially stop the wedding from taking place?
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