Dear Ms. Behavior:
My husband and I were married in 2004, during the brief period that same-sex marriage was legal in Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was a very small, rushed affair in a friend’s backyard, with no chance to invite out-of-town guests.
So, a simple announcement and photo were sent out after the ceremony. No mention of gifts was made, because this was not the reason we got married. But we were slightly annoyed when we received only one congratulatory card, and not a single wedding gift. Of course, we never brought this up to anyone involved.
We now have received a wedding invitation for one of my best friends. My husband and I can’t attend the wedding, as it is on the other side of the country. However, the invitation includes a list of stores where the couple is registered.
Am I obligated to send a wedding gift?
I am normally a big gift-giver, but it irks me to think that I am being asked to buy a gift for a couple who didn’t even send us a card for our wedding.
If I don’t send a gift, do I owe the couple an explanation?
—Still Don’t Own A Blender
Dear Still Don’t Own A Blender:
Because you received virtually no response to your announcement—and because people usually respond to their friends’ weddings with an outpouring of joy, congratulations, and gifts—something about your method of announcing your wedding may have left your friends feeling confused or left out.
Unlike invitations, wedding announcements usually are reserved for acquaintances, business associates, or friends of the parents who aren’t close to the marrying couple. Such announcements don’t often go to intimate friends, so it’s easy to see why a close buddy may feel slighted by getting an announcement instead of an invitation.
Such friends may believe (correctly) that other people were invited, and they weren’t. An explanation that it was last-minute may not have dissuaded them from feeling they were on the “B-list.”
Now, five years have passed, and you’re still bitter about not having received gifts and cards. It’s time to let go of your hurt feelings, forgive your friends, and move on.
You’re not necessarily “obligated” to send a wedding gift to “one of your best friends,” but not doing so, as you’ve seen, can hurt friendships.
Act in accordance with your true feelings—not your resentment. Send your friends a lovely present and your congratulations.
Dear Ms Behavior:
For two years, my girlfriend, Maria, hinted, whined, wheedled, and manipulated about our getting married. I wasn’t sure how I felt about marriage, and said so.
But more recently, after six months of talking about it every week in my therapist’s office, which eased my anxiety, I finally decided to propose.
When I got down on my knee, and popped the question, however, Maria said no, she didn’t want me to marry her just because she wanted to get married. Now, I’m rolling my eyes.
What the “F” is an honest butch to do?
She wants me to, so I do, then she doesn’t want me to, because she wanted me to!
What am I supposed to do now that she has rejected my proposal? Beg? Or just forget it?
Dear Out-Femmed Butch:
Like many old-fashioned femmes, Maria wants you to perform a task, and then convince her it was your idea all along. Proposing was not your idea, so she’s not going to be happy with feeling like she talked you into it.
Whatever you do, don’t share your “process” with her, or reveal all nitty-gritty details of the ambivalence you experienced during therapy.
But—assuming it’s true—do let Maria know you really do want to marry her. Given the insecurity she may have developed while you were whiling away the hours on the therapy couch—which was the right thing to do—you now need to romance her, telling her all the reasons you can’t live without her.
However, if in the darkest hours of the night, you still have a tiny bit of nagging doubt, arrange for a very long engagement, while you continue to work things out with your therapist.
© 2009 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.