I was somewhat surprised by your answer to a wife upset about attending her husband’s best friend’s wedding on the husband’s 40th birthday — a birthday they thought he might not reach due to medical problems.
I went to a niece’s Bat Mitzvah on my 50th birthday, and my niece wished me a happy birthday. We attended a cousin’s wedding on our 20th anniversary, and they asked everyone to toast us.
In the case in the letter, since the husband was asked to make a toast, would it have been so hard for the groom to ask everyone to wish his friend a happy birthday, as the wife thought he should have done? It would have taken a very little bit of time and effort, and would have meant a lot to his friend. I think totally ignoring it was thoughtless and the groom could have learned a lot from our niece when she was 13.
It’s hard to argue with the idea that it would have been nice of the groom to say happy birthday.
But he didn’t — and so this couple had to make a decision: Hold a grudge because the best friend let the husband down, or move on?
Since it’s an adult, it’s a birthday and it’s not unusual for people to forget things on their wedding days, it seems like lunacy even to consider denting a long, good friendship over it. It seems that way to me, at least, which is a disclaimer that goes with everything I write: just my opinion.
I also noted that when something is so important that they’d end a friendship over it, then they owed it to the friend to say how important it was — before the fact, not after.
It is common, though, for me to get letters like yours in response to a lot of problems: “But the X should have done Y ... ,” with X being someone other than the letter-writer. So, it’s worth spelling out here that I don’t put much stock in the concept of “should.” If the letter-writer could have done something to prevent a problem, then I’ll say so, for next time. But in most cases, waiting to hear that someone else is to blame for your problem amounts to a decision to stay stuck in a place of indignation, waiting for justice to be done. I’m not a fan.
“I think ... the groom could have learned a lot from our niece when she was 13”: Maybe he didn’t think the friend would want to be singled out in front of a lot of people he might not know. The birthday couple had been holding a grudge about this for almost an entire YEAR. That’s insane.
— Anonymous 2
Right — and that also reminds me, about the Bat Mitzvah heroine:
1) The niece might have been nudged by her parents, or,
2) The niece regarded a birthday as important because a 13-year-old would think a birthday is a big deal.
Meaning, I’m also not a fan of “See? They did it, so why can’t you?”
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org