Ask Amy: Advice for the Real World

DEAR AMY: My brother, who is over 45, has become engaged to his boyfriend of four years. They are planning an extravagant wedding and reception, estimated to cost around $85,000.

Neither man can afford this kind of expense. So they have asked for financial assistance (a gift, not a loan) from parents.

The problems are as follows: They can’t afford this on their own and want money with no expectation to repay.

My mother does not support gay marriage. She does not feel she should be pressured into providing money for something she does not believe in herself.

My brother is pressuring her, giving ultimatums and brow-beating her for this money. In the past, she has lent him large sums of money, which he struggles to repay.

It is upsetting to see this transpire. My mother is constantly upset and worried.

I have tried to stay out of this mess and let her make her own decisions. I feel he is out of line and I want him to leave her alone. He has been disrespectful, rude and arrogant. Emotional blackmail is unacceptable.

How do I handle this mess he has created and continues to perpetuate? — Wedding Disaster

DEAR DISASTER: Let me put a different spin on this and say, quite simply and clearly, that grown men (and women) don’t hit up their mommies for money to pay for their fancy weddings. Grown people pay for their own celebrations.

I fully support same-sex marriage, but I don’t support middle-aged people manipulating their elderly parents to get what they want, so my reaction to this is unrelated to your brother’s sexuality, or his plans. I assume your mother would be equally distressed if her middle-aged son or daughter were demanding that she pony up tens of thousands of dollars for a heterosexual union. (If not, she should be.)

Your focus should be on easing your mother’s mind and helping her to manage her anxiety. You have every right to tell your brother how his behavior affects you. If your mother asks you to run interference, you should do your best to persuade him to back off.

DEAR AMY: The give-away in “Sarah’s” letter, which described her new “daughter-in-law from Hell,” was her gratuitous reference to the girl being “Cuban.” The young woman’s nationality has nothing to do with anything relevant to the query, but it does confirm where Sarah is coming from. — Mike, Washington, D.C.

DEAR MIKE: Thank you, I had the same reaction to this question.

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