Q: I’m pregnant with my first child. I’ll soon be married to the father, who also has one biological daughter and a 7-year-old son who he found out wasn’t his when establishing paternity for child support.
My fiancé asked me if his “son” could come to our small wedding ceremony and I said no. A part of me feels like it’s our day, and why add more chaos? When the boy’s mom was supposedly engaged, my fiancé stated that even if he was invited he wouldn’t go to her wedding. In my opinion, if you wouldn’t go to hers, why do you want her son to come to ours?
I feel like my fiancé is asking me to accept a lot. I’m not asking him to walk away from his daughter, but we are going to have a son soon, so why add on more with another child when you don’t have to? What’s good ex-etiquette in this case?
A: Unfortunately, not much that you have mentioned. Of particular concern is your rationale about not inviting your husband’s son to your wedding. I do understand that this child is not your husband’s biological son; however, if your husband has held this child out as his own for as long as you say, in most states, he would legally be regarded as his son — no different from his daughter, no different from the child you are carrying.
It is to your husband’s credit that he has put the child’s interests first and treated him as his child even after finding that he is not. The quotation mark qualifier around the word “son” is yours, not your husband’s.
To further explain, you said, “When the boy’s mom was supposedly engaged, my fiancé stated that even if he was invited he wouldn’t go to her wedding. In my opinion, if you wouldn’t go to hers, why do you want her son to come to ours?” That’s comparing apples to oranges. Because your husband wouldn’t have gone to his ex’s wedding is simply not the same as not including his child in your wedding.
Excluding minor-age children of a previous relationship from a wedding does not lay the proper groundwork for establishing an extended bonus family. It makes the children feel insecure, overlooked and second-best. The more you can do to include children from a previous relationship in your new life together, the better for all concerned. In truth, rather than banning the child from the wedding you should include him in the ceremony.
Finally, here’s something you may not be expecting: Your husband will not love the children he has with you more than he loves the children he already has. If you are expecting that he will, you are making a huge mistake.
There’s a fine art to combining families, and to some it does not come naturally. You have a lot of work to do before saying, “I do.” Look for a therapist who specializes in combining families.
E-mail Jann Blackstone at firstname.lastname@example.org.