Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Sister, Fiance Need Truce for Big Day

DEAR NATALIE: My fiance and I are planning on getting married in September, and your advice on wedding invites last week made me think about a situation I am dealing with. My sister and fiance do not get along, and because of this, there has been a lot of tension in the family. I don't want any issues on my wedding day, so I told my mom I don't want to invite my sister. And now my mom is threatening not to come if my sister doesn't come. Not sure what I should do. Maybe it's better if they both aren't there? What do you think? -- BAD SITUATION 

DEAR BAD SITUATION: I'm sorry that your sister and fiance can't seem to find common ground. But by uninviting her, you are only going to create even more of a rift in the family, and you may regret it years later. Instead, tell your sister that you definitely want her to be a part of this special day, and that you hope that this occasion is the start of a new chapter for everyone. 

If your fiance and sister are willing to sit down (and politely) talk to each other before the day, that would be ideal. Maybe they can squash this so that everyone can move forward. If that is a bad idea, then let your sister know that while she is invited to the wedding, it is under the assumption that she can control her emotions and accept the fact that you are choosing to marry the person you love, and that for this reason alone, she needs to support you. 

DEAR NATALIE: I have a disability (I would rather not disclose the nature of it) and was wondering how to handle this when dating. Do I bring it up right when I meet someone? Do I wait and see? Does it even matter when it comes to relationships? -- ABLE TO DATE 

DEAR ABLE TO DATE: Dating is a tricky landscape to navigate, and people can be easily thrown off by the smallest issue. Because I don't know what kind of disability you have, I assume it falls into one of two categories: 1. visible disabilities or 2. invisible disabilities. If your disability is physical and visible (for example, perhaps you have mobility issues), it will be apparent to whomever is meeting you that this is the case. You will basically know right away whether this is something that they can handle. When I worked with people in the past with physical disabilities, we would talk about the difficulties in dating, and I would remind them not to take it personally if someone just can't deal. It is a blessing to know this upfront because clearly that person would not be a good partner for you. Some people are not emotionally or mentally equipped to handle others with special needs, and that has nothing to do with you. 

If your disability is invisible (for example, a mental health issue or learning disability) take it slow when you start dating. I have a good friend with an intense mental illness, and we would talk about struggles in dating all the time. He is now engaged to a lovely woman who understands him on a deep level and can weather the ups and downs with him. She chose to be there, and he chose her. It took time and built slowly, and it was a relationship based on trust, communication and honesty. So keep in mind that there are plenty of fish in the sea, and if you have an open mind and an open heart, the right person could be just around the corner. 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Being vulnerable can work to your advantage in social situations. Case in point: When I first started as the SEEN editor, I was on my way to an event and got lost in a parking garage. (Don't judge me, I have a terrible sense of direction). I asked a very nice woman if she knew how to get where I was going, and we happened to be attending the same event! I later ran into her at another event (where I realized who she was ... and she's a big deal!). We became fast friends, and I am lucky to call her a mentor. So don't be shy. Reach out when you need assistance because you never know who you may be chatting with! 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)