Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Wedding invitation faux pas has friend upset? Critical husband ruining marriage?

DEAR NATALIE: It was my good fortune to marry a wonderful woman recently. A friend of several decades, who would certainly have been invited to the ceremony and dinner, made it known to me that he and his wife would be out of town on the day of the wedding. Consequently I did not send the couple an invitation as I did not want it to be seen as a means to prompt a gift, something that my wife and I discouraged as this is a second marriage for both of us. From interaction that we have had since, I have the impression that my friend feels slighted to have received no invitation. Did I do the right thing? -- ETIQUETTE MATTERS

DEAR ETIQUETTE MATTERS: In this case, I would feel slighted, too. Just because they couldn’t attend, that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t want to be invited. I would have sent the invite with a note inside saying something like: “We know you cannot make it, but we wanted you to know that we would have loved for you to have been there!” Now that it is over, just broach the subject with him and say something like this: “I feel like you may be upset that you didn’t receive an invite. We obviously wanted you and your wife there but didn’t want you to feel obligated to send a gift knowing you couldn’t come. That was my only intention behind not sending you an invitation. I hope you know how much we care about both of you and enjoy having you in our lives. I’m sorry if I made you feel badly.” He will probably be touched that you recognized and acknowledged his feelings, and hopefully you can then move forward and into a better place.

DEAR NATALIE: I have been married for 22 years. We have two boys who are the loves of my life. But, my husband and I are very disconnected and are constantly fighting. There is so much tension in the house, and I don’t know how to remedy it. We have tried couples therapy, but my husband always seems to shift our problems entirely on to me, which isn’t fair. He didn’t want to continue working on our relationship. While our children were growing up, I was the one raising them while he would undermine any disciplinary actions I would take. A lot of resentment and anger have built up, and to make it worse, my sons often gang up on me about the relationship. My husband is very critical of me, and I can never seem to do anything right. Can we save our marriage? I feel as though he doesn’t even try, and he won’t go to individual counseling, either, even though I have. -- ON THE ROCKS

DEAR ON THE ROCKS: You cannot dance alone. You cannot be in a relationship by yourself. If you are willing to do the work and he isn’t, then what are you trying to hold on to? I really don’t like that your sons are now following in this toxic pattern of behavior that your husband has started. Sounds as though he has emotionally abused you for years, and you feel as though you can’t leave, that you aren’t worthy of love. But you are. Even if you don’t believe that yet, you are worthy. Stop talking to your therapist about your relationship with your husband and instead focus on your relationship with yourself. Then, contact a divorce attorney. There is no reason to live miserably ever after.

Natalie’s Networking Tip of the Week: Networking can feel so sterile, so think of it as just making meaningful connections with like-minded people. That may take away the nerves and relieve anxiety around the concept.

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