Do I have to invite my dad’s girlfriend to my wedding?

Question

I am a 21 year old who is getting married this coming May. My fiancé is a Christian, and we both have the same views on what God has to say about infidelity and living an adulterous life.

My father left my family seven years ago. He since has failed me as a father and as a spiritual leader. This poses a dilemma for our upcoming wedding. We decided to allow him to be part of the wedding (whether he deserved the honor or not), but he keeps telling me that he refuses to come if we don’t allow his girlfriend (the one he left us for seven years ago) to attend. I feel like because he is living in sin and neither my fiancé nor I agree with his sinful lifestyle that she shouldn’t be allowed at our wedding. Besides that, I don’t even like her.

Because of this, my father keeps telling me that I am and always have been self-centered and completely selfish. I don’t understand how he can be that hypocritical because his lifestyle and choices just prove that he is self-centered.

Now he refuses to even talk to me until I get “professional counseling.” I am at my wit’s end. This emotional abuse has been going on for seven years, and I am just exhausted from it. Do I just give up trying and just keep praying? I don’t know what to do.

Answer

I’m so thankful that you and the many other readers with
similar stories have our heavenly Father to look to when our
earthly dads let us down! I pray, too, that your fiancé
brings a healthier son/father relationship with him into your
marriage. What a blessing that would be for you.

As for your own father, I think you’ve gone above and
beyond in your efforts to honor him by inviting him to your
wedding. I also agree with you that it would be inappropriate
and insulting to you and your mom and the rest of the family
— not to mention God’s standards of morality — to
include the girlfriend in that invitation. You are under no
obligation to have her at your wedding, the celebration of the
very vows your dad seemingly disregarded so lightly.

John the Baptist came to mind as I read your e-mail. Not
only did he think what Herod was doing, by having an affair with
his brother’s wife, immoral and against God’s law, he took a
public stand. A stand that ended up costing him his life.

Finally, I think that at this point, yes, prayer is your best
occupation. Spend time asking God to do what only He can:
convict your dad of his sin. And for your part, continue to be
honorable in your behavior toward him without compromising
your need to exercise what Dr. Dobson has called Tough
Love
(you may want to get a copy of that book, in
addition to Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s
Boundaries).

While it’s certainly understandable that you wouldn’t like
this woman who broke up your parents’ marriage, you gain
nothing by sharing your disdain for her with your dad. It’s best
to stick to the facts (e.g., Dad, we don’t want to dishonor mom
by including your girlfriend at the wedding. Dad, this is what
we’ve decided and our decision is firm. Dad, we hope you’ll
come but if you decide not to, know we’ll miss you., etc.).
Personal attacks and insults against his girlfriend will only add
fuel to the fire.

Your dad’s attempts to bully you into changing your mind,
compromising your principles and legitimizing his adultery are
just that: bullying. I think you should stand firm and not confuse
his added silent treatment for anything other than what it is:
manipulation.

Sincerely,

CANDICE WATTERS

Copyright 2006 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Candice Watters

Candice Watters is a wife, mom, and Bible teacher. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, co-founder with her husband, Steve, of Boundless.org and co-author of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. They have four children and blog at FamilyMaking.com.