Tell Me About It: Should sister who frowns on match be maid of honor?

Question: I got formally engaged in March, after an informal agreement in January. My fiance and I have only been together since last November, but we met via a matchmaker and it's just right between us (even in the moments we want to kill one another).

Most of my friends and family have been super happy and supportive because I had given up on ever getting married - I am now 36 - and planned to have kids on my own. I chose my only sister as my maid of honor. I've seen her be so adult, supportive, and fun with her friends in similar situations; I thought we would have a blast planning my wedding.

Instead, she's made it clear that, though she said yes, she's not really interested and doesn't really support my getting married "so fast." I'm really hurt.

Is it wrong to think that if she can't support my relationship, she shouldn't have said yes? I'm really afraid this will ruin our relationship.

Answer: Let's say you're right to think that; what do you plan to do about it?

We've probably all seen the other side of this problem, where someone with misgivings about a couple must decide how to handle an invitation to be in their wedding party. It's an awful spot to be in.

From that awful spot, your sister made the choice with the least integrity. Both of her other options - accept and rally or decline and explain - are quite difficult, but either one would have been better for the health of your sisterly bond. That is, if you had been able to take "no" for an answer gracefully, which isn't an "if" to take lightly.

So has your sister let you down? Yes, of course.

It's not too late, though, for you to choose one of the better options for her. Explain that it's breaking your heart to have her quasi-involved. Acknowledge that she's entitled to her opinion and that you're grateful she was honest with you. Then offer her the chance to bow out gracefully. But only if that's what she wants, and no hard feelings.

That will be the toughest thing of all - whether she accepts your offer or remains your listless maid of honor. Keep reminding yourself that she can at once care about you and choose not to support you, and resist the urge to be punitive. One of the most important things we can do for the people we love is love them as a package, conflicting opinions and all. That means trusting the relationship to be bigger than their dissent. Since you admitted desperation, met someone, then got engaged at the two-month mark, certainly there's slack to be cut for a sister burdened by doubt?


E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.