Future bride says "I don't" to Pastor-Dad

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Dear Amy: I am getting married next summer to a wonderful man. During the planning it has come to my attention that my fiance would very much like his father, a minister, to officiate our wedding. I am opposed to this because I would like his father to be "Dad" on this special day and not the pastor. I have a difficult time differentiating between "Dad" and "Pastor-Dad."

Additionally, my parents have expressed discontent because they feel the wedding will cease to be "our" wedding and will become the groom's family's wedding.

Also, I grew up Catholic and my parents are struggling with me marrying outside our faith. I do not want to give up on what I believe in, but truly, who am I to keep my fiance's father from saying our wedding vows if this makes him happy? I don't know what to do.

— Not-Blushing-Bride

Dear Bride: You don't mention talking frankly to your fiance — or of anyone discussing this with "Pastor-Dad." This decision should be made by you and your fiance. Together.

I see a potential upside to this (and had a relative officiate at my own wedding), with conditions. Having a person who knows you well conduct your wedding service can add a layer of depth and meaning to the ceremony, but it should never alienate your own family.

The idea is to keep the marrying couple at the center of the proceedings — and to join the two clans. Your pastor should work with you on how to be inclusive and sensitive to religious differences, perhaps by including your family members in the ceremony.

But Pastor-Dad's "happiness" should not be paramount. And neither father nor son would be happy if you were not. You and your fiance should seek pastoral advice from someone other than your fiance's father in order to make a decision together, and Pastor-Dad should be willing to step aside if that's what you decide.

Dear Amy: I am a 20-something female college graduate from the U.S., but I am currently living in Peru, where I have an office job that provides an apartment, a stipend to cover living expenses and Spanish language lessons. I've been here for about eight months.

The job began as a six-month internship, but I asked to extend my stay for six more months. I made the choice to stay in Peru because I wanted to improve my language skills, and because I had employment and a boyfriend.

The thing is, the boyfriend just dumped me. He was my only support network here, and while I have some friends, they aren't close. The job is very boring and repetitive, and I'm not gaining any professional skills.

I feel isolated and lonely, and my mental health is not good. I have a major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. My family would be supportive if I chose to come home early. But I am worried about how much it would hurt my professional future if I quit this job. Your thoughts?

— Lonely Expat

Dear Expat: Come home. You completed your internship, have fulfilled your basic goals and stayed additional time to gain more skills.

This is what you should emphasize in a future job search. Make sure you handle your professional exit well by giving the company ample notice and expressing appreciation for the opportunity.

Struggling through this experience offers opportunity for personal growth. Sometimes, the best answer is to "buck up," but because you have serious mental health issues, it's also OK to say, "I tried something, it didn't work out the way I had hoped, and now it's time to move on."

Dear Amy: A young woman signing her letter "A Not So Happy Birthday" said her grandmother had sent her two birthday cards and checks.

Wouldn't it be less confusing and embarrassing for grandma if the birthday person simply thanked her for remembering the birthday and then used the extra money to send grandma a plant or flowers?

— BH

Dear BH: Like you, I thought this birthday girl should focus more attention on her thoughtful grandma. Great suggestion.

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