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Weddings are rough on Dads. Not only do Dads traditionally foot the bill, but they also pay, emotionally. For every Dad, a daughter's wedding day is a sad day. Why? He's losing her to another man.
Rationally, Dad's thrilled for you. Dad's happy you've found the right guy, and he's excited about the prospect of grandchildren.
Emotionally, Dad's reeling. Weddings ignite deep, unruly, Oedipal stuff for every Dad. In addition to being really sad he's losing you, Dad's also angry. He's mad he's being replaced. Dad may be scared, too: what will happen when you're gone? Your wedding makes him feel his age (and brings him closer to his own death), and that scares him, too.
Dad probably doesn't know it. Most men aren't taught how to feel their feelings. Especially Dads, who are socialized to be The Rock of the family. So Dads misbehave.
Feelings get acted out weirdly. Most brides have Dad stories. From these, I've created composites. Which is your Dad?
Dad needs to feel the loss because the reality is: you are leaving him. Let him be distant, in denial, or too generous. It's his weird way of dealing with his sadness.
Talk with him about your feelings of loss and fear about leaving him. Maybe he'll open up. Or maybe not. He's an old dog, and he doesn't learn new tricks. Especially how to feel and talk about feelings. Don't force him. Don't fix him. Be patient with your Old Man. He's dreaded your wedding since the day you were born.
My Meddling Dad said it perfectly. After 11 1/2 months of sticking his nose into our wedding, he finally articulated what had been going on. At the end of our walk down the aisle, he said, "She's yours now, Jason," and sat down, sadly and heavily, beside my mother. He was 100% right. Before the wedding, I was primarily his. Now, primarily, I am another man's wife. That's sad for our old Dads. We brides must be patient with them as they get used to their position as #2.
From Allison Moir-Smith's Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Her Life
Brothers & Sisters
Walking Down the Aisle
Being the Center of Attention
Quick Guide to Planning a Massachusetts Wedding
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