Starting a family and wedding day grief

Tell Me About It – Kate Holmquist answers your questions

Wed, Mar 20, 2013, 11:56

Q My wife and I are in our mid-30s and got married last year. We’ve had a nice lifestyle and have been able to afford to travel and eat out. Now, we’re thinking seriously about having a family. I’m not sure we’re anywhere near ready.

We’re swamped with negative equity in a smallish apartment in a gritty part of Dublin. I am employed but my wife’s job is very shaky. Life feels so chaotic and stressful as it is; I worry that starting a family might be just too much. My wife feels much the same – but then reminds me that the biological clock is ticking in the background.

A Many people just let families happen, but you’re being quite unselfish by seeing children as a choice rather than an inevitability. A hardnosed financial view would be to wait for property prices to rise and use contraception, but you must follow your heart, not your head.

There is no going back if you delay and find yourselves in your late 30s with the expense of fertility treatment and the likelihood of no baby at the end of it.

“Deciding to start a family is a major life-stage decision and this couple are right to be concerned if they feel overly financially burdened with inadequate living accommodation for a growing family,” advises Bernadette Ryan, psychotherapist with Relationships Ireland, and also a parent.

“You need to pay attention to this feeling of being overwhelmed and address it first. These feelings of stress and chaos will not disappear with the birth of a baby but most likely will exacerbate,” Ryan says.

Look at your life and make it more manageable – this is easier said than done but possible. Even a glass-half-full attitude can help. Disliking where you live when you are in negative equity is making you feel trapped, while your wife’s shaky job – if you rely on her income – is hardly going to become steadier with new parenthood. There are thousands of couples just like you.

But there’s never a good time to have a baby, and while you clearly want the best for your (prospective) child – including a better address – your child won’t care where it lives as long as it is loved and within a few years, your circumstances may have improved.

Looking back on your lives in years to come, what will you most cherish – having prioritised financial pressures, or having muddled through like most parents? You will need support, should you decide to go ahead, but there is plenty of it out there.

Email your questions to or contact Kate on Twitter @kateholmquist. Selected entries will be published on an anonymous basis only. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into

Q I am getting married next year , but the invitation list is causing me serious grief. I have a close relative that I cannot decide whether to invite. Half the family say I should, the other half say that if I do, they won’t come to the wedding.

I feel that no matter what I choose, some people will end up feeling hurt. (It’s possible this person won’t even attend if invited. )

A This is why people elope to Rome or Vegas, or slip into the registry office then announce their wedding at an “engagement” party later. You are having a traditional wedding and one tradition is there must be at least one prenuptial controversy, but you can manage this.

Trish Murphy, psychotherapist and chair of the Family Therapy Association of Ireland, is clear in her advice, challenging though it may sound.

“As the bride, it’s up to you to invite who you want to your wedding, and if others have a difficulty with this, let them stay home,” she says.

Etiquette is not just on your side, but practicing it now will discourage such blackmailing in the future. “It’s very manipulative of other people to set up an atmosphere of mistrust over this person,” Murphy warns.

Deal with this now, and people will have a year to deal with their feelings, which are their responsibility, not yours. “Be assertive and stand up for yourself. The purpose of the day is to celebrate your wedding and you should do what makes you happy. Stay polite and refuse to be drawn in to any argument. Your job is to be happy yourself, not to be in charge of what makes everybody else happy,” says Murphy.

If you choose to invite this relative and he or she accepts, then pay attention to your seating arrangements. Place this guest at a table where someone can discreetly act as minder.

Many people misbehave at weddings (that’s where the stories come from), which you will blissfully ignore. No decent person will bring their tensions to your attention on your big day, when you deserve to remain in your happy bubble.

Email your questions to or contact Kate on Twitter @kateholmquist . Selected entries will be published on an anonymous basis only. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into

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