Dear Margo: Just Another Nutty Bride

What’s a bridesmaid to do when her sister is bridezilla? Margo Howard’s advice

Just Another Nutty Bride

Dear Margo: My younger sister, “Tammy,” is getting married in August, and she’s turning into a real bridezilla. I am one of the bridesmaids for the wedding. The drama started when my husband and I announced that we were expecting our first child. My sister accused us of getting pregnant “to ruin her wedding.” She is now upset because people (supposedly) will be paying attention to me and not her at the wedding. (I’ll be six months pregnant.)

Now she has crossed another line. I have been instructed that I am “not allowed” to have a farmer’s tan on the day of the wedding. I ride horses and spend a lot of time in the sun. Even though I apply sunscreen with a high SPF, I still end up with a farmer’s tan every summer. I told my mom Tammy is going to have to deal with it; it is unavoidable, and I’m not going to a tanning salon. Mom says I’m being terrible, and she doesn’t want bitterness and arguing on the wedding day.

I’d just as soon not be in the wedding, but my sister thinks that would look even worse. Am I being stubborn, or has she crossed the line with her orders about how my body should or should not look on her “special day”? — Had About Enough

Dear Had:  Your sister’s conspiracy theory that you arranged your pregnancy to pull focus on her wedding day tells me that she is majorly insecure and perhaps does not have the fondest feelings for you. You do not say what the relationship was like before the nuptial plans, but my guess is not great.

Like pregnancy, a tan is an act of nature and certainly nothing you can undo. If you want to go the extra mile, I suppose you could put bronzer on the parts of your skin that remain untanned, but that is your call. I agree that the bride-to-be has delusions regarding what she has a say about, so I would tell her you cannot change the fact of your pregnancy or your exposure to the sun, but you’ll gladly be a guest at the wedding to spare her talk of the pregnant bridesmaid with the tan lines. Invite her to make the call. More than this you cannot do. — Margo, normally

Punishing Silences

Dear Margo: I am a 30-something single mother of two. I’ve largely stayed away from the dating scene so I could spend much-needed time with my kids. But I recently met someone for whom I’ve fallen head over heels. Unfortunately, he’s in the military, stationed 4,200 miles away.

He is just wonderful. We can spend three hours on the phone, and it seems like 20 minutes. We both feel the same way about each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together. The hitch is that when he is upset about something, he shuts me out and won’t respond to me for two or three days. This really wears on me because I never know what’s happened. My mother used to do this to me when I was younger — wouldn’t talk to me for days on end — so this is a real hot button for me. I want this to work, but I don’t know what to do. — Looking for a Workaround

Dear Look:  How lucky can you get? A guy who pulls the same punitive stunt your mother did!  Before you get in deeper, you need to tell your military man that unexplained silences about unnamed issues are not in your plans. Whether or not you tell him of your mother, he needs to know that when you’ve said something he finds upsetting, he must discuss it with you … at the time. If he cannot correct this not inconsequential problem, I don’t see a happy future together. — Margo, directly

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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65 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  I truly think some brides watch that Bridezilla program and believe that the boorish behavior of those brats is now perfectly acceptable.  I would bet that Margo is right when she suggests that you and your sister are not close and have had some major sibling rivalry over the years.  One thing which may (or may not) calm her down is to simply kindly say…no one looks at anyone but the bride at weddings and you will be beautiful so quit worrying.  I definitely would not risk my health or the babies by going to a tanning salon and being exposed those chemicals or tanning beds to make your tan *even*.  I suppose, if you wanted to be as bratty as her you could say *you intentionally set your wedding date knowing I would have a farmers tan and look stupid in the strapless/sleevless dress you chose and not only that I’ll be six months pregnant and look like a cow…I hope your happy now*…but that is just going to make matters worse.  Folow Margo’s advice. 

    Letter #2:  Another woman who says *hes just perfect….except for* and then reports a big red flag of an issue.  I suspect you met this guy online, have spent very little (if any) face to face time with him, and because you haven’t dated much, are putting on your rose-colored glasses.   Telling him to cut the silent treatment out is absolutely necessary and if he doesn’t, I would let the relationship go or be prepared for a very difficult marriage.  Maybe he can and will change his pattern.  I think its more likely he will not.  And if nothing else, since marriage will mean he will be step-father to your children…expect him to give your kids the same treatment your mother gave you and decide if  you want to subject them to his emotionally punitive, passive aggressive ways. 


  2. avatar Artemesia says:

    Wow — he is just great except he is controlling and passive aggressive just like Mom was. A single woman with two young kids needs to grow up and not chase after every warm body she encounters. Having a man is not the important thing; raising decent kids is. Chasing a man, any man, is guaranteed to increase the lifetime misery of those kids.

    He isn’t a great guy — he is your projection of your need — layered onto a guy who is a particularly bad choice for you since he is helping you recreate an abusive childhood situation.

    • avatar Jennifer juniper says:


    • avatar bleeble says:

      Chasing any warm body? It sounds like you’re projecting a lot into what she’s saying that isn’t there. She specifically says that she’d stayed out of the dating scene because of her children (which you assume are young for some reason).

      The focus of her letter is how to wrangle a long distance relationship problem, and the part about her being a single mom who had avoided the dating scene was to frame the need for advice as a result of a long period of time without dating. The letter requires a heads up about this situation in her relationship being a bad sign for the future, not judgement calls about her parenting skills or how chaste you think she needs to be. Single mothers are not simple stupid creatures, there are many that manage to have romantic relationships while also raising well-adjusted children.

      • avatar blueelm says:

        *slow clap*

        Totally. The guy is probably a sign that she’s ready to start looking for some one, but it seems like the silent treatment is a big red flag. That’s all that needs to be said. The woman is being about as responsible as you *can* be. The sad truth is though, it sounds like this just isn’t going to work, and after years of not dating for other people’s sake that has to be a bit hard to take. Hopefully, she’ll pull through it and find a better partner.

    • avatar bamabob says:

      whoa. what letter did you read? I saw nothing about chasing every warm body that comes along–just the opposite. Up to now she’s avoided/ignored every warm body that’s come along and focused on raising her kids. This warm body is 4200 miles away. Project much? I do agree with your frustration with the frequency of letters that are about “wonderful” people who aren’t so wonderful. Margo’s advice is spot on. Tell G.I. Joe you’ve been there, done that, and won’t do it again. (I can project, too: I wonder if Mr. Wonderful’s shutting down is ptsd related?)

      • avatar sassyvixen1971 says:

        Dear Letter #2: Welcome to the world of dating an active duty military member. For many of them, what he does is a coping mechanism (as well as the response when he’s faced with something he can’t change particularly when he’s being told something by a CO)….he’s learned to be quiet and deal with it internally. Would you rather he scream, fight, call you ugly names? Letter writer needs to find a friend, support group, etc. made up of active duty military spouses/girlfriends to learn to deal with him. They need far more support than you can imagine!

  3. avatar lincer says:

    LTR 2:

    RUN – This perfect guy is being emotionally abusive.  A grown man who uses the silent treatment has control issues. Believe me, I’ve been there.  Save yourself the grief and get out now.

  4. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: Do they want you in the bridal party or out?  Either way, tell bridezilla sis (and your mom) that you’ll entertain no more talk about how your pregnancy and tan lines will look in August.   

    LW2: Sounds like the three hours you spend gassing with this temperamental guy on the phone might better be spent developing relationships closer to home … or playing with your kids.

    • avatar Sita says:

      JFC4612, very true about LW#2. Her time will be better spent playing with her kids or even volunteering. I grew up with such a mother and married a man like that. Not good for marriage and happiness in general. So out with the husband and long distance with the mother. Actually very long distance about 15,000 miles and she behaves nicely on the phone. I still love her though, but I never counter on her for emotional supports.

  5. avatar luna2012 says:

    For LW1: I cannot for the life of me, understand bridezillas. I planned a small wedding and I had no bridesmaids. Even that was stressful enough for me – figuring out this and that. I don’t understand why women think that kind of behavior is acceptable. I’ve heard of men breaking off the engagement because of it. It’s one day. Your marriage is more important, not the party.

    For LW2: I commend this writer for mentioning her children first. However, because there are children involved, I can only hope this boyfriend is not controlling or abusive. He may be under a great deal of stress as a serviceman overseas. She should talk to him about this behavior and if he refuses to change, she should break it off for the sake of her children. They are your #1 priority. They may or may not ever forgive you if you bring this kind of man into their lives. I know what it is like. You must remember that this man is more than just the love of your life or your potential husband. He is their potential FATHER. Just think about that.

    What does your gut tell you? Is he really wonderful if he treats you like that? Plus “head over heels” usually spells infatuation, especially when there is a glaring red flag like this one.

  6. avatar sdpooh says:

    LW#1 — Drop out of the wedding NOW.  Offer to man the guestbook.  I did that at my sister’s wedding (she only had one attendant) and it was fun.  I got to welcome all the guests and got to sit down while doing it.

    LW#2 — Dump the bum.  He’s not worth the trouble now and in the future.  Make a list of what is acceptable in a man and consult it whenever you think you “love” someone.   

  7. avatar D says:

    I would not be so quick to criticize the military man. He might not be talking to her about certain things because he is not allowed to talk about these things. It might be a situation where national security might come into play. Also we do not know how much stuff he goes through. If he told her everything the tenor of the conversations might change, which could cause her to view him in a different light. One of the reasons people do not always confide everything in significant others is because they are afraid that the significant other cannot handle the truth.

    • avatar mayma says:

      National security, huh? That’s a new one.

      • avatar Lym BO says:

        My thoughts exactly. That wouldn’t lead to the silent treatment, it would lead to, “I’m sorry I am not allowed to speak about work matters. If you can’t handle it then it’s over. “.

  8. avatar butterfly55 says:

    LW2, I’m just curious as to how he has 3 hours daily to spend on the phone with you.  And could it be that the days he isn’t calling you he is calling another woman?  There is something strange in this situation to me.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Butterfly55, a 4200 mile distance is probably about a six-hour time zone shift. My best guess is that he is in Germany and she is somewhere on the East Coast. We had to deal with this all the time when we were stationed over there – to do any business Stateside, we had to wait until 3PM our time to start trying to call. And calling family and friends was always done at night for us.

      If he’s a night owl, he could be calling around 11PM his time when she might be getting off work in the US. But you’re not going to do this every night, staying up until 2AM, when you have to get up at about 5:30 AM to start a military day.

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        Then why is she upset when he doesn’t call for several days, it sounded to me like they talked everyday and only missed when he was “punishing” her.  I would have no problem understanding a reasonable relationship of calls a few times a week.  Thst just was not my impression here.

        • avatar Lila says:

          Butterfly55, I’m kind of wondering. She says he shuts her out and does not “respond” for several days. Email or texts maybe? Not picking up on Skype? But if someone is 4200 miles away, I certainly would not expect daily calls, especially not daily 3-hour calls. Expense aside – she does mention the phone – it’s a huge chunk of time out of his day (or his sleep).

  9. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: Why on earth do people ever agree to be in weddings—especially when the bride is a bitch? I just don’t understand it. Use the pregnancy as an excuse and bow out. Done.

    LW2: “He’s 4000 miles away. He’s 4000 miles away.” Repeat this as necessary.

  10. avatar etiennewestwind says:

    Well, I´m glad all weddings I´ve been involved with had reasonable people in them.

    Nothing else to say, WOW doesn´t have a version that pulls up quickly on the phone, and won´t e-mail me follow-up comments without commenting myself.

  11. avatar Teri Brown says:

    I’m still trying to figure out what a “farmer’s” tan is, and how that is different from any other tan you’d actually get from the sun (as opposed to a salon)….

    • avatar zz says:

      Hey Teri…a farmer’s tan is what you get when you wear a t-shirt all day in the sun….your arms are tan, but your upper arms and shoulders are not.  It looks funny then, when you put on a tank top or something strapless.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      She has tanlines that indicate she was wearing some sort of shirt/halter, etc. It’s not as “pretty” as a regular tan, which doesn’t have those annoying markings.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      A farmer’s tan shows the tan lines of your t-shirt or tank top, as opposed to a swim suit. It basically leaves anywhere covered by a work shirt ghost white and the rest tan. If someone wears long sleeves especially, this can be very silly looking when they wear say, a sundress or a bathing suit.

    • avatar Mary Brensel says:

      A farmer’s tan, where I’m from (Nevada) is a white forehead from wearing a hat in the sun. usually a cowboy hat, worn 24/7.

      • avatar mmht says:

        ZZ and Wendy are right on the definition of a farmer’s tan, and yes it does look weird!

  12. avatar wendykh says:

    There is a big difference between “the silent treatment” and taking some space. I take space often from people, including family and my husband. Obviously since I live with my family that space might be an afternoon or so where I don’t call or text or whatever. Maybe I let their call go to voicemail. This might happen after I think they’ve said something stupid and I just am thinking “whatever” and don’t want to discuss it really. Especially if it’s something we won’t agree on. Then I talk about something *else* when we do talk again.

    The silent treatment is ignoring someone until they apologize or change their mind about something. Very different. And frankly, I think it’s a lot more normal to not talk for 2-3 days when you’re 4K miles apart than to talk for 3 hours daily.

    Now all that said…. Single mom, I’m gonna be real blunt with you as a fellow single mom and someone who has a very, very long line of military men in the armed forces of two nations including all 4 US branches… The likelihood of this man either being already married or seeing one or more other women is very, very high. You aren’t there. People have needs. The military breeds a culture of infidelity (and I know 50 military wives will say “my husband NEVER cheats!” or get their military spouse to come say so, but even if you are married to one who doesn’t or are one who doesn’t, you also know of what I speak). Single Mom, guys like someone doting on them and babying them, especially military guys who have a wife at home who may be bitching about why he hasn’t gone up in rank yet like Suzy CO’s Wife down the street’s husband has, or about how much it sucks being home alone for a year or more, or bitching she doesn’t want him going back to the sandbox, etc. If your children are young and you marry this man, their father if he is alive may suddenly decide to make moving a living nightmare for you. If your children are young and you marry this man you should think about how much they may resent being moved all over hell and gone (to say nothing of you). And it’s not always somewhere fun like Germany or Japan. It’s usually Fayetteville, North Carolina or yay, even more fun, Minot, North Dakota. My cousin just got stationed there after living in London UK for 15 years. Her kids are *horrified* and don’t have a stepparent to blame it on. Then you get to deal with deployments lasting a year or so. And don’t believe it when they say it’s just once or twice. I know people on their 5th and 6th trip to the sandbox who can count on two hands how many times they’ve had sex with their spouse in the last five years.

    You couldn’t pay me enough to be a military spouse (I like regular frequent sex too much, and monogamy, sue me) and I’m one who is pragmatic about marrying for money being not necessarily a bad thing.

    Finally, it’s extremely easy to be *anyone* on the phone/from a distance. May I suggest you join a yoga class, a fitness club, volunteer at an animal shelter or soup kitchen, or with your house of worship if you’re into that, and find a mate there? I’m guessing you’re not into the bar scene, and that’s a good thing.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      Obviously by fellow single mom I mean previously. I remarried and although it has not been an easy marriage so far, I am optimistic for our forever chances, celebrated 7 years yesterday :-)

    • avatar Lila says:

      Wendy, valid points about the military lifestyle. It is not for everyone. I would not go so far as to say there is a “culture of infidelity” – in fact I have seen people fired from leadership positions and kicked out of the service for adultery, despite the fact that it is very, very hard to prove to a legal standard.

      Still. The whole lifestyle can be very lonely and isolating for the military family, which is probably why the military hangs together so tightly. Because of all the moves, spouses have a hard time finding jobs and a harder time having careers. Kids have to adjust often to new friends and new schools. You are far from your parents, siblings and friends, and then the guy you moved all that way for is often not even there. True about the deployments, but then there are also required schools that take the soldier away for weeks to months at a time, and field exercises that run anywhere from a week to a month or so.

      So – our single mom needs to think hard, not only about the occasional shut-outs, but if in fact she is really cut out for this at all. Love is great, but it absolutely does NOT conquer all.

    • avatar NDgirl says:

      Just out of curiosity what is so wrong with Minot, ND? It is not a big bustling metropolis true but it is a great city for families.

      • avatar K Coldiron says:

        I can’t speak for the person who posted the comment, but Minot, North Dakota after 15 years in one of the most metropolitan cities on the planet has got be a major culture shock.

  13. avatar Lym BO says:

    Are pregnant women allowed to ride horses? I know I rode shortly after a miscarriage & it was very uncomfortable.

    • avatar Mishy Smith says:

      I was wondering this too. It isn’t recommended. But what is also not recommended is tanning or chemical bronzers. So either way, her sister is asking too much.

    • avatar NDgirl says:

      Yes we can ride just not after 8 mo. and also just take it easy not bronc riding :)