Cake Family Partying!

Donny’s Mini-blog for Friday: What a fun start so far!

So the partying has begun.

We greeted my brother Jimmy this morning, and then our friend Debby who flew in from Philadelphia. And then in the evening the partying began in earnest when Chris’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and the Ruggiero clan from  New York all descended upon the Wong-Dicken household.

It was a short evening–we started at 5:30 and kicked everyone out by 9:30. But it was SO MUCH FUN! How often in life do you get to get different family members and friends from so many different parts of your life together in once place? By my reckoning, this type of convergence happens at going-away parties, at your wedding, and at your funeral. And for the latter–everyone will be enjoying it except for you.

But not only were they interacting, they were also enjoying each others’ company, getting to know one another, and forming new friendships. And much of it without any of our help. We even had a small cake that we cut as if it was our wedding cake (actually, it was our wedding cake because we’re not having one on Friday!).

For me, even if this small party at our house tonight was the entire wedding “event”, I would be wholly satisfied. And tomorrow is going to be amazing…it will be the same thing as tonight but 10 times bigger (well, 6.21 times bigger, but who’s counting?)–and 100 times more fun!


Family Practicalities

Chris’ mini blog – Wednesday

Today was our last day of wedding admin. We put together the ‘Magic Bag’ (a bag containing everything we will need on the day), did a bit of last minute shopping and also got the house ready for a party tomorrow evening where family and jet-lagged Americans will enjoy pizza and bubbly together in our garden. Then this evening we got together with our ushers to go through the planning for the day, and also have a lovely meal out together – which is the closest thing we’ll have to a stag night before the wedding.

Actually, I reckon the evening in the pub will serve well as our stag night. We will have a gang of friends together, in a pub, with a drag queen. What’s not to like? Why celebrate a ‘last night of freedom’ when it’s much more exciting to celebrate ‘a first night of partnership’.

As I write, Donny’s brother – Jimmy – is currently on a plane somewhere above Canada and he is heading our way. This wedding deal has just shifted gear from ‘planning and preparation’ to ‘oh my goodness this is actually happening’.Tomorrow morning we welcome Jimmy and also Debby (our friend from the US) straight off their planes and into our home and the whole wedding experience will officially begin. I hope I’ll have a chance to blog but if not – see you on the other side!

Family Key Events Reflections Uncategorized

Donny’s mini-blog for Tuesday

So my tactic for dealing with the stress of the upcoming nuptials is to try to have as normal of a routine as possible. This means going to the office for a couple of days of work. This way my head stays clear during the day.

However, the problem arises when I get home because this is when I can start doing the bulk of what is on my task list for the wedding…and that can be overwhelming when there are last minute work deadlines to deal with, client calls, and then in the limited hours before sleep, trying to cram in some work for the wedding.

Anyways, as I sit right now in my office done with the few things that were on my to-do list for Tuesday (3 client conference calls, interviewing a job candidate, an editorial deadline for a review article, and a deadline for a research survey), I can finally take a deep breath. And that is when a mix of joy and panic sets in. I’m taking the days on either side of the wedding off, so this is my last day in the office without a ring on my finger. In fact, THIS IS MY LAST DAY IN THE OFFICE WITHOUT A RING ON MY FINGER!!! OMG, I’M GETTING MARRIED. IN THREE DAYS! And then the extra panic starts to set in–the “festivities” actually start on Thursday when the out-of-town guests start arriving in the morning. And THIS IS IN JUST TWO DAYS!!

And suddenly, everything that I had been procrastinating on because of work (haircut, ironing, food shopping, cleaning the fishtank, doing the windows, sweeping the patio, making a wedding disco playlist, WRITING VOWS, etc.) needs to get done in THE ONE DAY WE HAVE LEFT before the out-of-town family arrive en masse at the flat.  ARRGH!

In between obsessively looking at the weather forecast (in not one or two, but on three different sources), I have found some moments of peace by taking time out to obsessively troll Gumtree ads for cute puppies for sale. These darlings below are two of our favorites so far.

So advice or anyone planning a wedding: Every time you get too stressed out from all the wedding work, just take a puppy break.


Family Reflections Suits Uncategorized

Searching for a connection

Those of you who have been following my part of the blog know that I have been dealing with a lot of conflicting feelings about my family and their reaction to the news that Chris and I are getting married. I genuinely did not know if my parents were happy about the situation or not. And they are probably as conflicted as I am.

On the one hand, I am certain that they were still holding on to a shred of hope that this “gay thing” was a passing fancy and that I would eventually find the right woman to settle down with. Getting married to another dude obviously dashes this last remaining hope to smithereens. (And never mind that I had previously been in a relationship with my ex for 14 years, which is still longer than the marriages of most of my school friends). If it is indeed a phase, it is one to be measured by decades rather than by seasons.

On the other hand, they have to feel at least a modicum of happiness that their younger son has found someone (whom they profess to also like) to spend the rest of his life with. The only thing is that the person whom I have fallen in love with is not of the gender that they had envisioned for me when I was growing up, and they still dont have the emotional wherewithal to embrace us for who I am, rather than who they think I should have been. So this modicum of happiness is likely to be bittersweet, at best.

So it was with a somewhat heavy heart that I landed in San Francisco last week. I had been in Philadelphia for a medical conference, and decided to tack on a few days in San Francisco for some client visits and to see my family. As a bonus, it was my brother’s 40th birthday and my older nephew’s 5th grade graduation, so there was plenty of opportunity for the whole family to get together.

One thing I noticed almost immediately was that the invitation we had sent to my parents was nowhere to be seen. I eventually found the invite and the save the date card, both tucked inside an old birthday day card inside a big pile of cards. The invite had obviously been hidden from sight, in case anyone visiting the house should see. I was not at all surprised by this (but I also could not help but feel a bit annoyed, since I knew that even wedding invites sent to them by distant acquaintances would often be displayed prominently on their dining table for months before and after the wedding was over.)

You see, I was already used to being marginalized in this way by my parents. For example, despite all those years that my ex and I were together, there were never any pictures of us on the fridge or any of the walls. However, the walls are festooned with pictures of my brother and his wife, and of their two kids. On the fridge there have only ever been two solitary pictures of me–one of me alone and one of me with my brother’s dog–and these have been up for well over 15 years. In this way, they could acknowledge that I existed, but also continue to fool themselves and others into thinking that I was not gay but merely single, as in the pictures.

And so, for the first couple of days, I did not mention the wedding. And neither did they. I had already written a lot about the Elephant in the Room, and they were still playing this game of avoidance. They had shown no interest at all in attending the wedding, or even talking about the wedding. So I needed some way to engage with them, and to connect with them because this game of avoidance is a zero-sum game, with no winners and only losers on all sides. Continued avoidance would just create further distance between us–an open wound which would eventually turn into a chasm or void. Life itself and the physical distance between us was hard enough. No family needs such additional obstacles.

My big opportunity to bond with my folks came from my suit, of all things. I had brought back my wedding suit for my dad to alter. He’s a master tailor with over 50 years of experience and it is not uncommon for me to bring back some “homework” for him to do in the form of trousers that need hemming, zippers that need repairing, or pockets that need re-lining. But for this suit, in addition to helping me save a few bucks, I thought it would be a good way to get him involved in the wedding, albeit indirectly. However, when I first brought out the suit for him to inspect, his first reaction was to ask, “Why on earth did you buy another suit? You already have so many suits that I have given you.” (Yes, that is how deep the power of avoidance and compartmentalization can be–he truly had no clue what the suit was for).

“It’s my wedding suit, I replied.” And then at last he understood. The change in his expression and demeanor were instant. And I finally saw a glimmer of hope that it was even possible for him to engage with me and with the wedding. He might not have the words to express his feelings, but his youngest son was going to get married, and he was determined to make sure that the suit fit me better than any suit he has ever worked with. After pinning and marking all the alterations that were needed with my outfit, I showed him a photo of Chris in his suit and in addition for chastising me for not having brought Chris’s suit for him to alter, he proceeded to document in detail all the changes that Chris’s outfit would need in order for his suit to also fit like a glove. We’ll be taking these instructions with us when we go back to the shop in London for Chris’ fitting.

My mom’s opportunity to participate came when I modeled the finished product for them. She came over for a look, and to fuss a bit over the outfit, and I could sense that she was proud of me and of the man I had become (although again, the words were lacking). She again lamented that the wedding was so far away, and that there was no way for her to get there without having to board a plane.

And finally, on my last morning in San Francisco, they presented me with a monetary wedding gift for me and Chris, with apologies about their inability to come to the wedding. Most importantly, however, the gift also came with verbal reassurance that they would be happy for us both, even though they wouldn’t be there in person. That was worth more than any amount of money. And so I was able to finally breathe a big sigh of relief, and to smile a bittersweet smile knowing how difficult of a journey it has been for them and for me to arrive at the very point we had just found ourselves at.





Family Key Events Practicalities Venue

The joy of practicalities

So we have had a fairly eventful week in the Wong & Dicken household. First of all, after much hemming and hawing and trying on dozens of suits, we have finally gone back to a nice one that we both liked very much the first time we saw it and tried it on. Our suits fit all the criteria on our checklist: European cloth, design, and construction; can be worn on occasions other than our wedding (otherwise we would have just hired something for the day); festive enough that we don’t look like we just left the office; special enough that we look like grooms rather than guests. Hopefully none of the guests will upstage us by showing up in tailcoats or a tophat (which I did see happen at one wedding we attended).

And NO, we didn’t go for this outfit.

Nope, not that one!
What we did NOT choose for our wedding

So the next step is that I will be taking my wedding suit home to California for my dad to alter. He’s a master tailor with over 50 years of experience working on high end Italian suits, so I think he will do a great job on mine. Plus, it will give him an opportunity to participate in the wedding, albeit indirectly. And for him to have to handle the wedding suit will make it all more “real” to him, if that makes any sense. It’s too bad that Chris can’t join me on this upcoming business trip since it would have been great to be there together, as a couple. (Plus my dad would be able to alter Chris’s suit too). We still need to get our accoutrements for the suits too (ties, shirts, pocket squares, etc), so if anyone has any recommendations (or knows of a good tailor in London who can alter Chris’s suit), please feel free to pass along the details.

Also, after a couple of weeks of waiting, we have learned that our invites are still stuck in customs. They were designed and printed by our talented friend Kiki at Alternate Greetings, but the Royal Mail doesn’t seem to care. Nor do they care that we are working on a deadline. Instead, they are treating the invites like any other business shipment entering the country, which needs to be checked for contraband and for which duties must be levied. With foresight Kiki has mailed out the U.S. invites on our behalf, so at least one portion of the invites are out already. (A slightly scary thought, as this now means the event is on for REAL and there is no turning back!).

And we have also touched base with each of our venues. One venue apparently has come under new management since we made our deposit, and has had a complete turnover of staff! A nightmare scenario, but the new manager was very accommodating, and they were able to find our names in the Big Book (where all the important pub events are listed), so we at least still have the venue. And I checked in with the venue for our drinks reception too, in order to get a few details (that affect where we purchase bubbly)–and have now been informed that we may not be able to bring our own bubbly after all! I have an appointment to speak with the manager next week, so hopefully we’ll get that detail sorted soon. And lastly, we’ve also been in touch with the restaurant, and those of you coming to the wedding will be happy to know that we have now added a dessert course (with a choice of crème brulee or raspberry white chocolate mousse!). Yum. And lastly, we have paid the final deposit for the Council Room at the Islington Town Hall. Again, it’s all real and it’s all happening!

Any lessons from this past week? Probably a “touching of bases” 3 months before the big day should be prioritized on the diaries of anyone planning a wedding. And as we go into the final stretch, I would aim for once monthly touching of bases with each venue and stakeholder. Also, especially if international guests and invites are involved, if I had to do things all over again I would err on the side of caution and have invites printed, delivered, and sent even earlier than the 6-8 weeks recommended by most wedding planners. (Who makes up these rules anyways? And do they apply to all countries and cultures?).

Fingers crossed that everything else will run more smoothly from next week onwards…

Family Reflections

Levelling up.

So I have been rather quiet on this blog lately. In part, I have really not had much to say. The situation with my family had not changed in the past month–week after week I held my breath but no questions about the wedding every came about. And we were still tying up loose ends with the venues, so there wasn’t much to report there. And frankly, I was getting tired of planning the wedding and talking about the wedding. It seemed for a while that every weekend activity was centered around the wedding, every conversation was about the wedding, and every time I saw friends (including some that I see on a weekly basis), they asked about the wedding. So I decided to take a break from it all and enjoy some downtime from the planning and from the blog.

But a lot has happened in the month since I last wrote in this blog. We now have all four venues finally nailed down. Town hall, drinks reception, lunch, and then the pub. So now that the macro-level arrangements have been taken care of, and the dates are set, it is only the details that remain to be filled out–and we still have 5 months to do so. (Yes, I know those 5 months sound like a lot, but they will pass really quickly!)

But most importantly, my brother just informed us that he is coming to the wedding! It will be his first visit to London and I am excited to be able to see him on this side of the pond. Unfortunately summertime school schedules and challenges surrounding food allergies and travel for my youngest nephew means that my sister-in-law and two nephews will not be able to come, but I am sure they will be here in spirit.

And it was my brother’s decision to come to the wedding that has had the further consequence of causing my mom to finally mention The Elephant In The Room during my recent conversation with her. This was a huge relief for me, as I was going crazy waiting and was going to just bring it up myself (and thereby breaking the promise I made to myself to wait it out). He had just informed her the previous weekend that he was going to be making the trip–and that in turn was the catalyst that finally thawed the ice.

You see, it turns out that the wedding had become compartmentalized for various reasons. Compartmentalization is something that I also do very well (and I have an amazing capacity for that, according to my old therapist)–but I cannot even begin to fathom the full complexity of what goes through my mother’s mind. I had thought her reticence was due to a sense of shame and her not wanting to acknowledge something publicly that she perceived as something to be hidden away. But I now think that a major part of that reticence was my mom’s reluctance to acknowledge that I’ve grown up and am no longer her baby.

Marriage has that effect on people–it’s one of life’s milestones that most people experience and can relate to. Along with moving out of the house, going to uni, getting one’s first full-time job, and having one’s first child–getting married is one of the major ways that people level-up. And yes, in the conversation, she did refer to the event as a wedding (in Chinese, of course)–and there might not even be any alternative names for it (I wouldn’t even know where to start with defining “civil partnership” in Chinese). But our upcoming wedding has had a most profound effect on my family. It tells them that my relationship with Chris is real, and is lasting, permanent, and lifechanging. Interestingly, my last relationship, which lasted 14 years and was a marriage for all intents and purposes, never quite had this level of gravitas in my family’s eyes, perhaps in part because we never formally got hitched. (And this is another reason why having a dual system of “civil partnerships” and “marriages” is inherently un-equal). Being in a committed same-sex relationship is one thing–but being married is another thing altogether.

I’m still thinking about the details of my conversation with my mom, and I may write about it later. But I do need to thank my brother for being the catalyst that broke the ice, and in advance, for coming to the wedding. And my new promise to myself is to try to include my folks in the wedding discussions as much as possible, now that the impasse has been passed. In fact, they may even get sick of how much I will talk to them about the wedding.  8)





Good News from Across The Pond

I thought I would give you a quick update on the Wong family situation.

There’s still no news from Donny’s parents – they are still not using the ‘W’ word at all – but the really good news is that Donny’s brother, Jimmy, is planning to come over and join us on the big day. So if you’re going to be with us on the day, make sure you say hello and help him to feel really welcome. It’s so awesome that he’s going to be there.

Also on the subject of Donny’s family, we got this thank you card through the mail a few weeks ago from Donny’s nephews:

It’s still so weird and cool to me that part of this whole marriage deal is that as well as gaining a husband, I gain a whole new family of in-laws – including two young nephews. And full credit to Jimmy and his wife Sharon for making the effort to really help me feel included in the wider Wong clan. To be addressed as ‘Uncle Chris’ is just awesome – it shows that Jimmy and Sharon have recently done a bit of explaining to the kids about the full nature of our relationship.

It is interesting that it’s only really since Donny and I got engaged that the thank you cards started coming addressed to us both. What that demonstrates is the cultural power of the institution of marriage – by getting engaged Donny and I have communicated to our families and the wider world that ‘we come as a set and that isn’t going to change’. And people have to decide how they are going to respond to that: Donny’s parents’ response so far has been to try and ignore it, but Jimmy and Sharon have chosen to embrace it. And that’s awesome.

Announcements Dates Family

Parental encounters of the third kind

SCENE: Weekly Sunday night call home. Chris is in bed already. I am still on the couch, with a glass of scotch for both encouragement and premeditated consolation. We were watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind earlier. The Superbowl is now on in the background. I have already listened to 1.5 hours of extended Asian family drama, including sibling issues, squabbles about money, and 40-year old grudges that used to be brought up once every few months, but which seem to be brought up every other week now (and almost always involve some tears of anger, regret, and anguish)…
ME: So you’ve spent so much time talking about dad’s family today, what about your own family?
MOM: What do you mean? I’ve already told you about my mom and dad, and how bitter and difficult their lives were, and how hard they had to work…
ME: Well, your son is part of your family too. And your son has some news for you. Chris and I have decided on the date of our wedding.
MOM: As I said last time, congratulations to you and to Chris.
ME: (after a pregnant pause). So are you going to come?
MOM: You know I don’t like to fly. I couldn’t handle such a long journey. But if you want, you should talk to your dad and he can decide for himself if he will go or not. All I want is for you and Chris to be happy.
ME: So that means you won’t come? It was just last year that you were saying that you and Auntie [her sister] wanted to visit me in London and then go to Paris.
MOM: But that was last year, and we never said when we were going to do it. It was going to be after I retire, but now…now I still have to work and your aunt has a bad back and can’t travel…
ME: So is it that you really are afraid to fly, or is that you just don’t want Auntie to find out why you are going to London, if you end up going without her?
MOM: (Long silence). [Busted!!]
ME: Well I don’t really care if you come or not. It’s your decision. But I would like you to come. You say you only want me to be happy. Well, it would make me very happy if you came. This is probably the most important day in my life, and I want my mother and father there with me. I want my brother and sister-in-law there with me. I want the family to be whole together, even if it’s just for one day, for the most important day. That would make me happy.
MOM: So what would you like for a gift? I’ll send you a gift.
ME: No, I don’t want a gift. And I don’t want your money either. I just want you to be there, to see me happy, and to be happy with me.
MOM: (More awkward silence).
ME: Well we’ve been on the phone over an hour and a half already and it’s really late now. Think about the wedding. Whether you come or not will be totally up to you. But it would really make me happy if you and dad did come.
ME: Stay happy. I love you.
MOM: I love you too.
ME: *sigh*
Family Reflections

Cycling out of the closet

I’ve been commuting to work by bicycle every day for the past few months. I love it–the freedom of movement, the fresh London air (well, as fresh as city air can get…it’s infinitely fresher than the stale air pushed through the tube system anyways). It’s also free and environmentally friendly, and I get the sense that I am in control of my own path and daily destiny.

But I was late to start cycling in London. In fact I only started last August, despite my five years in London and the two-plus years in my current flat. Granted, I spent the first three years of my life in London living close enough to the office that I walked every day to work (yes, a real luxury, I know). But the real reason why I didn’t start cycling earlier was that I was terrified to do so.

So many times, I’ve seen close calls between cyclists and buses, taxis, cars, pedestrians, and even other cyclists. This city wasn’t built for cyclists and what few bicycle paths exist are laughable. And as a result, the very thought of cycling in London filled me with dread. So I stuck with the tube and bus system, which was safe, familiar, and convenient. But that also meant that I knew nothing of the joys that cycling would eventually afford me, and so I lived my life by the set path of the London tube system’s map, stops, and schedules.

And so of course with this upcoming wedding I have been thinking about my past and my own path through life. There was once a time that I was similarly terrified of coming out of the closet. Like many others, I thought it was just a “phase” at first. And I convinced myself that once I scratched the itch and got “it” out of my system, I would go on to do what I had been brought up thinking I was supposed to do, which was to eventually get married (to a woman) and have kids and carry on the family name. I was 18 at the time.

That first itch I scratched, while I was still in university, turned into far more than a flight of fancy. It turned into a 14-year relationship that unfortunately did not end well, but which I do not regret one second of. I’m still friendly with my ex and his family, and without their love and support throughout those 14 years (and beyond), I would certainly not be where I am today, nor the person I am today.

But back to my terror…The closet was a safe place to be, and I was not at all comfortable with the thought of stepping foot outside of it for a really long time. What would people think? How would people judge me? So survival mechanisms kick in. You learn to create all sorts of lies to your friends and family about who you are with, how you spent your weekends and holidays, and even who your friends are. And with each lie you spin to keep yourself “safe” (and yes, sometimes these lies can get quite elaborate), you slowly start to forget who you are inside because of the competition with the facade you project to the outside world. And also with each lie you tell, you start to hate yourself slightly more, knowing full well that each lie is destroying a small bit of your soul.

And eventually the duality of life that you find yourself living becomes so unbearable, that you feel like you have no choice left but to burst out of the closet. Or at least take a big step out of it. And then, if all goes well, you can start mending the relationships with friends and family that have suffered because of the fences and walls that you have put up for “safety” reasons, and allow people to know the real you. And only then can you start living a full, open, and honest life that can close the chasms you have inadvertantly created, and which involves everyone that is important to you, and who deserve to know you in your entirety.

So this was pretty much my experience, especially with my family, who I didn’t allow to share in my personal life until my relationship with my ex was already 5 years old, and who, when I finally did come out, unfortunately, weren’t fully willing to share in my joys with that relationship for close to another 5 years. (see my cat story). But that did gradually change, to the point where they learned to share in the highs of my life and the eventual sorrows when they occurred.

Although the relationship that Chris and I have with my parents now is pretty much as good as it had been when I was with my ex, I can’t help but identify with the terror they must now be facing with the threat of our wedding thrusting me well out of the closet, and therefore dragging them out as well, if their friends and relatives were to find out about it. What would people think? How would people judge them? I’m sure these issues are going through their minds even though they refuse to talk about it or even bring up the subject.

And so I feel a great sadness that their self-exclusion from our wedding, and hence from an important milestone in my life, will mean that they will not be able to experience the full joys of life outside of their individual closets. They will never experience their family as a whole both inside and outside of their home and closet. And I will never just be their son, but will continue to be the duality of the gay son they hide inside their closet and the facade of the one they portray to everyone outside of the home. And they will continue to trick themselves into thinking they are perfectly happy while portraying me as the picky and busy son who just hasn’t found the right woman yet (or whatever other lies they are spinning).

However, unlike my parents, I am now done with that phase of my life spent spinning yarns. I will instead be happily spinning along on my bike, going places, and moving on with my life.

Family Reflections

Consider Yourself… One Of Us

Wedding Banquet
The Wedding Banquet (Ang Lee, 1993)

We’re just on our way back from a great visit with my parents in Snowdonia, where my folks celebrated our engagement with a nice bottle of bubbly, and really made a fuss of Donny – making sure he knows he’s part of the family. I’m really privileged to have parents who have been on their own journeys with figuring out this whole gay thing, and who are at the point now where they are excited about having a new son-in-law.

It’s a shame things aren’t working out  the same way with Donny’s family – but it is what it is. Donny’s parents have been nothing but friendly and hospitable to me on my visits over there, but I don’t think they could ever see me as somehow ‘joining their family’. I have always been a welcome guest, but I don’t think the wedding is going to change me into anything other than that.

But it could be so much worse. Donny could have lied to his parents about being gay in order to spare their feelings, and so in my visits over there I’d have to stay with friends or in a hotel – nothing more than another white face in the crowd. We are spared that at least.

Last night Donny and I watched The Wedding Banquet – a 1993 Ang Lee film about a gay couple (one white, one Asian) where the Asian guy undertakes a sham marriage in order to please his parents. Watching things in the movie spiral out of control, I was very glad that Donny and I don’t find ourselves in the position of having to pretend to be ‘housemates’ in our own home. (Having said that, I did have to pretend to be ‘the friend from London’ with Donny’s aunt and uncle in Singapore, and watch on in frustrated silence while Donny was set up with a girl – less than two weeks after we got engaged. But that’s a whole other blog article.)

Back to The Wedding Banquet. Although we are now benefitting from Donny’s early honesty with his parents, when I saw in the movie how much the marriage meant to the parents in the film, and how close the mother became with the daughter-in-law, it did make me realise how tough it must be on Donny’s folks. In Chinese culture, a wedding is not just about the bride and groom. It seems to me that it’s a social event for renewing bonds of family, friendship, business and community – where the parents have as much say in the planning, if not more so, than the couple. After all, historically a wedding ceremony would have been the symbolic culmination of a financial transaction, where the bride is transferred from one family to another. How does that work when there’s no bride?

With us they won’t be getting any of that. If they do come they will be honoured guests, but they’ll just be guests without any say in how the day happens. Donny’s parents and my parents will meet and shake hands, but they will have little in common, little to talk about and little common language to talk about it in. There will be no sense of two families becoming one family – our parents will go their separate ways and probably never see each other again.

And so I will carry on being a welcome guest in Donny’s parents’ home. And that will be fine. But although they won’t be getting another daughter-in-law added to their family,  I really hope they do eventually warm to the idea of having me as a son-in-law.