For six years, my husband and I have been great friends with two other couples. We ate together, traveled together and hung out a lot. Recently, the other couples told me (separately, but within a month of each other) that they are no longer willing to spend time with my husband. No reason was given. Both couples said they are open to seeing me without him. This is going to break my husband’s heart! Should I tell him directly, or let him discover that he’s being ghosted over time? Is there any way to continue my relationship with these friends?
I’m sort of astonished that you didn’t ask your friends (either time!) why your husband was being cast out into the desert. Does this mean you have a hunch? Or maybe it’s not the first time they’ve mentioned their difficulties with him. Either way, I would ask for a clear explanation of the problem.
We all have failings. But if we’re put on notice of them constructively, we can often make big improvements. If your husband is a conversation hog, occasionally snarky, or too strident in his politics, he can work on those issues if he is told about them. I also get that it can be hard to lodge complaints with friends, especially if they’re defensive. But six years of camaraderie should buy your husband some good will.
Of course, there are other problems that are much harder, if not impossible, to bounce back from: if your husband has been cruel, for example, or behaved in seriously inappropriate ways. So, find out what the beef is, discuss it with your husband directly, and decide together if there’s a feasible plan for rehabilitation.
As for maintaining your own relationship with these couples, unless your husband’s offense is grave, could you really continue being friends with people who won’t let him apologize and try to do better in the future? And if his behavior was truly egregious, you have bigger fish to fry, no?
My father and his partner host an annual family party. It’s grown so large that they decided to cater it this year in lieu of our usual potluck. This week, the invitees received a text message from my father requesting that guests tip the bartenders and catering staff. My father can afford to tip them himself, so some family members are offended. Was this request inappropriate? Is it wrong that I don’t feel the need to tip?
So, rather than tote your delicious three-bean salad, you were asked to bring five or 10 bucks to tip the workers. I don’t see the problem. You have always been asked to bring something to this party. Is cash so different from legumes?
In your father’s shoes, I probably wouldn’t ask guests to tip. But his party, his rules. And frankly, you seem needlessly peevish. Why should you bring nothing? The only people I’m concerned for here are the staff, whose tips are in danger. If you can’t agree to your father’s request, skip his party.
About That Lunch Date
As part of manager training at work, I met another new manager. We got along well and scheduled a lunch date. But on the morning of our lunch, I had a work emergency and lost track of time. When I realized my error, it was less than an hour before lunch. I emailed her an apology, explained my emergency and proposed another date. No response. The next week, I emailed again. Again, no response. I know I was wrong, but how can I mend this fence?
Everyone forgets a lunch date occasionally. But your efforts to make good on your missed plans have been fairly lazy: type and send. Your colleague seems to need a touch more.
Presumably, she works in the same building as you. So, get up from your desk chair, walk to her office and apologize in person. (If she works elsewhere, call her.) If she’s still unwilling to bury the hatchet, you’ve got one tough co-worker! But at least you will have made the effort to put things right.
This Is the Orchestra, Not the Pit
My husband and I splurged on tickets to see Renée Fleming at the Philharmonic. The woman sitting next to my husband was “conducting” with her hands throughout the performance. I love classical music and opera, and respect that others may express their enjoyment differently. But I found myself very irritated with her. I glanced at her several times, which stopped the hand movements only temporarily. So, I decided to ignore her. (There was no intermission, so no chance to speak with an usher.) Thoughts?
You are practically a saint, Deborah! In concert halls and theaters (as opposed to open-air venues with picnic blankets and bottles of wine) we are often sharing tight quarters and should minimize absurd dramatic gestures that are likely to disturb others. If the woman’s conducting was visible to you, even in your peripheral vision, you could have said nicely: “Your arm movements are distracting. Please put down the air baton!”
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