Dear Abby: Man tries to host perfect formal dinner parties, frets when he falls short
Though he does most of the work, the pressure creates tension with his wife, who would rather keep family events casual.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my wonderful husband, “Alec,” for five years. This is a second marriage for both of us. We raised children on our own and waited until they were out of the house to get into a relationship.
My issue is Alec plans events, and then becomes stressed because the house or the food isn’t perfect. My idea of an event is: My family comes over and we enjoy each other’s company. We usually do potluck, and everyone helps with the cleanup. My husband’s idea of an event is that we are the hosts and everyone sits down to a formal dinner.
I hate this! Why would I spend all my time serving my family and cleaning up after them instead of enjoying BEING with them? In his defense, Alec does most of the prep and hosting on his events because I refuse to kill myself making sure everything is “perfect.” But even though he does most of the work, he’s obviously irritated the whole time, and by the time of the event, we’re barely speaking.
These events are not fun for us, and the visiting family notices the tension, so it’s uncomfortable for them, too. I just want to enjoy my family — not impress anyone. Our house is always presentable. It’s not like I invite guests into a mess. To hear him talk, you’d think we have rats running around.
I have tried discussing it with him, and he says, “My mom was a perfect hostess. She made everyone comfortable, waited on them, etc.” You know what? I don’t CARE what his mom did. This is how I entertain, and I’m not going to kill myself and then have a miserable time. Am I unreasonable? — DIFFERENCE OF STYLE
DEAR DIFFERENCE: Remind your husband that families have their own traditions. If he wants to entertain his family in grand style, he’s entitled to do that — and they probably expect it. However, he has no right to impose his style of entertaining on your family because it is not fair to you or to them. Because you’re not going to change him, compromise by divvying up the entertaining — you do yours, and he should do his.
DEAR ABBY: I have an aversion to being hugged. My mother has told me that even as a baby and toddler I didn’t like being held or rocked to sleep. I just wanted to be put in my bed. Since I have been like this my whole life, I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with me. I do let family I am close to hug me if they wish.
My problem is friends or acquaintances who consider themselves “huggers.” Their right to hug seems to trump my right not to be. When I tell them I don’t want a hug, they press the issue. Over the last two years, our country has been in a pandemic and we have been advised to stay six feet apart — but even then, they still want to do it.
People: If you are “huggers,” PLEASE realize that not everyone enjoys it. Always ASK first, and if someone says no, respect their right not to have a hug forced upon them. Abby, do you agree? — WITHHOLDING IN WISCONSIN
DEAR WITHHOLDING: Yes, I do. Some people are averse to their personal space being invaded. No one has the right to touch an acquaintance if asked not to do it.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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