Cou­ple must tell their buddy that they don’t want to so­cial­ize with his rude wife

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@wash­ Get her col­umn de­liv­ered to your in­box each morn­ing at­post. Join the dis­cus­sion live at noon Fri­days at wash­ing­ton­ con­ver­sa­tions. Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn: My hus­band and I have been go­ing to din­ner nearly ev­ery Fri­day night for years with an­other cou­ple, “Kay” and “Jay.” My hus­band con­sid­ers Jay to be one of his best friends, and Jay is a great guy; he is smart, kind and sen­si­tive.

For the past few years, Kay has be­come in­creas­ingly rude with me. She says rude things. She looks at me with con­tempt and ir­ri­ta­tion. Some­times I will ask her, “What is that look for?” and she will not say. For the life of me, I can­not fig­ure out the rea­son for this. Kay seems to hate ev­ery­one she works with, so it’s not that sur­pris­ing she has come to dis­like me as well.

I fi­nally reached my limit when she was ex­cep­tion­ally rude to me. I told my hus­band this is re­ally hurt­ing my feel­ings and I can no longer guar­an­tee I can re­main po­lite. I said he can go with­out me if he wants, but he does not feel right about that, so we have been de­clin­ing their text in­vi­ta­tions.

Based on Jay’s re­cent text re­sponse, we can see that he is feel­ing hurt. My hus­band, Jay and I have a few ac­tiv­i­ties that we do to­gether with­out Kay, like cer­tain types of movies, be­cause she is not in­ter­ested in them. I am of the mind that I need to gen­tly tell Jay the truth, that it is clear his wife does not like me, and it is too hurt­ful for me to be around. My hus­band thinks this is a bad idea.

I know it would be un­com­fort­able, but I do not want Jay to be won­der­ing why we are say­ing no to din­ner or, worse, think­ing it is about him. What should we do?

Say­ing No

Say­ing No: Rais­ing the sub­ject is awk­ward for you, but not rais­ing it is tor­ment for Jay. Have you asked your hus­band how he likes be­ing left to fig­ure out why some­one he loves dis­ap­peared? Or does he not know first­hand be­cause no one has been cruel enough to do that to him?

Tell your hus­band it’s time to in­vite Jay out — pick a movie Kay doesn’t like — and ad­mit you’ve been say­ing no be­cause of Kay’s in­creas­ing hos­til­ity. Don’t ask him to do any­thing; just give him a chance to deal with it his way. Whether it’s to see you less or ac­cept the truth about Kay more, it’s still bet­ter for him to have the last word in run­ning his own so­cial life than for you to do it for him.

You’ve also had a braver op­tion all along: Stand up to Kay. When she says some­thing un­mis­tak­ably rude, then speak your truth plainly: “Kay, that was rude, and it’s been hap­pen­ing more of­ten. If you have a prob­lem with me, then I’d ap­pre­ci­ate you just say­ing so to my face. If not, then maybe we can help with what­ever’s both­er­ing you.” You can also make solo plans with Kay to ask her — kindly — what’s wrong.

With an ac­quain­tance, per­haps you have the lux­ury of fad­ing away, but with an ev­ery Fri­day guy, your si­lence is a lie of omis­sion that may soon be­come hard for him to for­give. To “re­main po­lite” un­der these cir­cum­stances isn’t po­lite any­more.

Dear Carolyn: My brother told me and our five sis­ters that his daugh­ter was not invit­ing nieces and neph­ews to her 350-guest wed­ding.

When I learned the niece­sand-neph­ews rule only ap­plied to our fam­ily and not that of his wife, I felt de­ceived and be­trayed and sent our re­grets that we would not be at­tend­ing the wed­ding.

This has cre­ated an ir­rec­on­cil­able sit­u­a­tion where both par­ties have hard feel­ings. I do not see a so­lu­tion to this prob­lem. What are your thoughts?

Not At­tend­ing

Not At­tend­ing: My thought is that you chose to speak through an RSVP in­stead of to your brother di­rectly. That’s not a re­sponse, that’s a re­ac­tion, and it in­vited your brother to re­act in kind. Pre­dictable re­sult: huffi­ness all around.

Where speak­ing di­rectly could have pre­empted a prob­lem, now it will have to solve one, which is much more dif­fi­cult. But it can still be done if you lead with a sin­cere apol­ogy: “I’m sorry I re­acted the way I did. I should have asked you about the nieces and neph­ews in­stead of just lash­ing out.”

As­sum­ing he ac­cepts your apol­ogy, then say your piece in the kind­est, calmest tone you can muster: “Here’s what I should have said to be­gin with: I was very hurt when I learned that kids from only our side of the fam­ily were ex­cluded. I re­al­ize it’s your daugh­ter’s wed­ding and her pre­rog­a­tive, but I’m strug­gling not to take it per­son­ally. Are you will­ing to share the rea­son­ing?”

That in­for­ma­tion would al­low you to re­spond to the in­vi­ta­tion thought­fully vs. turn it down re­flex­ively — a dis­tinc­tion that helps keep fam­i­lies speak­ing to each other as they age, grow, evolve, mul­ti­ply and walk through the hell­fire of nup­tial-cel­e­bra­tion events.


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