Q. A week before Thanksgiving, my fiance informed me that he had invited his family to our place for the holiday. We had previously decided that we would not be attending other Thanksgiving celebrations or hosting our own because we were leaving for a vacation the next day.
I immediately objected to the surprise meal, insulted that he assumed I would take on this task without even asking me. I simply explained that there was not enough time for me to prepare, shop, cook, clean, pack for our trip, decorate . . . the list goes on and on. Not to mention I wanted to have some money for our trip, and entertaining is an expense I had not budgeted for.
I am now being called selfish because of my reaction. How would you handle this situation?
A. It doesn’t sound like you were being unreasonable. You made a decision together, and he ignored it.
Of course, it’s possible I’m not getting the whole story. Maybe he explained why this meal was so important — or was pushed into it by his family and didn’t know how to say no.
Regardless, my advice is to stop focusing on who’s more selfish and wrong. No one’s going to win that fight. Instead, consider this a lesson in communication as a couple. Where did you guys lose each other here? Did anyone make assumptions? Was the original decision truly understood?
Try to go into the discussion assuming the best of each other. He probably wasn’t trying to make you miserable, just as you weren’t aiming to be inhospitable.
It’s just that sometimes we think we’ve said all we need to say, but we aren’t heard — and maybe we haven’t listened. If you can get rid of the anger, you can shift your attention to analyzing how you got here — so that it doesn’t happen again.
Simple response: “Great, I will make the stuffing, but I need to pack and get everything else ready for our vacation because you will be busy hosting this meal.”
I’d have suggested we dine out somewhere, and he pick up the tab. I don’t think you were selfish/unreasonable. How would I handle it? He is the host for the next two times people are invited over! You kick back with a nice glass of wine, and watch him sweat.
I know it goes against the holiday tradition, but there are such things as low-key holiday gatherings.
Even without the decoration there’s still a lot of cooking — and cleaning, if you’re like me and Mr. TwoCent. Our dining table collects all sorts of stuff — junk mail, grocery receipts, notebooks.
I think you sound like a very tense person and probably overreacted. I bought the whole dinner cooked and brought it to my mother so there were probably options besides saying no, like having your boyfriend cook, asking people to bring things, etc. You probably put a lot of pressure on yourself to be Martha Stewart, when people don’t expect that. The point is getting together with family.
I’m getting a strong vibe that the original decision to skip Thanksgiving this year was not joint. Your boyfriend clearly wanted to celebrate this holiday with his family. Focus on why he felt he couldn’t tell you that when you had your original discussion.
A lot of this is along the lines of what Meredith said. You aren’t really communicating or trying to understand each other; you are just trying to get your way. I understand why you thought skipping Thanksgiving would be best, but he also had his reasons why he wanted the celebration. There’s more to resolving these decisions than just getting your partner to acquiesce. Listening and compromising go a long way.
Although I think the letter writer is technically in the right, I do think she could have handled this better. Something along the lines of, “Darling, we agreed not to do Thanksgiving, but if you want to cook everything and do all the preparation to get ready that’s fine with me.” That’s how you train a man!