Miss Conduct

Advice: Socializing is stressful with my picky eater husband

His selective palate creates awkward situations. Plus, skinny-dipping rules.

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My husband has a selective palate and insists that many ingredients render a dish inedible. When we eat at friends’ houses, sometimes there is very little he will eat, which makes the host feel bad. When we are asked to dinner (invitations generally come to me) and the host does not inquire about dietary restrictions, what should I do?

A.M. / Framingham

For informal dinner parties, it’s perfectly fine to ask what’s being served, and to offer to bring one’s own dish or a side.

Why are your husband’s taste buds your social problem to manage, though? If you’re the one people send the invitation to, you can forward it and ask your husband to follow up. Your wording suggests skepticism about his claims, which makes me think you’re burned out on managing his precious palate. Why not take that responsibility off your plate?

My stepson and his wife have two daughters, 4 and 2. The children are used to swimming naked, and the parents often post pictures on a family-only app of the girls doing activities naked. They plan to visit our lake house, and I am sure will bring no bathing suits for the girls. This makes me uncomfortable; before retirement, I tried to educate parents about the dangers of child pornography and posting pictures online. My husband doesn’t see a problem. How best to ask them to have the children wear swimsuits without offending them?


Anonymous / Boston

It shouldn’t be controversial to designate your house a “clothing required zone.” Asking guests to wear clothes is not a major imposition. “Hey, I know you swim in the buff at home, but our house rules are different.” Don’t apologize, don’t explain.

Your values around Internet privacy aren’t the same as your family’s, and that upsets you. But you don’t need to have philosophical arguments. You only need to make a reasonable rule and enforce it.


Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.