To expect my partner to come to parties with me?

(156 Posts)
atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 00:03:35

My husband has begun declining invites to social/family events that he is not interested in.

They are always relating to someone in my life, my friend, my family - last week it was with our son attending a friends birthday party, where everyone else's Dad was there, our son's wasn't, and this week it was my Mum's birthday party but he didn't join me at the family gathering.

His reasons are; last week he just didn't want to go as it was during the day and he said it didn't interest him, e had better ways to spend his day than at a child's party, and that the child's Mum is my friend, not his.

This week he was attending AA (he's an alcoholic) and keeps saying he's not struggling with drink at present but chose to go here instead of to my family party because that's what he does on the same night of the week and didn't want to change it. He could have gone a different night though (they're run every day of the week) and there was no booze at the party as my Mum is also teetotal, so it wouldn't have been a temptation.

I'm feeling like he's increasingly being selfish about not attending anything that just doesn't suit him, which always seems to be anything to do with me!

I am always going to events that he organises though, out of support for him, even of it doesn't interest me.

Am I being unreasonable to look for some of that in return?

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 10:35:39

badguider I was always of that opinion too, but from the pretty mutual responses here I was thinking I must be missing something.

I always felt that I was 'giving' to him by attending events alongside him as his partner, even if I would prefer to be somewhere else, and that it's an expected part of being in a reasonable and fair, giving, relationship.

thismousebites Tue 20-Aug-13 10:48:26

Also, OP, you state yourself that you will be drinking at the party. Maybe your DH knows this and will find it difficult. I know if I were in his position and my partner was standing next to me with a drink whilst I sipped soft drinks I would probably want to pass too.

UC Tue 20-Aug-13 10:48:29

atrcts, leaving the alcoholism aside (I have no experience of this), I also have a DP who would sometimes rather not go to social events. I am way more sociable than him, and need social contact with friends and family more than him. He is far happier than me just pottering about in his own company. It has been the cause of many an argument between us, and is something that we have had to reach a compromise on. That compromise is that when an invitation comes in, I prioritise whether I feel really strongly that I'd like him to come with me or not. If it's really important to me, I tell him that, and he usually then comes along. Or I tell him if it's something that I'd happily go to alone. I've also explained to him which of my friends it is important to me that he gets to know (we are both in our 40s and this is a second relationship for both of us). This is all with the understanding that of course I would rather he comes with me to everything, but I accept he just doesn't want to.

Like you, I have always gone along to events just to support, or to be there, and thought this was the norm. But I don't think it is for everyone, and to be honest, I've struggled with this with DP. Every so often, this argument still rears its head.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 10:51:30

thismousebites you read wrong! I said there wouldn't be alcohol as my Mum is also teetotal!

I haven't drunk in front of him for a year.

UC Tue 20-Aug-13 10:52:18

thismoustbites, when the OP said "I have got to suck it up, be a lone ranger socially, and be grateful he isn't drinking (which I am!)", I don't think she meant she is going to be drinking, she meant she is grateful that he isn't drinking.

OP has not said on this thread that she was drinking at her mum's do. She said there would be no drink there as her mum is tee total too! I think you've misunderstood.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 10:53:32

It's nice to know I'm not alone there UC wink

It's also hard to separate what is the person and what is the alcoholism, though I know they'll be linked just not always

Bonsoir Tue 20-Aug-13 10:54:11

You cannot expect your partner to attend every last party you or your DC want to go to with you.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 10:54:50

Thanks UC, you have definitely got the measure of what I'm saying (excuse the pun!)

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 11:17:15

Thing is bonsoir - an awful lot of parenting is about how it impacts on the kids, and if I'm feeling it that he doesn't want to go to anything with me (other than for his own family/friends), then I can't be surprised if the kids clock it and wish their Dad was there like everyone else's.

Don't forget te bigger picture, it's not always just because it's on an AA night, it's also because he just doesn't fancy it, nothing in it for him.

But! I don't want to have to teach them to just be glad their Dad is sober when it's actually because he's being selfish and nothing to do with booze.

There are loads of events I go to without him, but for my close friends and family I would have liked it of he could/would join in. He is my husband and the father of my children after all!

Like I said I'm finding my way.

thismousebites Tue 20-Aug-13 11:23:24

Sorry, your post at 9.24 left me thinking that your comment in brackets meant you were drinking, see now you meant grateful.

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 11:32:33

I think it's totally abnormal for partners to come along all the time to social events and would feel claustrophobic if they expected to
I would never expect a partner to attend a child's party - unless it was for our child's birthday, perhaps
OP, don't take it so personally. Some people are just like this, it's really not that big a deal and yes it's great he has been going to AA and not drinking. If you feel the kids pick up on it, stop letting it bother you. I couldn't tolerate the tedium of having to attend every single thing with a partner and children that was not relevant for me. If you want to go, you go, if you don't you don't. If an event comes up where it's really important he attends (I don't know, perhaps your best friend gets married) then make it clear to him it's important. For every other event stop taking it to heart.

Has he ever switched his AA night before? You said that while he used this as his reason for missing your mum's party, he would have switched if it had been for his friends or family. If this is definitely true and not just an assumption on your part, then I think YANBU really.

I think it's absolutely fine to be antisocial sometimes and I don't think partners should have to tag along for your sake. But family is a bit different. If he's really totally avoiding your family, that's pretty bad.

I definitely think you should talk to him about it, but in a concerned, open-minded, just want to know if everything's okay kind of way.

Bonsoir Tue 20-Aug-13 11:40:52

Maybe he's an introvert who used alcohol as his coping mechanism? Maybe he needs time on his own terms to stay sober? Forcing people to socialize is rarely a good idea.

Montybojangles Tue 20-Aug-13 11:43:55

I would imagine that he wanted to stick to his usual AA meeting night as that is the group of people he knows and who have supported his journey so far. I don't think it is unreasonable for him to miss the party for that.

Personally I'm with him on skipping a kids party if at all possible!

Does he find social situations stressful? Maybe it's hard for him to cope at gatherings without his old "crutch" alcohol. Have a chat with him about it, and try to agree to which ones matter more. My OH and I go to some things together, and some alone, I think that fairly common isn't it?

badguider Tue 20-Aug-13 11:46:50

FGS! THe OP doesn't say she want's him to come to everything just to some things.
She says:
"I'm feeling like he's increasingly being selfish about not attending anything that just doesn't suit him, which always seems to be anything to do with me!"

It sounds like he's just opted out of any kind of joint family social life or any socialising for his child's sake and is pottering around as a single man doing what he feels like all the time and then if the OP compares she's told she should be glad he's not drinking!!?? Well, I personally wouldn't be happy with that.

badguider Tue 20-Aug-13 11:48:24

And for those who hate kids parties, don't we all? Do you just tell your kids that they can't go to any of them?

Or do you suck it up and go to some of them, either taking turns or both going together for moral support?

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 11:49:55

I don't see what's wrong with it. I see a relationship destined to fracture if one party insists on someone going to things they don't want to, especially if they are newly sober. That seems more selfish to me than just opting out.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 11:50:26

Thing is bonsoir - an awful lot of parenting is about how it impacts on the kids, and if I'm feeling it that he doesn't want to go to anything with me (other than for his own family/friends), then I can't be surprised if the kids clock it and wish their Dad was there like everyone else's.

Don't forget te bigger picture, it's not always just because it's on an AA night, it's also because he just doesn't fancy it, nothing in it for him.

But! I don't want to have to teach them to just be glad their Dad is sober when it's actually because he's being selfish and nothing to do with booze.

There are loads of events I go to without him, but for my close friends and family I would have liked it of he could/would join in. He is my husband and the father of my children after all!

Like I said I'm finding my way.

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 11:50:57

If a couple turned up to my child's party I'd be hmm surprised

TwoStepsBeyond Tue 20-Aug-13 11:54:48

I think that missing your mum's party is a bigger deal than the child's party, so perhaps concentrate on that one when you speak to him. The AA meeting was of course very important, but if you know he would have moved it to a different night to accommodate his own family/priorities then it does seem sad that he won't do the same for you and your family.

I would try not to make too big a deal of it, but just say that you'd like him there with you next time as everyone else has their partners and children with them and you miss him being there by your side. Especially where there is no alcohol to complicate matters he should be make a bit of an effort to support you, as you are doing for him.

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 12:06:26

I find MNet odd on stuff like this.

On any thread where it is patently obvious that the man in the situation described is behaving selfishly or unreasonably, there will always be a few posters who not only argue that it's reasonable for men to behave this way, a rogue minority will even try to make the woman OP feel inferior and somehow lacking for not wanting to be responsible for children at every social event, while the father/husband involved enjoys child-free time doing what ever he pleases. I really think when posters do this, it's more about their issues and not the OP's. You'll never see those posters arguing that it's men's responsibility to keep a social diary going, or that it's reasonable for women to duck out of things they don't fancy.

OP, this is selfish and unreasonable behaviour on your husband's part.

If this is a recent trend, I'd start looking for reasons why he might have checked out from relationships and social events that are important to you and the children. For example, everyone I've ever known to be having an affair did the same for the duration of the affair. They don't want the scrutiny or other people to notice odd behaviour that might have gone undetected by a busy wife/husband, plus seeing close friends and family members and playing 'happy families' makes some feel guilty- and that's uncomfortable.

Crinkle77 Tue 20-Aug-13 12:09:33

I can't blame him for not wanting to attend your friends party. I do think he was BU for not attending your mums party. That is just rude.

FitzgeraldProtagonist Tue 20-Aug-13 13:03:03

What FrancescaBell said. I went to monthly events with my kids and the NCT families. The children's father was NEVER there. I felt like such a loner. The other dads would take it in turns to give me a hand with the kids. I felt so embarrassed. He wouldn't come to parties, he wouldn't ever visit my family or parents. On the rare occasion he did he behaved so badly I was punished for begging asking him to go. I spent one month of the year at his family home so the could see the children (different country). And a week or so with in laws. NOT FAIR. Now an ex.

TBH my fist thought was 'affair' or decline in feelings. It is about being supported. Hand holding, particularly if difficult family relationships. Not facing alone. OP said the kid's party was not a standard drop and go but all family invite type thing (Could be booze at this, some parent usually pitches up with wine, doesn't want to ask, doesn't want to risk it). But the mother party thing, YANBU.

Current DP, I spend more time with his ILs than he does, because I like them! He will spend time with mine, but not always. He wouldn't come over to my mums or my friends the other weekend. But usually does. It makes me feel very rejected (though this is a hangover from relationship described above-my issue). Like my friends and family aren't good enough. I love meeting up with his. Though my children are a handful and babysitters are rare, we often don't go to socialise with his friends and family together. I wonder if he doesn't like sharing/the dynmanic change?

Anyway, YANBU.

SelectAUserName Tue 20-Aug-13 13:05:06

I can be a bit like your husband, OP. Not so much with my DH's family - of which he has very little, tbh - but with friends he has had in the past who I haven't liked very much. I've taken the view that HE chose to be friends with them, not me, so if he chose to spend time with them that was fine but not to expect me to join him as a matter of course. However, if there were particular occasions when he really wanted/needed me there I would go, and put on a happy smiling "yes, we must do this more often" face to his friends and not whinge or huff about it to my DH before or afterwards. He was very good about not abusing the frequency with which he asked me to join him and I tried very hard to be good about not complaining about going or letting on to his friends that I didn't really want to be there. (I also support him willingly in other ways, e.g. volunteering to accompany him to medical appointments for his ongoing health problems so I'm not a completely selfish cow!)

Family is slightly different, obviously, and in a family with no major dysfunction I'd expect a certain amount of 'putting up' with family socialising from both partners, even if it wouldn't be your favourite thing. Similarly with children's parties; I'm sure YOU could think of "better ways to spend your day than at a child's party" as well, but you both need to suck it up for the sake of your children. Your DH does sound very selfish there.

The AA meeting / mum's birthday is tricky because on the one hand his AA meeting is almost equivalent to treatment for an illness and if it had been a medical appointment that your mum's party clashed with, you might not have felt quite the same? I agree that 'his' evening session probably has regulars with whom he feels comfortable and with whom he has possibly developed a sort of 'shorthand', so nothing wrong on the face of it with wanting to stick his routine and comfort zone for something so important. However, I'd bet good money that when he heard which night the party was taking place, the thought "excellent, I've got a cast-iron excuse not to go" or something similar went through his head.

There could be many complex reasons why he feels so unsociable, from it being tied in with his alcoholism to being one of life's natural hermits to being stressed about something else (work situation? Lack of work situation if unemployed?) to having something you don't know about going on e.g. an affair, as mentioned above, to simply him being a bit of a selfish entitled arse. I think you need to talk to him about it, so he can understand why having his support at these events is important to you and you can understand why he feels such reluctance, and hopefully agree a compromise that you can both work with.

Floggingmolly Tue 20-Aug-13 13:08:28

His presence at your child's friend's party was definitely not required (neither, I suspect, was yours) hmm

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