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Communication about invites to stuff(13 Posts)
DH and I have an ongoing difficulty around how we invite each other to things (eg if my friend invites us for dinner, and then I'm asking DH whether he wants to come). We just seem to be making more of a meal of it than we need to - it turns into an "issue" more often than I think is normal. I thought I'd see whether any wise MNers can give me any advice!
It's best explained by examples. So, my mum's birthday was a few weeks ago. She doesn't like a big fuss, but had said it would be nice to go for a picnic in a local park with my DSis, BIL, their DCs, me, DH, and our DS. No big deal, just whoever fancied it and was free. So this was arranged and then DH realised that it was the same day as an exhibition thing he'd been intending to go to. So I said "Look, Mum won't be offended if you don't go to the picnic; she wouldn't want you to miss out on something you'd been planning to go to". DH said " Do you mean you don't want me to come?". Me: "Huh? No, of course if line it if you came, but I'm just saying don't feel obliged to come to Mum's birthday if you'd rather go to the other thing; honestly, no one will mind". DH: "That's a bit rude; now I feel like you don't want me there".
This happens every time I invite him to something but tell him that he doesn't have to cancel his existing plans - he says he feels like I don't want him to come.
However, when there's something on that he wants to invite me to, he rarely gives the option of not coming (even if I have something else I'd rather be doing, or I don't feel up to it or whatever). If I raise any objections to coming, he'll say things like "It would really mean a lot to me if you came ". Then I feel I have to go or I'll be letting him down. For example, his Mum's birthday last year was a week after I'd come out of hospital after having DS. I'd been in for a week or so due to various complications, and was still feeling rotten and exhausted. I was also still bleeding heavily, and the party was in a forest park with no decent toilets. But DH said his Mum would be really disappointed if I didn't go, and really gutted that DS wouldn't be there. So I ended up going to keep the peace.
The thing is, it seems as if DH wants me to want him to go to everything and to be gutted if he can't go. But I feel really pressured when he says he wants me to go. How do we find a balance?
Practise being a bit more assertive! With the forest invite, if anything similar crops up just go on repeat "no I can't make that I don't feel well enough./ Give her my love and tell her I'll see her soon" etc. Decide whether you want to go somewhere and stick to it, especially if your reasons are completely sound ones. As for his responses, what you're saying is fine.. "I'd love you to be there but won't be offended if you'd rather be at....." Say it on repeat and don't become apologetic in any way. You have no reason to be.
I would just invite him and NOT say 'you don't have to come' - since he gets so tetchy about this. He can decide himself what he wants to do.
But he sounds a bit overbearing when he always insists you go to his stuff.
Making a post-partum woman go to a picnic event with no adequate toilet facilities? Sorry, the guy's a plain arse.
We bung everything on outlook and send an invite to share it.
No more double bookings and we can discuss it that evening when we see each other.
He sounds manipulative tbh.
If you want to ask him to something, just ask him. "Would you like to come to Mum's birthday? Its next Saturday at 2pm."
Then it's up to him to say yes or no. Don't add anything to it.
I agree also with being more assertive. "Ah, I would love to come to your mum's party, but I'm just not up to it."
Again, nothing more to add, no matter how much he goes on.
I think you need to have a discussion about your different expectations around invitations (Remember they are not a summons ). DP and I did, and it was very illuminating (and a huge relief as otherwise I'd have to endure MIL for a week every year when my office is closed whilst he's at work!). Sometimes it's really hard with family, as you feel there is a way you are expected to behave. Maybe try and have a chat when there are no invitations looming. From what you say he sounds like he wants to be reasonable and so do you, but you have different ideas as to what reasonable is.
Thanks, everyone! Eek, you made a good point about expectations. DH's family expect that everyone should be at everything they organise; if you don't go, you need to provide an adequate reason. I've been at things before when I was really loaded with the cold, just because DH didn't think it was a decent reason to not go. He often pulls out the "It's really important to me/my Mum/my sister" line, even though usually I get there and they barely talk to me - I think what's important is more that there are lots of people there (they judge parties by how many people turn up), so I'm wanted as a bum on a seat.
My family invite people but don't mind if they don't turn up, and don't chase up reasons etc. But this seems to make DH feel unwanted. The problem I have with not saying "You don't have to come" is that he would come to absolutely everything, no matter what else he was supposed to be doing. He'll come if he's sick, or really tired, or meant to be going to a concert, whatever. He'll completely exhaust himself trying to do everything, and to be honest, some of the time I'd rather he stayed at home and got some rest, especially when being so busy makes him tired and grumpy.
If his rule is to come when invited, that's up to him. Let him make that decision, and avoid the discussion completely.
It sounds like either you are trying to get him not to come (do you want a bit of space? If so, can't you arrange something and not invite him?), or perhaps because you think he should choose to go to the event he already had planned.
I wouldn't have gone to the forest invite, that's ridiculous.
He sounds hard work, getting miffed if you give him an 'out' and demanding you go to all his things.
I don't know how you solve this, in our house, I tell my husband which things are really essential attendance (big birthdays, family parties beyond the usual run of the mill) and he goes to those, but we are like your family, relatively relaxed about who shows up to stuff and understand people are busy.
Can you just have an honest chat with him about why he feels the need to go to everything?
And next time he says 'don't you want me there' and you don't really, I would say no, I don't, you are tired and grumpy and I'd rather you went to your original event to be honest. He'll be miffed, but then he's miffed anyway.
I think this sounds very problematic. Why would he force you into his mums party a week after giving birth.
I'm not particularly trying to stop him coming; it's just that he seems to feel obliged to go to anything he's invited to, and I know sometimes there are other things he'd rather be doing.
I'm glad other people think the forest party was a bit crazy, by the way - DH seemed to think it was completely reasonable, and I really felt guilty for not wanting to go. His while family seemed to expect me to be there too - in fact, when I said we might be late because the midwife was coming out to see DS (he was still very jaundiced, and his weight and milk intake were being monitored every day), SIL said "Just tell her not to come; you don't have to see her". I was also expressing milk for him, so every 3 hours I would express for 45 minutes, and then spend 45 minutes feeding him. I was just not getting a break at all!
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