Open Thread

by epi on October 31, 2012

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This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs. M. Speed October 31, 2012 at 9:47 am

Hi! On 9/16/2011 my (then) boyfriend, Will, and I got engaged. While this is his first marriage, but my second, we planned to have a traditional wedding so that our friends and family could share the day with us. (Side Note: I didn’t have a “real” wedding the first time…we eloped.) A stressful series of events involving my ex and our son (from first marriage) resulted in Will and I deciding to have a very small ceremony with parents and siblings only. No wedding party, no cake, no professional pictures. I wanted to do a reception at a later date but schedules/life/etc. have prevented that. My step-mom wanted to host one for us but she passed away very suddenly only 2 months after our wedding.
7 months after our ceremony we purchased a new home that our friends, who now live too far away to just drop in and say, “hi”, have all asked when we will have them over. In particular, they ask when we’re having a housewarming party.
My question is…
Is it rude for Will and I to throw an anniversary party for ourselves since we never had any official reception or even engagement party? Should we ask a parent to host since nobody is volunteering?(They wouldn’t mind, I think they’re under the impression that it’s already taken care of.) Can we do it in our new home and have it (secretly) double as a housewarming party (kill 2 birds with 1 stone)? Lastly, do we mention our registry that we’ve had since we were actually planning a bigger wedding? I only ask about gifts because most people bring a gift to these types of parties and I’d rather receive the items I already picked out. (I don’t want it to seem like that’s the only reason we had a party, though.)

I appreciate the help!!

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Elizabeth October 31, 2012 at 10:05 am

I think it is quite smart to host an anniversary party in your home as a way to invite friends who have not yet been to see it, and to bill it as an anniversary-housewarming party. However, the answers to the rest of your questions must be ‘no’, I’m afraid. You should not ask someone else to host the party for you (though if they offer, that’s lovely!), nor should you mention a registry of any kind. I can understand that it seems a bit ‘unfair’ that you were not able to have a big wedding with all the hoopla, but keep the big picture in mind – that you are married, that you are well, etc. Should anyone ASK you, you can definitely reply, “Oh, I think we still have a registry set up from when we were planning the wedding. You really don’t have to, though!”

You know what would be fun, though, is to hire the photographer you would have had at your wedding (or someone less expensive), dress up, get your hair and make up done, and get some photos taken! You can either get a portrait done, or you can have someone snapping away at the party. Those would be lovely to have, no?

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Mrs. M. Speed October 31, 2012 at 11:13 am

That’s exactly what I expected! Thanks for your response :)

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Rusty Shackleford October 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm

So I have a question. As some may know, a number of communities in the northeast affected by the hurricane are now changing the date of Halloween. My question, should trick or treaters who, for whatever reason, don’t heed the date change, nonetheless be welcome at our doors this evening?

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Winifred Rosenburg October 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Yes, you shouldn’t take it out on children when their parents likely told them to go trick-or-treating. They may not even know about the date change. Many are disconnected from news as a result of loss of power.

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Ashleigh October 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I would keep your porch lights off to head off potential trick-or-treaters. Or maybe a sign on the front door with something like “Sandy has given us plenty of tricks so please join us on [whatever day your town has chosen] for some treats.”

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Jerry October 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Seriously? Communities are underwater, people’s lives have been torn up, children have been traumatized, and you’re worrying about whether to welcome those traumatized children if they didn’t get the message and show up on the wrong date?

If you can give — if you can offer a little bit of sunshine — then do it! If you can’t, turn off your porch light and stick a “no tricker treater’s” sign on your front door!

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Noelle Walker November 1, 2012 at 8:31 am

Please forgive me, I am not blog savvy. How does one ask a question? I have read the instructions but do not understand them. All I seem to find is how to leave a comment.

Just in case this is where one leaves a question, I will post mine here.

My domestic partner and I are formally invited to her family functions only to be treated rudely when we attend. For example, we were recently invited to attend a 50th birthday party for her brother-in-law, by his wife, my partner’s sister. We seated ourselves at a banquet table which had no other guests. Said sister was seated at a nearby table with three other guests. She flagged us over to join them. My partner seated herself next to her sister, who immediately turned sideways in her chair, turning her entire back towards my partner. The sister chatted tirelessly with her other guests without introducing anyone or inviting us into the conversation.

After waiting quite some time for a lull in their conversation, I introduced my partner and myself to the other three guests. One of them said that they had been told by the hostess (the sister) who we were. I smiled and said that we would like to know them ourselves. She responded by introducing herself, her husband and her son to us. The hostess responded by remaining seated sideways, raising her eyebrows, and making a scoffing sound.

I drove one and a half hours in miserable rain and wind to attend this party. My partner cannot drive do to severe health issues, so I must drive her to all family functions that are in a neighboring state. I was so looking forward to this occassion for several reasons. First, the birthday celebration was for a very kind, dear man. Secondly, the invitation, for the first time in my twelve years of knowing this family, was also addressed to me with the correct spelling of my first name and included my surname.

I am so heartsick about my partner’s humiliation at the hand of her siblings. She leaves family functions feeling devastated. However, she continues to attend to honor her widowed eighty-two year old mother. She also lives in fear that when her mother passes; she will no longer have any immediate family, even though she has four siblings.

What can I do to alleviate my partner’s emotional pain other than be supportive? How should we, as a couple, deal with her family in the future?

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Just Laura November 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

Noelle,
“Comments” on a blog may encompass remarks, interjections, questions, less-than-amusing jokes, and statements. You are doing well already.

I’m sorry that some people are purposefully rude to you and your partner at events which should be celebratory in nature. I hope your partner doesn’t think that when her mother passes there will be no more family for her – you are her immediate family, and I’m sure she must have several friends. As they say, “friends are the family we choose,” and for your partner, this will be especially true. Let her know that she shouldn’t feel obligated to visit people who have no interest in the visit, nor in her. It will only cause her heartache, and that is not something her mother will want for her.

I have a quick question – you mention your partner has 4 siblings, but I only saw a reference to one sister. Where was everyone else?

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Noelle Walker November 2, 2012 at 8:59 am

One brother lives on the other side of the country and is rarely in attendence. The other brother was at the celebration. He primarily speaks to my partner when she seeks him out to initiate a conversation. The youngest sibling, a sister, was seated at a full table next to ours. We joined her when seats became available.

Thank you for your kind input.

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Siobhan November 2, 2012 at 2:09 am

Hi Noelle!

Your partner’s sister seems to be sending very mixed messages, on the one hand inviting you to the party and to share a table, on the other snubbing you once you are there. This kind of contradictory behaviour can occur when someone is struggling with an internal conflict; for example, the sister might not know how to reconcile her affection for the two of you with a pre-existing moral position, or with the way she wants to be perceived by her other friends (please forgive me if I’ve misunderstood your situation). She might not even be aware of the degree to which her behaviour is contradictory and causing pain.

If that is the case, I think a frank private conversation could help bring the matter out into the open so that it can be resolved. Your partner might begin by saying something like, ‘I’ve noticed a bit of tension at some of our recent get-togethers and in fact I’ve found it hurtful to think that there’s any bad feeling between us. I’d really like to work it out’. Perhaps that would prompt her sister to realise that she’s being unfair. At the very least it would make clear that your partner is not willing silently to acquiesce in her humiliation, without making the situation confrontational. I feel it would maybe be better for your partner to address her family alone in the first instance; in cases of family disagreement the presence of a new face (as an in-law can be considered no matter how long they’ve been part of the family) can add to any sense of threat, and make the conversation more strained.

If that approach doesn’t work, it might be worth considering how you could reduce contact with your partner’s siblings, while still maintaining contact with her mother, until the others are ready to face the problem. You can’t resolve this unless the other party wants to as well, and in the meantime you and your partner have no obligation to suffer vindictive treatment. The two of you are evidently gracious and loving people, so I hope your in-laws will realise how valuable a part of the family you are, and make peace before long.

Good luck.

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Noelle November 2, 2012 at 9:25 am

Hello Siobhan,

Yes, you understand our situation. You have hit the nail on the head regarding a pre-existing moral condition! All I hope for is common civility from my partner’s family. I agree whole-heartedly with your thought of reducing contact with some family members while still honoring her mother.

The devil is in the details. My partner has about fourteen nieces and nephews (two are God daughters) whom she adores. Most are attending college or are members of the armed forces, so it’s much easier to see them at family gatherings. Also, my partner’s mother refuses to give up hosting every major holiday. It’s difficult for my sweetie to not see the grown children because of a couple of rude siblings.

Your suggestion of the sister and my partner having a private conversation is a fine one. I will pass this on to my partner. Thank you for your consideration and well wishes.

Our best to you!

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