Open Thread

by epi on July 31, 2013

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

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.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Clara July 31, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I just want to know if I handled something okay today. I have been trying to find a therapist, so I went on particular journal’s website and found a list of therapists in my area. I sent an email to one on Monday and received a response last night saying to call. I called her today and she gave me an appt for this Friday and then said that the rest of my appts would regularly be on Thursday nights. She doesn’t take my insurance and I felt uncomfortable right away. She was very nice but there was something that made me feel even more anxious (I want to speak to someone about anxiety). She kept getting information wrong–I hung up with her and immediately regretted the appt. I realized that I should have called my primary doctor and gotten recommendations. I called back and left a message telling her to please cancel everything and that I really appreciated her giving me a quick appt but I want to think about the commitment and the cost. She called back to confirm receiving my call but said that she thinks I need therapy and counseling and that she does not want cost to be an issue and that her schedule is flexible. In the meantime I called my regular doctor and they are going to get a list of names for me. Is it okay for me not to call the original therapist back?

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Elizabeth July 31, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Clara, you are fine. You cancelled your appointment and no further communication with this therapist is required. Also – good for you for seeking therapy and for listening to your gut about this particular therapist. You don’t always find the right person right away, so you should feel free to switch therapists if you feel uncomfortable. If your insurance doesn’t cover all therapists (but does cover some), it makes absolute sense to find someone who is covered. That should be one of the first questions you ask, and if they say they don’t take your insurance, politely thank them and try someone else. You can also contact your insurance directly to get a list of covered providers.

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Vanna Keiler August 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Great advice Elizabeth! I completely agree, and one thing therapists need to be aware of is that when people first approach them, we are essentially interviewing them for the position, much like any other job, but the stakes are much higher, since we are entrusting them with our mental health. I find it very odd too that the therapist kept getting information wrong—definitely not the soothing conversation one would hope for, to inspire confidence!

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J August 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

I have a wedding etiquette question. I apologise for the length up front.

My sister’s husband instigated a huge fight last August. He was basically dellusional about everything because none of it made sense. The entire thing was ludicrous. I would have guessed he was on some drug if I didn’t know better. He may or may not have been drunk (I say he wasn’t that intoxicated), but he began telling me and my then boyfriend (now fiance) that we were taking advantage of my father – even after my boyfriend showed him that we had paid for our hotel room, etc. We are 35 years old and pay for our own way for everything.

He also told me that I was a bad daughter and that I didn’t care about my recently deceased mother. (I was VERY close to my mother, by the way) He kept telling my boyfriend that I was a ‘fraud’? He told us that we were sick and basically verbally abused us for about an hour before we finally had to get hotel security to come get him. There was an insane amount of swearing as well. The entire time, I was crying and my boyfriend was nicely asking him/telling him to leave because this was inappropriate.

It was quite a scene and we are a family who usually gets along and have NEVER had any drama before this incident. The next day, because I couldn’t sleep, I wrote him and my sister a letter explaining how upset I was. He wrote back and said it may not have been the right place to do it, but he meant every word he said. He has never apologised.

We are now engaged and getting married at our home next September. I do not want him at my home or my wedding. Just seeing his name still makes me feel sick to my stomach. I’m fine with my sister coming – though it’s been a bit awkward, but we live in another country so it’s mostly facebook contact. Even if he was drunk, I just feel like I can’t risk him having some crazy tirade at my wedding.

I don’t know the best way of breaking this to my sister. I assumed it would be understood, but she sent me a message saying that she and he would try to make it to the wedding…any advice? My fiance and I can’t imagine having someone who obviously doesn’t like us or support us at our home, much less our wedding. Thank you!

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Elizabeth August 1, 2013 at 11:48 am

In terms of etiquette, all you need do is address the invitation to your sister only, leaving your BIL’s name off the envelope. This will signal that only she, and not he, is invited. However, it is generally considered bad form not to invite couples as a social unit. Your sister will undoubtedly be upset if he is not invited, and she may choose not to come. In these situations, I would not rely upon the subtleties of etiquette to get your point across. You should call your sister and have a frank conversation about what happened. It sounds as if you have not done this. If his accusations are as delusional as you say, perhaps he is sick or mentally ill? Was your sister present during this tirade? Does she believe some of these accusations? Who is feeding him this information? Maybe your sister actually believes that you are taking advantage of your father for some reason. I would recommend that you get to the bottom of all of this well before your wedding so that you can avoid the stress and anxiety of it. The superficial relationship you have with your sister on facebook does not mean that this whole thing has been resolved, and you should be proactive about resolving it.

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Cyra August 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Elizabeth’s right about your sister and BIL being a social unit, and one of the downsides to being a social unit is that one person’s behavior can ruin relationships for both. If you want your sister at your wedding enough to put up with your BIL, then invite them, otherwise don’t. It would be highly improper to invite your sister, but not her husband, and would likely cause just as many problems as not inviting them at all. If you do choose to invite them, and they choose to come (which does not seem like a certainty based on your explanation), avoid being alone with your BIL, speak to him politely only when absolutely necessary, and enjoy your day.

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J August 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I had a long conversation with my sister about it back in November. She said that I shouldn’t take anything he said seriously. That he said things he didn’t mean when he’d been drinking. It was more shocking because he and I were always really close before this happened – he was probably closer to me than my sisters were. It was bizarre. I told her that I was worried if he said things like that when he was drinking and that I didn’t think he was that drunk. He and I have had drinks before and I’ve seen him intoxicated. She just writes it off like it was no big deal. She wasn’t there – she was in their hotel room with their 2 young children. I finally stopped talking about it because I was getting nowhere with her about it and I felt that she was trivializing the situation. One of my aunts was present at the time. She said that she wouldn’t speak to her worst enemy the way he talked to me – she left because she was so upset.

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Elizabeth August 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Well, I can understand your trepidation, then, about having him come to your wedding! If he drinks, who knows what he might say? It’s sad, because I’ll bet that your sister has become accustomed to his drinking and saying nasty things. She’s probably numbed herself to it, and now can’t understand why you don’t do the same. You may want to bring it up again with your sister, if only to say that you’re concerned about how he might act at the wedding. Heck, you might also express your concern that she’s married to an alcoholic and that it’s a terrible environment in which to raise children!

I think you have some options: 1. Issue an ultimatum that unless he apologizes to you he won’t be invited to the wedding. 2. Call him directly and have it out with him. 3. Just invite them and pretend like nothing happened. Have someone on hand to watch him and to boot him from the event if he becomes intoxicated and makes a scene.

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Nina August 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I sort of think etiquette has its limits, and when security has to be called, the limit has been more than reached. Yes, it is normally considered quite rude to invite only one half of a social unit to an event, but if one half has drunkenly cussed you out–and then later in sobriety said he meant every word–I think an exception might be made. Your sister may be secretly resenting you and using her husband as a way to get at you–in that case, if you invite her alone she probably won’t come. Or she may be stuck in a abusive relationship with someone who is trying alienate those who love her, and she might be touched by an invitation despite what her husband put you through. Or you might simply not be close enough to your sister to want to struggle with this, in which case you could invite neither.

But none of that really has to do with etiquette…

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PJ August 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I agree with Nina; this situation goes beyond etiquette. This is your wedding and you should do what you think is best for you. If you choose not to invite him, however, you should at least talk to your sister about it (over the phone or in person) before she gets the invitation. Don’t just send an invitation that is clearly just for her.

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Lisa August 5, 2013 at 11:59 am

I need some help, please… I am getting married at the end of September 2013 and a friend/co-worker has offered her beautiful backyard to host a small and intimate wedding ceremony. She did this for another friend of hers last year as well. I asked her how much she would like for us to use her home for a few hours and she stated she did not want any money for it. Here’s my question, my sister (who is a mutual friend) feels I should give her some amount of money. I don’t want to insult my friend either way, with offering some money or not offering to pay her. What is the etiquette on this? Should I contact the friend who married at her home last year and ask? Should I get her a nice gift? Please help. Thank you in advance!!

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Just Laura August 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Lisa,
To me, it sounds as if you have already been very polite in offering to compensate this friend monetarily. She has turned you down (she probably feels this is her wedding gift to you). Perhaps a “Thank you” gift to her along with the thank you note you’ll send afterward? That said, if this is her gift to you, I don’t believe you are under any obligation to give her a gift in return. Best wishes on your upcoming nuptials!

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Lisa August 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Thank you so much for the advice and well wishes! This definitely gives me some peace of mind about the whole “transaction”.

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