Q: Every year my husband and I throw a formal holiday party. We invite a small group of friends, and everyone has a wonderful time. But over the years we have grown apart from some of these couples.
This year as we were starting to plan, my husband asked if we could trim the guest list. There is one couple in particular we rarely see. They have fallen out of favor with some of the other guests, too.
We’ve done this party for many years with the same group. When we see this couple, they talk excitedly about it with anticipation. I feel uneasy about how to politely exclude them. The event is mentioned on social media, and I know they’ll find out if we uninvite them.
I’m a peacekeeper. I don’t like hurting others, especially this couple, who have a tendency to spout off when they feel someone has offended them. Any suggestions? — Party Person in the West
A: The next time this couple, or any of the other couples you no longer want to invite, raises the subject of your party, tell them you and your husband need to trim the guest list, and they should make other plans for the holidays. Do not apologize for it and don’t make excuses. If any of the invited guests ask you why the others weren’t included, explain that you need to limit the invites to those friends you see on a regular basis.
Q: I have a mother-in-law-to-be problem, but not the usual one. She doesn’t hate me — in fact, she loves me. She invites me to wine tastings and lunches, lets me drive her sports car and brings me gifts when she comes to visit.
The problem is, she’s nasty to my fiance, so much so that if he ever decided not to speak to her again, I’d stand by him. It hasn’t come to that, so I’m stuck sitting silently at dinner while she berates him.
I don’t want her to dislike me (especially with the wedding planning coming up), but I really don’t like the disrespectful way she mistreats my fiance. What should I do? — Daughter She Never Had
A: Recognize that this unhealthy dynamic has likely been the status quo since your fiance was a boy, which is why he accepts her verbal abuse. However, after your honeymoon, tell your new husband how upsetting it has been for you to listen to his mother berate him. Suggest that he talk to a licensed therapist to understand why he tolerates it. After that, family counseling may be in order if his mother is willing. If not, spare yourself the pain and see less of her.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: The eight days of Hanukkah begin at sundown. (I can’t believe how early it has fallen this year.) Happy Hanukkah, everyone! A joyous Festival of Lights to all of us!