My partner of five years and I just hosted some of his family for a long weekend. They flew in from another estate for a big event in the life of one of his children. I’ve visited his family before and I thought we got along just great.
When I was in their home I did my best to be a good guest – I took a generous hostess gift, tried not to leave so much as a speck of dust in my trail, listened three times more than I talked, praised the food that was served, praised their decor, went along with whatever they all wanted to do and sent proper thank you notes after the visit.
I was very excited when I learned that they were going to come stay with us a few days. I spent weeks readying the guest rooms, including in laying putting nice toiletries, flowers, reading material, etc. in the rooms where they would be sleeping. I went to a lot of effort and spent some considerable money on special food and drink. While they were here, I took them out for a nice, high-end lunch.
What did they do? At the first dinner, one family member spent quite a bit of almost angrily telling me what a wonderful woman my partner’s ex-wife is. I agreed with this person because the ex-wife and I get along splendidly.
The next day, one of our guests decided that the breakfast that we provided was not to their liking and fixed themselves a large breakfast separate from what everyone else was eating, then left a greasy mess in the kitchen for me to clean up. Cookware, grease and dirty dishes were everywhere.
When we offered to take them sightseeing they refused to do anything, all the while complaining that there was nothing to do in our town. Later that day, I took them out for a nice lunch in a high-end restaurant. Not only did they not say one word of thank you, but the entire lunchtime was spent talking about how they wanted to go get a hostess gift for another family member who was hosting a dinner later that night because they “don’t believe in visiting someone’s home empty-handed”? Funny, they showed up at my home empty-handed. It’s not that I wanted or expected anything from them but when they were having this discussion they were giving me pointed looks as though they were trying intentionally trying to insult me.
Even though I have been a part of this family for a long time and I get along with well with my partner’s ex and his children, I was meaningfully left out of all pictures until I handed someone else in the group my camera and asked them to take pictures. It seemed as though if there was any way they could insult or slight me, they would employ it.
I just smiled and played dumb to the insults, knowing that they were just there for a couple of days and would likely never have an occasion to come back to our town. I figured that I could just get through the visit and get back on with my life, that they wouldn’t insult me further once the visit was over.
I was wrong.
Later that week, a thank you note came – addressed only to my partner, not to me. Then I thought that would be the end of it. My partner was so embarrassed that he tried to hide it in the trashcan but I’d already seen it. I didn’t say one word to him because it obviously wasn’t his fault. Plus, I really thought that now the insults were truly over.
I was wrong again.
One week later, a thank you gift arrived, once again, with a personal note addressed only to him.
I’m still at a loss as to why they behaved this way. We’ve never had a disagreement. I did everything I could to make sure that they had a nice visit and they did everything but actually slap me in the face.
The good news is that they will likely never visit here again and I will certainly not visit them. I don’t know what they think they accomplished with their rude behavior but all they did was embarrass and alienate their family member. The happy little life that my partner and his children share will go on as it always has.
I guess it is true that “Grace is the scent of the violet on the heel that crushed it.”
In situations such as this, I think the best one can hope for is having the inner satisfaction that you did it right. You have been a good guest and a good hostess and you can rest content in that knowledge regardless of how poorly others act.
Btw, nice response to the ugly comment comparing you to the ex-wife. You totally defused that fiery dart aimed at you and demonstrated that you are the one in control. That was an excellent example of what I’ve been preaching about for years, i.e. to never hand over control of the situation by falling for the bait and reacting inappropriately.