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I think that at the least I'd tackle the effect it is having on me.

Pick a quiet time and talk to friend, stating that I love doing stuff with her but I can't deal with her flaking out on me on our arrangements any more. If we make an arrangement, I'd like her to keep to it, baring real emergencies. If she can't say that's going to be possible, and she feels she needs to be able to cancel last minute for non emergency reasons, I won't be making any more advance arrangements with her and we'll keep our socialising to last minute spontaneous stuff.

I also think you should do this.

I'd also go further, as she is my friend, and I care about her. This is up to you, you may decide you don't want to get involved. But I think her husband is being abusive, emotionally abusive. There are marriages like this. I know some people who have them (also for religious reasons, the Man is the Head of the Household thing). None of the husbands behave like this - he is twisting the concept. A man in this type of marriage, from what I know, has a big responsibility towards his wife. She is not his servant. It is his job to ensure that she is happy. A decent man in this type of marriage doesn't see it as control of her personally to this extent. I would mention to friend that many marriages are not run in this way. The fact that they choose to have a marriage like this, is fine, of course. But that there are right ways and wrong ways to do it, and many couples take guidance from their church. Could she and her husband go and see one of the church leaders about how it is working out in their marriage, as it could be getting misinterpreted in their marriage. I would even go so far as to say I believe her husband is emotionally abusive, and if she ever wants help or information or support, there are places that can help her. But that hopefully, this is coming from a misinterpretation of the teachings of their church, not from his having basically an abusive personality.

I know that if any of the women I know living in a 'Man is Head' household were told to cancel something with a friend for no good reason at all, they'd not take it lying down. The woman is not meant to pretend she has no brain/will of her own.
I think you are in the clear to withdraw, as the nature of the invitation has changed significantly. I think "as grandmother won;t be there., nor will we  is pretty harsh, and I think Mammavan's wording is good, but needs a little more as it doesn't actually make clear that you won't be going to Bob's event.

maybe - "We'd really love to see GM and wish her happy birthday, so  we'll schedule a visit to her on our own.  As there won't be a birthday party as such, we won't be able to make it to your get-together but hope you have a great time, and we'll look forward seeing you another time"
I have dealt with a situation similar to yours.

Best friend lives 10 hour drive or 1 hour plane trip from me. I had been BFs with BF for 20 years and knew her husband before she did, though mostly casually at that stage. In getting to know BFs husband better and through observing his actions I have noticed that he is quite self serving and manipulative, often sabotaging situations just to prove that he can.
Generally I socialize with BF husband without issue (though my interactions are guarded and I am careful not to give him any control) and he can be fun to be around and I often enjoy our time together.

On this occassion BF and I had organized a girls weekend together. I would fly to her house and we would spend the day/night at her house and the next morning we would drive (in her car) 2 hours to resort town and spend 2 nights there and then I would fly out of resort town. This was organized and paid for 2 months in advance.
1 week out, husband organizes to 'wash cat' and BF must be there to do it, he organized the 'cat washing' for the first day we were meant to be in resort town. I knew that the 'cat wash' could have been done on another date and this was one of husbands episodes but said ok to friend and agreed to spend two nights at BFs house and one night at resort town.

Day before im due to arrive BF calls and said husband needs me at home all of the days because 'the goldfish is swimming backwards and he is uncomfortable at having to stay home alone watching it'
At that point I lost the plot (but only inside my head!) and told BF I would have to think about this and call her back. Well I knew the reasons husband came up with were dubious at best and it was husband trying to assert control.... again.

It makes me sad that BF allows husband to behave in such a way towards her, but that is her decision and a boundary i'm not willing to cross. I will not however allow husband to try and manipulate me, that is not a boundary i'm willing to let him cross. And knowing husband as I do, (its been over 15 years now) I know that his efforts were not only aimed at BF but at me also.

I contacted BF and told her we had had these plans for months and that I didnt believe husbands issues to be genuine and I am not comfortable with the changed situation and would no longer be coming.

BF was flabergasted, BF could not believe that I would expect husband to put his hand in the tank and push the fish forward on his own! We talked for a bit but I could tell that she couldnt see why I would be upset about it. BF asked if I really wanted to do this because this would change our friendship forever.

And she was right, its been 3 years and it has changed. We dont call each other and when we do see each other its not easy and smooth like it used to be, its strange and awkward. I love my BF and miss her often, but BFs husbands treatment of me was my hill to die on.

The only choices I really had in this case were to say nothing and have things go on as they always have or say something and risk losing the friendship.

I'm so sorry to hear about your broken friendship, Loruaus. I understand why you wanted to step away from that, as painful as it was.  It's hurtful to watch people allow that to happen to themselves.  :(

I'm afraid I may be doing something similar by slowly backing away from this relationship over time.

Thank you for sharing your experience with me.
64 general / Re: Can you bring (some item) back from Other Country?
« Last post by Margo on Today at 06:33:39 AM »
The thought of getting a souvenir from someone else's trip does not even remotely appeal to me.

Depending on what it is, I'm not too thrilled either. If it's something with the place name on it, it's pretty meaningless. I really only want/like place name stuff if I've gone and actually bought it from that place myself.  More generic things, like say a lace tablecloth from a lace making region, are more meaningful (to me).

I always appreciate the thought though and the fact that they took the trouble to think of me whilst they're on holiday.

I like to bring fun things.  Everyone at the library jokingly asked for a rug when I went to Turkey.  I brought back these:

Actually DH picked them out stating they were perfect for protecting us from SS patrons.

I had fun when I was studying abroad in college. Everyone wanted me to bring them something back. So I picked out the tackiest, cheesiest, silliest souvenirs I could find. It was highly entertaining, and they were all small, cheap things that didn't take up much space on the way back.

I don't want stuff with place names on even if I have been - much less if I have not. I love getting postcards, but if I buy souvenirs either for myself or for others, it will be things which I think are pretty or attractive in their own right. I will often buy something small for immediate family members but only if I see something I think they will like - and depending on timing and when I see them, they might get it next time I see them, or they might get it as an extra in their christmas stocking. I bought some lovely linen table linen when I went to Estonia, and my parents got linen napkins as a christmas gift that year. Last year they visited New Zealand, returning in December, and my gifts from them included some beautiful hand-carved wooden table mats.

I will also bring back local chocolate or sweets - partly because we have a tradition in our office that anyone returning from holiday brings in treats  to share - usually this will be sweets or biscuits from wherever the person has been, but it is equally acceptable to pop into the supermarket on the way into work and pick up some cookies if that is simpler.
For all those saying to correct her about my marriage:

I definitely make it clear how my marriage is run to a point but I'm also afraid of coming off as judgmental. If my husband calls and I'm with her she assumes my DH is mad and wants to know why I'm not cooking dinner or that he's calling to tell me what to do.  I make it clear that my DH cooks a lot too and how he does about half of the housework and it just isn't something we fight about. In our house (no kids btw) work gets done whenever by whomever and is determined a lot by how much we each worked that week and what's going on in our schedules. It feels awkward when this comes up because she continually assumes I do 100% of the running of the household and that my husband dictates a list for me. I guess I feel a little judged too at times for not being a "good wife."

Typical men/husbands:

The "husbands what can you do amirite" does happen quite a bit, which is when I share mine doesn't but it feels so braggy. Her husband calls every day while she's at work at 3 wanting to know what dinner is and is usually grumpy with her because he is sometimes sitting at home hungry. When I'm asked if mine does that too I tell her he doesn't ever do that but it makes me uncomfortable because my DH calls sometimes and asks if he can do anything for dinner and if I have any requests. So if we're together and I get a text from DH she says how he must be asking me about dinner too like her DH does.  For me to respond with how sweet and thoughtful my DH is feels like I'm bragging so I usually just say no he's offering to do something but I don't go on gushing about it. Other random times I brag on my husband because he is a sweet and considerate partner that I'm beyond lucky to have but I don't want to be obnoxious or counter her complaints with how wonderful my DH is.

Back to canceling and such it's just hurtful to our friendship and frankly disheartening to see my friend go from happy to sad. We will be with a couple of other friends at my house laughing and having so much fun but when her phone rings you know it can be over. Her and her husband may have to be somewhere at 8 (and she planned on leaving at 6) which mean shes leaving at 3 because he can't iron his own shirt, he wants fast food restaurant but won't get it himself, he wants her to pick up dry cleaning and they close at 6 but he wants her there by 4, etc.

I've never had an issue with judging other marriages that function in many different ways but this one I guess I really struggle with because I admit I don't think it's okay to treat someone like that. I know she signed up for it and I've accepted that for the most part but it ruins my plans and fun times with my friend.

It's hard to respond the way I have been when she cancels because I feel as though I am condoning that behavior. I think I will stick with my simple replies and supplement them with some of the other suggestions. 

Her marriage isn't my business but darn it do I have things I want to say! Note: all previous paragraphs.  ;)
Paper Trail / Re: RSVP and a Check
« Last post by Margo on Today at 06:23:03 AM »
Not an etiquette consideration as much as a practical one but I would send them separately.  Otherwise, the RSVP may get tossed in a pile to be dealt with as a bulk at a separate time and the check may be overlooked.

Etiquettely, I think it would be fine, but I think the above is an important practical consideration. Of course they will have to open the RSVP at some point, so it seems unlikely the check would be lost forever, and if you're sure to put a note on the check saying it's for football tickets, no one should mistake it for a wedding gift. If you want to put them in the same envelope, perhaps you could also send the bride an email saying, "Hey, I just mailed our RSVP to the wedding! I put the football ticket check in the same envelope." That way she knows to deal with it right away if necessary.

I think Lynn is right. There is no etiquette violation but on a practical level, tell her the check is there
Paper Trail / Re: Thank you letters - what do you like to receive?
« Last post by Margo on Today at 06:21:06 AM »
I think you don't send thank you notes until after the wedding because you send the notes as a married couple . And in the sad event that the wedding doesn't happen, you return the gifts.

So I think that not sending the letters until after the wedding is absolutely correct. (Isn't it fairly normal that you don't open a gift for a specific event until that event? If you get a Christmas or birthday gift, wouldn't you wait until christmas / birthday to unwrap it? I think that thanks shoudl be sent as soon as is practical after the gift is recieved, but to me, it being received would be when you open it or when the event it marks takes place.

My thought reading Gellhorn's comment was "but it wouldn't be 'love from Petunia" it would be "love from Petunia and Cuthbert"

I agree that a letter may read better if it doesn't start and end with thanks but I would never analyse it to that extent. I think it is fine to start by thanking them for the gift and mentioning what it is - no, you might not do that in person, but a face to face interaction is different from a written one.
Time For a Coffee Break! / Re: Your own personal mysteries.
« Last post by Kaora on Today at 05:54:04 AM »
One that happened to me tonight.

My BF took me out to the Golden Arches for lunch, during my lunch time during work tonight.  Cheap chicken nugget day and all that that entails.

So I got a six piece of chicken nuggets, and my BF, who hasn't ordered any food for himself, is just standing beside and slightly behind my chair while I eat.  I'm just busy munching away nuggets and talking to him, and he comments on how I must've gotten an extra, seventh, piece.  I quickly look down and count how many are left: three.  It's a habit of mine, so I can tell how hungry I was that night, counting chicken nuggets.

So I go back to talking with him and I clearly remember grabbing and eating two more nuggets, not looking at my food, just taking it and dipping it in the tasty tasty honey mustard.  I look down in a moment of us not conversing, and see that there are three nuggets left in my tiny six piece's box.

Where did the extra two nuggets come from?  I even asked BF if there were three nuggets in there a minute ago, and he confirmed it for me.  I even still had the last of the two nuggets in my mouth when I saw this. :o

It just feels so strange.

Edited for rewriting and clarity.
Definitely this kitschy, but nicely illustrated, picture of a Cat Buddha in a Lotus pose I saw in San Francisco earlier this year.  We were running to catch a bus for the Amtrak, so I only saw it in passing.  How I'd love to go back and get it.

I stopped buying touristy knickknacks for myself years ago, after realizing that I always ended up throwing them away when I moved - now, I stick to clothing, food, books, and CDs when I'm travelling.  If someone brings me back something edible - chocolates, tea, whatever, I'll happily take it, but things like keychains and fans are likely going to be tossed the next time I spring clean.

That's why I always get Christmas ornaments as my souvenir. I actually use them, and they're not out and cluttering things up most of the year. Taking the ornaments out every year to decorate is a fun trip down memory lane!

Me, too! I have them from Bar Harbor Maine, Hungary, Berlin, it is fun to get them out every year.
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