Author Topic: But you have a husband...  (Read 6893 times)

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bah12

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But you have a husband...
« on: April 19, 2013, 12:03:27 PM »
Last night there was an event held for a woman I know to celebrate her transitioning jobs.  When I received the invitation to her party, from the organizer, I immediately sent a note to both the organizer and the woman letting them know that I would not be able to attend.  I did not give a reason for declining but I did wish her well on her new endeavors in my note.

Apparently only a few people showed up to this party and it was upsetting to the guest of honor...she was especially upset about people that she has worked in the past were not there. This was all relayed to me by someone at work who did show up to the party (Lisa).  Lisa was saying it was rude of so many of us to not come and say good-bye and thank her for the work that she has done for us. 

Although I didn't owe her an explanation, I did tell her that I had already RSVP'd 'no' and that I had to pick DD up from daycare by a certain time and take her to a scheduled activity.  I also told her that, as usual, doing anything after work in most circumstances, is just not possible for me.  Her response "But you have a husband that can help you."

I hear this from her a lot.  She's a single mom and I get that it's tough for her to balance a career and kids with no other adult to help her manage it all.  And she did find a way to be at this party.  But, I also feel that she thinks that having a husband means that he is somehow at my disposal to do whatever it is I need so that I can do whatever it is I want.  This is not how it works.  My DH has a career and a schedule...and when it comes to who does drop off/pickup and events for our child, we have a committed schedule.  Sure, sometimes things come up and we need to call each other and ask for help, and it's nice to have someone I can lean on for those things and vice versa, but it's not a fail-safe.

The truth is, this party wasn't that important to me.  And while I never said those words out loud, obviously, my choices have reflected that.  I don't necessarily feel bad about it.  I shut down the conversation with Lisa pretty fast..basically saying that my DH is under no obligation to rearrange his whole schedule to do something I committed to any more than I would go to work late (DH does drop off) just so that he could have breakfast with friends.

Questions:

1. How rude was it that those of us who worked with her in the past did not make more of an effort to attend?
2. Is there a better way to end the "but you have a husband' conversation when Lisa starts it?  She is someone that I work with often and we often have conversations about our kids.  I'm weary of her always dismissing my schedule with comments on the fact that I am married and she is not.

Sharnita

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 12:09:48 PM »
I think that in part she was pointing out that there seemed to be evidence that you might have been able to make an effort to change some things around so you can attend.  It sounds like the reality was that this party was not improtant enough to do so.  Because of that, I don't know that I would respond in this case.

There are all sorts of varieties of this.  Somebody else might hear "but you don't have kids" or "but you are single" as an implication that they should have done more, be available, etc. I think I would just use the phrase "I had/have a prior commitment" and leave it at that.

sweetonsno

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 12:31:14 PM »
I agree with Sharnita. Lisa probably didn't mean that having a partner means that you can do whatever you want, only that you could probably have made it work had you wanted to. As you said, the party (and by extension, she assumed, the coworker) was not particularly important to you. It wasn't that you couldn't make it work; it's that you didn't want to. I think Sharnita's advice about not specifying why you can't come is a good one. You have a prior commitment. That's all that you need to say.

And no, it isn't rude to not attend a party that is after-hours, but I'm sure you can see why the coworker was hurt. I think that if you worked with her directly, it would have been nice to send her a personal note if you couldn't attend.

LazyDaisy

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 12:33:39 PM »
It's in cases like this that I think the polite white lie that you have other plans/commitments is more of a problem than the truth that you just didn't want to attend. The conversation would have been over if you had politely indicated that, while you wish the coworker well, you weren't interested in attending the going away party. You can't change Lisa. The best way to shut her down is to not give her an opening. Stop having those conversations about your kids and schedules. If she starts the conversation about her kids, try to change the subject to something work-related or find a reason to leave.

"Lisa was saying it was rude of so many of us to not come and say good-bye and thank her for the work that she has done for us."
It was not rude for anyone to skip the party. Coworker's reward for all the work she did was a paycheck. It's nice to be acknowledged for work above and beyond what is expected in the job description, but a sincere "thank you" expressed in person or in a card should be sufficient.
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

bah12

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 12:41:11 PM »
I think that in part she was pointing out that there seemed to be evidence that you might have been able to make an effort to change some things around so you can attend.  It sounds like the reality was that this party was not improtant enough to do so.  Because of that, I don't know that I would respond in this case.

There are all sorts of varieties of this.  Somebody else might hear "but you don't have kids" or "but you are single" as an implication that they should have done more, be available, etc. I think I would just use the phrase "I had/have a prior commitment" and leave it at that.

This is a good point...I feel that blanket statements like this are rude.  It implies that someone else knows more about our situation than we do and that we are not permitted to use (whatever reason we have) not to do things, because they are more aware than we are that we have it easier than they do.  I do not subscribe to the school of thought that we have to be vague in all things to avoid someone trying to counteract our reasons.  I feel that giving reasons is sometimes necessary, but often just an ingredient in polite conversation.  Yet many people seem to confuse "reason" with "excuse".  I was not searching for an excuse to miss this event.  I had a scheduling conflict...and I admit that this event was not important enough to me to rearrange my schedule for.  Anyone taking my reason not to attend and counteracting it not only makes it appear that my reason is not valid, but also that I have to put their event at the top of my priority list.  And I don't think it matters what event we are talking about.  Doing this is rude. 

I agree with Sharnita. Lisa probably didn't mean that having a partner means that you can do whatever you want, only that you could probably have made it work had you wanted to. As you said, the party (and by extension, she assumed, the coworker) was not particularly important to you. It wasn't that you couldn't make it work; it's that you didn't want to. I think Sharnita's advice about not specifying why you can't come is a good one. You have a prior commitment. That's all that you need to say.

And no, it isn't rude to not attend a party that is after-hours, but I'm sure you can see why the coworker was hurt. I think that if you worked with her directly, it would have been nice to send her a personal note if you couldn't attend.

I did send her a note when I RSVP'd no.  And I also understand what Lisa meant...Lisa, in particular, says this to me all the time though...I am now more curious about the statement in general (or ones like it).  I think the onus shouldn't be on those giving reasons to just not give reasons, but on the rest of us not to feel that it's up to us to argue and counteract them just because of disappointment that we aren't getting what we want.

As for the guest of honor...I can certainly understand her disappointment. I feel bad for her that it doesn't look like she was more appreciated by those of us that have worked with her in the past.  This thread isn't about her, so all I'll say is that it is true that maybe I could have put more effort into attending, but celebrating her and my relationship with her wasn't worth it to me.  And maybe that was the feelings of others as well.  I don't feel guilty that I didn't go...yet, I do have some sympathy for her.

EllenS

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 12:41:51 PM »
I think the bigger picture here is that not one tiny bit of this is Lisa's business.  Whether or not you attended the party, or your reason for doing so, is not her business.  Whether or not you RSVP'ed, is not her business.  How you do your daycare pickups, is not her business.

I think if you wanted to mention those things in conversation, that's your right, but it is not her place to criticize or tell you what you should do.

Nothing you did here was rude.  Nobody is ever obligated by etiquette to attend a party, just because they were invited.  If the honoree was hurt, she should take that up with the people she is mad at.  If her co-workers, and ex co-workers are not close enough friends for her to have that conversation with, then - hey - I guess that explains why they didn't prioritize the party.

I would suggest coming up with a non-committal stock phrase to respond to Lisa's unsolicited criticism/advice, and just repeat it.  I am particularly partial to the phrases, "Really?  Huh."  and "Well, how about that."  They are non-confrontational, meaningless, and make busybodies feel like you heard them, without agreeing with them or committing to further conversation.  It is the minimum acknowledgment of "oh, a human being spoke to me."

LazyDaisy

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 01:09:20 PM »
I think that in part she was pointing out that there seemed to be evidence that you might have been able to make an effort to change some things around so you can attend.  It sounds like the reality was that this party was not important enough to do so.  Because of that, I don't know that I would respond in this case.

There are all sorts of varieties of this.  Somebody else might hear "but you don't have kids" or "but you are single" as an implication that they should have done more, be available, etc. I think I would just use the phrase "I had/have a prior commitment" and leave it at that.

This is a good point...I feel that blanket statements like this are rude.  It implies that someone else knows more about our situation than we do and that we are not permitted to use (whatever reason we have) not to do things, because they are more aware than we are that we have it easier than they do.  I do not subscribe to the school of thought that we have to be vague in all things to avoid someone trying to counteract our reasons.  I feel that giving reasons is sometimes necessary, but often just an ingredient in polite conversation.  Yet many people seem to confuse "reason" with "excuse".  I was not searching for an excuse to miss this event.  I had a scheduling conflict...and I admit that this event was not important enough to me to rearrange my schedule for.  Anyone taking my reason not to attend and counteracting it not only makes it appear that my reason is not valid, but also that I have to put their event at the top of my priority list.  And I don't think it matters what event we are talking about.  Doing this is rude. 

I agree with Sharnita. Lisa probably didn't mean that having a partner means that you can do whatever you want, only that you could probably have made it work had you wanted to. As you said, the party (and by extension, she assumed, the coworker) was not particularly important to you. It wasn't that you couldn't make it work; it's that you didn't want to. I think Sharnita's advice about not specifying why you can't come is a good one. You have a prior commitment. That's all that you need to say.

And no, it isn't rude to not attend a party that is after-hours, but I'm sure you can see why the coworker was hurt. I think that if you worked with her directly, it would have been nice to send her a personal note if you couldn't attend.

I did send her a note when I RSVP'd no.  And I also understand what Lisa meant...Lisa, in particular, says this to me all the time though...I am now more curious about the statement in general (or ones like it).  I think the onus shouldn't be on those giving reasons to just not give reasons, but on the rest of us not to feel that it's up to us to argue and counteract them just because of disappointment that we aren't getting what we want.

As for the guest of honor...I can certainly understand her disappointment. I feel bad for her that it doesn't look like she was more appreciated by those of us that have worked with her in the past.  This thread isn't about her, so all I'll say is that it is true that maybe I could have put more effort into attending, but celebrating her and my relationship with her wasn't worth it to me.  And maybe that was the feelings of others as well.  I don't feel guilty that I didn't go...yet, I do have some sympathy for her.

You can't change Lisa, or the Lisa's of the world. Of course it's rude to dismiss or counter another person, but she won't stop simply because that's the way the world "should be." You're free to say what you want, but what you say has consequences -- sometimes good, sometimes bad. So you know that the consequence of discussing your reasons with Lisa is that she will dismiss or counter your reasons. Instead of expecting her to conform to your rules, and then being upset when she doesn't, you can only change your behavior -- either stop giving her reasons she can argue with, or stop caring what she thinks. You don't have to defend yourself because what she's saying is correct. No need to get offended or defensive, just agree with her.

Lisa: "But you have a husband!"
Response: "Yes, I do." said with a smile.
Lisa of the world: "But you don't have kids....But your single....But But"
Response: "You're right, I don't....You're right, I am..." always said with delight.

I've found, as a single and childless person, that this is the fastest way to shut it down. I'm not ashamed of either. When I refuse to play along, the Lisa's stop trying to use that as a weapon to manipulate me.
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Girlie

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 01:23:08 PM »
I recently has a pretty big fight with a friend over this very "but you have a husband" issue.  Without going into detail, I agree that it is presumptuous to assume that someone's marital status indicates anything about their private life other than their marital status.

That being said, if you were to point that out to someone who had just used the "but you have a husband!" argument, you'd likely end up with circulating divorce rumors.  ::)

I agree that the best thing to do is simply to cite "prior committments." If someone insists on your husband spending his time doing the errands you've already said you'd do, I don't think it would be impolite to point out that he also, has prior committments. It really is no one's business what those committments might be, whether hosting the president or taking a nap.

I also don't think it's rude to not attend a party. Would it have been nice? Sure. But a party's not much fun if you don't even want to be there.

Piratelvr1121

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 01:38:02 PM »
I think that in part she was pointing out that there seemed to be evidence that you might have been able to make an effort to change some things around so you can attend.  It sounds like the reality was that this party was not improtant enough to do so.  Because of that, I don't know that I would respond in this case.

There are all sorts of varieties of this.  Somebody else might hear "but you don't have kids" or "but you are single" as an implication that they should have done more, be available, etc. I think I would just use the phrase "I had/have a prior commitment" and leave it at that.

This is a good point...I feel that blanket statements like this are rude.  It implies that someone else knows more about our situation than we do and that we are not permitted to use (whatever reason we have) not to do things, because they are more aware than we are that we have it easier than they do.  I do not subscribe to the school of thought that we have to be vague in all things to avoid someone trying to counteract our reasons.  I feel that giving reasons is sometimes necessary, but often just an ingredient in polite conversation.  Yet many people seem to confuse "reason" with "excuse".  I was not searching for an excuse to miss this event.  I had a scheduling conflict...and I admit that this event was not important enough to me to rearrange my schedule for.  Anyone taking my reason not to attend and counteracting it not only makes it appear that my reason is not valid, but also that I have to put their event at the top of my priority list.  And I don't think it matters what event we are talking about.  Doing this is rude. 

I agree, and also an interesting assumption.  I have a husband but because he typically doesn't get home until 6-7 pm and some nights later than that, I can't really ask him to come back to drop off one of the boys for some activity so I can do something that's not a required thing that I do.   Just because a woman has a husband doesn't mean he's going to be at her beck and call.  In fact if there was something I wanted to do without the boys but he wouldn't be home in time, I'd have to hire a sitter. 

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

RebeccainGA

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 03:35:33 PM »
I so sympathise - yes, I am married, and have no kids at home (mine is 19). But no, I can't go for drinks after work for whatever dumb reason, including someone that I wasn't close to going to a new job. My partner needs me home immediately, as she can't do some *personal medical* stuff for herself, that can't wait until late in the evening.

You did fine. Lisa is an unthinking idiot, who assumes that her situation is universal, when it is far from it. Just being X doesn't mean that you can do Y without it being a struggle.

EllenS

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 03:39:54 PM »
No matter what OP's situation - if she was single, childless, a billionaire, had a full-time nanny, whatever - her decision to go to the party or not was a) not rude, and b) none of Lisa's fre-deaky-diddling-do business.

bah12

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 03:55:44 PM »
I do agree then when there is someone in your life, such as Lisa, that will always do the "But you're...." comments to any reason, then the easiest thing to do is just be vague with her.  Generally speaking, I don't think that anyone should go around in life and be vague always just to avoid the possibility of someone trying to counteract whatever reason you have for not doing something they want.   I do see that people are trending towards the "you don't owe a reason, so don't give one. You were in the wrong for doing so" vs, the more appropriate (to me) "giving a reason is not wrong when you don't mind sharing the reason.  It does not excuse someone to counteract, argue, or try to shoot it down.  They are the rude ones for doing so."

Sophia

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 04:55:32 PM »
In this "But you have a husband that can help you" I think there is an unspoken but definitely there "...so it should have been easy for you". 

There are things I am willing to re-arrange my schedule for and things I'm not.  My husband is a SAHD, who is rebuilding a house for us on the weekends.  I had to leave work early for something at home ( I forget).  He asked if I could come home early one day so he could go to the Habitat for Humanity store without DD.  I said No.  I'm not willing to spend GoodWill Capital at work so he can go shopping in peace. 

lowspark

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 05:01:12 PM »
I agree with PPs that you pretty much have two choices in communicating with Lisa. Either you quote the vague "prior commitment" with no further explanation or you repeat ad nauseum a non-committal agreement such as what LazyDaisy suggested.

My first thought regarding the "but you have a husband" retort is that sure, I have one of those, but what I really need is a 24/7 devoted secretary! Because short of that, there really isn't anyone who is willing to do my bidding at my beck and call. And since I'm not willing to be that person for anyone else, including my husband, I certainly can't expect him to be that person for me.

ladyknight1

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Re: But you have a husband...
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 05:16:50 PM »
Ignore the Lisa's. We have one person in our department who must work a certain schedule so she can pick up her children from an after-school program. It is no one's business but her family's and her supervisor. However, she gets pointed out by our Lisa's for being inflexible or unavailable when that simply is not the case.