Author Topic: Do I have to invite _him_?  (Read 14607 times)

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lellah

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Do I have to invite _him_?
« on: September 04, 2013, 10:58:00 AM »
My partner and I are planning a party to announce our engagement in my hometown: a low key, cheerful celebration focused on reconnecting with old friends and relatives.  We're making the guest list, and I've run into a real sticky wicket.

My mom has a friend I'll call Hortense, a warm, kindly woman I like well enough.  Hortense has been a good and generous friend to my mom, including supporting her through some difficult times.  Unfortunately Hortense is married to Hector, and Hector is gross. 

Hector basically cannot leave the house without sexually harassing at least three girls/women.  A lot of what he says could sound innocuous coming from other people.  He doesn't leap out of bushes or molest children or anything quite so... dramatic.  But he does make girls and women feel really gross.  He makes me feel really gross, in fact.  He's been doing so since I was a tween.  I do not tolerate his behavior, and I avoid being at events where he is.

Here's the issue: Hortense is close to my mom.  I would love to invite Hortense to the party, for my mom's sake.  I will not invite Hector because I can't trust for one minute that he won't try peering down some fifteen-year-old's dress or telling my future S-I-L just how lovely she looks in a tone that will make her want to shower with a steel brush and bleach.  I will not spend the evening running interference on his lewdness.

Can I, due to these special circumstances, break the cardinal rule of inviting couples together and invite Hortense alone?  Or shall I invite neither?  I should add that if Hortense received an invitation for just her, she'd know right away why Hector would be excluded

violinp

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2013, 11:11:17 AM »
Eeek. What a tough decision.

If I were in your situation, I'd probably just not invite the couple, because it's against the rules of etiquette to disregard social units, even if the spouse is a repulsive letch. I have friends and relatives with spouses who are...not people with whom I would choose to spend my time (borderline toxic behavior and the like). I still wouldn't only invite the spouse I liked, because, for whatever reason, the person I liked has chosen to remain with this person and I can't (in my mind) ignore that the person is married.
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Twik

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 11:17:00 AM »
If you want to follow traditional etiquette, you are not allowed to split married or engaged couples (with modern society accepting that people who live together romantically should be the third unsplittable group). Therefore, you have to either leave Hortense out, or put up with Hector.

Now, this is etiquette, not law. If you invite Hortense but tell her to leave Hector behind, no one will arrest you. However, it's sending a clear message to Hortense that her S/O is not liked. If you don't want to make that so plain to her, don't try splitting the unit. If you *do* want to make it clear, be prepared for the fallout if she decides she likes her husband better than your mother.
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rose red

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2013, 11:17:42 AM »
I would simply not invite this couple.  I have learned on Ehell that a married couple are a unit and is required to be treated as such.  Well, Hortense may be wonderful, but sadly there are consequences as well a benefits of being in a unit.

SleepyKitty

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2013, 11:18:54 AM »
I should add that if Hortense received an invitation for just her, she'd know right away why Hector would be excluded

Normally, I would say that you couldn't ever invite one half without the other to an event like this, and that you would just have to forgo inviting Hortense. However, this final quote changes my mind a little and I see two ways of looking at it:

The first is that you don't invite either. Frankly, if Hortense is aware of Hector's behavior and does nothing to curb it, then she needs to accept that she's going to be excluded from places where Hector isn't welcome.

On the other hand, if Hortense will know exactly why Hector is excluded and *not take offense* to his exclusion, then I don't really see why you couldn't just invite her. One point of etiquette is to help us avoid hurting someone.  If Horense wouldn't be hurt by the solo invite, then I'd say go ahead. (Note: I'm deliberately not concerning myself with whether or not Hector would be offended because, in my opinion, someone who behaves as he does deserves to be excluded from gatherings.)

Basically, if inviting her solo - considering she is well aware of why people wouldn't want Hector there - won't make any waves, then I don't see why not.

lowspark

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2013, 11:41:25 AM »
I should add that if Hortense received an invitation for just her, she'd know right away why Hector would be excluded

So Hortense knows what a boor Hector is. Does she frequently get invited to things without Hector? If it's sort of SOP to invite her without him due to his unacceptable behavior and it's something she accepts then yeah, go ahead and just invite her.

But if people always invite him anyway and you'd be setting a precedent by excluding him, I wouldn't do it. I'd just not invite either.

Zilla

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2013, 11:46:19 AM »
I would consult your mom on the matter.  She is a good friend to her and can tell you what she thinks on this matter.  Tell her what you wrote in the OP about why not and see what she says.

JenJay

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2013, 11:54:43 AM »
I should add that if Hortense received an invitation for just her, she'd know right away why Hector would be excluded

So Hortense knows what a boor Hector is. Does she frequently get invited to things without Hector? If it's sort of SOP to invite her without him due to his unacceptable behavior and it's something she accepts then yeah, go ahead and just invite her.

But if people always invite him anyway and you'd be setting a precedent by excluding him, I wouldn't do it. I'd just not invite either.

Same

If your mom or Hortense complain I'd say "I'm sorry but I can't invite one without the other and, as you know, he'd make my female guests very uncomfortable."

lellah

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2013, 11:59:12 AM »
I would consult your mom on the matter.  She is a good friend to her and can tell you what she thinks on this matter.  Tell her what you wrote in the OP about why not and see what she says.

This situation is pretty complicated by my parents.  For a lot of complicated reasons to do with small town politics, my immigrant mom's social attitudes, and a teensy dash of moral cowardice, both of my parents would really, really prefer I not rock the boat with this.  Their mindset is more "Obviously the socially prominent Hector should be at our party: otherwise people might gossip about his exclusion and/or have hurt feelings." 

Hortense is more realistic about the whole thing.  If she weren't a divorce-opposing Catholic, they would've split up years earlier.  She realizes he's beyond a boor.

WillyNilly

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2013, 12:08:04 PM »
I would consult your mom on the matter.  She is a good friend to her and can tell you what she thinks on this matter.  Tell her what you wrote in the OP about why not and see what she says.

This situation is pretty complicated by my parents.  For a lot of complicated reasons to do with small town politics, my immigrant mom's social attitudes, and a teensy dash of moral cowardice, both of my parents would really, really prefer I not rock the boat with this.  Their mindset is more "Obviously the socially prominent Hector should be at our party: otherwise people might gossip about his exclusion and/or have hurt feelings." 

Hortense is more realistic about the whole thing.  If she weren't a divorce-opposing Catholic, they would've split up years earlier.  She realizes he's beyond a boor.

Can you call Hortense then? This sounds like a "conversation" situation, not one where an invite can just be sent full of unspoken messages.

Call her and stress how important she is to you and how very much you want to include her at your party. Then say "but..." with a pause. See if she jumps in with, "I understand, its Hector isn't it?" And even if she doesn't after a pause you can say - and 'm sure emotion in your voice will give her a clue how very difficult a position you are in - "...I am concerned about Hector. I know the right thing to do is invite you both as a couple, but he really makes me and several other women uncomfortable. I need to think of the comfort of all my guests. I'm so conflicted because I can't imagine having a party without you there, you are a very important person to me."

lowspark

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2013, 12:09:02 PM »
...
 both of my parents would really, really prefer I not rock the boat with this.
...

Then there's your answer. You either invite both or neither.
You're inviting her sort of on behalf of your mother, or as an acknowledgement of how kind she's been to your mother. So you need to honor how your mother feels about this. If you invite her but not him, and it ends up making your mother feel embarrassed or ashamed, well, then, what was the point of inviting her at all? Because this isn't solely about Hortense, it's about your mother's feelings too since your mother's friendship is the exact reason you're inviting her.

Zilla

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2013, 12:11:48 PM »
...
 both of my parents would really, really prefer I not rock the boat with this.
...

Then there's your answer. You either invite both or neither.
You're inviting her sort of on behalf of your mother, or as an acknowledgement of how kind she's been to your mother. So you need to honor how your mother feels about this. If you invite her but not him, and it ends up making your mother feel embarrassed or ashamed, well, then, what was the point of inviting her at all? Because this isn't solely about Hortense, it's about your mother's feelings too since your mother's friendship is the exact reason you're inviting her.


I agree.

lowspark

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2013, 12:13:17 PM »
I would consult your mom on the matter.  She is a good friend to her and can tell you what she thinks on this matter.  Tell her what you wrote in the OP about why not and see what she says.

This situation is pretty complicated by my parents.  For a lot of complicated reasons to do with small town politics, my immigrant mom's social attitudes, and a teensy dash of moral cowardice, both of my parents would really, really prefer I not rock the boat with this.  Their mindset is more "Obviously the socially prominent Hector should be at our party: otherwise people might gossip about his exclusion and/or have hurt feelings." 

Hortense is more realistic about the whole thing.  If she weren't a divorce-opposing Catholic, they would've split up years earlier.  She realizes he's beyond a boor.

Can you call Hortense then? This sounds like a "conversation" situation, not one where an invite can just be sent full of unspoken messages.

Call her and stress how important she is to you and how very much you want to include her at your party. Then say "but..." with a pause. See if she jumps in with, "I understand, its Hector isn't it?" And even if she doesn't after a pause you can say - and 'm sure emotion in your voice will give her a clue how very difficult a position you are in - "...I am concerned about Hector. I know the right thing to do is invite you both as a couple, but he really makes me and several other women uncomfortable. I need to think of the comfort of all my guests. I'm so conflicted because I can't imagine having a party without you there, you are a very important person to me."

I don't often disagree with WillyNilly but I'm going to here.
I wouldn't do this. It's one thing to send an invitation addressed only to her knowing that she'll get the implication because she recognizes her husband's shortcomings.
It's a whole other thing to say those things outright to her.

She might take it fine and be used to dealing with it. But it might also really hurt to hear those things said out loud, and not even by someone who is actually a friend, but the daughter of a friend. It has the potential to hurt her deeply and to hurt her relationship with your mother.

JenJay

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2013, 12:15:23 PM »
...
 both of my parents would really, really prefer I not rock the boat with this.
...

Then there's your answer. You either invite both or neither.
You're inviting her sort of on behalf of your mother, or as an acknowledgement of how kind she's been to your mother. So you need to honor how your mother feels about this. If you invite her but not him, and it ends up making your mother feel embarrassed or ashamed, well, then, what was the point of inviting her at all? Because this isn't solely about Hortense, it's about your mother's feelings too since your mother's friendship is the exact reason you're inviting her.


I agree.

I do too

WillyNilly

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Re: Do I have to invite _him_?
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2013, 12:20:26 PM »
...
 both of my parents would really, really prefer I not rock the boat with this.
...

Then there's your answer. You either invite both or neither.
You're inviting her sort of on behalf of your mother, or as an acknowledgement of how kind she's been to your mother. So you need to honor how your mother feels about this. If you invite her but not him, and it ends up making your mother feel embarrassed or ashamed, well, then, what was the point of inviting her at all? Because this isn't solely about Hortense, it's about your mother's feelings too since your mother's friendship is the exact reason you're inviting her.

Isn't this mostly about OP's feelings as hostess? OP has a responsibility that goes way beyond her mother and Hortence to be kind and gracious to herself and the rest of her guests. This is a man who apparently leers at or makes crude comments to tweens and young teenagers as well as grown women. He might not be physically molesting them but he's still creating a horrible atmosphere. If the OP knowingly invites him, then she is by her actions condoning and welcoming his lecherous behavior towards her guests.