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Do I have to invite _him_?

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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

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.

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.

rose red:
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.


--- Quote from: lellah on September 04, 2013, 09:58:00 AM ---I should add that if Hortense received an invitation for just her, she'd know right away why Hector would be excluded

--- End quote ---

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.


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