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Author Topic: courtesy wars  (Read 8737 times)

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slokies

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courtesy wars
« on: May 16, 2016, 11:08:31 AM »
A few weeks ago my husband and I invited some family members over for dinner.  They live far away and we do not see them often.  I love to cook and genuinely enjoy the opportunity.  I have always been taught that the host provides the best accommodation to the guest, i.e. the guests are served first, sleep in the good bed, sit at the big table, etc.  However, one of these relatives (I will call him John) has incorrectly assumed that I must be going to too much trouble, and argues with me about the arrangements.  There is only room for 6 at the table, and thatís where we want our guests to sit, so my husband and I sit at the snack bar.  John put up such a fight about sitting at the big table that I had to very forcefully stand my ground and insist he sit with the other guests.  On previous occasions, John has also argued with us about sleeping arrangements.  We donít have a guest room, so the guest gets our bed and we sleep on a roll-out futon in the office (where my personal items are kept and I donít want guests intruding.)  John protested so much that I am hesitant to invite him over again.
I understand that John thinks heís being ďniceĒ by insisting on taking the less-desirable offerings.  I think heís being rude by not accepting my hospitality.  While I find his self-sacrificing behavior off-putting, I realize that perhaps John thinks Iím being self-sacrificing.  However, I would not offer my guests anything I did not want them to have, and being second-guessed at every turn severely diminishes my enjoyment of entertaining guests.
So who is right here?  Am I being too much of a martyr, or is he?  Next time this happens, should I just let him sleep in the ashes like Cinderella?  Or should I stand my ground? (And is there even a polite way to do that?)

artk2002

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2016, 11:28:48 AM »
You're right, John's wrong. It was kind of him to offer, once. Anything more is becoming very rude.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Zizi-K

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2016, 11:37:18 AM »
I think there are normal or typical levels of hospitality, and there can be levels that make guests uncomfortable. It is a little weird to invite so many people over that you cannot sit at the same table as your guests. It puts you in the position of 'serving them', and then you are not at the table to participate in conversation. It would make me uncomfortable. Perhaps John was suggesting that he sit with one of you at the snack bar so that one of you could sit at the table?

I also do not think that it is required of hosts to give guests their bed. At least in my world, I need to be well-rested for work or whatever my day holds. If a friend is coming through town, they may be on vacation and don't have the same pressures on their day. No matter what the situation, many people including myself would not give up my bed for guests. I happen to have a comfortable guest room, but if all I had was a futon, I would just make guests aware of that at the beginning, and anyone with a back problem or whatever would have the option of booking themselves a hotel room. I would feel uncomfortable as a guest if I knew I was putting my hosts out that much.

That being said, I don't think John should fight with you about it. He can register his hesitance politely, and he can choose not to stay with you in the future.

lmyrs

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2016, 12:23:07 PM »
Before I had a proper spare room, I would offer my mom my bed when she visited an I would sleep on my sofa bed. (Which was a really good and comfortable sofa bed.) But someone of equal health and age to me did not get my bed. Now, no one gets my bed. I have 2 spare beds, a sofa bed and a blow up mattress for guests. My bed is mine. And, I don't think it makes me a bad host to say so.

On a similar note, as a guest, I would feel extremely uncomfortable to be eating a meal at the table while the hosts sat apart. It seems very off-putting. You're separating yourself from them which means that you consider yourself either above or below them. I wouldn't like this situation at all and I can sympathize with John. If you are preparing dinner for more people than can be seated at your table, I suggest that either you or your husband sit at the bar with a guest.

Oh Joy

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2016, 12:39:47 PM »
Welcome to the forum!

It depends on what your goal is.  If your goal is to follow "the rules" of etiquette and make sure your guests do as well, then you're right.  If your goal is to make your guests comfortable, then John is right.

Either way, if you're looking at it as either your guest sleeps in the ashes like a fairy tale character or you stand your ground, I don't see any way for anyone to win and enjoy the visit.

Best wishes.

Roe

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2016, 01:57:21 PM »
Regardless of who is right or who is wrong, as a guest, I can tell you that *I* would feel uncomfortable to be seated at the table while the hosts eat at the snack bar.  I can understand how John must feel. 

RainyDays

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2016, 02:05:10 PM »
Regardless of who is right or who is wrong, as a guest, I can tell you that *I* would feel uncomfortable to be seated at the table while the hosts eat at the snack bar.  I can understand how John must feel.

This. I would also feel extremely uncomfortable sleeping in the host's bed. It has nothing to do with feeling like I deserve "less" because I'm a guest; it has to do with me feeling as though it's completely inappropriate to occupy what is normally a private area. Except for hotels and guest bedrooms, I do not sleep in other people's bed, particularly when it requires that they sleep somewhere "lesser."

While I agree that John should not be so argumentative, I completely understand where he is coming from.

Kiwipinball

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2016, 04:42:03 PM »
I agree. It's common in my family to have enough people that multiple tables are needed. But there's always at least a few guests with the hosts. Having just the hosts sitting apart would make me feel super uncomfortable. I wouldn't argue about it much (I would offer at least once, possibly up to 3 times) but I would be incredibly uncomfortable while eating.

rose red

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2016, 05:27:09 PM »
I would also feel uncomfortable if the hosts sit at a different area. As a host, I would either stick in a small table to lengthen it or serve buffet style.

As for the bed, I would prefer to take the futon (or sofa) since I find it weird to sleep in another person's bed, but I wouldn't fight too much about it.

lilfox

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2016, 06:27:29 PM »
I would also feel uncomfortable if the hosts sit at a different area. As a host, I would either stick in a small table to lengthen it or serve buffet style.

As for the bed, I would prefer to take the futon (or sofa) since I find it weird to sleep in another person's bed, but I wouldn't fight too much about it.

I agree with the PPs on the above.  If there's not room for a second table, I would suggest that one host sit at the table and one sit at the snack bar with one of the guests.  We actually have a similar setup at our house and that's almost always how it naturally separates out.  The point of having the guests over is so guests and hosts can talk to each other - seating them in separate areas means guests can only easily talk amongst themselves and hosts amongst themselves.  So I would reconsider insisting all of the guests take the "better" option because it isn't necessarily better for the purpose of the visit as far as the dinner is concerned.

I personally don't like it when a host insists I take their bed while they take whatever the other option is.  Generally speaking, I don't want to sleep in someone else's regular bed.  That said, I would certainly not make a big deal of it, and definitely not on multiple occasions.  John is being rude here.  He clearly knows what your hosting style is and I'm a bit surprised that if he feels so strongly about not liking the situation, that he hasn't turned down the offer to stay the night or opted for a hotel.  I understand that they live far away but I would say for the next time that staying at your house isn't an option.

Ceallach

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2016, 06:56:08 PM »
I think this is an interesting question OP!   Thanks for sharing.   

My take on this would be that yes, technically youíre correct.  However, as a host you want your guests to be comfortable, so in a minor matter like this I would defer to the guestís preference to avoid that awkward back-and-forth that you describe.   I think that is the gracious thing to do.    You would be well within your rights to not invite him in future if this frustrates you.      In the moment though, dealing with his pleas for you to take the comfortable option, I would focus on keeping the peace.      Iím not suggesting that hosts should allow guests to get away with egregious behaviour, but when itís a small preference like this I think itís wise to accept it and allow everybody to move on.   

I wonder if he is trying to adhere to some gender based etiquette that he sees as correct, and feels uncomfortable with a lady having the less comfortable provisions?   
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something"


Alicia

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2016, 08:28:11 PM »
Years ago my grandma taught me you only give up your bed to the pope anyone else can stay in guest bed or kids beds or couch but your bed is so you are well.rested and a good host.  I would not stay at a house if the host insisted i take their bed. I would feel obligated to get a hotel becaise they are making a point of how i am forcing them out of their bed and thus i know i am in the way to much. 
Also neither of you at the table leaves your table without a host you thus are once again putting all your guest in the uncomfortable place of making a point that they are putting you out to much one of you at least needs to be at the table.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2016, 11:21:14 PM by Alicia »

RainyDays

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2016, 08:35:52 PM »
PPs made me think more about dinner... it depends, of course, but I have been to dinner parties where I was only really familiar with the hosts. I had known of or had previously met the other guests, but we were still in the awkward small talk phase of the relationship. I would have been so uncomfortable if of the only people I knew were not actually sitting with the rest of us.

saki

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2016, 05:08:35 AM »
I know you're doing it with the best of intentions but I really would urge you to rethink the dinner seating arrangements.  I would find it so awkward for my hosts to be sat somewhere else in the room - I wouldn't know whether it was best to try and talk to them even though they were sat apart or not and it would make me feel like they were set apart from us the whole time.  I also would just feel disappointed - if I go to dinner at someone's house, I'm really looking forward to spending time with them and that isn't so much happening if they're sat apart from us.  I'd honestly rather sit on the floor or standing up buffet-style or whatever than have the arrangement you describe.

menley

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2016, 10:15:14 AM »
As a guest, it would make me incredibly uncomfortable to take my hosts' bed, and probably uncomfortable to eat at a table separated from them. While I would ultimately accept what the host wanted, I'd be very reluctant to accept hosting from them in the future, knowing that the situation might repeat itself.

Ultimately the goal of good hosting is to make your guests comfortable- not to provide the best of everything. I'd question whether or not you're meeting the goal of making them comfortable.