I’m a newlywed. I hate having family stay over at our house. I love entertaining, but I want folks to leave at the end of the night. My husband likes overnight company and will often invite his family to stay a week at a time and won’t tell me until they are already en route. Funny, when my parents come for the weekend, he’s grumpy. I say no family stays at all, to keep the peace. He then cancels his family’s overnight stay and I look like the bad guy. Please help! —Anonymous
Woo-sah! This is a bump, not the end of the world, even if it may feel like it. I can tell from your question that you and your husband didn’t live together before marriage, which is fine. Now that you’ve combined households, you’re learning about some habits that may drive you up a wall. You may not have expected to argue over this, or at all as a newlywed, and it’s throwing you for a loop. It’s going to be OK.
But first you’re going to have to actually compromise. Your suggestion that there be no overnight guests in the house isn’t being considerate of your husband’s wants or needs; it’s getting your own way and telling him to deal with it. I get why he’s upset.
That solution was likely a result of your frustration. Most reasonable people would be if they were told at the last minute, without being asked about it, that weeklong guests were headed to their home. It means a week of being on your p’s and q’s, of coming straight home after work to entertain (or cook for) your guests, and being considerate to a group of people you may not even like all that much. I get it.
But banning your husband’s family—and even your own—from overnight visits is going to the extreme. And it’s probably why your husband went all passive-aggressive on you and told his family that they could no longer come and blamed you. (To be clear: I’m not blaming you, just explaining why he may have done it.) That was a horrible gesture on his part, which escalated the issue. Now he’s upset with you, clearly, and his family probably thinks you’re rude and don’t like them. This went from a somewhat minor issue to a major issue.
The actual compromise here is for you and your husband to agree to time limits for and frequency of overnight guests. That would mean maybe having guests for the weekend or a long weekend instead of the week. It would mean there are plenty of weekends, and weeks, where there are no guests in the house while you and your husband continue to get to know each other as spouses.
The most important part of this compromise is that you and husband do better at communicating with each other about plans for guests in the house. What does that sound like? Like having an actual conversation—not just a last-minute heads-up—about whom either of you would like to invite before they are invited. The result should be that you are less frustrated with his last-minute plans and long-staying guests and he still gets to have his family stay over.
Now, about his blaming the cancellation on you to his family: It would be nice if he apologized for making you the bad guy with his family. Hopefully he’ll do that. And hopefully he’ll apologize to his family, too. Depending on how they feel about you already and the types of folks they are, this is one of those offenses that keep people in the figurative doghouse for years.
He really needs to circle back to them and claim responsibility for disappointing whoever was coming. He should take the heat for it. His family will get over it and forgive him more quickly than they will you.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “My Boyfriend Doesn’t Call While on Vacation. Am I Expecting Too Much?”