Why Does My Husband Exclude Me From Dinners With His Siblings?

Why Does My Husband Exclude Me From Dinners With His Siblings?

My husband meets his two sisters once a month for dinner. I think it’s great they can spend time together. Recently, I mentioned it would be nice if spouses were invited occasionally. Tonight, when my husband came home from a sibling dinner that doubled as a birthday celebration for his sister, he told me that his brother-in-law was there. I was extremely hurt not to be included! (It didn’t help that they met at an expensive restaurant and my husband probably paid.) My husband said I was being ridiculous. He claims he had no idea his brother-in-law would be there. But I think it was a major faux pas not to invite me and an apology is in order. Your perspective?


Let’s put aside, for now, your husband’s labeling your feelings “ridiculous.” Not cool — and remarkably ineffective for resolving differences. All feelings are legitimate, and processing them as a couple is an important part of any relationship. Having said that, though, I don’t think your husband is asking too much to have one night a month that’s reserved for him and his sisters — even if one of their husbands shows up unexpectedly on occasion.

Time alone with his siblings seems to be important to him. So I hope you can reframe his request as something other than exclusion of you. To me, the natural solution here is addition, not subtraction: Let the siblings keep their monthly get-togethers and add an occasional meal for partners to join. How would you feel about that?

Now, as for your husband’s behavior on his sister’s birthday: Do you really think he was being dishonest about your brother-in-law’s attendance, or do you think your response may have been heightened because of your sense of exclusion? That may be a good starting point for another conversation (one without words like “ridiculous”). You both want reasonable things here, so working out a compromise should be manageable.

I go to a coffee shop regularly. The employees are friendly and outgoing — except for one, who usually runs the cash register. She doesn’t say hello when I walk up to her or thank me after I pay. Still, I always put money in the communal tip jar so the employees who make my coffee will get a tip. But finally, after the 10th time the cashier didn’t speak to me, I didn’t put money in the tip jar and gave my tip directly to the friendly employee who made my drink. Was that OK?


Tips are voluntary, so you can give them to whomever you like. But just to be clear: Do you really believe that only extroverted service providers should be tipped for their labor and that people who are shy or quiet should not be? I think a better policy is to give tips to people who provide personal services competently.

Don’t get me wrong: I like friendly cashiers as much as the next person. But I also recognize that people have different personalities. So I tip them for their work, not for their pleasantries. But you may use whatever criteria you like. Still, your concern here may be moot: In my experience behind the counter, I always put tips I received directly into the communal jar anyway.

We recently moved into a short-term rental that we like a lot. Our upstairs neighbor is 102 years old. She lives independently. My beef: Every night, at some point between midnight and 2 a.m., there is a loud clunk on the floor — as if she’s dropped a heavy dumbbell. It wakes me up. It’s not the clickety-clack of her walker. I’d like to say something to her, but my husband says I should endure it — and we should all live so long. Help!


Speaking to neighbors about noise doesn’t have to mean going to war with them. Introduce yourself pleasantly to your new neighbor if you haven’t already. Then tell her that you hear a loud noise overhead in the middle of the night and wonder if she knows what it is.

My guess is that she bangs her walker on the floor to make sure it’s stable before she puts her weight on it — which is smart. But she could probably do that without waking you up. (Or maybe she’s tossing dumbbells onto the floor!) Remember: Conversations are only confrontational if we make them that way. So be pleasant — not silent.

I have several friends who are morbidly obese. When we go out to dinner, they pretend to eat one entree like the rest of us. But we all know that for them to keep that kind of weight on, they must be consuming thousands more calories later. So, why pretend? Why don’t they eat in restaurants like they do in real life?


So many objections and so little time! You don’t say anything about the metabolisms or genetics of these friends. Instead, you jump to “othering” them as gluttons (whom you never actually observe eating gluttonously) and judge them as fakers for not ordering more. I feel sorry for anyone whose friend would speak of him or her so ungenerously. Their orders are none of your business.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on X.

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