Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Don’t Like How My Husband Throws a Party”

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My husband and I had about nine friends (a mix of my pals and his) over to play board games/poker/card games on a recent Saturday night. I thought the food and drinks should be set out ahead of time and arranged for a party atmosphere, but my husband wanted to pile up a bunch of bags and put stuff in the fridge and let people forage (or go fetch it for them throughout the night).

I didn’t want to end up doing all the work, so this devolved into a fight in which I had to cool off by going away for an hour (fortunately, only one person arrived for the party in the meantime). My husband declared later that I didn’t trust him to throw a party. But in my mind, we’re in our forties and this wasn’t a 13-year-old sleepover with a bag of cheez-doodles.

So I’d just love to hear: What’s your take (and the hive mind’s take) on this whole throwing a joint party jazz when you both have completely different visions of how to host multiple guests? Also, any recommendations for avoiding this minefield next time, even if it’s only my getting my mind in a different place? — Party Pooped

Gosh, would you really say you and your husband have “completely different visions of how to host multiple guests”? I don’t know, call me crazy, but one person wanting to pile refreshments in bags on the counter (i.e. be lazy) and another person wanting to arrange them on a platter doesn’t scream “wildly different visions” to me. A Great Gatsby-themed party vs. a hipster barn BBQ? Those are different visions. Disagreeing over whether or not to pile bagged-up refreshments on the counter vs. presenting them on platters just doesn’t seem to warrant a one-hour freak-out. And frankly, even if you decided to do all the work yourself because your husband disagreed with the need to actually, you know, be a host, I can’t imagine that throwing some pretzels and chips in a bowl along with a little dip, and arranging some finger sandwiches or whatever on a plate, would take more than a few minutes? You certainly could have prepared adequately in the hour you spent outside “cooling down.” Hell, I’ve thrown parties on my own where I actually cooked and baked and prepared (and served) multiple hors d’oeuvres for dozens of people, set up a bar, made a house cocktail, and did some cleaning and light decorating, and even all of that didn’t take more than a five or six hours of prep work (granted, I’m organized as hell and this was years before I had a young child underfoot and was adequately rested for such a feat, but still).

Basically, I think you over-reacted and, if you wanted stuff arranged, you could have just done it yourself in half the amount of time you spent pouting over your husband not helping you. BUT, you do raise an interesting question. When a couple’s vision of a party really DOES completely differ or when one person in the couple wants to throw a party and the other doesn’t, what do you do? In that case, I say see if there’s a way to compromise and take the most-wanted aspects of either party (say, the flapper attire and Gin Rickey cocktails of the Great Gatsby party and hay seating and BBQ ribs of the barn party) and combine them into one fantastical, festive shin-dig that people will be talking about for a long time. (It’s the weird, combination themes that are often the most fun and memorable. I still remember a party a friend threw like 15 years ago themed “80s ski lodge.” I wore a pink and purple ski suit, a side ponytail and blue eyeshadow. We drank Hot Toddies and listened to Michael Jackson).

If, however, you and your partner can’t even agree on combining aspects of your preferred styles and are steadfast in exactly the kind of party you each want to throw, no compromising, then I’d suggest you flip a coin to see whose idea wins for this party and then the other person gets his or her first choice the next time. Or, you wait until it’s one of your birthdays and the other person really has no choice but to honor your wishes.

And if one person wants to throw a party and the other doesn’t, then the couple should discuss why and try to trouble-shoot potential issues (drop off kids with the grandparents for the night; hire a cleaning service after the party; don’t invite stupid people who are likely to do stupid stuff; rent a space other than your own home; make sure there’s lots of toilet paper). But if the anti-party person just really hates parties and simply doesn’t want to attend one, let alone host one, the couple should pick a time when the person who is anti-party either has or can make other plans, and the party-person can do his or her own thing on her budget and within her desired effort level.

Also, I would really like to go to a Great Gatsby Hipster Barn BBQ, so, if you throw one, think about sending me an invite? I’ll bring good gin!

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

20 comments… add one
  • avatar

    jlyfsh May 19, 2015, 1:19 pm

    Definitely doesn’t seem like completely different. But, I can say I could see my husband and I seeing this differently. Although, he would just be like whatever do what you want. Because, it’s just not that big of a deal. And then I would just do what I want because if we were just serving chips and dip I would just put things on the table. Which takes what 10 minutes? You don’t have to be fancy to have a party!

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  • othy

    othy May 19, 2015, 1:39 pm

    While I do think it’s respectful to put out food for a party rather than leaving it in the fridge (since I don’t feel comfortable foraging through other people’s fridges, and people will know what is okay for them to eat/drink), having a big fight with an hour cool down time is not worth it. It would have taken less time to just put it out yourself. And you know for next time, that if you want to do food you should do something easy to prep (like those veggie trays that you literally take the plastic wrapper off, or just order a bunch of take out dishes from your favorite resturaunt).

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite May 19, 2015, 1:52 pm

    It’s definitely gotten overblown if you’re seeing it as a minefield…

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ May 19, 2015, 2:12 pm

    Oh, for crying out loud, just put the refreshments out yourself. (Honestly, if your guy is so laid back he doesn’t mind just leaving the stuff in bags on the counter, he’s probably not going to be much help setting them up anyway.)I can’t even imagine getting worked up over this. If it’s the “fair” aspect, let him clean up. No big deal. Either this is a symptom of a bigger issue in general or you guys were having a really bad day…

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    • avatar

      Ange May 19, 2015, 6:12 pm

      Even then if you used disposable plates and cutlery just this once the clean up would be really negligible, no more than you would probably do in a general house cleaning plus an extra garbage bag or two.

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  • avatar

    Kate May 19, 2015, 2:13 pm

    Yeah, I feel like my husband and I might have similar views if we ever entertained… He’d be reluctant to put stuff out and I’d want to have it all arranged. But I’d just do it anyway. Recently at my birthday party (which we didn’t have at home because I can’t deal with people messing up my stuff), someone brought homemade chocolate covered strawberries and he for some reason didn’t put them out. So I just went ahead and did it. In your situation I just would have been like, “well, I can see having cold drinks in the fridge and telling people to help themselves, but I’m going to go ahead and put the snacks out on plates and stuff so they’re in easy reach and people don’t have to worry about what’s our food vs. food for the party.” If he had a strong case for why stuff shouldn’t be put out, I’d listen and talk about it, but I doubt he would.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope May 19, 2015, 2:40 pm

    Have more sex. It makes the small stuff seem less worth fighting over.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo May 19, 2015, 4:11 pm

      Exactly. The hour spent pouting could have been spent having a much better reason for the platters not to be ready on time. Then you could just order out Chinese and DGAF (except for the one you just gave). My question is: what if you and your spouse have totally different visions of how to throw a threesome? Just kidding, that could never happen.

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  • avatar

    Sandy May 19, 2015, 3:04 pm

    Pizza and wings

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  • avatar

    SasLinna May 19, 2015, 3:24 pm

    Not everything in a relationship has to be a joint, democratic decision – especially not down to all the minute details. Sometimes it’s really freeing to just let your partner decide how the party will be thrown, or to take over and prepare things whichever way you want. It’s so much more relaxing that way.

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  • avatar

    Artsygirl May 19, 2015, 6:22 pm

    LW: I am a classic type A personality. I make lists for my lists and everything has to be planned out even for ‘spontaneous’ get togethers. My husband, on the other hand, is a relaxed extrovert that is happy to be surrounded by people at ALL times. He cannot see why I panic when I get the text on my way home from work with a note that a ‘couple of friends are coming over to have a beer at 5:30’. I have expressed my anxiety of making sure the house is clean and that there is a good atmosphere (good food, drinks, and things to do) and he is trying to meet me half way (and I am trying to let it go when a bunch of his guy friends just want to hang out a get pizza). That being said, I think there are likely deeper issues to caused the fight between you and your husband. Do you feel like the party was planned without your input (and outside your comfort zone) or is it because you think he does not pull his weight around the house which is exacerbated by parties? I think you need to find the source of your frustration and articulate it to your husband and work on talking to him in order to resolve the issue.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 19, 2015, 7:03 pm

    Honestly? You can’t demand somebody do something and then criticize them for how they decide to do it. Look… if you don’t want to spend fifteen lousy minutes throwing together some plates of snacks. Fine — don’t. But then SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT. Seriously. Talk about creating drama where there is NONE.

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    • Cassie

      Cassie May 19, 2015, 9:22 pm

      Agreed about the creating drama. It was an hour cool off for an issue that wasn’t that big of a deal.
      .
      Perhaps she is a virgin?

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    • avatar

      Hannanas May 20, 2015, 7:58 am

      To me it’s like, if you deeply resent someone for something, then that person can’t do anything right. So I suspect there may be some underlying issues here?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 20, 2015, 8:10 am

        I think you’ve got it. The reaction is such overkill for the situation that there has to be more to it than the situation itself. Maybe she’s mad at him most of the time or feels that he does nothing right and this was just one more instance.

        Personally, I’d set out the things that don’t need to be kept cold ahead of time but I’d keep foods that need refrigeration to be safe to eat in the refrigerator until people were ready to eat them, then I would pull them out. To me the chips could go out any time, things with meat either need to be kept hot or cold to be safe through the entire evening.

        Ultimately, if you want it done your way you do it yourself. You don’t get to micromanage the way someone else does it. You can either relax and let them be their own self with their own way of doing it or you can jump in and have it your way by doing it your way. It is childish to pout for an hour because you couldn’t force him to do it your way. You don’t get to control him. Just because he said “I do” doesn’t mean he said “I’ll do what you want, when you want, how you want it.” Life doesn’t work that way.

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      • Lady_Red

        Red_Lady May 20, 2015, 9:58 am

        I love this!!

        “Just because he said “I do” doesn’t mean he said “I’ll do what you want, when you want, how you want it.” Life doesn’t work that way.”

        I really don’t get how some people feel so entitled.

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  • juliecatharine

    juliecatharine May 19, 2015, 8:31 pm

    She’s definitely overkill with her reaction but I can see being frustrated when you’re trying to pull together a nice evening for mutual friends and your partner isn’t invested with the same sense of urgency. If she’s like me and tends to panic a bit when people come over it’s worth explaining that to her hubby and asking him to do xyz in those situations. Not because his way is wrong but because she feels genuine pressure and as a loving partner he should want to help her relax. Note: this advice is only good for the LW if it’s used genuinely in the spirit of partnership, not as a backdoor to getting what she wants.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 20, 2015, 8:21 am

      They may define nice evening in different ways. Hers may be the way the food is put out and his may be that their friends are all able to come over and have fun together.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes May 20, 2015, 8:18 am

    Is this really a minefield?!?1? I mean, if it is an issue for you and you are already (kinda) freaking out about this situation repeating itself in the future, then I suppose the answer is, “Yes.” Im with everyone else here, you all need to chill the h*ll out. This is not “minefield” territory, and you all need to take a step back from this and find the real issue that your anger or frustration or whatever is displaced from. Because whether to put chips, etc. on the counter in the bags or arrange them on a plate is not the kind of thing that should precipitate an hour to go cool off. Maybe just some counseling so that you all can have better communication is in order, or maybe like Diablo said, it is just time for some more lovin’ in your relationship.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra May 20, 2015, 11:38 am

    I feel there are many more issues going on here and this is just what sparked it. It really is funny how miniscule things can lead to bigger arguments. A party should not be a “mine field”. The fact that you see it as such tells me there are likely underlying issues in your relationship that need to be dealt with. And also…let this go. That would be the best thing you could do for yourself.

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