Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Husband No Longer Wants Me Tagging Along on His Business Trips”

From the forums:

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My fiancé and I have been together for four years. Every year he helps to host and facilitate a large group trip. I’ve accompanied him on several of these trips over the years, but within the past year he’s expressed his concern with me going. His reasoning is that he views these trips as business trips, and so my being there is a distraction. Each trip is a gathering of several hundred people from all across the country. There are activities planned such as beach games, concerts, parties, etc. It’s at an all-inclusive resort, and there is a 72-hour open bar. Basically, it’s a fun and lively party.

I understand that he plays a role in maintaining the flow of everything and he has responsibilities for the weekend. I understand that this is not a “romantic getaway” for us two. However, I’ve always viewed these getaways as a 2-for-1 sort of deal. We are able to travel to amazing places and stay at beautiful resorts at a discounted rate. These are opportunities that we would not be able to afford otherwise. The compromise is that I understand that he’s working, and, when we have down time, we also are able to do our own thing. I have tried to make sure that I am not too needy and don’t demand much of his time while he is working. And I know that it is possible for us to make this work (there are several other couples who come on this trip with partners who are working).

I just can’t understand why he doesn’t think that we can make it work. We have discussed starting a family in the next year. Once children are involved, I definitely won’t be able to go on these types of trips anymore. I don’t like the idea of being told that I can’t go on this fun social trip because he doesn’t want to feel like he has to tend to me. How would you all feel if your significant other said that you can no longer accompany him on these “business” trips because he wants to keep it separate from his personal life? Especially when you know that this is the only real opportunity that you will be able to afford to travel to these places? — Tripping Out

You say you’ve been on a few of these trips and now your fiancé is asking that you not go because you’re a distraction. Have you asked him what he means by that? I suspect that when you “try not to be needy or demand too much of his time,” you are, in fact, being pretty needy and demanding of his time. The truth is that over a 72-hour business trip, your fiancé probably doesn’t have any “down time” in which he is “able to do his own thing.” If the point of this trip is to build business relationships and your fiancé has the added responsibility of hosting the whole thing, I can’t imagine that he actually has any down time at all. And I imagine that when you’re there, hoping for a dinner or two together and some private time, he feels pressured to give that to you even though it’s at the cost of time he should be devoting to the actual purpose of the trip.

Before we had kids, I used to accompany my husband on his business trips. He got to go to some pretty cool places, and I was happy to tag along and have a free place to stay. But I understood that he was working very long days and was literally only working and sleeping until the business part of the business trip was over. There was no down time. While that was exhausting for him, it was fine with me — I’m great an entertaining myself and was happy to go off sight-seeing on my own while he was busting his butt getting work done. Then, at the end of the business trip, we always extended our stay a few days so that my husband could decompress and we could have some personal time together, enjoying some of the sights together.

If it’s not possible for you to 100% entertain yourself on these business trips, and it’s not possible for you two to extend your stay a couple of days and pay out-of-pocket for your lodging (your husband may be eligible for a discount), I’d suggest you drop your argument and focus instead on affordable ways the two of you can enjoy quality time together. You may not be able to afford fancy resorts, but what about a weekend get-away in a modest hotel a couple hours from where you live? Away from his work responsibilities, your fiancé could give you all the focus it sounds like you probably desire without any distractions.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning a couple other possibilities for his change in welcoming you on these business trips. For one thing, maybe your fiancé is embarrassed by past behavior of yours. (You mention the 72-hour open bar. Is it possible you’ve taken too much advantage of this amenity?) Or perhaps your fiancé has another woman, or wants to be free to pursue other women, on these trips. The latter seems unlikely since this is a work trip and he’d risk his reputation and career by philandering or being perceived as sexually harassing his colleagues, but you know his character and his behavior and, if either has been questionable lately, this is worth considering (certainly before marrying him).

Bottom line: This is you fiancé’s work trip. If he doesn’t want you to go, don’t go. Discuss why he doesn’t want you to go, but don’t fight him on the topic, and find other ways you two can spend quality time together since a business trip is not the time or place for that.

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

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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.

37 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ktfran May 17, 2016, 8:41 am

    What Wendy said and what everyone else in the forums said. In a prior life, I used to help my company attend five or six conferences a year. Mind you, we were attending, not even hosting, and we had ZERO down time. ZERO. There were talks and booth time and mingling and happy hours and client dinners and after dinner drinks. It was all exhausting. One of the conferences was like a big reunion every year because everyone knew one another. It was a three day party. I needed a day to recover after.

    I’m telling you this as someone who has experienced these things. He has no real time for “couple time,” unless you accompany him to the dinners or something. Unless you can entertain yourself or make friends with others spouses or guests and hang out with them, I can honestly see why he would ask you not to come.

    My aunt would accompany my uncle to these conferences. He was President of the company I worked for. She would shop or lounge by the pool or get a massage during the day and she made her own lunch plans. She’d come along to dinner and occasionally stay up for late night cocktails, but if she was tired, she’d head to bed and my uncle would mingle as long as he needed. She understood it was a business trip despite the “party” atmosphere.

    Wendy’s other suggestion was great. I often extended a business trip if it were somewhere cool and I’d hang out an extra day or two. I of course, paid for my room on those extra nights and if it was during the week, I’d take PTO. That could be an option for you two.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl May 17, 2016, 8:49 am

    Hi LW – It sucks that you cannot go on the trip but it is ultimately not your call. Your fiance is working and for whatever reason, thinks that you are a distraction (which might not be a negative statement on you or your behavior but his stress and guilt over being busy during the event). Be understanding and perhaps plan a trip for the two of you to take later.

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  • avatar

    Essie May 17, 2016, 10:08 am

    Yeah, among my friends and coworkers, it isn’t so common for spouses/partners to come along on business trips. More often, they’d extend the trip through the weekend, and the spouse would fly out on a Friday and they’d spend the weekend together.

    You say you’ve tried not to demand too much of his time while he’s working….you shouldn’t be asking for ANY of his time while he’s working. At all. You view it as a big party, but it really is work for him. It’s just work that’s happening in a nice atmosphere.

    My company held group meetings for customers, and a lot of us had to go along to give presentations, hold workshops, or just mingle with the customers. These meetings were always in a resort setting, often in FL or Vegas. There were concerts, dinners, open bars, picnics, outings. Yeah, to an outsider, it looked like a big party, but it was all work for us. We were “on” at all times. We were expected to go to dinner with the customers, hang out at happy hour, go along on the outings and socialize.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 17, 2016, 10:43 am

    Wendy nailed it. BRAVO! But yeah — anytime somebody says something like “I try not to be too needy” it very much implies to me that they fucking are…

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    • Bubbles

      Bubbles May 17, 2016, 1:24 pm

      Bingo!! Too needy = you’re NEEDY!!!

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  • avatar

    Anonymousse May 17, 2016, 10:48 am

    There are unlimited possibilities here. A coworker or boss could have said something about your last trip together…maybe he seemed distracted? Did you drink too much one night?
    The real issue is, he’s asked you not to come, and you think it’s unfair. It’s his job. Think about how nice it is to have a husband who is employed. If it’s going to benefit his focus, his career and at the end of the day, your financial stability….maybe that’s reason enough to let this go.

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  • avatar

    Stilwell May 17, 2016, 11:02 am

    I’ve come out of lurker land to add my two cents here. After reading the situation here and in the forum, I’m so confused. Is it a work trip or not? The LW’s follow up comments confused me rather than clarifying the situation. Seems to me that you didn’t like the advice that everyone gave you, so you changed the story a little at a time, and then actually called Wendy a b***h??? Maybe Wendy is used to and de-sensitized to that kind of reaction, but to me that was uncalled for and completely inappropriate. Why write in to an advice website if you aren’t open to differing opinions? I know, what a stupid question…

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark May 17, 2016, 11:07 am

      The moment the LW called wendy a bitch — she, um… basically proved ALL of Wendy’s points. 😉

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      • avatar

        MissDre May 17, 2016, 11:09 am

        Seriously.

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      • avatar

        Tlee May 17, 2016, 11:32 am

        Can you share the link where this is in the forum?

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy May 17, 2016, 11:38 am

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      • avatar

        Tlee May 17, 2016, 11:39 am

        Thanks, Wendy!

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      • avatar

        Stilwell May 17, 2016, 11:47 am

        On a side note-Call me crazy, but I was happy that my first comment in DW World had a response from BGM. Your comments got me hooked on this site to begin with. It’s like meeting my hero! Other than Wendy of course….

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 17, 2016, 2:11 pm

        😉

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray May 17, 2016, 11:39 am

    It’s funny, when I first read the letter I thought “oh hell no, I would NOT like that!” (But I’m good at entertaining myself and I understand that when people need to work and spend face time with others, they need to work and spend face time with others – the whole time.) But then I read Wendy’s response and thought “oh that’s a good point, and so is that and that….” LW, she raises really really good points to consider; I hope you don’t brush them off. Talk to your husband, find out what the issue is with you being here. You say you try not to be “too” needy but on a work trip even being a little needy may be a problem.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray May 17, 2016, 11:41 am

      Oy, just read the defense follow-ups.

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  • avatar

    Tlee May 17, 2016, 12:01 pm

    Soooo, what does PIA stand for?

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy May 17, 2016, 12:05 pm

      Pain in the ass. And I’d like to amend my comment; I no longer think “potential” is a necessary qualifier here.

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      • avatar

        Stilwell May 17, 2016, 12:09 pm

        Maybe she’s just living up to her “potential” now…

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      • avatar

        Tlee May 17, 2016, 2:47 pm

        LOL…ah …ok!

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  • avatar

    for_cutie May 17, 2016, 12:09 pm

    Ha ha! That thread was funny. So basically her fiance is a professional entertainer in his free time and she is only ok with it if she can have fun too. Well that is going to suck if they do settle down and have kids, he is entertaining strangers in resorts while she’s up all nights with feedings and baby puke. Good luck LW, this situation seems to suck even before he decided to kick you out of his ‘social club.’

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  • avatar

    RedroverRedrover May 17, 2016, 12:14 pm

    Agree with the others, the only way to make this work is if you expect 0% of his time on the days that the conference is scheduled. He’s not just attending, he’s running the thing. He has to be 100% focused on it, it’s his job. If I were him, I wouldn’t want my partner there either, it would be too stressful for me. It’s not a reflection on my husband at all, it’s just what I would need in order to be successful at this huge work commitment. My husband could come after, as Wendy suggested, and we could spend a few days with each other without the distraction of the conference.

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  • lynn

    Lynn May 17, 2016, 12:57 pm

    Uh what. My boss lost her shit when she found out a colleague brought his fiancee on a business trip. Bringing a spouse/SO is just not the norm at any place I’ve worked.

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    • avatar

      artsygirl May 17, 2016, 2:36 pm

      I think it depends a great deal on the type of event and the company. My husband is in sales and despite traveling about 2 weeks out of every month, I have only been on 5 or so trips in 10 years. Three of those five are to an annual convention in Clearwater, FL. I actually work remotely during the trip since he is busy all day and has his dinners booked but then we hang out at the pool bar at night and take an extra two days to see Tampa. He has always asked his boss to confirm that it is ok if I tag along, and all my expenses (ticket, meals, etc) are paid out of pocket.

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      • lynn

        Lynn May 17, 2016, 4:12 pm

        That makes sense. I know my best friend’s company is having a retreat soon in a destination city and the company heads have specifically asked them to bring a guest (all expenses paid!).

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  • avatar

    ele4phant May 17, 2016, 1:01 pm

    I don’t understand, you say this is a “social trip” not a professional/business trip. What does that mean? Is it a networking event that maybe doesn’t have meetings or conference events, but is still about making professional connections? Or is it more of a big friend get-together that your boyfriend has been in charge of organizing? It sounds like it’s more the former (like, he doesn’t have a couple hundred friends right? – these are people in his industry and/or potential clients).

    If it is a networking event, than it is very much a “work” trip, even if it’s a “fun” one, even if it’s something he’s volunteered to do and not part of his 9-5 job. The whole point is to meet and form casual yet professional relationships with as many people as possible. Additionally, if he’s one of the main planners, he has responsibilities to make sure this runs smoothly and he will need to be available to deal with whatever unexpected shit that pops up throughout.

    This trip is probably critical to his professional development, not only will he create new and nurture existing relationships, it’s his professional reputation on the line. If it doesn’t run well or he’s not on top of stuff, he’ll look bad. It’s probably *more* demanding of his time than a more cut and dry business conference in which he was just a participant. He’s asked you not to come, don’t come. If you have a sense that he’s not being forthcoming about all his reasons for not wanting you to come, open those discussions in a calm, levelheaded way.

    But from where I stand it makes perfect sense that he ask you not to come. Even if you’ve been well behaved and asked minimal attention from him, he needs to concentrate 110% on this event, making sure it goes well.

    If he’s going somewhere awesome, why don’t you ask him if he to extend his stay a day or two after the event ends, and then you join him once it’s done? Since he brought them several hundred guests, I bet whatever hotel this is happening at would still be willing to cut a deal for him if he wants to stay an extra night or two. Then you two could actually spend stress free time together enjoying the location.

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  • avatar

    Moi May 17, 2016, 1:52 pm

    Desenter here. Questions. How many of these trips did she attend? If there were 2, 3 or 4 years you look at the conversation differently. If there was a pattern over 4 years and then he stopped wanting her to go a red flag would pop up. If he realized after a couple that it was not working I see his point. I don’t think there is enough info in the letter. I wonder if he has cooled off in other ways.
    My husband and I never had that luxury because we had young children. I wouldn’t have gone anyway. I hate gambling and sunbathing and he played golf on his down time. While he was gone I never cooked. We ate pickup and pizzas.
    Why do people stay “engaged” for years.

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    • avatar

      artsygirl May 17, 2016, 2:43 pm

      Based on some of the LW’s original comments (i.e. ‘tried not to be needy’, etc) my guess is that she was demanding last year and that the fiance has decided that he cannot deal with her and run the event at the same time. The fact that she instantly got defensive suggests to me that she might know what is causing her fiance to dis-invite her to the event but wants to have the DW community on her side.

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  • avatar

    Moi May 17, 2016, 1:59 pm

    Dissenter….sheesh!

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy May 17, 2016, 3:40 pm

    At first i thought I would be on your side OP, but I think i am backing up your man on this one. As someone who travels a lot for work, I often find myself exhausted at the end of the day, just wanting to unwind. I can get annoyed at having to call and talk to my husband when I am on the road, much less entertain him in person. The only time I took him along, I missed my downtime. I wouldn’t make it a big deal. It doesn’t sound like he is leaving you behind to go frolicking with his secretary, it sounds like he wants an easy, peaceful trip where he doesn’t have to babysit you.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros May 17, 2016, 5:35 pm

    If your relationship is good otherwise, this seems like a silly thing to get so worked up about. He’s working on these trips, and if he feels that having you there makes things harder for him, then that’s reasonable. You’re acting like every partner is entitled to tagging along on trips, but plenty of couples don’t have one partner who travels for work or if they do, they can’t bring someone along. Surely you can entertain yourself for a few days when he’s gone?

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  • avatar

    _s_ May 18, 2016, 2:26 pm

    Event planning is a big part of my job, as speaking from the perspective of the LW’s husband, LW you should not be going on these trips unless you are prepared to 100% amuse yourself the entire time. If you are not prepared to do that, don’t bother going. It doesn’t matter if the event your husband is in charge of is “boring” or “fun” – he’s going to be working his ass off with behind the scenes tasks as well as the events themselves. IF he has free time he’s just going to want to take a nap or just veg out. If you expect him to entertain you or go sightseeing with you or whatever, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. In my industry bringing spouses is OK, and I have tried to get my husband to come with me, but he doesn’t want to come – he just says “you’re going to be working the whole time, so what’s the point?” And really, I know he’s right – he’s not the type of person who is going to be able to amuse himself alone in a strange place, he’d probably just be in the room on the computer and TV all day, frustrated because his computer and TV at home are so much better. So you have two options: you have to accept that you’re going to be taking a solo trip and be willing to amuse yourself alone without your husband; OR you and he can plan to extend the trip a few extra days so you can spend some quality time alone after the event (but still realizing you are going to have to amuse yourself 100% during the event AND that even in the days after the event, your husband is going to be worn out. If you cannot accept one of those two scenarios, then no, you should not be going.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark May 18, 2016, 2:34 pm

      Damn. Your husband should learn to fucking broaden his horizons. He sounds about as much fun as watching paint dry. It amazes me how so many squander travel opportunities because they are so damn boring all they ever wanna do is watch TV and surf the web.

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      • avatar

        _s_ May 18, 2016, 3:21 pm

        Well, to be fair to him that’s hyperbole – also I’m not talking about exotic locations, either, or even really great US cities with lots to do. He’s not wrong that he’d be bored out of his gourd at these places, so why spend our money to bring him along when we could save it for a real vacation we’d both enjoy?

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 18, 2016, 4:31 pm

        Oh, I was picturing him in Puerto Vallarta being pissy. 😉

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      • avatar

        saneinca May 18, 2016, 7:01 pm

        Weren’t you just bashing the LW for wanting to go with her fiance/spouse on the trip ?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 18, 2016, 5:31 pm

      I’m thinking that if this is her only vacation of the year and he’s turned it into a working trip for himself and told her he doesn’t want her to come along that this situation doesn’t work for her. If they have a real vacation where neither is working then it is fine for him to also have a working trip but if this is her only vacation then the whole situation is wrong. Maybe they’ve joined a social that that they can’t really afford? Maybe they need to give up these resort vacations and take a nonworking vacation.

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