But my husband has said he doesn’t want me there. He says the stakes are too high. These are his colleagues. He’s afraid I won’t approve of his behavior and I will feel neglected and humiliated. He’s admitted ADD and has problems sitting in one place for long and prances around rooms chatting with everyone. I don’t do this as I am socially awkward at times. So I often just sit and watch him prance and chat incessantly. He sometimes focuses on one woman and chats with her for the evening. He says I won’t know anyone and will feel slighted if he doesn’t introduce me. He is highly anxious about this, so I have let it go. Why would I want to add to his worry?
Since this decision, my husband’s brother has come to visit from out of town. I love him and I’m doing my best to take care of his every need. He’s not well. He wants to have a gathering at our home of friends and family to show them his latest photo exhibit. Many of these people I love but two of them I find exclusive and mean at times, so, while I’d love to open our house to family, I would prefer to not host the evening and serve everyone’s needs. And given the incident with the wedding, I am asking myself if my purpose is just to be chief cook and bottle washer when required and hide myself when not.
I’ll do whatever you say. Please help me. — Married 25 Years
Your husband is a Class A jerk and you are an enabler if you’ve routinely turned the other cheek when he ignores you, doesn’t introduce you to people, and spends a night out focusing on other women. He should be focusing on YOU! You’re his wife. Which is reason enough to bring you to a wedding he most likely has been given a Plus 1 to. That you actually want to go to this wedding is reason #2 he should bring you along. And the third reason is to introduce you to his colleagues and to show off the wife he’s been married to for 25 years. That he doesn’t want to bring you, and that his reason is because you’ll feel “neglected and humiliated” while he prances around the room chatting to everyone but you and focusing on some other woman, is shameful. If I were you, I’d demand to go to that wedding and I would introduce myself to whomever your husband is spending the evening chatting up. Just walk right over, stick out your hand and say, “Hello! I’m his wife and it’s so nice to meet you. Isn’t this a gorgeous wedding?” I mean, quit sitting and watching and start being an active participant.
As for hosting a family night at your house for your brother-in-law, I’d suggest enlisting his and your husband’s help in the hosting duties. Skip a sit-down meal and just make it a cocktail and snacks affair. Pick up a couple of crudité platters at the grocery store and set them out. Does the family night really have to be so much work? Why do you have to serve everyone’s needs? I understand that your BIL is not well, but surely the other members of the family are able-bodied, competent people who can poor themselves drinks and find their way to the hors d’oeuvres, no? And if you’re worried about the two people who are mean and exclusive, just avoid them. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom or tend to something when you find yourself too close to them for comfort. And if all of that still sounds too stressful, just say no. Put your foot down and tell your BIL he’ll have to have his photo exhibit somewhere else because you don’t feel like playing gallery host. Consider it a practice act of assertion to prepare you for telling your husband how unappreciated and lonely you feel in your marriage and how you’re tired of him treating you like you’re nothing more than the family cook and nursemaid.
I don’t know how many of the 25 years you’ve been with your husband have been unhappy, but it’s time to change things around. Sit down and talk with your husband about how you’re feeling, how you want to be better included in his life, and how his ADD and your social awkwardness are not good reasons for the distance between you. If you can’t work this out on your own, find a couples counselor. If he won’t go with you, go on your own.
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