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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?

WIFE

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.

Credit…Miguel Porlan

Tip the Service, Not the Smile

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?

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