Dear Amy: Recently, we hosted a couple as weekend guests. The wife and my wife were friends in college.
I picked them up at the airport on Friday afternoon and brought them to our house, showed them to the guest room, and we all sat down to the dinner that my wife had prepared.
On Saturday, after breakfast they spent the day with some friends of theirs, and returned to our house for another homecooked meal.
On Sunday, our guests suggested that we go to a nice restaurant for dinner, which we did. During dinner they ordered and drank a $40 bottle of wine. My wife and I don’t drink.
When the waiter placed the check on the table, nobody moved for a few seconds. I thought, “Does he expect me to pick that up?” Finally, he said, “Hey, buddy, whaddaya say we split the check?”
I wanted to say, “No, I don’t want to split the check. I want you to pay for all the food, the wine, the tip, and the tax,” but not wanting to make a scene, I mumbled, “OK.”
On Monday, we drove them back to the airport. They thanked us for the weekend, but never sent an email or a thank you note.
My question is: What are roles and responsibilities of houseguests and hosts?
— Disgruntled Host
Dear Disgruntled: A good houseguest brings a small gift to present to the host upon their arrival. They express interest in their surroundings and enthusiasm for any plans the host has made.
A good houseguest will be tidy, quiet, and respectful of the hosts’ household schedule.
Yes, they should take the host out for a meal or an outing during their stay and offer to pick up the check.
They should leave their sleeping area tidy (offering to strip the bed), thank the host warmly before they leave, and follow up with a note and/or an enthusiastic phone call when they return home.
That’s how guests behave when they want to be invited back (your houseguests quite obviously don’t).
You said that you didn’t want to make a scene at the restaurant, but stating your own needs, plainly and politely, doesn’t qualify as making a scene. At the very least, you could have responded: “How about you pay for your bottle of wine, and we’ll split the cost of the food bill, buddy.”
Dear Amy: It just happened again. I told my husband that a distant relative of mine died from cancer and in return, he spent the next 10 minutes describing to me how cancer is detected and spreads.
I’ve recently become aware that many of our conversations go like this — with me making a comment and my hubby of 40 years explaining how things work.
Honestly, I don’t know if this is a new thing between the two of us, or if I’m just now waking up to it.
When he does this, I get angry and feel shut down. Is this what they mean by the term, “mansplaining?” It’s exhausting.
Dear Exhausted: “Mansplaining” in this context would be if you were a world-renowned cancer specialist, and yet your husband felt the need to patiently explain to you how cancer works.
The way I read your situation your husband believes that he is communicating effectively with you. You bring something up, and he spends time telling you about it. This is his way of trying to connect.
You may want a less literal and more emotional response. You should bring this up, not in a way that blames him for behaving in a particular way, but with a goal to make some changes in the way you two communicate. Do you have particular responses that frustrate him? You should ask.
It’s OK to say what you need: “Honey, when I told you about my relative’s cancer, I want you to know that, honestly, I wanted to talk about my relative, not the disease. There are times when I want a hug, not an explanation.”
Dear Amy: I was offended by the letter from “Embarrassed,” as well as your response.
Embarrassed has a father who is expressing his own views on social media. There is nothing wrong with that! He has the right to express himself however he wants!
Dear Upset: According to “Embarrassed,” Dad was insulting and offending people who attempted to respond to his rants. One consequence of that behavior is that others would be both insulted and embarrassed by it.