Dear Amy: How can I politely say no when friends are in town or vacationing here and ask if they can spend a couple of nights with us?
I’ve never said no to anyone and I’ve always been nice to anyone who stays at our house, but I find that I don’t really enjoy it.
I have extreme stress and anxiety days before they arrive, and also while they are here.
My husband doesn’t understand my rants about this. He welcomes anyone who wants to stay with us.
I just don’t like people here with us 24 hours a day. I like my privacy at night to rest and read or watch TV, and the last thing I want is to see faces at the breakfast table when I wake up in the morning.
I know this topic will come up again soon, as a recent guest has already said he plans to return to town early next year.
Guests make me uneasy, the problem is my lack of privacy, although I make sure they never guess how I feel.
I’m tired of pretending it’s okay for them to stay with us.
How can I suggest that a hotel is a better option when they ask to stay?
I don’t want to offend anyone, but my mental health is more important to me than sharing my home with strangers.
How can I kindly say I’m sorry, but no?
— Don’t say no
Dear not to say: Saying “no” firmly but kindly is an act of clarifying grace and, in your case, essential self-care.
Your husband is the X factor here, because he chooses not to acknowledge your extreme defiance and then undermines you by being an automatic “yes” man.
His behavior is extremely unfair to you, but if you pretend that everything is fine during a visit, he may believe that you ultimately enjoy being his host.
The first person you should learn to say “no” to is the man you share your home with. His stress-induced pre-visit “rants” don’t seem to have impressed him.
You could practice a “no” with these upcoming self-invited guests: “You mentioned you wanted to visit us, but lately I’m finding it very difficult to host you, so it won’t be possible to host you at our home. “I found several places nearby where you could stay and I would love to spend time with you during your stay in town.”
If you don’t dare confront your husband about this or handle a “no” via email, you’ll end up with people at your breakfast table.
Perhaps you should consider them essentially guests of your husband.
If so, you might choose to stay somewhere else or protect your privacy by spending as much time alone as possible, especially at both ends of the day. This is a change in your expected behavior, but it should be taken care of calmly and carefully.
Dear Amy: My husband and I frequently go out to dinner with my brother and sister-in-law.
Sometimes her sister and her husband join us.
They are all drinkers and we are not. (They usually have more than one drink).
I don’t think it’s fair that we pay for alcohol every time we go out, but my husband and I felt uncomfortable asking for a separate check.
I once asked them to buy their drinks before sitting down, but that idea didn’t work.
I would love to know your opinion on this delicate topic.
Dear non-drinker: In reality, this is not such a sensitive topic and you should not avoid expressing your own need and desire to go out, enjoy a meal and pay for it separately.
If the other two couples want to combine their charges and split the cost in half, that’s up to them.
You can ask the server directly: “Could you please prepare a separate check for the two of us?”
There is no need to immerse yourself in discomfort or explain this to other diners. Your friends should accept your choice, order their meals again and not think about it anymore.
Dear Amy: The “Exhausted Daughter” did not understand the emotional distance of her mother’s entire life. Thank you for suggesting that this daughter do some research on neurodivergence.
I was faced with an analogous situation and getting a diagnosis really helped everyone understand that this behavior was not a personal response.
– Been there
Dear Been There: I hope “Exhausted Daughter” can also receive some useful information.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
Sign up for our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news delivered straight to your inbox.